The Dahlias are absolutely at their best this month, pushing up new stems of fabulous colours each day. This dainty little pompom is a favourite. It starts off white with a deep purple edge to the centre petals, then as it matures it turns this delicious lavender pink. Incredibly useful for weddings.
So pleased I cut these before the rain came - something so mesmerising about the geometry.
Meteorological Autumn begins today & oh boy, hasn't it felt like it in the past few days? Wild winds, wet & chilly nights too so it's a delight to have sunshine today.
The first hints of Autumn colour are showing in the hedgerows & the flower display in the cutting beds is really hotting up. There are plenty of whites & pale pinks of course (always popular for weddings) but the bold, hot colours are positively glowing in the softer daylight. Peach, copper, red, purple & hot pinks, the first hips & berries - there'll be a definite Bollywood vibe to my bouquets in the next few weeks.
Obsessed by the weather, we're making sure to listen in to the late weather forecast. The recent winds & rain have been tough on the flowers & now it's an early frost we're watching out for. Often we get a snap frost in mid-September then glorious warmth until well into October. Sheets of fleece are ready for a late night dash to protect the Dahlias from this threat so I can keep them blooming for weeks more.
August weddings & of course our first open day meant last month flashed by. It was a pleasure to welcome 27 visitors to the garden tours. We had no idea if anybody would want to come & it was so lovely to meet other flower enthusiasts. We were so lucky as on each day the tour finished just before the heavens opened! And yes, we'll do it all over again next year.
September is a great time to multiply your plants at little or no cost. We grow most of ours from seed or cuttings so have plenty to do in the next few weeks. Autumn sown annuals (such as Cornflowers & Ammi) will be strong, healthy plants & bloom earlier than those sown in Spring. I do both for a succession of flowers. So there'll be a good clean up this week of the greenhouse & polytunnel, ready to start filling the space again.
As evenings draw in, I always get that 'Back to School' feeling & need something to look forward to. So I've been scheduling plenty of new events & workshops for the coming months. Each time it rains I dash indoors & work on a new events page for the website. It'll be finished in the next couple of days & bookings will open. (I had planned to do it today but decided to make the most of the sunshine). As a heads up before this goes on social media at the end of the week, these are the key dates;
Dumfries; We'll be meeting for short & very relaxed 'hands on' evening flowery sessions on the 1st Tuesday each month at the fabulous Frothy Bike Cafe on Whitesands.
New Galloway; 'Make Your Own Christmas Wreath' workshop at the Cat Strand Arts Centre. Thursday 5th December pm.
Kirkcudbright; 'Make Your Own Christmas Wreath' workshop at the Station House Cookery School. Friday 6th December pm.
I usually send just one newsletter a month - as these events will be open for booking later this week, I'll send a second email in a few days so you have the opportunity to book before details are published widely. Simply ignore that email if of no interest to you.
We’ll be at Kirkcudbright Farmers Market on Sunday 22nd September. If you need a flowery fix before then, I'll be making up bouquets & wreaths to order as usual for collection or local delivery. Also flowers to arrange yourself by the informal bunch or bucket (pre-order & collection only) are available on Fridays & Saturdays this month.
Your Flowery Inspiration links;
For now, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a glorious 'Indian Summer' - it's such a beautiful season to get out & about for walks or simply working in the garden. I might just gather a few cones up for wreaths though...
Until next time,
On Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th, we welcomed 27 visitors to the Flower Farm for a peek behind the scenes. Many were customers who have been enjoying our flowers, often for several years, & curious to see where their flowers grow. Others were keen gardeners wanting to see how we grow so many flowers up a hill side in South West Scotland.
The event was part of the much larger 'Flower Farmers Big Weekend' organised by the British co-operative of Flower Farmers 'Flowers From The Farm'. Earlier in the year when we were asked if we would take part, it seemed so easy to say 'yes'. As doubtless did over 100 Flower Farmers across the UK.
