So how are we doing? Well the season is about to go into turbo charged mode! I am breathing slowly, sitting as much as I can, preparing for the marathon we start to run shortly. Here come seventy hour weeks, thousands and thousands of stems weeks, wonderful wedding schemes, carefully planned logistics, and under, what will hopefully look like a serene sail by by a swan trailing flaars (moi!?!?!?!?!) the paddling won’t be frantic but will be constant, fast, efficiently planned, strategically scheduled and a 7am alarm will constitute a lie-in.
We’ve had almost no rain though - an occasional heavy downpour helps, but I noticed even well established shrubs just stalled when usually at this time of year they’re bursting out all over. So I’ve given them all a good water, and noted, for future reference, a mid may water for 2020, 2021, 2022… When we moved to Somerset fifteen years ago we planted a twenty foot wide band of willow around the edge of our field to help with the drainage, and would only half jokingly refer to our patch as ‘the swamp.’ We now still have cracks in the ground from last summer’s dry months, and we’re very low on water. I’m looking at growing more perennials which thrive in hot, dry conditions, and while still cutting the same number of stems, growing flowers and plants which won’t flag as early as May if the water table’s low. If you have had little rain over the past few months, give your roses and shrubs a bucket or two of water now and they’ll thank you almost visibly as you stand by and watch. Equally, any plants you put in the ground last winter will thank you now for a good water to take them through a dry summer.
So what do we have to entertain you going forward? Well, our hand-tied bouquet workshop will be great fun at the end of June. What happens is this: a small group of students arrive at our flower farm between Bruton and Wincanton at around 10am and we have coffee and a chat and get to know each other a bit. I then talk a little about what you need from the garden to make a good bouquet and a posy. I try and encourage people to dare to cut (sometimes students are nervous about cutting flowers, even when they’ve booked on a course where that’s the point of the exercise!) Then everybody puts their bucket of water into our trolley, and off we go, scissors in hand, and everyone can cut as much as they like from our flower fields. Then we bring the flowers into the studio for a little drink and to recover from being cut while we all have a little light lunch. THEN we spend the afternoon playing with the flowers. I teach you how to make a perfect hand-tied bouquet, how to aqua pack it, how to make jam jar posies, how to make the most of your own garden flowers - and later on you all go home with armfuls of flowers to keep you smiling all the way home.
And then we have our painting workshop in July. For me this is a real highlight of the year. For two days Alex Fowler (New English Art Club) inspires a small group to really enjoy painting the gifts from the garden. We have a seven acre patch here at Common Farm, so whether you like to paint arrangements of flowers in jugs, or vistas of roses or avenues of trees or orchards or gates in arches in hedges… you can choose several subjects, and with Alex’s encouragement and direction, you might see all sorts of new ways to make the most of your skills. You do not need to be a professional artist to make the most of this workshop, and over two days, with Alex’s direction, you will find yourself pushing your artistic barriers and developing new ways of painting. Don’t worry if the weather’s bad: we have a huge, stone studio, flooded with natural light, which I will fill with flowers for people who prefer to paint indoors. We only have a couple of places left on this workshop, so do book quickly.
Our new 'growing sweetpeas' workshop takes place later this month - spend a morning at Common Farm learning all about growing, cutting and creating beautiful posies with sweet peas. Our garden tours are almost sold out, as is Fabrizio’s perennial wildflower meadow workshop. Over the fifteen years we’ve been at Common Farm, Fabrizio has created the most incredible perennial wildflower meadow, filled with life, flowers, orchids and rare ferns. To see how he’s done it (making a flowering meadow is a notoriously difficult endeavour, as anyone who has tried will tell you,) come and make the most of all he’s learned and your wildflower meadow making will go from strength to strength.
So what are we up to in the garden? A late crop of gladioli are about to be put in the ground, we’re planting out the dahlias, we’re sowing next spring’s biennials, and still sowing annuals to flower this year. I would always rather grow a flower than a weed, so we sow seed right into July for flowers this year. By the end of June we’ll be cutting fully outside and our first tunnel crops will be almost over, after which we’ll sow a catch crop for late season cutting in tunnels we’ll have cleared and mulched and made ready to work again. Never a dull moment! Happy gardening all, and see you at a workshop here soon.