Cropping this month - April

April is full of colour on the field. As we move into our 5th season of selling, we're fairly confident about what things will be flowering each month, but to keep up with trends and fashions we try new colours and varieties each year. 

That's certainly the case with the Ranunculus this year, as we're trailing some new ones from Italy. This week i've had the green and white Silente Pon Pon ranunculus flowering in the polytunnel, but currently in bud and waiting to burst, i've got Hanoi, Grand Pastel and Malva. Just a few of each to try them out this year, but we'll see how they go.

Pon Pon Ranunculus in bud

Then as the month moves on, we'll get on to some of the colours we've had before, 

Of Course Tulips are the main crop of the month, and there are hundreds being cropped each day at the farm (and they do need picking each day if it's warm). We've already gone through the Purissima, Double Purple, Candy Prince and Red Triumphator varieties. This coming week will see Superparrot, Shirley, and the Triumphator varieties come out and shine, and my particular favourite is Viridichic

At the end of the month, we'll have Menton, Mount Tacoma, Queen of the night and the Apricot Parrot.


Because we can get Daffs in supermarkets from Christmas time, i've found that people are often over Narcissus before we get to the best of the scented varieties in April. This week we've had Cheerfulness, and next we'll have Winston Churchill. Both double headed and with flowers with great perfume.


I've never got enough Honesty. There, i've said it.... It's always something that by the time it's flowering i wish i'd planted 2 extra beds, and nothing had nibbled it overwinter. However the bed we've got of it this year is looking wonderfully healthy, and we've an even mix of white and pink/purple stems. By cutting it as flowers, i'll get lots of side shoots, and when the Hesperis starts flowering in 10 days time, i'll let them go to seed pods (which will be green from the white flowers, and have a purple tinge from the pink flowers)


It's normally flowering by now, but with a hard winter, the cerinthe isn't ready just yet, but the plants are looking healthy, so a couple of weeks and i'll have plenty of stems of this glaucous succulent.


The Iceland poppies that i sowed back last June, are now flowering, and the buds are bursting every day to give the most delicate looking, but actually a lot hardier flowers than they look.

The coral coloured ones are the most striking, but we've white, blush and yellow coming too.

There are also a lot of other things out on the field that we just have small numbers of or are trialling. Here are some of them

(Borage, Dicentra, Leucojum, Brunnera, Anemones)

And i've spotted my first Sweet pea buds, so it will only be a couple of weeks.

I'm sure i've forgotten some that will be popping up in the next few weeks, so do watch my Instagram feed, so i can show you what's coming out each week.









The March job list - New Perennial beds, and polytunnel flowers

March has been great so far. Warmer weather than last year, has meant that the bulbs are far advanced of last year. Of course that meant that although i'd planted the Hyacinths in stages, they all flowered at once last week. 

hyacinth with bee.jpg

At least the bees in the polytunnel enjoyed the ones that didn't go off to the Crossroads Village store, or in posies last week.

We also had pest damage of the Tulips in the Polytunnel. Just after Christmas we noticed bigger holes than the mice create, and although we tried barrier defence, we had to admit defeat and put down Rat poison a few weeks ago. It worked, but not before all the 300 sheltered tulips the freesias and the gladioli the bride had been decimated. 

We've now planted Larkspur and Delphinium in their place, and are back to catching mice.

The first batch of flowers are now being picked each day. There are Anemones, in burgundy (bordeaux) red, and white.  Leucojum, Poppies (yes they really are this coral, there are also some white ones and a pale pink)

plus i've picked buckets of wonderful Hellebores from the farm and the garden in the last couple of weeks. This one seemed to be popular on Instagram this week 

These will all be in this weekend's Mothering Sunday flowers along with these Tulips, that are just about to burst.

This week's main job though has been to replant the perennial beds on the sunniest side of the field.

Last year they got very congested with weeds, and didn't produce nearly as many blooms as expected (or needed) so we dug out the plants that we wanted to keep, and covered the area with mulching plastic. When we removed the plastic this week, the weeds and grass had disappeared, and we just needed to rake the debris from the top, dig out some stubborn root systems, make weed free paths with cardboard and wood chip, and top up with compost where it was short

We've now planted beds of

  • perennial cornflower Centaurea Montana,
  • Linaria Canon Went, which is a tall pink spire
  • Leucanthemum Crazy Daisy and 
  • More Geums

Next to go in will be Phlox, Veronicastrum, Eryngiums, Catananche and Delphiniums. It's this kind of propagation that i love, and we're planting in closely so there is no room for weeds to grow.

Next on the list is starting off the Dahlia tubers, so we get early flowers this year. Jennifer has pruning saw poised to get as many plants out of our last year tubers as possible, and we've even got room in the Grow tunnel to store them as we've planted out the perennials (Feeling smug).

