The days are finally getting longer at both ends & after a quiet January, I feel ready to begin another year of flowers (our 7th) here. Early bulbs are pushing up through the soil & many of the Perennials are appearing too. By late March we'll again be cutting our own grown flowers for bouquets & events. Bring it on!
The highlights in the garden just now are the Scented Shrubs - Daphne, Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera X Purpusii) & Sarcococca. Most of the year these are plain, unassuming shrubs but their scent just now is delicious. It wafts about on gentle breezes. I cut a stem or two to bring into the house or to tuck into bouquets. It's just enough to keep people guessing what it is - any more & it can be overpowering. If you have space for one of these lovely plants in your garden, I recommend them highly.
The Hellebores are forming nice fat buds & will be ready to cut soon. They're a fabulous cut flower but require a little care to ensure they don't flop pathetically in the vase. The trick is to leave them until at least one flower on the stem has been pollinated by the bees & a seed pod is beginning to form. I sear them in boiling water too just to give them extra strength - with care they last well. Most of my Hellebores were grown from seed given to me in a tiny envelope nearly 30 years ago by the Great Aunt of a Primary school friend. Over time, I've picked out & increased the better colours - they're still called 'Auntie May's Hellebores' though!
The new seasons seeds have arrived & I'm itching to begin sowing! But I know it's too soon & must step away from the seed packets... Seed will germinate given warmth but unless additional lighting is available the seedlings will grow weak, & skinny. Wait a few weeks & seed sown later with better natural light soon overtakes the early starts. If you want to sow something now, Sweet Peas, Antirrhinums & Broad Beans will appreciate the early start.
I'll cut the first of our Anemones this week, early as they're last years corms brought into the Greenhouse. My expensive Ranunculus planted in October have been a complete disaster - all eaten by a mouse! Fortunately I only planted half the corms so still time to plant the rest for late May/June flowers.
The wedding calendar is filling up nicely in recent weeks - if you know a couple hoping to use our locally grown flowers this year, please suggest they get in touch soon. I take on only a few weddings each week & the popular weeks fill quickly.
And today I've made a few events for this year available to book on the website - the first in a very long time. We're looking forward to welcoming visitors again soon.
The last two years have turned so many of our plans upside down (like everybody else, of course). We worked hard to keep this little business afloat & when I look back to 2020, it seems plans for that year are mostly still on the list! Probably not completely true (we did get the second polytunnel up & running) but my workshop hasn't been knocked through & the Old Nursery area remains a complete mess after the Leylandii hedge was removed. It is what it is.Hopefuly these projects will be completed this year & we can get back to what we do best - growing lots of beautiful flowers!.
Today was miserably wet & didn't encourage me out for long. It's a good opportunity to snuggle by the fire, read seed & plant catalogues & plan for this years flowers. But I could see the Catkins dancing in the wind, a reminder that Spring is on the way... We look forward to sharing our flowers & Flower Farm life with you in the season ahead,
Until next time,
Jobs for the Cutting Garden in February;
I'm asked often how I choose the flowers to grow each year at the Flower Farm. After all, there are so many options & I admit, it can be difficult...
I select the flowers for many reasons - they must be beautiful colours my Customers want to buy, tough enough to produce lots of stems in our growing conditions & with organic practices, & last well in a vase.
Plus whenever possible, be deliciously scented too.
We've become used to the imported flowers offered for sale in the UK (i.e. most of them) having no scent. Many have been bred for this quality or treated chemically as they'll last longer on their journey from where they're grown, thousands of miles away. The treatment destroys scent.
So it can be a revelation to discover REAL British-grown cut flowers & their exquisite perfumes. Many children at the Farmers Markets have been astonished (& delighted) to smell my Roses & Sweet peas, for example. They've never smelt them before!
Another flower I grow with a fabulous perfume is the Garden Pink - here's a bucketful cut last July. Like little Spray Carnations but with a knock out perfume. Just perfect to add a few to a bouquet, or a bud vase by your bed.
Best of all, starring in wedding buttonholes with personality!
Available usually from me from late May through July.
I use many in my floristry but you can usually order a bunch to collect in season.
