Hurrah! It's British flowers week again - THE week in which we flower growers and specialist florists take the opportunity to showcase our work all over the place. So I thought I might give you a couple of paragraphs on how we began and what we do here.
Common Farm Flowers grew out of a desire to create an eco-paradise, abuzz with bees and butterflies, on our seven acre smallholding between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset. We started assuming we'd be more traditional smallholders, fattening pigs and keeping chickens and maybe stalling out at farmers' markets with fruit and veg. But we soon found that we couldn't bear to send the pigs to slaughter, that the fox was a keen thief of our chickens, and that we were better at growing sweet peas than cabbages. So when a neighbour sent me a bouquet of flowers through the post I was inspired: I could grow flowers and sell them! This was eight years and two months ago, and we now send about 1,600 bouquets by post per year, supply flowers for between fifty and sixty weddings, and I teach and give talks and garden tours etc...
Wedding flowers preparation here at Common Farm Flowers near Bruton in Somerset is the equivalent of our rubbing our creative hands with glee each Monday morning through the season.
Whether the wedding be a dinky little intimate number, like the one illustrated here, or, buckets of mixed flowers for the couple to arrange themselves, or a full Fragonard (which is the description we use for a huge, extravagant installation,) on Monday morning Sharon and I get out the orders. We then walk around the garden, making sure we have what we need for each event growing happily in the borders. We earmark this lilac or blossom or tulip or forget me not for each event, making a cutting list as we go so that we have an idea of what we'll be cutting for each event on Thursday.
Then, back in the studio we check ribbon, vases, jars, candles, making sure there'll be no last minute panics when it comes to creating the flowers on Friday.
We grow most of the flowers we use in our wedding flowers through the summer, but when we don't think we have enough, we call on one ...
Hello strangers. I haven't posted in forever, which is naughty, I know. This is just a quick one too, in a horribly busy week, to say I'm giving talks and demos on growing, cutting and arranging country flowers at the Country Living Fair in London town this week. I'll be there on Friday and Saturday, talking twice both days, so do have a look at their schedule for timings and come and find me at the garden theatre if you're going to be there.
I love the Country Living Fair - always such a great crowd! So see some of you there I hope. I'll be the one pulling a trolley filled with buckets of flowers around with me and wearing a Common Farm Flowers apron. I'll have compost, seeds, tulips, camassia, forget me nots, cowslips, ranunculus, and all sorts of goodies to play with. And I'll be sowing seeds and making beautiful country flowers hand-ties and showing you how you can too....
Our village plant sale is coming up on 12th May this year. And to that end we're sowing lots of extra seed for sale on the day. And today we chop up a load of dahlia tubers to pot up for the sale. Our lovely new volunteer starts today, and her first job is going to be to help cut up the tubers which have over-wintered in our neighbour Sally's barn. These will be potted up and hopefully cheerfully sprouting by the time we have our plant sale on 12th May.
We're raising money to mend a hole in the roof of our eight hundred year old village church, St Stephen's, and we're hoping to beat last year's total of £1,300.
We sell all plants at £1 a pot, and hope that lots of you will bring your spare seedlings and cuttings to donate to the cause. There will, of course, be lots of tea and cake too, as well as an amazing raffle.
So while you create your own garden this year, do remember our plant sale, and put aside your spare seedlings for us. We love interesting perennial cuttings, split plants, trays of spare tomato plants, cosmos seedlings. We al...
We are very conscious that there are new data protection laws coming in to effect on 25th May this year. And to make sure we are absolutely compliant with the law, we are doing something DRASTIC! We are wiping our old mailing lists and making a completely new one, so that we can be absolutely sure we are up to date with all the laws of the land.
Our mailshot goes out twice a month: one is long, chatty, full of gardening tips and a great competition, and the second is really just to remind you we're there and perhaps inspire you to come on a workshop or a tour. We don't clog your inbox by any means, and we aim to amuse, inspire, and inform with our newsletters.