Hellebores, An Appreciation of the plant and cut flower.

I'm a fully paid up member of the Hellebore Appreciation Society


By fully paid up, i mean as well as cooing at lots of photos on Instagram, I tend to buy quite a few of them each year. (understatement alert!)

Now some of them are for Clients, as the Hellebore is a wonderful easy to grow, low maintenance garden plant. They get bigger and better every year, need very little looking after - a water if it gets dry, and the leaves removed at the beginning of the year to prevent Hellebore Black Spot spreading, and that's it. They also flower at an empty time of year, outside with no protection, so they're an important early Spring flower. Here are some that were planted about 9 years ago 

This next ones, a gorgeous peachy colour came in a mixed batch of Seedling Hellebores, this was 3 years after planting

A seedling Hellebore is a lot cheaper to buy than a named variety. Hellebores are promiscuous, so seedlings don't stay true to the parent plant. This means that you can get a brilliant colour variation, or they could all be a murky off white. 

I've got plenty of all the different varieties in my garden, A range of colours from white through pinks to purples, and both single and double flowers. The great thing about them is that i can actually enjoy them as a pretty flower for weeks and weeks, then when they produce seed pods, i can cut them for use in arrangements.

When the flowers still have pollen showing, (like this lovely purple one in the sunshine in my garden this morning) then they don't last that long when cut. A few days even if they are well conditioned.

However when the seed pods form on the flowers, the colours fade slightly, but the flowers last longer on strong stems.

I've just planted up another batch of seedlings, so will be increasing my plants yet again for next year. But judging by the success they've been for my garden and for my cut flower sales, i'll be increasing them again next year as well.

Here's a March bouquet that we created a couple of years ago to show off the Hellebore and Anemones

What time of year are my favourite flowers available?

During a Pinterest board discussion with a Bride to be this week, I was reminded that i'm so lucky to be familiar with lots of flowers, and to know the season's that they will be available in. So in a bid to help out all those who's description of what they like is "that pink one" Here's the first of a series of posts about when flowers are in season.

The Nation's favourite flower is the Rose

If they are grown in a glasshouse or covered tunnel, they can be flowering in England by mid to late May depending on the season. and continue flowering (in bursts) until Late October / Mid November. Yes that does mean that all those Valentine Roses are imported from a long way away. The best months (meaning the months they flower the most prolifically here in the UK even if they're grown outdoors) are June, and September.

The second most known flower is the Peony

These are around for a lot less time than the Roses, just a short 3 week season for most British Peonies each year. If you want to make sure you can have a locally grown Peony in your Wedding bouquet, then the last half of June, into July is when you need to plan your wedding. If you get married in August, then your peonies will need to come from Alaska, later in the year and they'll be from the southern hemisphere, New Zealand or Chile maybe.

Wildflowers. Natural wildflowers flower en masse in a meadow, and there are different types for most of the year, but when i get asked for wildflower style, most brides are wanting smaller, dainty flowers. These may include Cornflowers, or Corncockle, or Feverfew or Nigella. 

The Early summer months of May, June and July are the best times for a wildflower theme, giving you the widest range of varieties. 

Dahlias are back in fashion now, and the wonderful range of colours mean that they are perfect for wedding flowers

Although they may start popping up in Instagram feeds from late June. They're not available in any numbers until Late July, early August, and they peak in numbers and variety in early September. They keep going though until the first frosts, so that's mid October until the beginning of November depending on your latitude.

Ranunculus. Newer to the wedding scene, but completely gorgeous are the many petalled Ranunculus. Even better, these are available at a different time of year to Roses and Peonies, with availability in spring from March through May, and for a short period from selected glasshouses in the Autumn

and last for now is the Anemone. My first few have been available in my Polytunnel this week, and they will be flowering prolifically within a couple of weeks time. With both covered and outside crops, they will be giving me blooms until the beginning of June. Occasionally i have a few blooming in November, and they are available commercially from Cornish growers with benign climates in the late Autumn.

Which flower would you like to know the natural season for? If you've an absolutely favourite flower, let me know what it is, so that you can find the best season to celebrate it in your event flowers.

Propagation for a floriferous season ahead

I love the word floriferous. It totally describes what i want from my field, tons of flowers, a field full of blooms.

To do this I need healthy plants, and plenty of them to fill all my beds

Today was one of my Grow your own workshops, and the participants got to sow seeds and take stem and heel cuttings. One of my top tips to ensure all plants are healthy, is to move them on from one stage to the next as soon as possible. This means the plant never becomes "checked". If a plant isn't halted at any point in its growing season, it will grow quickly, and flower it's socks off.

With seeds this means moving them from their seed tray to module or pot when they just have their first leaves, and before the root creates extra root hairs and gets damaged when moved.