So get ready to inhale deeply - the flower season is coming...
As I walk around the Cutting beds, the flowers bring back memories of people who gave me those seeds, that cutting, recommended it, perhaps that day out when we bought a plant.
Like old friends really.
There's Mrs Jefferies Geraniums, Terry's Fuschia, Auntie May's Hellebores. And so many more.
But if I had to choose one flower with special memories, it would be the Aquilegia because I adore them & frankly IMHO, deserve more notice!
Grannies Bonnets, Pixie Hats, call them what you will - I came across them first as a cut flower rather accidentally.
There used to be WI stall on Salisbury Market (maybe still is) & I would get up early on Saturdays so I had the pick of the wonderful bunches of cottage garden flowers. In May there would be Aquilegias aplenty. The perfect Cottage Garden flower & I wanted them in the country garden I was making!
I tried to save seeds as the flowers faded (I know now it wouldn't ever work) & eventually built a collection of plants. Many found their way here to Scotland with me.
They're promiscuous seeders, happily hybridising & if allowed, quickly become a weed.
But a high quality weed if ever there was.
Well, I appreciate how they sparked my interest in cut flower growing.
And I often sneak a few stems into early Summer bouquets...
The flower we grow in greatest numbers is the Dahlia.
I adore their diversity & sheer flower power for months on end.
Within one family of flowers there are so many shapes, so many colours & they just keep on giving masses of stems for cutting.
Last year our total Dahlia plants topped 600. It was a pretty disastrous year for me as I broke my arm & 'only' about 400 were planted out in the field. But all the others were potted up & fed so the tubers kept on growing, ready for their moment this year.
The Dahlias are sold in our Bouquets, bunches & even by the bucket (preordering essential). The large Funeral Spray arrangement above was made for a September Funeral, without floral foam.
I dry Dahlias too & use them in dried bouquets & wreaths during the winter months.
I eastimate we might just top the 800 plants - buckets & buckets of beautiful blooms to look forward to!
To order Dahlias to arrange yourself, send an email. The Dahlia season is from mid-July to September (depending as always on the weather!)
We grow Cottage Garden Flowers in many, many varieties.
I love their soft colours, their scents & the way each has it's season.
From late March to October, each week brings something new into bloom.
So with such a choice, no two weddings using my flowers are identical, every bouquet is unique.
It takes a special type of couple to tell me what you love (no need to know the names of the flowers), your preferred colours & style.
Then to trust me to choose the best flowers in bloom on your wedding day.
But I do grow a LOT of Sweet Peas (all selected for their delicious scent) & as you may know, I do have a bit of a thing about Dahlias...
'Where are you?' is one of the most asked questions when we're at the Farmers Markets in Kirkcudbright & Castle Douglas.
So,let me tell you...
We're on the 'Hidden Road', off the A713, North of Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway in Scotland.
At the moment we're closed for our winter break as the flowers are out of season just now. It didn't look quite like this today!
This is our essential quiet time to plan this years growing season, prepare the beds & lots of wedding talk with this years couples.
From April to October, flowers can be pre-ordered for local delivery, collection from the Flower Farm or at the regular Farmers Markets in Kirkcudbright & Castle Douglas.
In season, flowers can be ordered by phone (01644 420407), the Contact page on our website or the Online Order page.
I add pictures on this blog, Instagram & Facebook of the flowers as they come in to season, so this gives an idea of the flowers we grow & when they bloom.
There are so many varieties here, changing through the months, it would be impossibe to list. Each season some flowers are dropped to make way for new varieties. Perhaps the colour was less popular with Customers or it didn't perform that well here.
This year, I'm running a trial of some of the new Sunflower varieties. (And quite a few new Dahlias...) Hoping to discover new favourites!
We're open occasionally in the Summer for Garden tours & workshops - to know when these open for booking, be sure to sign up to the monthly newsletter on the website.
Roll on the lengthening days - I'm looking forward to the flowers blooming again!
We're back into the routine after a longer than usual break after the New Year.
To be honest we needed it as we were flat out all last 2021 & 2020.
Sometimes we all need to stop, think, breath...
I've been catching up on wedding enquiries & planning our planting for months of colour.