So if you're already signed up for our newsletter, and would like to keep receiving them, then please sign up again here. Equally, if you've never received our newsletter, then I recommend it, and you could sign up
We are in the market for a new volunteer here at Common Farm Flowers. We're based between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset, so someone relatively local would be great.
We love our volunteers and generally have one person at a time coming one day a week for as long as it suits them. In the past we've had Ann, who was the queen of hand weeding, we've had Penny who was a wonderful propagator, and now lovely Denise, a natural florist, is moving on because she's off to live in Nuremberg (how cosmopolitan!) There's the dream team too, Andrew and Lorraine, who help out with busy wedding prep, so there's quite a team here, and we always try to make it fun and insteresting for anyone here on a voluntary basis.
So if you fancy a day a week on our little flower farm we'd love to hear from you.
We need you to be able to be left to get on with a job (self-motivated!)
We need you to commit to the time you agree to be here, as we'll save jobs for you to do, and if you don't come we'll get behind.
And in return we'll share all sorts of gardening kno...
Keep fresh the flowers you've been given by:
- Preparing a clean vase by filling it with fresh, cool water.
- Removing all packaging as soon as you can after receiving them.
- Snipping a centimetre off the bottom of the flower stems to re-open their cellulose drinking cells.
- Pop the bouquet into the vase of fresh water, and then snip off the tie holding the bouquet together - the flowers will relax into the vase and fill the space beautifully.
- Place your vase of flowers somewhere away from a windowsill and also far from radiators or ovens - somewhere cool, airy and out of direct sunlight is ideal.
- Give your flowers fresh water every day, and in doing so, quickly wash out the vase to prevent the build up of stinky, water dirtying bacteria (the enemy of cut flowers.) At the same time you could re snip the stems of your flowers to keep the cellulose drinking cells open.
- This way your flowers should last nicely for you.
Thank you, and have a lovely day.
And since you ask, yes, we do sell bou...
Here at Common Farm Flowers in the ancient village of Charlton Musgrove we talk about Mothers' Day in the old way. In the UK, Mothering Sunday is still celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Mothering Sunday is officially the Feast of Mother Church, and in this village the congregation has been known to troop out of St John's in the middle of the service and give the building a hug (we like a bit of a walk about in the middle of church here.) Traditionally, Mothering Sunday was a day when the servant class were allowed to walk home after church to spend the day with their families, and people would pick posies of hedgerow flowers, violets, primroses, wild daffs, to give to their mothers when they got home. Here there are kind ladies in the village (not I!) who get together on the Saturday and make posies which are taken to church and handed out to all the ladies of the congregation during the service. It's a charming tradition and I love it.
Why don't I make the posies for the church service? Well, the awful thing is I'm a bit flat out making bouquets for my ki...
It's lovely to have been given a chance to big up British flowers for Valentine's in Homes and Antiques magazine this month. We import up to two hundred million roses into the UK each year for Valentine's flowers which is crazy when we have growing in this country huge quantities of the best quality tulips, scented narcissi, gorgeous ranunculus, anemones and more. Try asking your florist for British grown flowers for your Valentine this year, or, even better, order direct from us.
This flower farmer is going on quite a tour this year. With over fifty dates for talks, demos, workshops, garden tours, here at the flower farm, and at lots of WIs and Horticultural and Flower groups around the country, it's going to be busy. Keep an eye on the blog and social media and I'll always mention where I'm going next, and you can always book a workshop or a tour here by going to our workshop calendar on our website.
I'm starting the year at Charlton Musgrove Village hall on Friday 2nd Feb giving a Growing Cut Flower for Pleasure and Profit talk in aid of the Raise the Roof Appeal for our village church. St Stephen's has thirteenth century origins, and is a building which has served this community for eight hundred years, and it's in need of a bit of tlc (it has a hole in the roof, and while we're at it we might add a lavatory to the facilities, and perhaps a place where we can boil a kettle or wash up a wine glass...)
There'll be cheese (...