I went away for a week in late October in what felt like early Autumn, hundreds of Dahlias blooming… & returned to what felt like another season. The frosts last weekend were hard, blackening all those blooms overnight. So now we’re on to the end of season tasks – clearing, composting & covering the beds with a thick layer of compost. Just digging up & storing 600 dahlia plants is going to take a while!
But of course the end of one season is the beginning of another – so we’re busy planting out too. Most of the Narcissi, Ranunculus & Anemones, so lovely in bouquets from mid-March onwards, are now planted. This month we start planting Tulips. By choosing varieties & planting in different places we can usually cut these for at least 2 months. We leave it until November or even early December to plant Tulips as they’re less likely to develop a nasty disease called ‘Tulip Fire’ if planted later.
It’s dark just after 5pm now, so we’re having to organise differently. It never fails to astonish me how quickly the light fades away. Dogs have to be walked earlier or I miss out on valuable ‘thinking time’. The evenings are filled with preparing for the Christmas season – mossing up wreaths, wiring cones & ribbon so these are ready to assemble next month.
The closing of the flower season means the end of our local bouquet deliveryservice for a while. There are still some flowers of course (especially the garden pinks, chrysanthemums & berries) so I can still make up our regular orders & funeral flowers when required. And by mid-December I’ll have flowers from British growers further south so bouquets will be available to order for Christmas.
The ‘Make Your Own Christmas Wreath’ Workshop at the CatStrand Arts Centre, New Galloway on 11th December is filling so book your place soon if you’re planning to come. This is always a fun afternoon with heaps of lovely foliage & festive trimmings to make every wreath unique. And of course a natural wreath is made without floral foam. This workshop always starts my Christmas season off! Book here
And Wreaths are going to keep me busy in the coming weeks – I’ll be at the CatStrand Christmas Fair, New Galloway on Saturday November 24th & Kirkcudbright Farmers Market on Sunday 25th November. Wreaths & Christmas flowers can be ordered & I'll bring lots of cards & Narcissi from the Scilly Isles too.
Take the chances of bright weather to enjoy the fresh air, kick up a few leaves & forage for your own natural decorations such as a gorgeous leaf, berries & cones. I cannot resist - my kitchen window sill is beginning to look like the school 'nature table' at the moment!
Jobs for the Cutting Garden in November;
Such a beautiful afternoon yesterday for clearing away the fading plants to make room for the new ones to go in.
Sometimes it's tempting to keep them going when past their best, for those last few stems. But if I can get the new plants in while the soil is warm, they'll have a head start next Spring.
And this wheel barrow load of old Cosmos will make great compost!
#ScottishFlowerFarmer #autumngardening #GrowninGalloway
It’s definitely got an Autumn feel today, as I look out over the meadow. Cobwebs glisten with dew, decorating the last standing seed heads & the Oak trees on the edge of the wood are developing rich golden tones. A frost was forecast again last night but I think we’ve got away with it – each morning I go down to check the Dahlias, tucked up in fleece & hardly dare look to see if there’s any damage. So far I’ve been lucky.
And September was a wild month as Storm Ali raged through, bringing down many mature trees across the region. Some of our large oaks lost branches but with care should survive. It has kept Ken busy clearing the mess & storing the logs away to dry.
But overall the garden is looking good! Last year I gave considerable thought to adding plants that could still be cut for late bouquets in October. I added many new ones & now seeing the results.
A large bed of Michaelmas Daisies (now renamed Symphytrichum but I’m struggling to remember that name, they used to be Asters) are such stars. I grew most from a packet of mixed seed sown in early 2017 & this is the first year they’ve flowered properly. There are some named cultivars in the bed too. Often these plants suffer horribly from mildew but so far these are all fine. Tall, long strong stems & hundreds of long lasting starry flowers in colours from deep purple, hot pinks through to pretty lavenders & even whites. I’ll be marking the best & propagate more to increase stocks for next year. They're so useful as the 'supporting act' to the glamour flowers such as Dahlias in bouquets & arrangements.
And these are joined in the bouquets this week by a rich mix of Scabious, Rudbeckia, Dahlias, late Gladioli & autumn tinted foliage. Even the Roses are having a last hurrah! In the polytunnel the Garden Pinks are throwing up dozens of deliciously scented stems & the first few Chrysanthemums are being cut. So yes, more to add for next year but proving ‘Galloway Grown’ bouquets are definitely achievable. into October!