As the weekend grew closer, I began to wonder what we had agreed to. For a few weeks, the event seemed to be mentioned in every glossy magazine I opened - the press coverage was fabulous & resulted in tickets selling out fast. We never even got as far as adding the event to our social media pages - just the press & our newsletter sold the tickets. Sunday sold out in days.
After appalling wet & windy weather, for a short while I considered cancelling as inevitably this did slow down the blooms. We tidied, swept, weeded, worried about access, parking, insurance & trip hazards. But decided to go ahead as actually a weeds, warts & all view of flower farming is sometimes what needs to be given. It isn't easy to grow & sell large volumes of quality flowers. British, locally grown cut flowers take effort & skill to produce.
Occasionally press articles do rather give the impression growing flowers is an easy way to make money, (IMHO) portraying flower farmers simply wafting around their patch on a sunny morning, wearing a pretty linen dress, floppy sunhat & sandals. Er, no - not this one at any rate. More often I'm seen not-so-stylishly attired in wellington boots, with wet hair & please - don't look at the state of my fingernails!
So we went ahead anyway & were lucky on both days the tour completed before the heavens opened. Perfect timing for tea, cake & good chat with flower enthusiasts. Only afterwards did Ken & I realise neither of us remembered to take any pictures...
We had no idea if anyone would be interested in seeing what we do, weeds, mud & all. And were delighted to discover people interested in the provenance of their flowers & how they're grown. Your encouragement, enthusiasm & ideas for what we should do next in our flower growing business were so uplifting.
Thank you all so much!
The last few weeks have been among our busiest of the year & with extreme weather to contend with, not without challenges. As well as the flowers I’ve arranged, plenty of buckets of flowers went through the gate on their way to summer weddings, events & parties across the area. I love to see how customers use our flowers – such a creative bunch!
And what can I say about weather? The warmth & rain has started the Dahliasflowering well at last. They were growing so slowly (compared to last). Of course I realised finally they were getting far less water! While it was dry again in June, it wasn’t particularly hot. The plants never looked wilted or sad, so I just let them get on with it. I prefer growing them with ‘tough love’ as I think stems are stronger & cope better with the wind & it saves time. But I think maybe it was a bit too tough. Never mind, they’re catching up & this week we’re cutting plenty at last – just in time for a big wedding next weekend.
This wet weather has spoiled some of the annual crops, especially the Cornflowers & Ammi. They’ve been beaten down & & can quickly develop problems with moulds. I’ll cut them down this afternoon & hopefully in a couple of weeks we’ll get a fresh batch of stems to use. Fortunately plenty of others are filling the gap – Antirrhinum & Rudbeckia are especially prolific this week.
The colours in the beds are changing now as the late summer fireworks show begins – big, bold blue Agapanthus & flaming red Montbretia, the first fiery orange, yellow & brown Heleniums will be out this week, looking fabulous combined with theNigella pods & huge Fennel seed heads. Love a bit of drama in my vases!
New flowers for me this year are the annual Asters. I’ve dabbled with small numbers in recent years & wanted to experiment with some more unusual ones. So this year I’ve given them a whole bed, about 5 varieties so still small scale but enough to get to know them better. So far the apricot & lavender blue ones are stunning, lasting a good 2 weeks for me in a vase. They’ll be going in to the mixed bunches taken to the Farmers Markets & Loch Arthur this month.
If you haven’t already done so, can I remind you to order your bulbs for next Spring soon? The best varieties sell out fast & if you want to grow Hyacinths for Christmas gifts, they need starting off in mid-September.
Our ‘Flower Farmers Big Weekend’ garden tour bookings are being snapped up fast! The Sunday afternoon tour is fully booked & as of this morning there are just 4 places left to book for the Saturday 17th August tour. Numbers are small in each group as space & parking are limited. Booking is essential. So if you’re planning to come, best get on to it soon… If any places remain by mid-week, I’ll put a message out on social media. To book your place online, go to this page; https://www.gallowayflowers.co.uk/flowerfarmtours.html If you’ve already booked, I’ll send full directions etc later this week. Not forgotten, just last few weeks were more hectic than expected & I admit, my admin has slipped a bit.
