With Summer officially over, I feel extra lucky the coming week brings the warmest, sunniest days we've enjoyed here for a while! Very welcome it is too, especially as this is a busy 3 wedding week ahead for us.
But Autumn feels close despite the sunshine. Abundant hedgerow Blackberries, Hips & Haws, laden Apple trees & already golden tips on the Bracken & Beech. The misty mornings have a distinct cool feel, with Swallows lining up on the wires. I know their time with us is nearly over for another year...
And for us, there's a sense of relief the flower season is coming to a close. We've plenty of flowers of course, many such as the Roses are giving a second flush of flowers. The Sweet Peas didn't like the cool weather in August but are having a resurgence. And the Dahlias are pumping out blooms by the bucket.
But it's no secret it's been a difficult year for growers. Beginning with heavy losses after hard winter weather, I started on the back foot. Unsure which plants might bounce back (many did) or if I should just take the hit & start from scratch. Most of our Grasses & many Agapanthus (previously Hardy for years) were lost & really missed in July & August. With hindsight, I should have replaced earlier, as only now are the grasses abundant. But I learn... every year is different.
Weeds - what a year for them! Partly a generous application of farmhouse manure brought in seeds galore & they thrived in wet July weather. I must get on top of them this month if possible to stop the seeding. What is it they say about 'One years seeding & Seven years weeding'? And some I suspect...
While still fresh in my mind, I'm reflecting on the successes this year, in our growing conditions. Some flowers were popular with Customers, always remarked on, so I'll grow more. Others rarely were noticed or weren't productive so probably not be grown again. I've started ordering seeds & bulbs for next year so important to do this before I forget, seduced by the gorgeous photos in the catalogues.
As the 2024 wedding calendar begins to fill, I note colours to grow more of - especially orange! Easy in some months (Spring Tulips for example, & August/September for Dahlias, Rudbeckia & Helenium) But June & July are going to require a bit more thought. So far I'm considering more Calendula, Alstroemeria, Geums & some more peachy/apricot Roses. Any of your orange favourites to suggest for those months?
September is Mother Nature's time for sowing seed so I'm following her example. Both Perennials & Hardy Annuals can be sown this month, to form strong plants for a quick start in Springtime. Seed is expensive & I hate to say it, not always reliable! Several packets this year turned out not to be what had been promised. Very frustrating after nurturing in compost, giving space & time!
So on dry days, I gather plenty of seed from our plants. I'll sow some into modules now & save the rest to sow in Spring. Lots of the easy ones such as Nigella, Calendula, Cerinthe, Viola & Ammi are worth trying. F1 Hybrid seed doesn't come 'true' but can still produce good flowers. I've been keeping Antirrhinum seeds for several years & while not the same pink as I started with, produce pretty stems at a very reasonable price!
As the fresh flower season begins to slow, Autumn bounty beckons. I've been steadily cutting & drying spare flowers so there's a wide variety to mix together for Autumn wreaths, bouquets etc.
On a beautiful day like this it seems unimaginable that meteorological Summer has gone. The earliest frost I've experienced here was on September 13th. So after this busy wedding week, I'll be clearing the greenhouses ready to bring in tender plants. The horticultural fleece is on standby to protect my Dahlias. I find that if I can protect Dahlias through the first cold shock, usually warm weather returns & I can cut flowers for several more weeks. Here's hoping this year follows the pattern.
Until next time,
And the last word this month?
'All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today;
And the Colour keeps on coming...
These are some of the buckets full of flowers cut on Thursday, outside the workshop.
A long drink of water overnight & then off on Friday to local celebrations & also some into today's 'Friday Flowers'.
Locally Grown, Seasonal Flowers grown here at the Flower Farm in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland
'Which is your favourite Dahlia variety?' I was asked last month. That's a tough question for a Dahlia geek like myself.
I've been growing Dahlia's for at least 20 years, & this year the collection is over 400 strong. Less than some years as many were lost in last winter's cold spell.
Every year, some varieties fall by the wayside - perhaps not productive enough, or too short lived in a vase. Perhaps the colour simply wasn't popular with our Customers.
And others are tried for the first time - perhaps recommended by another grower, seen at a plant nursery or on Insta.
Some I grow simply because I love them, even if borderline commercial! (Yes, I'm looking straight at the giant varieties such as Labyrinth, Breakout & Babylon Bronze here. Fabulous for an urn at a wedding/party but hopeless in a 'Friday Flowers' bouquet.)
So while walking among the cutting beds in the past few days, checking how buds are coming along, I've created a shortlist of my essential Dahlias for most colours. These are the ones I grow every year & would miss greatly when making bouquets or in the garden.
Which is a start of an answer, of sorts...
Let me introduce you first to Dahlia 'Genova', a must-have little darling. A pale lavender-pink ballet skirt with white, deepening in colour with age.
If there's a Dahlia in the 'Flower Fairy' books, surely this has to be the one she wears? Definitely on my list every year!
Which is your favourite Dahlia in the lavender-pink class?
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.