The wood opposite has turned from Autumn Golds to Winter Browns, making me acutely aware of the changing season. Still beautiful – I see further through the curvy trunks, often spying Roe deer further in. Colourful leaves on the ground & I couldn’t resist gathering different shapes for the flower press. Long dark evenings are an opportunity to use them for special handmade cards, gift tags & such.
This Autumn seems to have been spectacular – perhaps the trees kept leaves later, until last weekends storms. Perhaps I appreciated being out & about in the golden light, enjoying reflections in Loch Ken on still days as I went about my deliveries.
We spent several hours raking leaves last week. It’s a precious compost additive & best done before they become wet & slippery on paths. But I’m not sure it looks as if we’ve started! So many more seem to have fallen in the past few days. Hard warm work but enjoyable when the sun shines.
The pace is slower at the Flower Farm this month, less urgency & a chance to catch my breath before the Christmas wreathing rush begins. The Dahlias are blackened by frost so we’ve started lifting them. One of the least favourite jobs of the year – easiest to do while the soil is dry as cold, wet, muddy tubers are horrible to handle. I try to get them all out as they’re expensive & more likely to survive until next year if I do.
Every daylight hour is precious, especially on dry days. Weeding is a huge job this month – they really got away from me in the wet August rain & I’ve catching up to do. Then the ground can be given a good mulch with compost & planting Tulips & Hardy Annuals out can begin. These are the crops for cutting next April through early June & it’ll be good to see them underway. When planted, I’ll fleece them to give protection from cold nights & wind.
This winter, we’ve decided to change the large polytunnel layout. Long term it’ll be more efficient so I’m planting less in there than usual. And we want to knock down the dividing wall in my little workshop making it larger too. Social distancing is going to be with us for a while so more space for visitors is needed. Sounds so simple but both will take us hours to do.
My workshop became a bit of a dumping ground this Summer, if I’m honest. Without regular weddings requiring floristry space (& visitors!) it became more of an embarrassingly scruffy potting shed! I’m intrigued to see the tidy potting sheds of Monty Don or Carol Klein on ‘Gardeners World’. All those neatly stacked (washed) trays, pots, swept floors, tools on hooks, no cobwebs… how do they do it? Maybe mine will be like that next year…
This Autumn has been a poor one for berries – few on the Hawthorn & Rowan trees. The Fieldfares stayed only a short time before moving on & birds are already flocking to the nut feeders. And the Red Squirrels are eating us out of house & home at the moment! Our ‘regulars’ can be identified by their slight variations in colouring & yes, somehow they end up with names...
Now the long dark evenings are here, I’m making wreaths with dried flowers stashed away all season. I’ll bring some along to the Farmers Market in Kirkcudbright on Sunday November 22nd & the Christmas Market in Castle Douglas on Saturday 28th November. These make lovely Christmas gifts, weighing little & easy to send by post. If you would like me to make one for you in a particular colour scheme, let me know.
Almost all of our flowers are harvested now. For the next few months, our bouquets & chocolate shop posies will be filled with flowers from growers further South (mostly in Lincolnshire, Cornwall & the Scilly Isles). Our Regular Subscription flowers, local bouquet deliveries on Fridays & flowers for funerals will continue. All 100% grown in the British Isles as always. To order flowers, please give as much notice as possible to ensure I've plenty for you.
Christmas Wreaths can be ordered for delivery from week commencing 30th November. Order online or by telephone.
The 'Make Your Own Wreath' Workshops are bookings fast. The dates are;
Jobs for November;
The growing year gives us a feeling of continuity, always something to look forward to. Plant a flower, watch it grow & you know something beautiful is on it’s way, soon. With a little planning, as one flower fades, another takes its place. It keeps us optimistic.
Last month I finished with my favourite gardening related quote. So many commented on it, so here it is again.
'To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow'
November can seem a dark, damp, sad month in the garden some days, the end of the year is close. But it isn’t at all. Plans made now, bulbs, shrubs, trees planted this month will bring pleasure next year & beyond. This is the beginning of your gardening year too & there’s plenty we can do to make 2021 a better one.
Until next time,
There's something so very satisfying about an afternoon spent weeding - unlike so many domestic tasks, I can really see where I've been!
A few weeks ago this bed was packed with the last of this year's Cornflowers, left for the Honey Bees to take the last feeds from their nectar.
