Finally the days (& nights) have reached steady temperatures encouraging the plants to grow faster. Though flowers may start blooming later, they don't necessarily continue for longer. Many are going to put on a fabulous show in the coming weeks as they race to catch up.
And they're growing very fast - yesterday afternoon I planted out 30 mini-Gladioli (I plant them in batches as I don't need many at once.) Given a splash of water at bedtime, this morning 4 have popped up shoots already! Lupins are the same - on Thursday I cut every stem ready for Friday Flower deliveries. This morning 25+ stems are passed the ideal cutting point. Never mind, all the more for the bees...
So many firsts of the year for us this week - the first Sweet Peas, Cornflowers, Iris, Alstroemeria, a couple of Dahlias. Plus the Garden pinks are almost open in the polytunnel too. Most are in small numbers yet but will be going into the mix for this weeks bouquets. I made a strange bouquet in the first week of June - the last of the Tulips, Narcissi & the first Lupins, Alliums, Cornflowers, Geums & more from the field plus a few Leicestershire-grown Peonies. It was like one of those 'Old Master' paintings with an incredible mix of flowers not normally possible to see together ...only possible in 2021.
We're finally planting out the Annuals - very late for us. Partly because I planned it - there were few weddings booked for June, usually one of the busiest months. It made sense to minimise the volume blooming then. And mostly because I'm behind with weeding, making new beds because of my broken arm. We're catching up & will have plenty of flowers for July, August & September when the number of weddings is high. I'm pretty much back to normal strength & intend to begin driving again this week. Ken will be relieved not to have to do all the deliveries!
'No Mow May' was a thing this year & hopefully many will have given it a try as this can help pollinators to flourish. We stopped cutting large swathes of lawn 6 years ago & the results are exciting. There's simply too much grass 'lawn' here to mow when there's so much else to do. I use the term 'lawn' loosely - many wild flowers have appeared, including Orchids. We've added to the floral richness by adding small bulbs & seeding additional flowers such as Cowslips. Difficult to measure but I'm sure the populations of Hoverflies & Moths are increasing. I'm seeing Moths new to me so something is changing... Picture at bottom of the page to give you an idea of how it looked this morning.
It's time to start sowing again for 2022 - the Biennials started this month will be strong plants to face winter. Honesty, Foxgloves & Sweet Williams are on my essentials list & all easy. If you haven't tried them before I recommend them as they're great for filling the floral 'Hungry Gap' in May when the bulbs have just about finished, & before the Hardy Annuals begin to flower.
Our first cutting Peony of the season is opening this morning (a Coral Charm), way behind the main British crop - a beauty! They take a lot of space & I grow only about 20 plants. Never enough! Instead, I bring boxes of these direct from a grower in Leicestershire to add to our bouquets, weddings etc. this month.
We're all watching the Pandemic situation closely again, of course. At the moment, we're planning to be take part in the Big Flower Farmers Weekend' again this year. We'll be open over the weekend of Friday 13th - Sunday 15th August. All visits will be pre-booked & booking will open online on 1st July. Further details here - a Booking link will be added when open.
The Castle Douglas Farmers Market is on Sunday 20th June & Kirkcudbright Farmers Market is on Sunday 27th June. I'll be bringing flowers to both, including some of those luscious Leicestershire-grown Peonies. If you would like to pre-order flowers to collect at the market, send an email.
'Friday Flowers' are being delivered on Fridays (what a surprise!) plus 'Click & Collect' on Fridays & Saturdays. Order online or by telephone 01644 420407. If you tried to order flowers between Thursday 3rd June & Thursday 10th June - our email service was down. No messages were delivered during this time - please resend if you wish to book funeral, wedding or bouquet deliveries.
Now June is bursting out all over, be sure to take time enjoy these long, long days & remember to smell the Roses (plus the Sweet Peas, Pinks, herbs & more all around...
Jobs for the Cutting Garden in June;
And the last word this month?
‘To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow''
Actress 1929 - 1993
Until next time,
Your Flower Links for June;
These zesty coloured Ranunculus are getting into their stride this week, growing outside in the raised beds.
Rather late to the Spring Garden Party (scheduled for early May) they're still welcome, adding a bold splash of colour amongst the softer June flowers.
Added a real zing to some of the Friday Flowers bouquets delivered on Friday mixed with blues, whites & fresh greens.
This little bunch though is destined for the kitchen table - just for me!
Tulip 'James Last' - cutting the last few today & so ending the Tulip season for this year.
I squeezed these beauties into last Friday's bouquet deliveries. Such a useful, soft lavender shade perect with pinks, with blues, with whites. And long, strong stems - an excellent cut flower.
I was wondering whether it was named simply for the Musician or because it's always the last of the Tulips to bloom (here at least).
2021 Spring is, in my humble opinion, turning into one of the weirdest of weather years... ever.
May should be a month of burgeoning growth, plants growing visibly overnight, & colourful flowers. Maybe it will yet, but the cold temperatures & prolonged dry in recent weeks are holding so much back. Now we've had plenty of rain, things are getting going but we so need warmth (& that's me, not just the plants!)
