Place the bulb somewhere cool & in low light conditions for about 10 weeks. I put mine in a frost-free greenhouse under the shelving. The bulbs must be kept frost-free.
Refresh the water weekly & keep topped up to level described in step 1.
When a strong root & bud (approx. 2”/5cms) has formed, bring the vase into a lighter (not bright sunshine) & cool place indoors. The leaves will ‘green up’ & after 3-4 days can be moved to a brighter place, for example a windowsill. If leaves begin growing too fast compared to the bud, return to a cooler position.
Keep away from temperature extremes – draughts & hot places (such as close to a radiator).
As the flower opens, move to somewhere you’ll enjoy the intoxicating fragrance. Turn the vase a little each day so they don’t lean towards the sun. A north facing windowsill is perfect. Flowers will typically last up to 2 weeks.
Different cultivars will grow at different speeds. If you want flowers for Christmas, aim to start your bulbs off by September 24th – but it isn’t an exact science.
The hyacinth bulbs are exhausted after the effort of producing a flower in water only. Transplant bulbs into the garden after flowering. They may not flower well next year but will recover to produce small blooms in future years.
Many closest to us were surprised by our plan to grow cut flowers in Scotland. All the usual doubts were expressed - 'you can't grow roses in Scotland', 'it rains all the time', 'it'll be so cold'. Even though I had been growing & selling flowers on a small scale before, few probably thought we could make it a business.
And yes, the winter of 2015/16 was very wet (remember Storm Frank?) For a couple of hours a branch blocked the burn, pushing water through the polytunnel like a river. But it subsided as fast as it came. The house wasn't affected. Compared to many flooded here in South West Scotland that winter, we were very lucky.
One year on, some days all I see is the endless list of jobs on my 'to do' list, longer than a neanderthals arm. It can be overwhelming - there's so much to do. But we've made a good start.
We are growing flowers, & selling them too. We have wedding bookings for 2017 already. After much hard work by Ken, our family & myself, it's good to look back to see the progress.
Now, we can look back on the 'soft launch' season of Galloway Flowers this summer. And yes, I think it's been a good start.
We now have a sound, large greenhouse (with another 3 small ones given to us to go up soon) & polytunnel. Not the smartest you'll ever see but enough to provide plant protection. These enable us to extend the growing season in Spring & Autumn. There are sheds for storage, potting up & prepping the flowers ready for sale - more space than I knew I needed (until I had it, & of course, it's filled up rapidly.)
Most importantly, we have a growing garden full of thriving, blooming plants. We've proved beyond doubt, quality cut flowers can be grown in Scotland. We just have to choose the varieties that like it. Even the new roses bloomed well.
The website is live (though still very simple) & sales have been made. Enough to encourage us to continue the seed sowing & planting so we can grow many more flowers in 2017. Our regular presence at Kirkcudbright Farmers Market & Loch Arthur Farm shop have introduced us & our flowers to many wonderful people. We've loved creating wedding & funeral flowers, special bouquets & Christmas wreaths over the year. We appreciate too the advice, encouragement & kindness received from so many.
Watch this space!
We've reviewed the plants that thrived & the flowers our customers particularly loved - we plan to grow much more of these next year. We noticed too which plants didn't thrive outside (such as Zinnias, not surprisingly) & will try these in the polytunnel next time.
And of course, we'll be experimenting with many more varieties as we extend the space under cultivation. My head has been stuck in the bulb & seed catalogues for weeks as I draw up 'wish lists' of varieties. If there are any particular favourites you would love us to try, do let me know in the comments box below.
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.