Early colouring of trees & bracken & the end of meteorological Summer, tells me Autumn approaches fast. But I don’t mind – every season is full of beauty & delights, they’re just different aren’t they? Think Brambles, Rose hips, Acorns, beautiful Seed heads… All gorgeous in a floral display. My kitchen windowsill looks like the school nature table as I display the 'bits' brought home from walks.
Shorter days mean Dahlias are finally hitting their stride & soon there’ll be luscious coloured foliage joining them in the bouquets too. I’ve missed my Dahlias so much – their variety of size, shapes & colours, their toughness means they’re always the first place I go on my morning tour to see what has popped open overnight.
With hindsight, delaying their flowering was a mistake – my panic response to the complete loss of any market for flowers earlier in the year. I regret it now, but who knew what was coming? All our September weddings are postponed & I had no idea if we would sell them. Next year, we’ll be back to full on Dahlia lusciousness here, I promise. (There are still quite a few hundred planted so probably by most standards …)
August was such a mixed month for us. Thrilling to be back at the brilliantly organised Kirkcudbright Farmers Market & Loch Arthur Farm Shop. So many regular Customers & Producers stopped to chat & catch up with their news. And more garden weddings – lovely couples simply determined to get on with their lives, celebrating their love with a small intimate group of close family & friends.
And then there was the weather – yes, I know I go on about it but seriously? We came through the windy Storms well, thanks to Ken’s excellent flower staking skills. Not one Dahlia stem was lost & even the Sweet Pea frames stayed upright. It’s very handy having a Mining Engineering Graduate around. He knows about building for strength & safety. Left to me, the Sweet Peas would have lovely wispy sticks, artistically woven – but probably be lying in the mud! Takes lots of different skills to make a business.
Anyhow, now the ground is well topped up with water so I’m hoping a little bit of sunshine & warmth will get the flowers bouncing back. A nice ‘Indian Summer’ would cheer us all up.
I’m definitely looking further ahead now, beginning planting for 2021. The bulbs arrive any day so I’m ripping out spent annuals. The beds will fill up again quickly. Creating space in the beds & in my head too for new ideas, beginning to get excited again about what we'll do next year. Half the Ranunculus & Anemones will be started off now, the rest in January to give a longer succession. Narcissi, Alliums & Muscari this month, Tulips wait until November.
And today is designated ‘September Seed Sowing Sunday’. This afternoon I begin sowing Hardy Annuals for earlier flowering next year. It’s going to be a busy year for weddings as so many couples have postponed. I’m making sure we’ve plenty of gorgeous, locally grown flowers ready for them. Our big 'Bloom Buckets' of mixed flowers are always popular for couples wanting to DIY their own wedding flowers.
Not forgetting bulbs for Christmas – if you want bowls of Hyacinths or Narcissi to scent your home, start them this month. Buy ‘Prepared’ Hyacinth bulbs – they’ve been cold treated so they’ll flower earlier. These make lovely gifts too.
So I’ve mentioned Christmas already so this is the exciting news - ‘Make Your Own Christmas Wreath’ workshops are being scheduled! The first will be at The Station House Cookery School in Kirkcudbright on Friday 11th December. The Cookery School has been approved by the ‘We’re Good To Go’ scheme to restart classes. Numbers will be limited to 8 places so we can keep to recommended social distancing practices. Places can be booked online here; https://www.gallowayflowers.co.uk/christmaswreathworkshops-dumfries-galloway.html
I’m talking to a couple of other venues so if we’re able to offer additional wreath classes, I’ll publish them on the page as soon as finalised.
’Plant a Bulb Lasagne’ workshop is provisionally set for Sunday 1st November. We’re taking guidance on safe practice & hope to be given approval soon. If you’re interested in coming along, drop me an email & I’ll send details to you before details are published elsewhere.
