Last week I was asked 'what are you doing with your flowers?'' A good question - it's peak wedding season & usually a sea of white & pale pink! In June, I'm often heard muttering like White Rabbit 'I'm late, I'm late...' This year, 'Delay' is my goal.
We replaced some flowers with later blooming Dahlias – we’ll need flowers for weddings postponed to September & October. We've sown seeds late, we’ve pinched hard, some favourites haven’t been sown at all. We ‘Chelsea chopped’ perennials for later blooms. Dry weather slowed growth too so is helping. It’s a lot of juggling & keeping fingers crossed the mix will be about right throughout the season. The world might have come to a standstill but flowers don’t – just deadheading unused flowers takes time! The bees are having a great time on the blooms as I’m not so quick to cut as usual. Hopefully, they’ll reward me later with a share of their honey…
The ‘Sweets’ are coming into bloom – Sweet Rocket, Sweet William & soon Sweet Peas. All with this name because of their fragrance. The buds are on the Sweet Peas & Roses – we need a return to warmer night time temperatures to get them going, so should be later this month. The big polytunnel has my ‘Fancy Carrots’ growing high – Ammi & Orlaya must be available if the last scheduled July wedding does go ahead. The new polytunnel is planted up with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Chillis & more so space isn’t being wasted . We’ll be eating healthily this summer.
Both British Flowers Week (June 15th – 21st) & the ‘Flowers from the Farm’ Big Weekend in August are going to be virtual, like many other planned events.
We haven’t made a decision on whether to open the Flower Farm yet in August. I’m putting plans in place to restart workshops & garden tours from September but who knows? As lockdown eases, we’re beginning to look ahead positively but the priority is safety. It’s a fast changing picture.
We’ll continue offering ‘Friday Flowers’ for local delivery & contactless collection from the Flower Farm gate & we’re increasing our Regular Flower Subscription deliveries/collections. We’ve been bringing Peonies from Lincolnshire growers in recent weeks to give added luxury to these bouquets – I grow some but never enough. The subscription flowers are delivered fortnightly or monthly & make a great lasting gift. I’ve noticed an increase in Clients ordering these for themselves this year too – the result of spending increased time at home perhaps.
And as soon as the Sweet Peas are cut, the Honesty box will be out too – I’ll post availability on social media. After all, you don’t always want a bouquet, a small posy is a great ‘flower fix’ for you or ‘thank you’ gift! Bouquets can be ordered online If you wish to order funeral flowers or something else, telephone 01644 420407 or email. Please leave a message if I don’t pick up – outside working most of the time.
It’s a bird creche here this week – so many nests. There are Spotted Flycatchers in the Polytunnel, numerous Blackbird, Thrush, Wren & other small birds nesting in the shrubs & hedges. Most exciting of all, there were Tawny Owl chicks in the Owlbox again. A very welcome sight & all valued members of our pest control squad!
Now we’ve had some rain, it’s easier to plant out in your own flower patch. Bulbs for late summer can be planted (Gladioli & Acidanthera are favourites of mine for August & September). And as Garden Centres reopen, you’ll be able to buy bedding packs to top up your borders – just be sure if you want flowers to cut, you buy taller varieties. So many are shortened versions…
I hope you’re able to enjoy time outdoors, the long light days & the scents of summer flowers this month. It’s a lovely month for flowers & we’re spoilt for choice to fill our vases in the house.
Until next time,
These Lupins started off straight like rockets firing skywards (spot the one added this morning, casualty of a fast moving dog). Now a week later, they're doing their own thing. Nothing will stop them - geotropic flowers, attracted downwards by the Earth's gravity.
Look a bit crazy, not everybody's taste, I know.
But I like flowers with a bit of character, flowers with Attitude even.
How about you? Lupins yay or nay?
My love affair with Peonies goes back a long time - I grew up in a Fenland village & our neighbour's flower field was at the bottom of our garden.
He grew Peonies & sent them to Covent Garden Flower Market in London by train.