And before the garden tour weekend, we’ll be weeding, tidying & baking ready to welcome visitors. There’s nothing like the prospect of others critical gaze to see so much work to do.
Weddings & the ‘Big Weekend’ event mean I’ll be absent at Castle Douglas Producers Market this month – back in September. I’ll be bringing flowers to Loch Arthur Farm shop on 23rd August & to Kirkcudbright Farmers Market on the 25th. Flowers can of course still be ordered for delivery or collection on other dates.
Your Flowery Inspiration links this month;
Until next time,
It’s blooming marvellous in the Cutting beds this week as recent rain has given the plants a much needed boost. The Perennial beds are bursting with colour as plants are well established now & producing plenty of long stems – Phlox, Delphinium, Scabious. And the Sweet Peas of course. Lovely!
And it keeps surprising me as I walk around a corner or side of a hedge. I know it sounds daft (& probably is).
You see, it’s 4 years since we visited here first & of course, at that time there weren’t flowers. It was overgrown with brambles, tall conifers & grass only, the buildings in bad condition. Full of potential but no colour on a dull, misty day. Now – well, it’s a Flower Farm! Somehow that picture in my head of vibrant colour has materialised. Of course, so much still to do but this year I really feel it’s coming together nicely.
Perhaps the biggest shift this year has been the explosion in pollinators, bees, butterflies, dragonflies, ladybirds & so on as the habitat steadily becomes richer. When the sun shines, I can HEAR the difference now as these creatures go busily about their business. This makes it easier to grow flowers without chemicals (aphids have barely been a problem this year). More amphibians & birds are attracted to nest & spend time among the flowers. All welcome helpers in my squad of Slug & Snail controllers.
Several large areas of grass have been left unmown until late Summer, managed as meadows & year on year the wild flowers increase, particularly Orchids this month. They were always there I suppose but mown away.
Of course, it means there’s plenty to do & our working days are long at this time of year. Flowers need to be cut daily to keep them blooming (especially the Sweet Peas) then bunched & delivered. And Summer is a time of beautiful weddings at local venues, always the fun but stressful part of the business. I still didn’t get much time to sit around & watch tennis over the past week!
And we’re looking ahead always. Just as the first Dahlias begin blooming for next year, I’ve been ordering more Ranunculus corms & sowing seeds for next Spring. When I’m surrounded in high summer flowers it’s easy to overlook these jobs & then find I have a gap in the future.
The exciting news here is finally we’ve plumped on dates for the Open Garden Tours. The dates for your diary are Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th August. Over that weekend, 100 members of ‘Flowers From The Farm’ (including us) will be opening the gates to visitors for the 'Flower Farmers Big Weekend'. For us it’ll be the first time we’ve done anything quite like this & frankly, it’s just a little bit scary. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to meeting our Customers & Suporters & showing them where the flowers grow. There'll be plenty of colourful high summer flowers in bloom including the Dahlias to view. Numbers of visitors will be strictly limited on each tour as there are only a few parking spaces here. Advance booking is essential.
To book your place online;
If you need a flowery fix before then, I'll be making up bouquets & wreaths to order as usual for collection or local delivery. Also flowers to arrange yourself (perhaps for the local Flower Shows?) by the informal bunch or bucket (pre-order & collection only) are available this month. And check Instagram & Facebook for those days when extra flowers (such as Sweet Peas) are at the gate.
Your Flowery Inspiration this month;
Until next time,
We were delighted to welcome a group from Haugh of Urr Rural on Wednesday 19th June. This was the Annual 'Mystery Tour' destination so the Ladies had no idea they were going - especially as their journey took them from Haugh of Urr via Kirkpatrick Durham & Corsock to reach us. Certainly very scenic on a June evening!