In the next few days, it'll be crammed full of specialty Tulips, scheduled to be cut mid-April to May next year. The growing year doesn't stop.
That's one of the reasons so many people have come to love gardening, I believe, in this difficult year. It keeps you looking forward, always.
Plant a flower, watch it grow & you know something beautiful is on it's way, soon.
With a little bit of planning , as one flower fades, another takes it's place.
Admittedly the scale of my Tulip planting (& weeding) is more than you might want to take on. But planting up large pots full of inexpensive bulbs is a great way to start. A big splash of colour by your front & back doors, perhaps to view from your favourite window, or on your balcony would be a wonderful treat to come.
Sadly we had to cancel our scheduled 'Plant a Bulb Lasagne' workshop this year, but hope to be back with it next Autumn.
For now at the end of a golden Autumn afternoon it's time for a cuppa & a soak. I feel like I've been playing 'Twister' for too long. And there's still plenty of weeding to do tomorrow...
Chrysanthemums have been out of fashion for a while - associated too much with the supermarket (even dyed blue & covered in glitter - horrid!), the Garage forecourt or perhaps sad associations with funeral arrangements.
My Father grew them when I was a child & that green, leafy smell brings back memories of hot afternoons tying stems to stakes in an instant. I thought they were a bit of a faff to grow to be honest (MUCH preferring the bright Dahlias) & largely ignored them.
Until now. I forecast a change is in the air...
I've experimented with Chryanthemums in recent years on a small scale & beginning to appreciate their qualities.
In the meantime, enjoy these beauties from expert growers in Lincolnshire. They've been included in my bouquet deliveries & chocolate shop posies in recent weeks. Stunning hey?
Enjoying these Autumn treasures , on the Nature table that my kitchen windowsill is becoming. Gourds, Hydrangea, Bracken, leaves, Helichrysum flowers for a pop of colour...
Sometimes a quiet, lazy day is forced on us by wild Autumn storms, nothing entices us outside. And it's a perfect way to recharge after non-stop busyness of recent weeks.
Wouldn't these gorgeous, richly-coloured Autumn details make the most perfect table decor for an Autumn wedding or party? Get in touch if you think so too - dates available to book for Autumn 2021...
Sometimes the timing is just right, the stars align & well, last Friday I got really lucky with mine!
This might not look an inspiring, instastyle picture but oh, so pleased with this haul of fresh cut birch.
While delivering a bouquet to a regular subscription customer, a few houses along I saw tree surgeons busy, piling up branches from a tree that was coming down. Well I just had to stop & ask didn't I?
Birch is perfect for making natural wreath bases, adding a touch of wild texture, supporting flower stems - so many uses. Now I'm ready for dark evenings indoors, making wrreaths for Christmas...
Maybe you need to be a flower farmer florist to be so excited about a heap of twigs?
While most of our Dahlias outside were blasted by hard frosts in September, these few have still been producing a few stems every week. I planted them in the polytunnel to be sure of Burgundy blooms for a late October wedding - special request from the Bride. And they made it for the big day!
Now these last few are adding a splash of colour to our 'Friday Flowers' bouquets.
The speed we go from cutting Dahlias by the bucketful to a handful is rapid. I
m missing them already & it's time to pore over the cataloues to plan 2021.
What new beauties can I add? Which varieties should I grow more or less of?
Since early October, I've been taking small Posies of British flowers to InHouse Chocolates in Castle Douglas on Fridays. Just a perfect size to fill a small jug to cheer up your home or for a friend, Every Posy is different using the best of British-grown seasonal flowers.
And Chocolatier Gillian has put together a special gift too - a Flower Posy plus a Ballotin of her delicious handmade Chocolates for just £19.50. A perfect gift!
Flowers &/or chocolates can be preordered by contacting either InHouse Chocolates on 01556 503037 or myself on 01644 420407, Collection from InHouse Chocolates in Castle Douglas
An abrupt end to our fifth season growing flowers here came last week. The change was rapid - both cotton shirts & thermal leggings in the washing basket told the story as we switched from 'Indian Summer' days to overnight frosts!
We cosseted the outside Dahlias through minus temperatures for 5 nights. Finally, last Thursday, the 1st of October, we stopped. It was forecast cold again & taking time we didn't have covering plants with fleece each night.
