Spring 2023 has officially begun. Maybe a step back this week with the forecast cold snap, but the direction is now firmly set towards sunshine, warmth & longer days. I see it in the morning light (I'm waking earlier) & hear it in the birds territiorial singing. And the ponds are full of Toad spawn, so it must be true...
This winter's weather demonstrated loud & clear why growing flowers here in the UK as a business can be challenging. Last Autumn was great for keeping Dahlia's flowering late - but then drying for storage was difficult. Then THAT rain - I've noticed the Snowdrops & early Daffs are exceptionally tall this year - I wonder if rain at that time may be the cause. And then, the December freeze that went on - very cold for so early in the Winter & prolonged. Only now am I seeing the damage it's done.
So what did we lose in the cold snap in December?
It looks as if my new Rosemary bushes might be dead (replacements for those lost in Winter 2021 - I might give up on them!) Strangely, my Sarcococca's are both looking pitiful and the Eucalyptus too. I'll not give up on these shrubs yet though - given time, they might bounce back into life from low down if I'm lucky. I hope you haven't lost any precious favourite plants?
Annoyingly, I've lost my supply of self-sown Ammi & Bupleurum seedlings too. They looked like strong plants in November, & usually provide reliable early cut 'filler' flowers for minimal effort.The prolonged cold was just too much, even for supposedly 'hardy' annuals like these. Fortunately, both are cheap to start more from saved seed. A useful reminder to bring a few of the self sown freebies inside the tunnel next year.
Now February was a dry month, wasn't it? Excellent for getting ahead with clearing beds & mulching, many plants have started their Spring early. But this week - it's going to be cold so we're prepping today, ensuring tender plants are safe in lower temperatures again.
Hellebores are coming into their own this week. Although lasting well in a vase if cut at the right stage, I rarely cut mine. Just too lovely in the garden & loved by the bees. Their varied speckled faces, in subtle colours & welcome this month when so much is yellow or white.
Most work last month has been on the 'Big Trellis Project' to revitalise the area around the workshop. The trellis is now all in place & it's nearly ready to plant the large borders either side. One side will be Climbing roses, Clematis & a big flower border. The other side is shadier & to be planted with mainly evergreen shrubs, possibly not until Autumn. All useful for cutting, of course. In March, work will start on revitalising the old Nursery beds themselves, filling with plenty of flowers for cutting.
March takes seed sowing up a gear as I begin on the Hardy Annuals & a few perennials (most of these will begin flowering next year). But there's no rush yet. I want a prolonged display of flowers over a long season, not a huge display of flowers all at once, wasting many. So I'll sow a small quantity now, more next month & again in May. It's tempting to chuck in the whole seed packet in one go - but restraint works best!
And if you want to avoid shortages of veg in the supermarket, be sure to start a few Tomatoes too! I fill a polytunnel with Tomatoes once the Dahlias are planted out as we seem to use so many. Top varieties I'll be growing again are 'Sungold', 'Costoluto Florentino' & (new to me last year) the tasty & very prolific 'Bloody Butcher'.
New Dahlia tubers have started arriving, possibly rather a lot. I admit panicking after the cold December snap as many of my tubers were in the ground. Most recent winters that would be fine but temperatures were exceptionally low. So I ordered 'a few' (hundred) replacements. So far, all tubers I've dug from the ground or stored in the garage roof are sound, not frozen at all - so there may be more Dahlias than ever. A high quality problem, in my opinion.
I'll pick out a few Dahlia tubers to start into growth mid-month. I've invested in new 'dinnerplate' varieties as a trial & these tend to need a longer season. Some years, the wedding favourite, creamy-coloured 'Cafe Au Lait' doesn't begin flowering until early September - not much use if caught by the frost a couple of weeks later. A bit of coaxing in March helps..
Mother's Day, the busiest bouquet delivery event for every Florist is early this year - Sunday March 19th.
Although too early for our own flowers, we'll have beautiful British-grown flowers from Cornwall, Lincolnshire & the Isles of Scilly for our colourful bouquets & bunches. Local deliveries will be on Friday 17th & Saturday 18th. Collection from the Flower Farm available on Sunday 19th 10am - 1pm. Almost 50% of the delivery slots are booked so please don't leave too late - all the information is here Mothers Day 2023, just in case you need to drop hints...
Wedding consultations continue & as expected, more couples are planning to 'DIY' at least some of their own wedding flowers this Summer. Our big 'Bloom Buckets' of mixed flowers are ideal. It's a great way to source plenty of flower variety & all are prepped ready in water. Flowers just need to be cut to length & arranged. If you plan to use our 'Bloom Buckets' of flowers, please get in touch soon as some of the popular weeks are already filling.
Workshop schedule is getting busy too;
Until next time,
And the last word this month?
“I can buy myself flowers.”
Miley Cyrus, American Singer, Songwriter & Actress
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.