I showed the group where we grow our cut flowers here o the Hidden Road, Balmaclellan, the variety available & how short the journey is from cutting to the Customer. (Err, a few steps really...)
The group went on after to the visit to the Smithy in New Galloway for a meal, making for an enjoyable evening out.
If you would like to arrange a group visit or a talk by Rosie for your group, do get in touch. It's always a pleasure to share our enthusiasm for locally grown, seasonal flowers.
British Flowers Week is from 10th - 16th June and is an opportunity for British Flower growers to showcase the fabulous flowers available. Over 90% of the cut flowers sold in the UK are imported - grown in Africa, South America, Israel, India. I even saw Sweet Peas imported from Japan earlier in the year at New Covent Garden Market!
Not very green, is it?
Well, I want to show you there's a choice!
We're becoming aware of the excellent quality fresh food grown in the UK & many now seek out locally grown vegetables, fruit, eggs & meat, concerned about 'food miles'. Top Chefs are proud to tell the story of the produce they use, it's provenance.
But fewer people consider the 'Flower Miles' travelled by that bunch of flowers grabbed in the supermarket! Yet why not?
Britain used to have a thriving flower industry - I remember this as a child growing up in the Fens. We were surrounded by a farm growing Peonies.
Gradually the British flower growers gave up, finding it impossible to compete with imports, an industry heavily subsidised by governments, poor transport links. The British Horticultural sector receives no government support. It's hard physical work too.
Yet we can grow fabulous flowers in this country & a growing band of enthusiastic Flower Farmers are proving it. Many are members of an organisation 'Flowers From The Farm' (including ourselves) sharing knowledge & experience. Most are working on relatively small acreage, planting very intensively to maximise the space.
And that's how we work too. Although we have 4 acres in total, at present only about an acre is used to grow flowers. That's manageable without heavy machinery & our focus is on growing a wide variety of cut flowers, often in small quantities. This means we can make up interesting bouquets & arrangements using flowers rarely available, except from a small grower. The flowers available changes through the seasons.
These cut flowers are an important part of our cultural heritage - selected over many years to be the best they can be. Selected for colour, flower form, stem length & strength, for longevity. This diversity of cut flowers is interesting for those who love flowers in their vases & at those life events when flowers are a part of the celebration - weddings, birthdays, parties & of course, when it's time to say farewell to a loved one at their funeral.
It's positive too for our environment - we've seen an increase in pollinators & birds since we began growing the flowers here at the Flower Farm near Castle Douglas. We grow with respect for the special environment of the UNESCO recognised Galloway & South Ayrshire Biosphere.
The Lupins pictured are a great example of a classic British cut flower- tall, bold stems with character. They twist to form beautiful curves after arranging, perfect for large churns or an urn, or perhaps simply placed in a large jug on their own. Lovely from Late May to early June, & another burst in late summer if I'm lucky. Once they're gone, they're gone for another year. You'll never find these classics in a supermarket!
So I invite you to discover the wonderful world of British cut flowers! Ask questions whenever you see flowers for sale - where did these flowers come from? Who grew them? How many 'flower miles' have they travelled?
At the Farmers Markets I attend, a 'Provenance Board' proudly displays the county every stem we sell comes from, all year round. Most are grown here in Galloway, others come from the Scilly Isles, Cornwall, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire. I know many of the growers personally & appreciate the care they take to grow top quality flowers.
Above all, enjoy the wealth of blooms available when you seek it out.
Peonies are so huge, so luxurious it's easy to see why they're such a popular choice for early Summer weddings. To be honest, these Lincolnshire grown stunners don't need 'arranging' - just an oversized vase, fresh, clean water & space to stand back & admire them.
The varieties here are Top Brass, Gardenia & Festiva Maxima.