Probably realising I adored the flowers, he gave me a huge bunch for my 7th birthday - Wow! Funny how putting these stems in a vase brought back that memory isn't it?
Flowers do that.
Sadly, that field of Peonies disappeared under houses long ago. Like many growers, closure of the village train station (Beeching cuts) made it difficult & expensive to get his flowers to London fast. Plus the flood of imported, cheap flowers & changing fashions in the Seventies, finished off his business. So he sold the land.
The image of that field, those flowers made a big impression on me - I knew it was possible to grow fabulous cut flowers in the UK. Not always easy, but possible.
And so I've grown & cut flowers my whole life, learning what works well, what will last in a vase, what doesn't last long but is so utterly gorgeous, I do it anyway. I make mistakes, of course, it's inevitable if you're experimenting.
But if I hadn't lived there, if he hadn't given those flowers, maybe I wouldn't have discovered the sheer pleasure of growing flowers & veg. My life might have taken a very different turn.
Tiny actions with a big impact. And I'm grateful for how that one turned out.
These are a new variety to me 'Catherine Fonteijn' grown in Lincolnshire. My Peonies are budding up nicely but waiting for a good soak before being ready to cut. Think I might need to add a few of these to my collection this Autumn!
What a morning to be out delivering 'Friday Flowers' - driving alongside Loch Ken was dazzling in the sunshine.
There were bouquets for birthdays, an Anniversary, to say 'I Love You', 'Thinking of You' & more.
This one was for a special birthday & last year, she received a bouquet I made in the palest pinks, lavenders & white. So this year, I thought I would show off the beautiful deep pinks of late May. Last of the Aquilegia, first of the Allium - moving on to the flowers of Summer.
Taking orders for 'Friday Flowers' now online for contactless local delivery or collection.
Since 'Lockdown' began, we've been making local flower deliveries to Castle Douglas, St. John's Town of Dalry, New Galloway, Parton, Balmaclellan, Crossmichael, Haugh of Urr, Springholm, Crocketford.
Like many small businesses, we had to adapt fast.
Planted last year & cared for over winter, thousands of flowers bloom here in March, April & May. Normally these would have been sold at the Farmers Markets & appeared at weddings across Dumfries & Galloway. Of course, weddings have been postponed & the Farmers Markets cancelled. We had to cancel our scheduled workshops too.
So faced with throwing flowers on the compost heap (& no income), we decided to offer flowers on Fridays. Delivery takes considerable time & mileage in a rural area like this so by grouping orders together, we keep costs low.
Bouquets have been sent to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, to say 'I Love You', 'I'm Missing You', 'Thinking of you' in that special way only flowers can. And many people have been ordering flowers for themselves too - as a treat to brighten their home as they spend more time there. The 'Buy Local' & eco message is appreciated by many - Customers know by buying our locally grown flowers, their money is going back into the local Dumfries & Galloway economy.
Our Country Bouquets of seasonal flowers are simply wrapped in Kraft paper, ordered online & delivered contactlessly to doorsteps. A different way of working for us but we're adapting!
We'll continue 'Friday Flowers' in June. You can order flowers for a loved one, friend or yourself Online Here, by telephone 01644 420407 or by email. There's a small charge for local delivery or you're welcome to 'Click & Collect' your order contactlessly at the Flower Farm gate as lockdown begins to ease after 28th May in Scotland.
And a HUGE 'Thank You' to everybody who has ordered flowers from us - we managed to sell more of our speciality Tulips & Narcissi than I dared to imagine back in late March. It's so appreciated & helped us greatly in this very strange time.
On the Flower Farm it begins to look like Summer is almost here - the flowers are changing from Spring Narcissi, Anemones & Tulips to the first Peonies, Aquilegia, Ranunculus & Lily of the Valley. Lily of the Valley is highly sought after to scent wedding bouquets & at the Farmers Market - I recall once 2 ladies arguing politely but firmly with each other over who should have the last bunch! This year, I'm enjoying it's exquisite scent wafting around while weeding. I wish this photo had added 'Scratch & Sniff' for you.
