February news from the flower farm
I’m always relieved to see the end of January. Noticeably longer days are here now, and I can fall out of bed and drag still sleepy TeaCake up the field to catch the day break without needing a torch. The winter habit of having little time to get all done is still strong, and so I hurry hurry hurry through the to do list and find that even after a quick dog walk there are suddenly whole hours daylight outside for me to work. And so the poly tunnel is getting weeded and washed, the roses are pruned, the mulching continues, the bed edges are re-cut straight, with string and dibber providing the line. Soon I will even sow some seeds – well, on the 15th Feb to be precise, when we will have ten hours of daylight to encourage germination and strong growth.
Do ping over to my YouTube for seed ordering chat.
I have a seed sowing demo coming up and you can book your place on that here.
The sweet peas I sowed on 19th January are beginning to germinate now (today we are the 29th) in the cold greenhouse where they are covered to keep the mouse off, rather than keep them warm. And as it’s the end of January I may allow myself to sow some more now, remembering to add a few extra tall pots into which I’ll pop seed which will become nice fat plants to sell at our village plant sale on 11th May.
When I gave a talk for The Generous Gardener at Rodmarton Manor in the autumn I met Sarah Rivett-Carnac who founded the Rivett-Carnac Trust in memory of her husband Simon. The trust raises funds to distribute to small charities where modeest grants can make a huge difference. Enormously inspired I thought it was time to re-launch our village plant sale and raise money not only for church, village hall, and another local charity The Treatment Bag, but also for our own local small horticultural charity The Growing Space in Wincanton.
So when I start sowing seeds in earnest in mid Feb I will be sowing for the flower farm, but will also be sowing a little extra for our village plant sale. And I hope you’ll consider doing the same and join in with what we are calling The Common Good Plant Sale.
If you live near Charlton Musgrove in Somerset then you are warmly invited to our plant sale on 11th May. Please do bring a good long shopping list, but also bring any spare plants or seedlings you may have grown too many of, and which you might donate. Our plant sale is a proper old fashioned bring and buy affair.
If you don’t live near enough to visit then how’s this for an idea: you hold your own plant sale in aid of your own local horticultural charity.
We all know that just getting outside is very good for us, and gardening also. When I list the good stuff: gentle exercise, vitamin D doses from the sun, satisfaction from achievements, the calming effect of using fine motor skills to prick out seedlings or plant out. Digging in the soil we breathe in bacteria which release serotonin and improve our mood. If nothing else, when gardening we hurry less, we see and hear more. The fresh air we breathe in increases the oxygen levels in our blood. At the end of as little as twenty minutes in a garden our mood can be transformed.
And so if you, and I, and many more subscribers to this email list, to the Common Farm Flowers Instagram or YouTube… if we all hold plant sales on 11th May and raise modest amounts of money to help the work of our local horticultural charity we will have enabled lots of other people to take advantage of the benefits of gardening.
There is no competition to raise the most funds. There is no competition to hold the biggest event. The idea is that we all do a little, and the ripple effect of our many small plant sales will mean that small, horticultural charities all around the world, will benefit. And all around the world there will be people who find there is a safe place where they too can get outside and feel the relief of encouraging things to grow.
I’ll be sharing tips we’ve learned over the years holding our own plant sale here and on my other social media channels during the next few months as we all get ready for our plant sales. But for now, will you join me in holding a small plant sale in aid of your local horticultural charity? Imagine the difference we could make!
Let us know if you are planning to do this and nearer the time we can circulate a list of all the places Common Good Plant Sales are happening. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know!
So, along with lots of extra seeds going in the ground what else are we doing?
Well the annual tree and shrub order has just been made. This year: Amelanchier (we’ve ordered hedging sized whips which we’ll plant in places where we hope they’ll grow into mature trees.) more crab apples, and a Blenheim Orange to replace one which the insurance company said was growing too close to the house, and whitebeam (because I love them.).
Weddings are booking in steadily. We try and keep the weddings we supply local enough that most of the flowers are collected from us. We are not big, luxury wedding florists. We like to supply affordable flowers to people who are looking forward to arranging some of them themselves. And so we are happy to help people work out how to grow their flowers, or buy cut mixed buckets from us for their own floristry, and we have all kinds of workshops and demos for people who’d like to learn how to grow, cut, condition, and arrange wedding and event flowers.
And we are not the only flower growers who recognise that Affordable Wedding Flowers are in great demand by able and creative couples. And so this year for the first time we’ve teamed up with twelve colleagues around the country whose work and business ethos we admire and who we’ve invited to join our scheme. We’ve started very small and we’ll see how we go. I’m hoping to visit all our new affiliates through the year, but for the moment do have a look at our affiliates page on the website to see if there’s a flower grower near you who might help you with cut flowers grown on their field for your wedding, event, or just for fun.
Right I’m off then – this afternoon (dry…) I’m just going to mow the paths around the place. Winter can make a garden feel overwhelmingly untidy, but a mown path, to me, shows that the untidy longer grass is there on purpose to provide cover for mice and voles which feed the owls.
I’m not cutting back last year’s perennials growth yet because it’s still home to many overwintering insects – I’ll wait till mid spring to do that.
I’ll give my seed trays a rinse out so that I’m ready to go on 15th February. I’ll stock up on peat free seed sowing compost – I use Sylvagrow.
I’ll give the greenhouse as well as the polytunnels a wash so that when the seeds are sown there’s maximum light.
And slowly the season will be upon us. I feel less panicky about the amount I have to do to get the flower fields ready for production, not to mention our summer at-the-farm workshops and farm tours than I did last week when I hadn’t really got back outside at all, and it felt as though all the jobs I have to do were overwhelming. I went outside, and I got a little done, and I was reminded that we have a little extra light every day. And I remembered that All Will Be Well.
Happy February all – and I hope you too are inspired to hold a plant sale on 11th May.