Perfectly over the top in my kitchen!
On Thursday 27th June we're hosting our first Art day at the Flower Farm!
Kirkcudbright artist Margaret Milligan will be tutoring a sketching workshop ‘For The Love of Flowers’ from 2-4pm here.
All experience levels are welcome, including complete beginners, so if you fancy trying something new, why not join us?
To book your place contact Margaret on 07845306818 or Rosie by email
June hasn’t exactly started off ‘flaming’ here in Galloway – it’s probably best described as ‘good growing weather’ today. And to be honest, I’m happy with that. It’s a big month for weddings & I’m counting on our plants for plenty of strong, gorgeous stems for our couples. I would just like it sunny every Saturday for those weddings please!
The Chelsea Flower Show is a treat to visit, always full of inspiration & I’m guaranteed to return with a long plant wish list every time. This year wasn't an exception with the trend for a natural look, with wild, green foliage dominating the show gardens. Geums, Heuchera, Lupins, Cow Parsley & Ragged Robin were runaway favourite plants with the designers & reflected in floral design trends too. I admit to a splurge on a dozen new Lupin plants, all different varieties & brought them back on the train! This time next year I’ll know which make the grade as good cut flowers. And there are a few more items on the wish list...
As well as our own Galloway-grown flowers, we’re enjoying fabulous Peonies & Stocks from the Lincolnshire growers now. These have appeared in many of our recent bouquets & popular at the Farmers Markets. Although we grow Peonies, our plants are only 3 years old so producing small numbers of stems still. Stocks take a lot of space & this year I’m using my precious polytunnel beds for more early Sweet Peas. These delicate flowers don’t travel well & locally grown Sweet Peas retain the true scent for which they’re famous. Our first were cut on the 23rd May, & the outdoor crop should start later this month.
British Flowers Week is from 10th - 15th June so look out for press coverage of British Flowers. Over 90% of the cut flowers sold in the UK are imported from overseas (especially Africa & South America) so this week reminds people that top quality flowers are grown in this country too, By buying locally grown, seasonal British flowers you'll fill your vases with the freshest blooms, grown to high environmental & ethical standards.
Here at the Flower Farm, the beds are full of promise now – Rose buds are swelling, Alliums & Sweet Williams coming into flower & Dahlias shooting up too. I seem to whirl from one task to the next as there‘s much to keep on top of. Long days encourage growth so a key job here this week is staking to keep stems straight. A windy gust can snap stems in an instant so it’s worth spending time on this before necessary.
It’s a good time to plant Gladioli – yes, I know they conjure up images of Dame Edna, may seem a bit old fashioned, gaudy or even brash … maybe all those things. But I’ve a soft spot for them as they’re great for plugging the late August/September gap in the border & vase. They’re easy to grow, tolerate close planting & relatively inexpensive – what not to like? There are new hybrids in fabulous shades including dwarf types. My favourites are Murielae (formerly called Acidanthera, small & deliciously scented), ‘Green Star’ (green), ‘Chocolate’ (very tall, deep maroon flowers) & ‘Halley’ (small flowers, cream). The bulb catalogues often suggest planting early in Spring for June & July flowers. I find them more useful later to mix with bold late summer Dahlias, Rudbeckia & Asters so always hold some back to plant now.
We’ll be at the Producers Market in Castle Douglas again on Sunday 16th June & at Kirkcudbright Farmers Market on Sunday 23rd June. If you need a flowery fix before then, I'll be making up bouquets & wreaths to order as usual for collection or local delivery. Also flowers to arrange yourself by the informal bunch or bucket (pre-order & collection only) are available on Fridays & Saturdays this month.
Your Flowery Inspiration;
Here are a couple of links for you;
Until next time,
Rosie Gray of Galloway Flowers. Artisan Florist & Cut Flower Farmer near Castle Douglas, in South West Scotland. Using 100% British Flowers all year round.