Learn something new - workshops

  • Tips for ordering seeds.

    Tips for ordering seeds.

    Today is a great deal about ordering cut flower seeds and I thought I'd share a few seed tips I've learned along the way.

    As you can see from the photograph, I always over order.  This is the seed collection laid out at the end of the season, when ideally I'd have used most of the see up.

    Lesson #1: order a little seed and try and use it up.  Fresh seed, direct from the suppliers, should give you about 95% germination rate, so you'll do better with small quantities of fresh seed, than forever playing catch up with yourself using up old.

    Lesson #2: seed is relatively inexpensive, and none of us has an enormous amont of time, so if you get better results from fresh seed, then I would spend the money and order fresh, rather than try and get good germination from seed which might have lain around for several years.

    Lesson #3: order direct from the suppliers.  All good seed merchants have online shops.  Order from them and the seed will be fresh, and will have been kept in better conditions than the hot, over-lit, seed department in a giant greenhous...

  • A simple urn arrangement

    A simple urn arrangement

    At this time of year it often seems as though there's nothing much in the garden to bring in to the house.  But I beg to differ.  Take your scissors out and cut yourself a bit of foliage and a few stems and you can make a twiggery pokery arrangement like this which is very effective, without being especially flowery.  

    To make it you'll need three or five stems each of about five or six different foliages or twigs.  I've used pittosporum, brachyglottis, eucalyptus, box, red stems of willow and a little curly willow.  

    I've used fat stems of box to make a nest to hold the rest of the foliage up, and have just popped each stem in lightly, letting the stems crossing in the water make a sort of scaffolding to hold everything in place.

    I've then popped a couple of bunches of English grown narcissi erlicheer in the mix.  They're in tight bud in this picture, but will soon come out and make splashes of velvety balls of scent throughout the arrangement for the next week or so.  

    The urn is a vintage find giv...

  • Tips for growing flowers

    Tips for growing flowers

    Tips for cut flower growing.

    Choose carefully the flowers you want to grow.  Aim to have a third 'accent' flowers (big showy heads,) a third filler and a third foliage and greenery at any time.

    Pinterest is a brilliant tool for curating what you're going to grow. Post pictures of what you've already got flowering in the garden during the spring, summer and autumn, then plan to grow maybe five or six varieties to go with those established plants in your cut flower bunches.

    Order fresh seed direct from good suppliers like Higgledy Garden, Chiltern Seeds, and Plants of Distinction.

    Don't sow all your seed at once: successionally sowing small amounts of seed will give you a selection of good flowering plants to take you through the summer.  When I hear people have sown two hundred sweet peas at once my heart sinks: they'll never have time to harvest them all!

    Treat your cut flower patch like a vegetable patch: you'd never sow five hundred lettuces at once - you might sow ten...

    Come on a

  • Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year!

    Hoorah for a new year! I love a new year. Even though it’s dark and damp and cold and wet we’re on the way out from the gloom.

    I feel the sap rising as a physical force giving energy to my back, strength to my elbows, determination to my ambitions. I like the idea of a new year resolution: I might forget all about it in a month or so, but the thought process that goes into deciding what I’d like out of a year is useful, I think. It’s so easy to pootle along from year to year, reacting to what happens rather than deciding what the project is, that the exercise of looking at what one year brought, and what the next year could bring if I focused a little on what I’d like out of it, I think is enormously helpful. I do, though, have a rule, that resolutions are always positive: I will learn something, create something, be stronger for something as a result of my promises to myself.

    Our workshops are perfect for people making positive new year’s resolutions. Whether it’s time to take your kitchen table business to the next level,...

  • Perennial wildflower meadow

    Perennial wildflower meadow

    Successfully creating a perennial wildflower meadow was one of the ambitions we had when we took on Common Farm thirteen years ago.  The land here is thick Somerset clay, and, at the time, our acres were cut about with fencing (no hedges,) there were no trees, and the only plant which grew here was a tough rye grass which had been sown to fatten cattle.  

    Fourteen years later and Fabrizio's dream of establishing patches of perennial wildflower meadows here are very much come to fruition.  He has developed a strict regime of mowing, sowing, and planting out plug plants which have increased our wildflower collection to over and over again.

    For him the skill is to mow so tightly in August that he almost scalps the ground, all mowings are removed right away from the wild areas to places lower than the wild, so that no goodness can run off from the cut grass heaps and increase the fertility of the meadows.  He sows seed and grows them on as plug plants in the same way that we do with our other cut flower crops.  And when he plants out he co...