I tend to have a mental calendar in my head, knowing when plants should come into bloom. Our huge Magnolia usually flowers in the first week of May, fabulous for early weddings. This year, I cut it for a Florist on the 1st May! The little posy above was made on the 7th May last year, all from our Galloway-grown flowers. This year, the Narcissi have all flowered bang on time but I've yet to cut a stem from our outdoor Ranunculus, Aquilegia & Pinks. It shows how some flowers are encouraged by light levels (which were good in April) & those that need warmth to flower.
Back in 2018, I sent a large box of flowers to be included in the Gold Medal winning display by 'Flowers From the Farm' at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show - this year I would struggle to send the same mix. Being positive, when the flowers do start, wow, we're going to get a lot of blooms all at once.
The low overnight temperatures have slowed the germination of seedlings & their growth - they'll catch up but many haven't been pricked out as quickly as usual. We're running out of space in the greenhouses, moving trays around to ensure all get their share of light. Trays of the tougher seedlings are being moved in & out each day now so they toughen up ready for planting out in the beds. Perhaps as well because my broken arm has slowed down my bed prepping - it gives me a chance to catch up on weeding...
The Tulips are being cut now to go in the weekly bouquets, & there are some beauties. I grow unusual varieties - the doubles, the fringes & the Parrots. These are late too & keeping bouquets full until the first Peonies & Perennials bloom. The Alliums are in bud so hopefully will flower in the next couple of weeks.The mad thing about growing flowers to cut is how far into the future I must look - this week I ordered my 2022 Tulips & Narcissi to be sure I get the varieties best suited to bouquets next Spring. Talk about needing a crystal ball - how many do I need?
Ken has been creating beds in the new polytunnel - we put it up last year but didn't use it for flowers. It was packed with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Courgettes, Basil & Chillis. The beds will increase productivity & it's already planted up with plants enjoying protection from Galloway rain. Light coloured Dahlia 'Cafe Au Lait', Garden Pinks, darker petalled Sweet Peas. I'll add Zinnias in the next couple of weeks when big enough to plant. And Lettuce & Rocket is tucked in front of the dahlias - indoor space is precious & can be used until they need it!
This has meant we can move on to the old, larger polytunnel & reconfiguring the space to be more productive. As well as more flowers, the tender veg will find a space there.
Best of all, weddings are back & there are 3 this month. All smaller than planned but beautiful none the less. The first is an Elopement wedding this week - sorry can't say more as it's a secret...
The Castle Douglas Farmers Market is on Sunday 16th May & Kirkcudbright Farmers Market is on Sunday 23rd May. I'll be bringing flowers to both. I'm so looking forward to catching up with our Customers & getting back in the routine.
I was touched by the kind messages & offers of help after my broken arm - it was truly appreciated. I'm mending well, being relatively sensible about what I lift & hope to be driving again soon. It's just stupid things that are difficult now - like opening tins! Try explaining the slow service to 2 hungry cats...
'Friday Flowers' are being delivered on Fridays (what a surprise!) & 'Click & Collect' orders can be placed online & by telephone now. Order online or by telephone 01644 420407.
Hoping for some warmth in the next few weeks (& gentle overnight rain, please) to get everything growing well. The Bluebells are coming out all across Galloway so a good opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors as well as the gardens. In no time we'll be enjoying Roses, Sweet Peas & Peonies - then it'll really be like Summer!
Jobs for the Cutting Garden in May;
‘Where Flowers bloom so does hope'
Lady Bird Johnson, Former First Lady of the United States of America
1912 - 2007
Until next time,
Exhausting watching people work isn't it? Sami continuing his tradition of 'not helping' while Ken makes beds in the new Polytunnel over the weekend. I'm sure Sami thinks that edging is there just for his comfort, perfect chin height...
Anyhow, raised beds now complete, filled with lovely rich compost & ready to plant!
This tunnel is for some of the flowers that need a little extra protection from a Galloway Summer such as Dahlia 'Cafe Au Lait', scented Garden Pinks & dark coloured Sweet Peas. It'll soon fill up.
The handmade brick path isn't as extravagant as it looks - they used to be the wall between our kitchen & dining room, knocked down last year. Much too good to go to landfill...
The White Double 'Fancy Daffs' are capturing my attention this week - this one was included in a Natural Funeral Spray today. So full & frilly, like tissue paper.
All the flowers & foliage included, except a few white Alstroemerias grown in Sussex, were grown by me here in Galloway. So 100% British-grown & minimal 'Flower Miles'.
The Spray included our double Tulips, scented Narcissi, the double Narcissi, Alstroemeria, Hyacinth & white Heather. The spray was completely compostable too, & used no floral foam.
Making the switch to natural funeral flowers avoids introducing damaging microplastics into the marine environment.
That damage isn't the legacy I want to leave behind from my floristry, so prefer to work in this way. Many of the people I make arrangements for were passionate Gardeners, nature lovers or simply doing their best to make responsible environmental choices in life. It seems natural to me to recognise this commitment with natural flowers at their funeral.
I don't often post funeral flowers here, I guess we prefer not to dwell on it too much. But if you need to arrange flowers for a loved one at some future time, it might be useful to know greener funeral options are available to you.
