Lifting Dahlias is one of the biggest (& dirtiest) jobs in our Flower Farm year. And to be honest, this last few weeks it doesn't look much like the sun & flower filled version of flower farming usually seen in a magazine photoshoot or on here! Real life is much less glamourous, I'm afraid...
We grow hundreds of Dahlias every year, so it's time-consuming to lift, clean & store tubers safely until next Spring. Last year, torrential rain in November followed by a very cold snap in early December made it a difficult, unpleasant task.
So we made it a priority to do it early this year. It's been much easier. Almost all Dahlias are out of the ground now, moved into the tiny tunnel for processing.
Tubers are looking good & strong so I'm optimistic they'll bring a good crop of flowers again next year.
There may not be much colour to show you just now but the work goes on behind the scenes. I'm very aware what I do (or don't do) today, this week or this month, has a direct consequence on how many flowers there are to cut next Summer.
Some days it's tempting to stay inside out of the mizzle but the work won't get done if we do. And just now, it's looking like we're on track with the Dahlias... & I'm looking forward to the colour returning!
Did you know I send my handmade Christmas Wreaths UK wide each year?
In recent years they've brought a festive look to doors from Cornwall to Aberdeen & many doors in between.
So if you're looking for a special, original & thoughtful gift this December, this could be your answer!
Each wreath is made to order using a selection of fresh foliage. Much of the foliage is grown by us here in Galloway.
Before I make the wreath, I'll ask your preferred trimmings including ribbon colour (or no ribbon at all) for a unique finish. When complete, I box the wreath with care & send it on it's way.
The flower season here is over...
Last night’s frost was harder than anything experienced before this Autumn, finishing off the few flowers still blooming. I cut our last few Giant Dahlias from the Polytunnel on Thursday for a party - not bad for November. Today the plants are blackened, lying flat on the soil. The colourful, brilliant leaves on the Maples lie in a bright red skirt below. All very final.
So it might not be a very November photo above but believe me, those Delphiniums are a nicer sight than blackened Dahlias! A Flower Farm in Galloway in November doesn't look like a 'Country Living' photoshoot, I'm afraid. But it's still a busy time as we put foundations for next year’s flowers in place.
Most of the Dahlias are lifted (well, about 150 still to go) which is a comfort to know. I was lucky last year, most of our tubers survived the cold temperatures (though Voles ate more than their fair share as they sheltered beneath the black plastic sheets). But many British flower farmers lost hundreds of tubers in last Decembers cold snap. Replacing is a costly business (& aren't all easy to find) so I'm super cautious this year. Each tuber needs cleaning, then dried & stored away in a frost-free place. Then in March I'll bring them out ready for next year's display. It's very satisfying to see how a small tuber multiplies over time to make new plants if I'm lucky.
Roses deserve attention too this week to make sure they continue blooming strongly next year. The new Shrub Roses have got very tall (that rain in August). I'll reduce their height by about a third. This protects them from fierce winds. 'Windrock' causes considerable root damage. I'll gently firm them in at the base & give a generous dollop of good compost too. The hard pruning can wait until February/March.
Tulips have arrived & can be planted now. In recent years, 'Tulip Fire' virus is becoming a problem in British gardens. In 2021 the Virus affected several hundred of my bulbs. It's ugly, deforming the flowers & stems. When it appears, destroy the bulb as it spreads fast to the others. Overnight along a row - like fire in fact! None of the affected stems could be sold & I considered whether to stop growing them. Trouble is, when you buy a bulb, you don't know if it has the virus. Last year I reduced the numbers grown & planted all in large pots & buckets. They flowered spectacularly with no Virus at all. This year, I'm trying the pots again & keeping my fingers crossed...
Usually, we arrange our last weddings at the end of September as the flowers begin to reduce about then. This year, I arranged flowers I had dried for weddings too, the last in early November. There are still dried flowers, grasses, seedheads remaining & I'll bunch them for sale in the next few weeks. Perfect as Posies for Christmas gifts or for your own craft projects.
Christmas is coming up fast now so here's an update on what we're planning;
Make A Christmas Wreath' workshops are scheduled for the following dates;
The Wreath shop is open for pre-orders now. All my wreaths are handmade, without floral foam, from foliage grown here or elsewhere in the British Isles. Wreaths can be collected, delivered locally or sent UK wide by post.
Christmas Flowers & Foliage
Jobs for November:
Until next time,
And the last word this month?
'All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today;
A Buttonhole of dried flowers ready to a pin on the Groom's jacket at a recent wedding.
All Scottish-grown & dried by myself.
Just natural colours, no bleach or dyes.
Dried flowers are so popular for weddings this year & it's no wonder - interesting details, full of colour & a lasting keepsake of a special day.
Autumn flowers decorated the table at Craigadam Country House Hotel, Crocketford in late October for a special wedding celebration.
Sweet little bud vases placed all the way down the enormous dining table, every one filled with a different combination of seasonal flowers, grasses & foliage. All grown here at the flower farm just a few miles away except for the Eucalyptus from a Cornish grower.
The vases sparkled in the afternoon sunshine - imagine how beautiful the table would have looked when all the candles were lit that evening in those candelabra!
Hiding away from the blustery wind of Storm Babet was a perfect opportunity to use some of the dried 'Stuff' I've stashed away over Summer.
All British grown (most here) & dried naturally by myself over recent months. No dyes, no bleaches, just Mother Nature's own colours!
To commission a wreath for your own home or as a gift, contact me Various colours available
For a Flower Farmer in Scotland, change can be dramatic & rapid at this time of year...
On a Thursday, mid-month, I was cutting Dahlias by the Bucketful for 2 weddings.
Then Wham! 3 nights of frost finished the outside crop for this year.
And a week later, the plants in these beds have been cut down, covered in readiness for lifting & storing over winter.
Some growers prefer to leave their plants in the ground or dig them up in December. I think it depends on where you live & the specific climate/soil you're working with.
November & December is incredibly busy here as we prepare for next seasons planting & of course Christmas wreathmaking too. If the Dahlias aren't dug up by early November, it becomes increasingly difficult to find time, especially if the weather turns wet or unexpectedly cold.
And this increases the risk the plants will die & they're expensive to replace in the quantities I grow. So I cover the beds with plastic sheeting to keep soil dry until I get a chance to lift the tubers - much easier if soil is dry.
This method suits us - as with so many gardening tasks, the best time is when you get time...
Fingers crossed, the tubers will get through the Winter safely & be ready to do it all over again next year.
Thank you so much - I'm so thrilled to be nominated as a Finalist in the Scottish Wedding Awards 2024!
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.