And the fruit & berries have been plentiful this year – the last cold winter encouraged this. There are so many rose hips I’m trying to preserve them to use in the Autumn & Christmas wreaths. That can be a bit ‘hit & miss’ but if you don’t try…
Bookings are coming in for the ‘Make Your Own Christmas Wreath’ Workshop in New Galloway on Tuesday 11th December. So be sure to book your place if you would like to come. Book here. I’ve been asked to deliver this workshop in Dumfriestoo & looking into possible venues. Email me if you might be interested & I’ll give you priority before the date’s announced on social media.
There are so many jobs this month to prepare for winter & of course, for a glorious Spring cutting patch – plenty of suggestions below. But even more importantly, give yourself time to admire the brilliant colours of the trees, enjoy gathering conkers & cones, simply make the most of these golden, shortening days.
Jobs for the Cutting Garden in October;
Yesterday Storm Ali raged through the region, causing widespread damage to trees. We were without electricity much of the day but thank you to the power team - we had the electricity (& so phone & internet too) before darkness. It was certainly difficult weather to be out in.
Sadly some of our big Oak trees have lost large branches & we've been out with the chain saw this morning. Being positive, there'll be lots of logs for the wood burner when seasoned.
And the other gift from Storm Ali is the beautiful lichen covered stems, acorns & leaves. The clean, damp air here in Galloway enables the most beautiful & varied Lichens to grow. I think I feel inspired to use these in Autumn & Winter door wreaths...
And amazingly, the flowers have fared remarkably well inside the shelter belt of trees. I hardly dared go down to look this morning & so relieved to see there'll be plenty for the bouquet orders this weekend.
#StormAli #Autumn #Autumnwreath #Lichens
Well, in 'Dumfries & Galloway Life' to be more precise...
If you've ever wanted to take a peek behind the scenes & see how we grow so many flowers here at the Flower Farm in Galloway, you can. Journalist Laura Jones visited us back in July & has written an article included in the local glossy magazine, September issue. But you'd better be quick if you want a copy as the October issue will be out September 12th.
I made this natural sheaf of seasonal flowers & foliage last week as a funeral tribute. The glowing gold tones reflect the season as we're feeling the first Autumn chill in the mornings.
The sheaf included; dahlias, helenium, solidago, antirrhinum, gladioli, carthamus, cornflowers, alstroemeria, physocarpus, conifer, daucus carota & fennel seedheads. All grown by us here in Galloway except the alstroemeria (these came from another British grower).
Bound simply with raffia, this sheaf is 100% biodegadable & suitable for eco & natual burials.
To order floral tributes for funerals telephone 01644 420407 or get in touch online here
#NaturalFuneralFlowers #Funeralsheaf #funeraltributes #sympathyflowers
The Flowers are blazing with colour this month as many of the late Summer flowers such as Asters, Cosmos, Helenium & of course Dahlias, burst into bloom. All had a good soaking last month & now producing masses of stems for the late August & September weddings, bouquets & arrangements.
The Dahlia patch is eye poppingly colourful with such a variety of shapes, colours & sizes. We’re cutting buckets of them each week now so let me know if you would like some. I’m always happy to cut a bunch to arrange yourself for collection.
We’re mindful our first frost date is often mid-September here so have lengths of fleece to hand ready to throw over the dahlias if a really cold night is forecast. Experience has taught me if I can protect them through this month, often we don’t get another frost till well into October. So with a little effort the blooms will keep on coming. We listen carefully to the last weather forecast each night & often dash down in the dark because the forecast changes!
And this is really the beginning of our gardening year not the end. We’re planning & planting now to make sure we have plenty of stems to cut in Spring & early Summer next year. I’ve been splitting some of our favourite perennials such as Astrantia & Alchemilla. These are both so useful in early June & I used every stem available this year. Planting out the Sweet Williams & Sweet Rocket into the spaces of spent annual crops has begun now. And of course I'll be sowing a few hardy annual seeds to overwinter & bloom early in the polytunnel.
The boxes of bulbs ordered back in May will arrive any day & getting these planted is one of our big jobs of the year. To be honest, it can seem a bit overwhelming when they arrive! We’ve ordered many unusual Narcissi (particularly useful as the deer don’t eat them), Anemone, Ranunculus & more.