  • Why come to a day course at Common Farm Flowers

    Why come to a day course at Common Farm Flowers

    We love holding workshops here at Common Farm because people love coming to them.  What makes our days different? 

    Well, we keep the groups small: I don't want to have more people than I'd comfortably have at a dinner party - that way I can make sure that everybody has not only a good time, but nobody feels left out, and I can make sure that everyone has their individual questions answered.  

    We do a really good lunch: I think people are here to enjoy themselves as much as to learn something new, so we put on a delicious lunch of locally made food - quiche from At The Chapel, cheese from Kimbers Farm Shop, salad from Charles Dowding, and the famous amaretti biscuits and chocolate brownies made by our friend and neighbour Declan Farrell, who doesn't have a website so select is his list of customers.  

    We teach in the round...

  • Places to stay when you come to Common Farm Flowers for a workshop

    Places to stay when you come to Common Farm Flowers for a workshop

    We are lucky to live in this thriving little corner of Somerset where there is so much to see and do as well as come on a workshop here at Common Farm Flowers.  People come to take our day courses from near and far, and the far flung travellers always need somewhere to stay.  Where can we recommend?  Well, the following list is by no means exhaustive, but our students always find them warm and welcoming and arrive rested and ready for a learning day.

    At The Chapel, High St Bruton: quite a high-end option, perhaps something of a treat if you're turning your trip into a bit of a mini-break.  The rooms are part of the restaurant/bakery/bar which is the thriving hub of fashionable Bruton's busy life.  Ask for a room away from the high street, looking over the roof tops of the town and the river and up to Bruton's signature dove cote.  

    The Oak House, Combe Lane, Bruton: This lovely old pub has been...

  • A taster for our Styling workshop

    A taster for our Styling workshop

    A taster for our Styling workshop.  A guest post from Amanda Russell, our tutor on the day.

    We all want our home to look wonderful, and project our personality without making any costly mistakes.  As an interior stylist working on magazines and in interior design, I believe that everyone has their own unique style: but pin-pointing it can be a tricky one, with so many visual influences out there tempting you down different avenues.  Just now plants are having a moment - we all love a bit of greenery in our home.  To help you firm up your style identity, I've put together a few simple styling tricks to set you on the right track when you're working with plants.

    • House plants are slow growing, and can make a room appear static and repetitious.  Ring the changes: breathe new life into a space by using plants as props, and showing off your chosen hero object at its best.  The styling hero can be anything that takes your fancy.  I dip into my shop where i stock vintage ceramics, vases vessels and figures.  You might...
  • The change your life series.

    The change your life series.

    The change your life series.

    It seems to me that the world is in flux, and the UK especially.   

    And I'm lucky to have a lovely big barn to which I can invite people to teach and take part in workshops.

    So this autumn I'm hosting a series of workshops for people who don't want to waste another moment: for people who know they could make more of their house, their travel bug, their camera: who want to write a blog about their experiences, potentially turn that into cash flow, who have an instagram feed which they know they could make more of: for people who have something to say, something to give, and a strong urge to start making more of their lives before they wake up and find they've missed their boat!

    So come to travel writing and photography, come to lifestyle blogging, come and learn to style your house.  We have flower farming and we have kitchen table business workshops.  These are all laid on because life is for the grabbing now, because post Brexit we're going to have to be clever about earning a living, because the art...

  • Learn to arrange garden flowers

    Learn to arrange garden flowers

    Learn to arrange garden flowers at our posy tying and garden floristry workshop on 9th July.  

    People are sometimes nervous about cutting their garden flowers, they find that the flowers when the cut them flop before they even get them back to the house, and then they don't know where to start with arranging them.

    Come and spend a day on our Somerset flower farm between Bruton and Wincanton and I'll give you a pair of scissors and a bucket of water and take you on a tour on our flower fields, encouraging you to cut what you like for floristry we'll do together.  By the end of the day you'll be confident cutting flowers, conditioning flowers, and arranging flowers, and you'll take home with you a lovely big bunch you've created yourself, made with that posh twist into a hand-tie bouquet like the real florists do.  You'll take a posy home too.  But more importantly, you'll take a new confidence with you, and be brave cutting your garden, and enjoy making posies and bouquets with what you've grown.

    Lunch is always delicious.  We only h...

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