And yes! The Swallows & House Martins are back.
But don't be fooled - it's a cold, strong wind today, straight from Siberia by the feel of it. With forecast temperatures of -1 degree Centigrade tonight, our extra little greenhouse erected last month will be packed with baby plants too tender to plant out yet tonight. If you have anything tender outside, remember to throw fleece over for protection.
As we get used to living in lockdown, it's easier to make decisions again. The quantities grown here this year will not be right for everything. I can only guess, just giving it my best shot. All but 2 of our Summer weddings have moved to later dates now, most to 2021. Next year is going to be a very busy year for weddings so if you're thinking of tying the knot in 2021 (or know someone who is) don't delay booking your suppliers.
It's unlikely the local Farmers Markets will resume for months & our planned workshops have all been put on hold for now. Fingers crossed it'll be safe to welcome visitors here for the 'Flower Farmers Big Weekend' in August. It was so much fun last year & we miss seeing our lovely Customers for flowery chat at the Markets & Loch Arthur too. More news on this next month.
While the world around us is in turmoil, the flowers are blooming beautifully in the sunshine. We're looking at developing alternative retail outlets for selling our flowers. If lockdown is eased a little, we hope collection of flowers with an 'Honesty Box' at the gate might be an option.
In the meantime, we're taking orders for local delivery of funeral flowers & 'Country Bouquets'. Please order online, message me or by telephone 01644 420407, giving as much notice as possible. We're delivering on a limited number of days only.
My flower focus is shifting to care for plants to flower from late August & beyond, particularly perennials & Dahlias. I planted out Sweet Peas last week finally - about a third less than usual, but I couldn't give them up completely. Just the 400 plants then... ! The rest of the space will be used for vegetables this year.
And talking of vegetables, we're already nibbling away on the salads planted in late March. The Coriander is delicious added to curries & salads - really easy, planted in an old window box. The trick is not to sow all your seed at once - as a batch is ready to eat or plant out, sow the next batch. There's still time to sow Courgettes & French Beans this week, ready to plant out later in the month after the frosts have finished.
This slow time lets us work on projects 'on the list' for sometime & never making it to the top before.
In March, the extra little greenhouse went up & already I wonder how I managed before for toughening up seedlings. In April another Polytunnel went up - not an easy job for just 2 people so not the neatest you'll see, but it's DONE. The frame was bought second hand & I managed to buy the new cover just as lockdown began. I plan to use this for heat loving plants such as early Sweet Peas, Roses & late Dahlias. This year, it's going to be full of Tomatoes - so lots of Green Tomato Chutney to come no doubt... Ken thinks we should move a garden table & chairs in there so we can sit & enjoy the warmth out of the wind!
This next month is one of the busiest in our year. So many small plants & Dahlias have to be kept watered & healthy until warm enough to plant outside. We keep them protected until the end of May as one sudden frost, & all can be set back for weeks or even lost.
For those lucky enough to have access to outside space, this is a special time of year. Everyday a new flower pops open at the Flower Farm, by the roadside, even spied over the fence in front gardens in town. So, so good for putting a smile on our faces, lifting spirits & looking forward. Along the 'Hidden Road' here (indeed right across Dumfries & Galloway) the Bluebells have been a wonderful sea of blue. The Cuckoo's are calling too - more than I've heard in recent years. Are there more Cuckoo's here or simply the quiet lets me hear them?
Enjoy waking with the Dawn Chorus of birdsong, lighter evenings & time in your garden if you have one. Above all, keep safe & well.
Until next time,
Your Flowery Inspiration links;
This month, enjoy looking at some of these Virtual Garden Tours from around the world. From the safety of your home of course!
Mother Nature, where do you come up with your ideas for colour combinations? This Himalayan Poppy (Meconopsis) has been blooming for the past couple of weeks. It starts lavender blue, then gradually, subtly, it becomes more blue over time.
These plants do well here, thriving in a quiet corner without attention. Unnoticed most of the year & then these flowers shout 'Look at me!' & can't be ignored.
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.