This tray of Larkspur seedlings, became these plantlets within 3 days (sown 22/9, pricked out 19/10, photo 22/10) They were planted out on the field 2 weeks ago, after the winter in the unheated polytunnel, and they have great footballs.

For cuttings this means taking the growing medium in it's pot or module to the plant you're going to take cuttings from, The cutting is then completely fresh, hasn't had time for the sap to dry up, and can concentrate on creating roots as soon as it's in contact with the compost.

For perennials, this means splitting them - sometime Quite ruthlessly into smaller bits early in the season. Today it was veronicastrum that i was splitting. These spires of white and purple proved so popular last year, that the only photo i got of it, was as it was going out of the door in a yellow and white themed event flowers bucket.

i'm splitting each clump into 5 or 6, and potting them up. They'll be cosseted in the polytunnel for the next 4 -6 weeks during which time they'll grow a great root system in the warm compost. By late April when i need the polytunnel space for Dahlias, - i'll plant them back on the field, and with fresh root growth into the by then warmed soil, they'll grow away easily.

Tomorrow, i'm splitting more plants, including phlox, and sowing more seeds, and yes i can actually call it productive work.

Cropping this month - March

Every year is slightly different, and this bit at the beginning of the season is the place where the most changes in the shortest period of time take place. We go from being cold and wintery to there being warmth in the air and blooms on the field very quickly. This weekend was warm, so all of a sudden there are things popping out.

I don't start inviting people up to the Hill top farm until this month, as the field is mostly bleak and covered in plastic to prevent weeds through out the winter months. But there are pockets of flowers and foliage that i'm picking from.

The Anemones are budding up in the Polytunnel. - I picked a handful last Tuesday for orders and there were a few more this morning, so they are picking up, and there should be plenty in 10 days time

As well as these lovely white anemones, there are some Burgundy colour bordeaux ones coming too, and there will be more whites, blues, reds and pinks on the field soon.

The first Daffodils are flowering. We've been buying in from the Early Cornish fields, but now our own Surrey ones are catching up.

The Euphorbia is colouring up. Now this isn't everyone's favourite as some people have an allergy to the sap, but for early season burst of acid yellow, it can't be beaten. We've got the large variety Wulfenii, and the smaller Robbaie as well.

The yellow of the Kerria is just starting to bud up. It's a shrub that would take over my front garden if i let it. Luckily, my florists are great at helping me keep it under control, and the yellow stems of double flowers get well cut each year.

The hyacinths are budding up in the polytunnel. These short and short lived bulbs are wonderful in their brilliance, both in colour and in scent. - My succession planting of them this year seems to have gone awry, All the colours and all the plantings look like they will flower at once in the couple of weeks!

There is Spring Blossom poised on the trees around the field. Some kind of prunus. It's flowered between 18th March and 9th April in previous years, so i'm guessing it will come out at some point in that period.

Also in the polytunnel and just waiting to burst when there's some warmth are my poppies. In previous years i've only had bright mixed colours, but i've added to them this year with pinks and whites. Of course i don't yet have details of how quickly they will flower, or how many stems i'll get, but i'm sure they will keep me on my toes for the next couple of months and then i'll be able to let you know.

There are also lots of hellebores flowering at the farm and at home. I usually wait to cut them until the seedbeds have formed, but they have lovely long stems this year, so we may be parting with a few this month


and then foliage wise, - i've got Rosemary, Willow, curly willow, and the last of the season's Eucalyptus (lots more of that being planted this year), plus prunings from clients gardens.

If you're a Surrey florist wanting to get a weekly availability list emailed to you, please read about our Flowers for Florists, and sign up here 

If you want to send flowers to someone locally to East Clandon in Surrey, please read about our posies and bouquets 

If you'd like flowers for yourself and you live between Guildford and Cobham, including the villages of Merrow, Ripley, Ockham, East and West Clandon, and East and West Horsley we sell through the Crossroads Village store,(in West Horsley)  or have Flower arranger Subscriptions

Welcome to the new Plantpassion blog home

So, after 10 years of writing my blog, i've changed where it lives. It feels like a momentous occasion, and one i hope i haven't made a big mistake over.

I'm hoping with this new place on my new website, i'll be able to write even more about what's happening at the farm. Make sure you know what's flowering in my little corner of Surrey, and keep you up to date with the gardening and flower farming that i'm doing through the year. I'm also hoping i can show you more of the wonderful pictures that Emma Davies has taken over the last couple of  years. She's brave and has been up on the field in all weather's the same as me.

Trying to make sure she's taken photos of everything before i pick it, not matter how cold it is or how early in the morning. (this is the shot she got from the other end of the row)

So with a new website, and blog home, and lots of photos to show off the flowers, 2017 should be a great year for letting you know what's happening at Plantpassion. Please do have a good look round the website, to see what else we're up to, and let me know what you think. Will the new house become a good home?