We’re well into the ‘Tomato Glut’ predicted last month – wonderful! I eat ‘Sungold’ cherry tomatoes like sweets as I walk through the tunnel. Zero food yards. Seriously though, they’re such a treat. Roasted with a little red pepper then garlic & fresh basil (from the tunnel of course) added, it’s a quick pasta sauce & freezes well. Next year I’ll want the space back for flowers but the extra Courgettes, Tomatoes, Cucumbers & Chilli’s grown this year are going to have a space. Somewhere.
We’ll be out & about again this month, Glenkens Food Month will see us with flowers at the morning events on Saturday 12th in Dalry, Saturday 26th in Parton. Castle Douglas Farmers Market is back on Sunday 20th & Kirkcudbright Producers Market on Sunday 27th. Flowers can be pre-ordered for collection or come along for a chat & choose from the flowers we bring along.
And we’ll continue with ‘Flower Friday’ bouquet deliveries until the end of this month. As the number of Regular Flower Subscribers has increased, we’ve sold out several weeks recently & stopped taking orders early. So please don’t leave it too late to order for those special occasions. Beyond this month, we’ll continue to offer funeral flowers & our Regular Subscription Deliveries. If you would like to order flowers, you can online or send an email – this is a busy month outside so can be quicker than the telephone to reach me.
Jobs for the month ahead; I mentioned bulbs & annual seeds already. It’s a good time to plant out Foxgloves, Sweet Williams & Wallflowers so they can build nice strong roots before winter – look out for bundles of plants at good garden centres. There’s still time to take semi-ripe cuttings of herbs such as Rosemary & Sage, plus tender plants such as Salvias, Penstemons & Pelargoniums. I overwinter these tender perennials indoors & still like to have a back up plan. And have some fleece handy – often we have a sudden, hard frost in mid-September. If we can protect our Dahlias through that, we keep them blooming usually until well into October.
Enjoy the golden, glowing days this month & begin creating your beautiful cutting garden for next year.
Until next time,
Your Flowery Inspiration links;
A new Dahlia variety for me this year, & to be honest, as the first blooms began to open, I wasn't sure it was a good 'un.
But as it opened, the colour has softened to a bright pink, a hint of yellow at the petal base & each petal has a hand painted look. Stems are long & strong, vase life seems good too.
Sometimes you just have to wait & see how flowers change over time. I think it's a keeper...
The colours of the Flower Farm are changing.. the golds & browns of Rudbeckia & Heleniums add a new bold, richness to bouquets after the pale, pink & white froth of early Summer. Dahlias are at last beginning to be cut in numbers this week – I’ve really missed them. Having delayed planting because I couldn’t see any market for them back in May, now as bouquet orders increase, I’m using every stem. Gorgeous blue & white Agapanthus added drama to July bouquets, now it’s time for firework colours to take over.
The cutting beds are voluptuously full to bursting – their string-sided corsets aren’t enough to hold everything in. Early morning cutting is inevitably a soaking-wet-on-my-legs experience.
But this year, I’m just letting it be. Visitors are rare so nobody else gets wet. Underneath it all, the frogs are loving their hideaway home & I trust keeping the slugs under control for me. Definitely a fair exchange of a home for their help.
More of a worry is the speed weeds are growing! Recent rain is resulting in triffid sized nettles & grass is seeding where it definitely shouldn’t. Trying to be very Zen about it as I can only do what I can do, it’s going to be a big effort this Autumn. The ‘one years seeding & seven years weeding' adage is sadly very true…
Weddings, albeit small scale, are back & I’m enjoying the creative work again. The couples hastily rearranged events at home & scaled their florals to fit. Lots of buckets of flowers have been collected for arranging at home by family & friends, & I’ve been making bouquets, buttonholes & flower crowns. (The detail above was a bouquet made for Rebecca last week) A pretty & popular alternative to the traditional Bridesmaid bouquet have been flowery Wrist Corsages. These suit an informal party, worn & enjoyed all day. It’s been so uplifting for us to see people celebrating, excited & happy, determined to find their own way through a tough situation.