Dried flower arrangements are enjoying a rise in popularity so I've been gathering up the Hydrangeas, Poppy & Nigella seed heads plus lovely grasses to fill a few jugs later in the year & to make Autumn wreaths.
If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek behind the scenes here at how we grow our flowers, you can in the September issue of ‘Dumfries & Galloway Life’. We were visited by journalist Laura Jones back in July & her article is included in the September magazine out now.
While Christmas might seem a long way off yet, I’ll just mention the ’Make Your Own Christmas Wreath’ workshop has been scheduled for Tuesday 11thDecember. It’ll be at the lovely CatStrand Arts Centre in New Galloway again – it would be lovely if you could join me for this fun, creative afternoon. Places can be booked HERE. I’ve started collecting up lots of cones etc already so we’ll have lots of natural treasures to decorate the wreaths as well as pretty ribbons, cinnamon sticks etc..
I’ll be bringing flowers to Kirkcudbright Farmers Market on Sunday 23rd September. As always, Bouquets, Wreaths & Flowers to arrange yourself can be ordered to collect from the Flower Farm or for local delivery.
Here's hoping for a beautiful 'Indian Summer' & golden season of mellow fruitfulness,
Jobs for the Cutting Garden in September
What a difference a week of rain makes!
One week we’re miserly saving every drop of household water for plants then Boom! A massive thunderstorm. For a few days, we’re wearing wellies & rescuing potted plants from pools of water. I swear plants grew inches & grass greened last week with the desperately needed rain.
Like the rest of the UK, we had a glorious long spell of hot, dry weather – it was wonderful being able to plan work outside & cut flowers certain it would be dry.
But it was beginning to worry us – we've our own water supply & levels were falling fast. Suddenly hyper aware of how careless we're with water, rapidly becoming expert at saving buckets of water from the house. Water was targeted at plants in most need – the colours promised for weddings, the newly planted shrubs & roses.
There have been losses but mostly just annuals. My carefully planned successions of Annual Gypsophila & Nigella for example, gave one magnificent display, together. Now there’ll be no more for the rest of the year. I miss them but there’s a bumper crop of seed pods to dry for autumn & winter wreaths instead!
Overall I’ve been impressed by how resilient plants are – the Roses, Achillea, Garden Pinks & Agapanthus have been the most prolific I’ve ever known here, loving heat & the dry. We’ve been harvesting large buckets of all. Even the Sweet Peas kept going – the stems were shorter for a while & they got regular soaks, now they’re happily producing masses of stems again.
The watering was taking a large chunk of time each day but on the plus side, weeds didn’t germinate & grass didn’t need cutting… don’t think that’ll last!
As the flowers move through towards late Summer, the colours are changing in our bouquets. There’s always plenty of white of course but the pale pastels of early summer are giving way to brighter, bolder colours. Dahlias, Asters, Heleniums & Sunflowers are blooming early in a mix of pinks, purples, oranges & yellow. The late Summer flowering bulbs Acidanthera & Gladioli are beginning to form spikes nicely now we’ve had rain.
We’ll be bringing flowers to Kirkcudbright Farmers Market on Sunday 26th August. As always, Bouquets, wreaths & Flowers to arrange yourself can be ordered throughout the month to collect from the Flower Farm or local delivery.
I know the drought remains serious further south, making it difficult for our fellow flower farmers & gardeners (perhaps you). We’re still careful with water & maybe developing better working habits from the experience. But I’m grateful all has freshened up, the pressure lessened. Like wet weather, the heat doesn’t last. - all we can do is adapt & make the most of whatever comes. Take it easy if too hot for you & let’s hope for more sunshine, lots of blooms & cooler, comfortable temperatures for the last few weeks of Summer.
Jobs for the Cutting Garden in August
This beauty just gets bigger & more beautiful by the day. If you crushed blackcurrants & gently painted the juice on a white background - that's exactly the effect on these blooms. Very painterly & lovely to mix with pinks & blues in a bouquet. The dahlias are appreciating the recent rain & the stems are longer now. #GrowninGalloway #Dahlias #SummerFlowers #ScottishFlowers
Rosie Gray of Galloway Flowers. Artisan Florist & Cut Flower Farmer near Castle Douglas, in South West Scotland. Using 100% British Flowers all year round.