Late last October, talented local Slipware Potters Hannah McAndrew & Doug Fitch popped over to collect a few flowers.
The couple were preparing an Autumn photo shoot for their new catalogue of beautiful Slipware designs.
It really was the tail end of our season., with thin pickings at the Flower Farm. A day later, even these Dahlias would have been ruined by Jack Frost.
But we found a few last flowers, berries & seedheads. It's always a pleasure to see how others use my flowers.
Thank you Hannah & Doug for sharing these images of your stunning pots.
More of their work can be found on Instagram @FitchandMcAndrew & online shop www.fitchandmcandrew.co.uk Image credit ShannonTofts
Truth is, most flower growing jobs in February are essential & not necessearily photogenic...
Take planting roses for instance - this year I've invested in more plants. Most Climbers are already in on the new Pergola, still a few more shrubs to arrive. Still a few more to choose for the new trellis.
All are varieties selected for their divine perfumes & health. I'm baffled why anybody would want a rose with the scent bred out of it - I mean, why?
These are going to be amazing additions to local weddngs as they mature. Never too many Roses... Buying them bare root like this, direct from British rose nurseries, is the most economical way to increase stocks. Top quality & really fresh plants, the plants are dug from the field & sent direct to me.
It's the most likely method to be successful too as plants will get a good soak to settle them in over the next few months.
These bundles of thorny sticks, while very exciting to me when they arrive in big bundles, give little away.
But in just a few months when the first flowers open, then the photo's will be a bit more special! Before planting, I give bare root roses a long soak so they're fully hydrated before planting.
Then into nice deep holes with a good dollop of compost.
Now I've just got to wait...
Sweet Pea jenga...
I'm moving on a batch of Sweet Pea seeds into these root trainer pots. These give a good long depth for the plants to grow strong roots ready for planting out.
They're very space efficient too, increasingly important as we get started on the new seasons seeding next week.
This tower is enough for just a fraction of the Sweet Pea plants we grow each Summer.
Keeping single-use plastics to a minimum is an important part of improving our sustainabllity. These pots are plastic & much tougher than they seem at first glance.
Treated carefully, these are now being used for their 8th season. Some pots are used multiple times in a season as they're good for beans & Sunflowers too.
Just a quick brushover to clean them up & we're ready to go...
To grow a small number of Sweet Pea plants at home, use toilet roll tubes stood in mushroom trays.
Slowly, steadily, minute by minute, the days are getting longer. After a few dreary days, the following bright one highlights how those few extra minutes add up. Yesterday, it was 5.30pm when I came in from the garden - no wonder I was gasping for a cuppa & slice of cake!
And with increasing daylight, the world steadily moves towards Springtime. Birds are singing loudly today, establishing their territories, trying to impress a mate (note to self - need to clean out bird boxes). Snowdrops, Aconites, the first few Crocus & deliciously scented Daphne to enjoy. It all lifts my spirits no end.
A plant group of special interest just now are the Catkins. Hazel Catkins wiggle in the breeze plus the soft, tactile little 'Pussy Willow' Catkins appear. Haphazardly, I've gathered a small collection of Pussy willow in recent years. Cuttings of good silvers & a few of the black catkin variety (SalixGracistyla Melanostachys) given by a friend are growing happily but not quite ready to cut abundantly. The pink variety 'Mount Aso' is the star of the path through the meadow this week - like pink fluffy raspberries glued on long wand-like stems. A real beauty for adding to bouquets, alone in a simple vase or the garden. It's worth looking out for if you have space because it seems to be reliably earlier than my other Catkin varieties.
But beware the 'false Spring' - a few welcome days when a coat isn't needed means little, I'm glad to still have a good stack of logs for the woodburner. Although tempting to start sowing seeds or pruning roses, I'll hold off a little longer. The 'Beast from the East' of 2018 is fresh in my memory & a repeat could be damaging.