Yesterday afternoon I ran out of steam after a relentless couple of weeks – several weddings, back at Loch Arthur Farm Shop on a Friday, early starts & late finishes to my days. Sometimes you just have to stop don’t you & I admit to not being good at it.
So I sat down at the picnic table & just looked at the cutting beds in the bottom field. I rarely do this. 5 years ago it was just long, unmown grass. Now, it’s certainly not perfect, or even completely tidy. But it's very productive, pumping out thousands of stems each season. And it could be much better so it's time to plan how to improve. I think I’ll remember but rarely do! These are some of my notes;
We planned to reopen for private Afternoon Tea visits this month but as Corona Virus makes a comeback, decided to delay until next year. I’ll put dates up for the ‘Plant A Bulb Lasagne’ shortly. It’ll be early November & we can work outside (like last year) if weather is dry or in the polytunnel if not, keeping a safe distance.
The ‘Flower Farmers Big Weekend’ event is August 14th-16th & it's going digital! Last year we opened our gates to visitors, enjoying it immensely despite the rain. This year we’ll be closed but I’ll post more pictures than usual on our Instagram & Facebook accounts. There are also going to be virtual flower farm tours, talks & demonstrations from other ‘Flowers From The Farm’ members around the UK on the website here;
Fingers crossed, next year we’ll be open again.
While still busy cutting & delivering flowers ready now, my head is moving a season ahead. Dawn is noticeably later, the field full of dew-spangled cobwebs & autumn tints on a few trees & patches of bracken, Sorry about the ‘A’ word but it’s coming... The Swallow chicks nesting under our porch fledged last week so will be building up strength for their long flight to Africa. I went to clean underneath the nest & was dive bombed by the parents – I think they’re going for another brood. I admire their optimism!
I’ll be bringing flowers on Friday 14th to Loch Arthur again (1-3pm) & Kirkcudbright Producers Market on the 23rd. And of course, you’re welcome to pre-order flowers for collection from here or at these 2 venues. Deliveries continue in our extended area on limited days of the week too. Ken is helping so I can make bouquets & he delivers to the doorstep. Let me know if you would like a flowery treat for yourself or a friend. Links below.
Jobs for the month ahead? Summer days only need be as hard as you want them to be. This year I’m cutting myself some slack. It’s allowed. Collect seed of favourites you want more of, are expensive or to share. Cut seedheads & flowers for drying & enjoyment over winter. Deadhead Sweet Peas & keep your display going.
Above all, enjoy being in the fresh air, surrounded by flowers, in nature. It’s officially good for us, you know.
Until next time,
Your Flowery Inspiration links;
Dawn is coming later & it's still slightly dusky when I walk down to the workshop in the mornings now.
I love to wake up with the rising sun rather than an alarm - not possible soon.
Without doubt a special time of day - birdsong, rustlings in the grass, perhaps deer standing motionless, hoping I haven't seen them. Ducks & Herons on the pond. Meadowsweet smells wonderful as the day warms up, & is much loved by bees.
These views are the area of 'rough grazing' to the side of the Flower Farm. Since we came here we've planted many new trees in some side areas (Birch, Rowan, Willow, Alder & Ash mostly). It doesn't take long for wildlife to spot a safe zone...
Last bouquet of the week, gathering up the leftover stems, just for me.
It sums up my love of the classic Country Cottage garden style in July & the botanically rich bouquets I create. I've always been a gardener, a plantswoman, first. The floristry is simply something I do with those flowers to make a living.
At every house I've owned I've created a garden full of my favourite plants, many moving on to the next house with me. The Flower Farm started because, well, I admit I was growing a LOT of flowers & people asked to buy them.
Memories of the people who gave me plants, or where I bought them, come too, making every garden more special to me than just a collection of plants.
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.