April news from the farm
At last it is the season when my car clock tells the right time – hoorah for spring.
And the season in the flower fields here is suddenly galloping with the scent of unfurling poplar leaves filling the air, suddenly tulip buds, suddenly narcissi… Walking the gardens with a lovely wholesale customer seeing what we grow with new eyes as she pounces on things I don’t even see because I’m so used to them: unfurling honeysuckle, elm in the hedge, hornbeam catkins… Adding them all to her list.
April is the beginning of our official field grown cut flower season, and while I do create with flowers and foliage through the winter, I am grateful for the support of other British flowers growers: BJ Richards and Flowers by Clowance and Smith and Munson especially.
It never ceases to amaze me that a garden that looks months away from supplying anything can pounce into growth so fast. Last week there was NOTHING, this week I’m pulling the first tulips, have narcissi by the hundred, and there is an abundance of foliage. By the time we are cutting our first wedding flowers for the end of April weekend I know we’ll have a field full. It’s such a relief!
Meanwhile we have been planting our first hardy annual seedlings (sown around 15th Feb,) into the outside beds (if you missed my planting out demo you can buy the recording here), sowing more for the next crop, potting on tender, slow growing seedlings like cobaea scandens, and overwintered tender cuttings of salvias and scented pelargoniums so that when I finally plant them into the back door pots I’ll have good sized plants ready to fill the yard with scent.
Have you remembered to order some late-summer flowering bulbs? We generally order from Peter Nyssen, not just because the packaging is 100% compostable, and they assure us that none of their bulbs are dipped in neonicotinoids, but because the customer service there (thank you Karen as always!) is so good.
They are sending us new things to try because we are deer fencing the whole seven acres in May (eek! Not cheap, but there are a LOT of deer around here these days, and if we fence the whole plot, then I’ll have lots more room to grow.) I’m planning crocosmia in the woodland edges, tyrcytis (toad lilies,) in the damp shade, as well as my usual hundreds of gorgeous glads.
Last year I tried planting amaryllis directly in the beds at the top of the field, but somebody keep digging them up, so this year I plan to pot them up and get them established before planting out. Maybe pots and pots of them in the yard (for my pleasure,) and plant them out in the field towards the end of the season when we’re planting out other goodies for the next year in September. Flower farming is often about experimenting, especially when growing something which is absolutely not advertised as a plant which will love living in our wet clay.
It’s exciting to think that in a month from today we will be elbow deep in flowers for three weddings, two wholesale bookings, and one, entirely perfect, tiny wedding to be created for a lovely couple in the next village to us. The tiny wedding is my special pleasure to create, especially at the end of April when there will be forget me nots, and maybe bluebells, apple blossom, tulips, cowslips, cowparsley (good time of year for cows!)
We are pretty sold out for weddings 2023, but we are taking bookings for 2024, so if you’re planning a wedding close to us in south east Somerset, we are between Bruton and Wincanton, and think you’d like a low-key approach to flowers, with perhaps a DIY element, we may be the flower growers and florists for you.
For more luxurious schemes maybe chat to our friend and colleague Caroline at Fleur Provocateur. And for good wedding venues do have a look at North Cadbury Court, The Roth Bar, Sparkford Hall, and Stourhead, all of which are very close by to us and have something to suit every budget. For caterers I really recommend Victoria Blashford Snell above all others, and Abbas Marquees are fantastic.
Do keep an eye on our YouTube where we love to post clips about the work we’re doing as we do it. I’m thrilled to say we now have over 16,500 subscribers and 250 members of the YouTube club. We launched the club n January and we are having a rip rollocking time over there with a growing community of flower fans. My colleague Nicola shares timely YouTube clips on our Instagram stories, but equally, do subscribe to the ‘tube if you fancy and you’ll find we have lots of different playlists, weddings, flower farming, flower projects, and more which you might find helpful if you’d like to find material that really suits your particular interest – even my Mum Googie (I know she is the real star of the YouTube,) has her own playlist.
My other Very Important News this month is that I am finally back on Twitter. My old account was hacked and despite a lot of effort and the support of the Twitter community it hasn't been returned to me so you can now find me there as @commonfarm1, linked here, if easier to find that way. Ping over and say hello - I have very much missed the Twitter chat over the last few weeks.
Right, I need to go and give the dahlias in the polytunnel a sprinkle of water so that they’ll sprout. I like to grow my dahlias from cuttings and right now they are all in trays in the tunnel, with a little light blanket of compost, and I can see the beginnings of growth now that the weather is warming up a little.
Happy digging one and all, and may your coming seasons be full of flowers, and many gorgeous arrangements.