On dry days, I've begun the tidy up of perennial beds, clearing dead sticks, weeds & assessing damage from winter weather. These perennials are the main stay of our Flower Farm. Looked after, they deliver good volumes of quality stems reliably without too much labour, Most have fared the winter cold well & little tufts of new growth are appearing. Phew! Our neighbour reports temperatures of -12 degrees on several mornings in December, much lower than we would expect. There have been losses (all my Ammi & Cerinthe seedlings were zapped by cold in the polytunnel). My beds of Alstroemeria had looked dreadfully damaged. I feared the worst as they're expensive cutting varieties. This week, I've been relieved to see new spears appearing so while it may be later than usual before I cut any, I'm optimistic the plants have made it.
The soil deserves special attention this month. Heavy winter rain has beaten bare soil & will have washed precious nutrients away. Everything will be given a good mulch to replenish those nutrients. Plants can't keep giving without me giving back in return to support all the worms & microorganisms essential to good healthy soil.
Progress is finally being made on redesigning the area around my garden workshop. Two years ago, we took out a large strip of Leylandii hedge, bought some lattice fencing to support climbers & planned new planting for the whole area. Then days later, I broke my arm & that was that. By the time I could wield a fork again, we were busy with weddings & had no time for new developments. The outside area remained an embarassing mess, if I'm honest. But now we're finally beginning to plant! This weekend, I've added new climbing roses to the Pergola & I'm looking forward to the scents already.
My first batch of Sweet Peas are germinating, another batch will be sown on Valentine's day (nice & easy to remember). From the 15th, I sow a few tougher seeds I can plant out before our last frosts. Anything tender waits. For example, Cosmos seed packets often suggest seed can be sown from February. And it can be. The seed will germinate but it doesn't mean it's a good idea. Cosmos can't withstand frost so you'll need to keep baby plants inside until then, potting on, providing extra water, light & warmth. I don't have space or time for that so wait until early April before sowing.
Not sure if I should encourage you... but this is a good month for a bit of armchair shopping. I've noticed deals appearing on Dahlias & bare root Roses (still plenty of time for planting either). And stocks of mail order plug plants are good. Growing flowers from seed can be a cost effective way to fill a Cutting patch, but isn't the only way. If space or time is limited, or you simply want a few plants of several varieties, try plug plants. You can buy a wide variety of cut flowers as plugs by mail order
Our Wedding calendar is filling nicely & detailed consultations wiith couples have begun to plan their flowers. Colour schemes include lots of bright colours this year, as well as the ever-popular 'green & white', 'blush pink & burgundy' classics. if you know a couple planning to tie the knot this year, the wedding pages can be found by following the links from this page. As well as bespoke wedding flowers for couples planning 'the whole shebang', we'll again be supplying 'Bloom Buckets' of mixed flowers for family & friends to arrange themselves. Inevitably, the most popular Summer dates book quickly & as I take on only a few weddings each week, pre-order is recommended.
The first dates for our Events calendar for 2023 are;
This month make the most of Spring sunshine, look out for the Comet overhead & listen to those birds - they know Spring is on the way. After all the cold & wet, I'm excited to be beginning another season of growing flowers & sharing our progress with you.
Until next time,
Jobs for February;
“There is always in February some one day, at least, when one smells the yet distant, but surely coming summer.”
Gertrude Jekyll (1843 - 1932 Horticulturist, Garden Designer & Author)
'Top of my List' to grow more of this year is best described as the peachy colour range - consistently popular & good mixers with other colours too. I admit a weakness for anything listed in a plant catalogue as promising me peach, watermelon, toffee, caramel, mango, copper, apricot - I just have to try it! From the Narcissi, Tulips & Ranunculus of Springtime, through Summery Antirrhinums, Roses & Sweet Peas, to the vast selection in this colour in late Summer/Autumn - so much to choose from! Here are a few favourites from the last few years grown here at the Flower Farm. So that's my weakness - tell me, what's yours?
January begins with more detailed consultations with our 2023 wedding couples.
It's always exciting to learn the ideas for their special day - the colours, favourite flowers, the details to make the flowers memorable.
Then I take those ideas, translate into my plans for flowers to grow here at the Flower Farm, this season.
And this year, it's looking like (even) more Dahlias. more Grasses for swish & plenty of colour! I'm looking forward to it already...
And thank you to @WillowandWilde.co for the photo of Lisa's bouquet made last September.
If you would like seasonal, locally grown flowers for your wedding, send email to ask for availability
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.