Lots of ideas for 2022 (a holiday break didn't include a no seed buying rule!) & looking forward to getting the flowers underway.
Our Galloway-grown flowers will be limited until mid-March when they begin blooming again.
Until then I'll bring in limited supplies of flowers from British growers in the South each week for our Regular Flower Subscription customers & Funeral flowers.
If you would like to order a bouquet of British-grown flowers delivered locally or for collection on a Friday, please order by previous Friday am.
It'll not be long until I can include Hyacinths in bouquets but for now, these scented beauties are cheering up my kitchen windowsill in a pot!
For me it's a long list - I love working with others who share my lifelong enthusiasm for our beautiful British flowers, who appreciate their variety, colours, scent, their seasonality.
You have to catch British-grown flowers while you can - every season brings it's own special treats, even winter. Many of these flowers are available for just a few short weeks each year.
You know how the very best British-grown Strawberries, Elderflower, Gooseberries or Asparagus burst with flavour? And how the equivalents flown from around the globe all year round, simply don't taste the same?
Well, our flowers aren't the same either. The delicate scent of a Narcissi, a Tulip (many are scented), a Rose or a Sweet Pea - I could go on... Each has it's own personality, adding something unique to a bouquet or arrangement.
I can tell you the week of the year when most of my bouquets were made when I look through the photo's as the combination of flowers will tell me which flowers were just starting it's season, & which were coming to an end.
A strange floral quiz game...
So I love sharing this enthusiasm with others who grow them in their gardens (or Grandad/ma did perhaps), or who want them in their homes, wedding bouquets or at the funeral of a loved one, with those Florists & Flower Arrangers who create stunning designs with my flowers, other flower growers & those who simply want to learn more about British flowers at a workshop or garden visit.
I always find the learning is two-way & I've met so many wonderful friends through my flowers. Looking forward to meeting with even more in 2022!
Well, it might not be very original, but it's true!
The greatest compliment ever given to me is when a Customer trusts me to deliver flowers on their behalf, to decorate their homes or for those important family occasions.
Flowers are there for the sad times & the glad times, & I know seeking out our locally grown blooms takes a little more thought than simply clicking on the top Google ad.
And when those Customers return for more, it's such a boost to me.
It keeps me going on the days when my back aches, my fingers are cold, the midges are eating me alive or I have to get up ridiculously early.
So a special thank you to the Bridesmaids & Sisters who become Brides themselves & choose to hold my flowers again on their special day.
To the Regular Customers who have enjoyed my flowers often for years, either delivered, collected or bought at the Farmers Market. A lady I met me our very first Farmers Market asked me to take flowers to her mother each month - I'm still doing it all these years later!
All our Customers have been so important in the last few years, enabling us to keep going when our usual sales outlets disappeared overnight. Many have become flower friends along the way & spur me to try new plants, new ways to make the most of the flowers.
What better compliment or encouragement could there ever be?
I'm often asked what prompted me to start the Flower Farm here near Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway.
Well, it was a bit of a long & winding road to be honest.
I've always adored flowers, ever since I was a toddler really & especially our beautiful British Cottage Garden Flowers.
Flowers were always in my life (I grew up next to a Peony Farm) but unable to see a career in horticulture, I kept it strictly outside work. But I grew flowers always, loved arranging them in a natural way to please me & slowly over time, they started to be noticed.
The village flower arrangers wanted them, a few local florists too & so I started selling flowers on a very small scale when I lived in Wiltshire.
A health scare gave me the jolt I needed to step it up. Nothing quite like a couple of MRI scans to get you thinking...
Slowly a plan formed, we moved to Scotland nearer my partners parents & since 2015, making those plans happen. Growing Cottage Garden flowers in a sustainable way, & sharing their beauty & scent with others is such a special experience.
And I'm always trying something new to grow each season, hoping to delight my Customers with them.
It's physically tough at times, a huge learning curve & totally worth it.
Whatever took me so long?
Rosie Gray of Galloway Flowers. Cut Flower Grower & Florist near Castle Douglas, in South West Scotland. Using 100% Flowers & Foliage grown in British Isles, all year round.