It is bizarre that we’re already in July. June never seemed to happen with all that cold weather. But at last the roses are getting into their stride, and even the relatively reluctant sweet peas are finally getting their mojo. I’m not complaining. If we plan the garden carefully enough we should never have a gap whatever the weather throws at us. Usually the tunnel flowers are very much going over by now, but this year they are very happily flowering and showing no sign of fatigue - which is a relief because the outdoor crops have been sloooow to start. I am reminded, as I fill buckets to haul around the garden in my trolley (I feel as though I could quite easily train to be one of those people who walk to the north pole pulling a sled,) early in the morning, that this really is a ‘lifestyle’ business. On paper I’m not sure any wise person would take it up, but as I turn corners and a cloud of butterflies dances into the air before me, or gangs of goldfinches (a gang of goldfinches is officially called a charm, but they seem much more gangish to me,) scatter into the low cover provided by seeding dock on which they feed greedily, that what we do here is a good thing. The repetitive work and physical labour of this job are very grounding, the sight of the birds and the bees and the butterflies and the beetles we make a home for, dancing about in the sunrise, is transporting.
So what does July hold for us? Well, shock horror! I still haven’t sown next year’s biennials! So that’s a job for this afternoon. We do have lots of self-sown foxgloves, sweet rocket and sweet william around, and at the end of the season I won’t waste them, but will coral them together for cutting next year. I must, though, get a good chunk of wallflowers and Canterbury bells sown for next year. I’ll pop my sown trays in the shade so that germinating seedlings don’t singe in any hot sun. And I’ll keep them there until there’s room to plant them out in September. Meanwhile the roses keep on flowering. Our bouquets by post are full of them. I have one friend making soap and another making flower essences with the blown roses, so nothing goes to waste.
And this morning we have our first dahlia in flower. I have a little crop of spare dahlias sitting in pots waiting to be put into the tunnel when there’s space - a job for tomorrow if the weather stays cool. The garden is looking stunning though - which is very good for our painting workshop at the end of this month. I am no artist, but love this weekend, when artists come from miles around to paint in the gardens here at Common Farm. Alex Fowler (New English Art Club,) directs the workshop and is brilliant at encouraging people to improve their skills, or hone their eye. I love to see the work people create in our leafy glades or in the flower beds.
And this is a good month to watch out on our social media for event flowers. We are flat out almost every weekend from now until September with wedding and event flowers: from supplying buckets of mixed flowers for DIY dos, to creating the full Fragonard (what we call the big weddings where we create and install all the arrangements ourselves, there is something for everyone coming up here at Common Farm. We are @theflowerfarmer on twitter, and @commonfarmflowers on Instagram and Facebook. Follow us on any of those for lots of cheerful tips and tricks as well as lots of lovely images of our work.
Don’t forget to sow your biennials for next year - and have you ordered your spring bulbs yet? Happy gardening all!