Snakes Head Fritillary (Fritillaria Meleagris) What a little beauty!
That Mother Nature came up with this intricate chequerboard design never ceases to amaze & delight me. It's one of our most beautiful British wild flowers, isn't it?
There was a patch of these when we moved here, every year I've planted more. I let them seed & shake them about when dry too. They seem to enjoy a winter flash flood to keep the soil damp.
Now they're spreading happily, popping up in odd places. In cutting beds, by the greenhouse, even a few on the side of the road... I think the seeds must stick to the birds feet & so spread along to another area.
Anyhow, I thought a few on the mantelpiece today would be a treat to share with you in close up. They last surprisingly well in a tiny vase.
I stress these were grown in the garden & should, of course, never be cut from our wild places - sadly too rare now.
Fancy Daffs - I just love 'em!
Yes, of course the cheerful yellow Trumpet Daffodils are a welcome sight as we drive around the countryside in the sunshine. And as a bright jugful on the kitchen table in March, they're hard to beat.
But these multi-layered, subtle-coloured, Can-Can dancing beauties are something else again, earning a place in bouquets & a special place in the garden.
Definitely planting more for next Spring...
Wallflowers have been adding a special touch to many of our 'Friday Flowers' bouquets in the past couple of weeks.
The petals are velvety-rich, & the delicious, heady scent is quite the surprise!
They have long stems, perfect for cutting. I've experimented over several years & settled on just 2 favourite colours - this rich, rusty red & a deep, purple - perfect mixers for Spring Tullips.
Hopefully, their numbers will increase with a few warm nights ahead so I can continue cutting for some weeks yet,,,
Spring is springing all around us now, isn't it? A flight of Swallows was swooping over the lochan on Friday (VERY early), lambs are racing round on the other side of the wall as I weed & birds are busy in the nest boxes. I love these bright mornings when every day some new plant or flower reappears from it's winter sleep. A few have been lost (strangely all my Achillea 'The Pearl' seem to have been zapped) but I'm surprised by other slightly tender plants that have made it so far. Annual Rudbackia for example - a real bonus as this will give earlier flowers than seed sown a couple of weeks ago.
But I'm not complacent. The weather forecast for the coming week has cold night temperatures, as low as we've had all winter. While no precious tender plants are outside yet, this could damage soft new growth on the perennials (especially the Delphiniums, Lupins & Phlox). Even the Alstroemeria in the polytunnels could be damaged so extra layers of fleece will be out tonight... Is there anything you need to protect?
I had a bit of a mishap last month & broke my arm. 3 days before Mother's Day, the busiest day in the Florists calendar & I was at DGRI having an operation. That's when I truly appreciated having good friends. Maybelle Thomson (the inhouse Florist at GG's Yard) saved the day by helping make up bouquets. Ken had a crash course in bouquet wrapping & delivered them all to the Mum's as scheduled. Together we got through & crashed in an exhausted heap on the Saturday! The arm's mending well (fortunately it's my left one & I'm right handed), I can wiggle fingers & manage to sow seeds, plant out etc. But I've no strength in it yet & it'll be a while before I can lift much or drive. Very frustrating when there's so much to do!
I love my early morning 'patrol' around the greenhouses at this time of year.. It's exciting to see which seeds have germinated overnight. Little specks of green confirming a packet of seed was good & these have a chance of making it into a bouquet later this year. The March sown seedlings will need pricking out into their own space soon & their places on the heated benches are quickly filled with the next batch of seed.
The Chrysanthemum cuttings ordered over the winter have arrived & potted up to grow on. I hope to discover good varieties to thrive outside here as these would be a great addition to our Autumn bouquets. They have wonderful names, often obviously after somebody - I would love to know more about the people whose names they bear! Who is/was Tom Pearce? Denise Oatridge? Ada Evans? It's easier to remember plant names when they're human...
We've finally begun to cut our own flowers again now - in the past few weeks Pieris, Hellebores & Forsythia, now Narcissi & the first Tulips. These will be mixed with beautiful Sussex-grown Alstroemeria in the April bouquets. I'm able to arrange the weekly bouquets again now & Ken is helping tie, wrap & deliver them.
Slowly, everyday life is beginning - from this week we'll be able to offer 'click & collect' at the gate again. The Kirkcudbright Farmers Market will be back in late April for food businesses only. Fingers crossed, we'll be back at both Kirkcudbright & Castle Douglas Farmers Markets in May.
The next delivery day will be Friday 9th April & orders can be placed online now. Order online or by telephone 01644 420407
Enjoy the freedom to get out & about again this month & the beautiful Spring sunshine. It's a joyous, uplifting season & heaven knows, our spirits all deserve a little bit of that!
Jobs for the Cutting Garden in April;
‘Where Flowers bloom so does hope'
Lady Bird Johnson, Former First Lady of the United States of America
1912 - 2007
Until next time,
Rosie Gray of Galloway Flowers. Artisan Florist & Cut Flower Farmer near Castle Douglas, in South West Scotland. Using 100% Flowers & Foliage grown in British Isles, all year round.