I felt beaten, cheated to lose so many buds close to flowering. I cut every surviving undamaged stem on Thursday afternoon, filling every windowsill in the kitchen. All the colours of a Bollywood movie together - stunning! The Dahlia area is a very depressing sight for the eyes now - definitely no pictures on Instagram...
But in a strange way it's a relief too. This season has been tough, very few days not working with the flowers in some way, & relentless weather. A relentless dry Spring, relentless rain in August & the relentless frost last week. Relentless is the word I'll remember 2020 by. All our plans were overturned & yet we've found new ways to sell flowers. With care & the tremendous support given by our Customers over this past Season, we'll get through this, counting ourselves lucky. I'm not sorry though to say farewell to the Summer routines, eager now to get on with making 2021 better.
As we're past the equinox, days shorten, temperatures drop & priorities change. There are flowers blooming of course, though in reduced numbers. A few Dahlias in the polytunnel, Nerines, Rudbeckia & Michaelmas Daisies are coming on strongly. I'll supplement our flowers with more from Growers further South (mostly in Lincolnshire, Cornwall & the Scilly Isles). Our Regular Subscription flowers, local bouquet deliveries on Fridays & flowers for funerals will continue. All 100% grown in the British Isles as always. To order flowers, please give as much notice as possible to ensure I've plenty for you.
From Friday 9th October, I'll take a bucket of flowers to In House Chocolates in Castle Douglas each week, And Gillian's chocolates are irresistible too!
October is one of our busiest months outside. It's less about 'tucking the garden up for Winter' so much as getting a few steps ahead for a fast start in Spring. I would like some relentless bright sunshine to make it easier, please. The days might be shorter but my head is filled with thoughts of flowers I'll be cutting from March onwards. Seedlings sown last month are popping up nicely now & these will be the backbone of our bouquets next May, June & July.
My most important job this week will be rewriting plant labels. I've still to find a truly 'Permanent' Garden Marker Pen (pencil seems longest lasting) that withstands Galloway quantities of rain. I've just been given a set of new ones by Artline - they come with high recommendation but then they all do! I'll let you know how I get on.... Anyway, it's particularly important to label the Dahlias, names long since washed off labels written in March. I always think I'll remember which is which but by the time tubers are being lifted, I know I don't.
A huge box of several thousand Ranunculus & Anemone corms arrived, to be divided & sent on to Flower Farmers elsewhere in Scotland. By grouping together, we're able to buy special varieties not available elsewhere easily in small quantities. These 'Roses of Spring' are challenging to grow & so worthwhile, mixing in beautifully with the other early Spring flowers.
The main bulb order has arrived too & I'm running out of storage space fast. Rather than run a Bulb Lasagne Workshop in early November, I'm going to prepare colour-themed parcels of bulbs, with instructions to make your own Bulb Lasagne at home. Order a kit through the website from Sunday 11th October for a stunning display from late February to May.
Dates have now been fixed for 'Make Your Own Wreath' Workshops & bookings are now open. The dates are;
Jobs for October;
My final thought; on my office wall I've this Audrey Hepburn quote written on a card;
'To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow'
I glance at it often & smile - I think Audrey was on to something. Working soil, planting, watching seeds, bulbs or plants grow, arranging flowers thoughtfully are simple, timeless pleasures. It keeps us optimistic & looking forward. And just now, I think we all need a bit of that don't we?
Until next time,
Your Flowery Inspiration links;
So another Friday out delivering bouquets locally & it was such a treat to do so in the glorious sunshine.
After 6 nights of hard frosts, the Dahlia patch had taken a battering. It's early to lose their gorgeous, showy blooms but it was too cold to save them all. Some winters we've had less frost than in this past week!
Now we'll begin the big Autumn clean up - lifting the tubers, drying & safely storing them for next year. Weeding & preparing beds, ready to plant the flowers I'll be cutting next Spring.
There'll still be plenty of flowers though as I'll bring in extra flowers from growers further south in our bouquets.
And as well as local delivery, on Fridays, I'll be taking mixed bunches to In House Chocolates in Castle Douglas on Friday next week so you can pick up a bunch there too. A perfect treat for a friend - or for you!
Feeling Autumnal as I cut these Dahlias. A definite chill in the air, despite the sunshine & hearing Geese overhead.
Weather was forecast to be 3 degrees that night & it was our first frost of the year.
Dahlia beds were covered with fleece & made it for a few more days but by October 1st, the nights were just too cold. The show is over for another year.
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.