Living the dream in Somerset

  1. Take part in the RHS Chelsea Fringe

    Take part in the RHS Chelsea Fringe

    Take part in the RHS Chelsea Fringe.

    My gardening friend and colleague Michelle Chapman (@malvernmeet on twitter,) has had a brilliant idea.  She's accredited the hashtag #mygardenrightnow as an official RHS Chelsea Fringe event.  

    She wants all of us ordinary gardeners to celebrate our precious patches by taking and posting lots of photographs of our gardens during RHS Chelsea Flower Show week.

    After all, while the Chelsea Flower Show show gardens are works of perfection rivalled only in ephemeral beauty by the salt mandalas of Nepalese monks made painstakingly over a period of weeks only to be blown away to remind those monks that the beauty they can make is just transitory, so those show gardens also are works of ephemera, created at enormous cost, to be admired by us all over just a few days, and then, pouff! Gone - as though they were just fictions of our imaginations.

    Our own gardens though are real works: our backs know that we've made

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  2. Big thank you for plant sale support

    Big thank you for plant sale support

    Dear friends and neighbours,

    I just want to (better late than never!) thank all who came and supported our plant sale on 6th May in aid of mending the hole in the 13th century roof of St Stephen's church, Charlton Musgrove.  With our simple formula of all plants being £1 a pot, no matter how impressive or how dinky, we managed to raise £1,400+ in plant sales, cake sales, raffle ticket sales and extra kind donations.  

    It feels as though Charlton Musgrove is having a real living-the-dream moment.  We currently have a farm shop, a vicar, a fab village hall, and a really great new pub open - we're a proper-central casting village! Long may it last I say, with so many kind neighbours and friends about the whole place is buzzing with neighbourliness.

    So please note this date for your diary for next year, Sat 12th May, Charlton Musgrove Village Hall, for more plant sale action.  We're grateful for donated plants, cakes, and really fab

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  3. Easter Pop Up Shop at Hauser and Wirth

      Come and see us on Saturday 4th April at our Easter Saturday Pop Up Shop! Our 'pop up shop' at Hauser and Wirth, the fabulous art gallery just down the road from us near Bruton, is getting quite a reputation! And so it seems only right that we pop up again on Easter Saturday - thanks to the lovely team there for inviting us back.   [caption id="attachment_4318" align="alignnone" width="300"] Kitchen table bouquets for Easter[/caption]   So we will be setting up our stall at Hauser and Wirth and selling beautiful bouquets, jam jar posies - all round gorgeous flowers for Easter

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  4. The future of our ancient church of St Stephen

    The future of our ancient church of St Stephen

    The future of our ancient church of St Stephen

    We are fortunate in this little village of Charlton Musgrove in Somerset.  We have an ancient church in which to worship.  It is tiny: eighty people make a squash inside.  But it is also exquisite in its simplicity and its sense of deep calm.  

    I don't know about you, but I'm always in a mad rush, I am a bustler; busying about the place, trying to arrive on time, but not early, to pack in as much as I can in a minute for fear of waste.  But I arrive at St Stephen's, and I step into its cool, calm interior, and it's as though there's something there to stop me at the door: an invisible force, like a secret security guard whose job it is to make me take a breath, stop me bustling, calm me down, slow my step.  By the time I've taken my place my heart rate's slowed, my blood pressure's lowered, I look at the dust motes dancing a graceful minuet in the light streaming through the windows,

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  5. There's no such thing as a quiet week at this flower farm.

    There's no such thing as a quiet week at this flower farm.

    I haven't been able to blog for months while our new website has been settling in. But today I'm giving it a go for the first time in ages. While the blog's been out of action we certainly haven't, and this week at Common Farm Flowers has been pretty typical! Starting last Saturday morning we had a pop up shop at the Roth Bar and Grill at the amazing Hauser and Wirth gallery just this side of Bruton where we sold flowers and books and postcards and gardening gloves surrounded by the current exhibition of Elisabeth Frink sculpture. The Hauser and Wirth exhibitions never fail to amaze, and this one was almost comforting too: do you know that feeling when you come face to face with real art which you know well through books and posters, art you've seen all your life, but never SEEN? The Frinks at Hauser and Wirth are gorgeous, tactile, less massive somehow than I thought they'd be... I LONGED to touch them. The awful truth is that without popping up at the Roth Bar I might have missed this

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  6. How to find time to write a novel

    How to find time to write a novel

    At last! All Desires Known is out! Now, for those of you who know me well, you'll know that at heart I AM a novelist.

    At heart I spend my days closeted in a perfectly appointed room of my own, quiet reigning, dust motes dancing in shafts of sunlight, my mind alive with stories pouring in perfectly violet prose onto the page, three thousand words a day, followed by a bout of serious gardening for the good of my figure, my health, my heart, my brain....and to make room for more words to start bouncing about in my head. 

    But of course this is a dream.

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  7. Now we are 6! And thank you....

    Now we are 6! And thank you....

    Can it be possible? I feel as though Common Farm Flowers has been my life for EVER, and yet, in other moods, it’s existed but for the blink of an eye. 

    We bought this soggy patch of clay in 2004 thinking we’d be market gardeners of some sort. Clearly we knew NOTHING about gardening, or we’d NEVER have bought this clay voluntarily with the thought of growing quick turnaround crops on it. It was a green desert – acres of thick, cattle-feeding rye grasses with odd stretches of fencing criss-crossing the land. 

    So first we planted hedges - Fabrizio wanted a place he could call hedge world – to break up the space and make some wind breaks. Then we got pigs to work over the space we’d make into a veg patch. Then we had our first child and the pigs became sausages, and the veg was delicious…

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  8. Putting the wild back into flower farming

    Putting the wild back into flower farming

    You know how it is when suddenly an apparently random subject just keeps on coming up? 

    Well, over the past few weeks I keep on hearing people holding forth on how to maximise flower production at flower farms.

    They talk of how to only grow flowers which will last weeks in vases, how to compete with huge mulitinational flower growing corporations in order to be a 'proper' flower farmer, and it seems to me that the way people try and do this is usually by de-wilding the space they have, joining a race to supply the cheapest flowers to the maximum number of people, often dunked in chemicals you wouldn't want to breathe the gas from on a daily basis... 

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