That's a wrap - End of the season in numbers.

It’s only the 31st October, but even before November has begun, our season is at an end.

Pick your own.jpg

With freezing temperatures overnight twice this week, the Dahlias are completely gone. Our other tender plants have stopped producing flowers, and the half hardy annuals have gone from perky and producing to sad and soggy. So now it’s time to call a halt on the 2018 season, work on lots of preparation for 2019, and do plenty of reviewing of the year.

Luckily I didn’t feel too bad, as the end of last week, we had lots of Pick your own customers, plus our last wedding of the season, so we used up plenty of the flowers. Thanks to all those who came and took part.

After 6 season’s now we’ve really got to the point where we have a good idea of what we’re doing, so despite the dreadful weather for growers, the season’s sales have been better than ever before , and as always we’re really grateful for all our wonderful customers.

This year there have been flowers for 24 weddings, (and quite a few parties as well) These were some of the last of the season.

October wedding flowers.jpg

There were 20 weeks of Friday flowers, with the season going through Tulips, Ranunculus, Alliums, Cornflowers, Antirrhinums, Peonies, Hydrangeas, Phlox, Sunflowers, Dahlias, Gladioli and Chrysanthemums.

A total of 22 florists have bought our flowers regularly, with 218 signing up to find out what’s available.

Plus 92 people have come to our workshops or flower clubs this year (and 3 of our flower club ladies got married, all doing some of their own flowers!)

So the Question i’m always asked is, - What do you do in the winter?

Well we’ll be finishing planting the 1000’s of ranunculus, anemones, 5000 tulips and other bulbs that will make a large part of our April and May flowers.

The Dahlias will all be lifted from the ground, and we’ll be storing them before propagating them in spring.

We’ll be collecting together all the seed heads and interesting seasonal berries and flowers that will go with the evergreen foliage for our Winter wreaths. (There are still a few places left on our Workshop at High Clandon Vineyard)

Plus i’m working on workshops for next year. Dates are available already.







A week at Plantpassion - High Summer

I'm often asked what a week at Plantpassion actually consists of, so here's what the team got up to last week.

Yellow florists bucket.jpg

Monday morning started off early with polytunnel watering, and then i had 2 collections of flowers, - 1 Growers Bucket for a florist, and one Flower arrangers bucket, for one of my local regular ladies. (similar things, just for different sets of people) the photo is the Yellow themed Growers bucket.

The rest of the morning was the first of our Teenagers and the young at heart flower clubs, and Vicky, Jemima and William, learnt about vases and vessels, what flower shapes to look out for, and then had fun making a front facing vase arrangement to take home.

Tuesday morning's task was Farewell flowers to be delivered to Clandon Wood Burial ground, just down the road from us. All our funeral arrangements are made without any plastics / wire or packaging. With no chemicals used on the flowers. They are designed to be completely biodegradable, something which unfortunately most Memorial flowers aren't. These display sheafs were made up from foliage tied together with twool, and then flowers weaved through the frame to create a strong but natural finish. They included Rosemary for Remembrance, and the posy that went with them contained Sweet peas for Departure. (Victorian language of flowers)

Funeral sheaves Phlox.jpg

It was also lovely to get a message of thanks afterwards

Beautiful flowers Claire for what was a special service. Thank you.
— J S

 

The rest of Tuesday morning was made up of planting and weeding and watering, I was joined by Jennifer, my Mum and Dad, and my son, helping out. The heat ensured we gave up by lunchtime, so the afternoon was spent in front of a fan at home. Then there was an evening session back at the farm to make sure all the polytunnels were fully watered.

 Seana catching me peeking out from behind an armful of phlox

Seana catching me peeking out from behind an armful of phlox

Wednesday started early. My fabulous picking team of Seana, Liz and Laura making the huge difference from years gone by when i've had to harvest everything myself. By 9am before the heat of the day had really set in, we had a barn full ready for florist orders. 

 Our Late July haul consisted of phlox, hydrangeas, ammi, statice, cosmos, scabious, antirrhinums, lavender, achillea, larkspur, amaranthus, and the first dahlias.

Our Late July haul consisted of phlox, hydrangeas, ammi, statice, cosmos, scabious, antirrhinums, lavender, achillea, larkspur, amaranthus, and the first dahlias.

Again the heat was too much by late morning, so after a couple of florist collections, I retreated home for a couple of hours. Then it was my Wednesday afternoon trip to Farnham to swap flowers with Bella from West End farm. Working with another flower farm means we can offer local florists an even wider range (and i could top up my Roses and Achillea for this week's wedding - thanks Bella) The evening was some sweet pea picking and watering.

Thursday dawned, with more picking, and several florist collections before 7.30am. We're often the 2nd pickup after New Covent Garden Market, so i get to see what's been bought there. Then Liz and I did another quick planting session before the heat of the day set in, and i left the drip irrigation hoses on while I retreated home in front of the fan to start the first of the week's wedding preparations. 

 42 degrees in the greenhouse, and 37 degrees outside in the "shade" of the house.

42 degrees in the greenhouse, and 37 degrees outside in the "shade" of the house.

it was hugely hot, but our flowers tend to cope with higher temperatures better than imports, because they havn't been in and out of fridges. We make sure that our buttonholes and bouquets are made with well conditioned flowers, picked at the coolest part of the day, and that helps them to survive longer. Thursday afternoon was when i made the buttonholes and corsages for this weekend's wedding. Here they are, all individual around a theme mini bouquets that will sit in a jam jar until just before they are needed to keep them fresh.

buttonholes for July wedding.jpg

Then on Thursday evening I did all the preparations for the bouquet making, checking through all the flower stems, sorting and ensuring they were all top quality and given the best chance to be at there absolute peak for the Saturday wedding.

Friday morning was another early start. The Bridal bouquet, and 3 bridesmaids were finished and tied with their twool handles, and packaged in jars and boxes ready to go off with the Brides mum. The DIY buckets had their water refreshed, so they could be used straight away for displays when they got to their destination.

 DIY buckets of flowers, to a green, white and pastel theme, ready to go.

DIY buckets of flowers, to a green, white and pastel theme, ready to go.

 Bridal bouquet with all the goodies from the field and garden.

Bridal bouquet with all the goodies from the field and garden.

 Bride and her maids ready to be packaged up.

Bride and her maids ready to be packaged up.

These flowers were collected before 8am, and were off to stay in an air conditioned office for the day.

When they'd gone, i quickly cleared up the barn ready for a private workshop which has been booked for a group as a birthday present for ages.

 Intent on bouquet making

Intent on bouquet making

This group of ladies all classed themselves as beginners, most who rarely had flowers for the vase, but by the end of the session, they all made lovely individual hand tied bouquets.

 5 successful hand tied bouquets.

5 successful hand tied bouquets.

After a break for a spot of lunch, (and there may have been a quick 40 winks!) I was back at the farm in the late afternoon for a watering session, and getting together the Friday flowers. This week, it was 2 bouquets, 2 flower arrangers buckets and 1 bunch of Seasonal flowers to be delivered on my round of Horsley. (down from my high of 11 the week before :( ).

Just to prove it's not all a case of work and no play, Friday evening was a lovely party at the allotment / community garden - Grace and Flavour. I was really glad that we've got our fantastic potting shed to shelter in, as we had the first rain in ages. As keen gardeners we were all full of glee, and the evening passed very pleasantly, helped by wine and shared allotment goody snacks. (if like me you are gluten free, then Courgette slices make excellent blinis!).

While there weren't any flower orders on Saturday morning, the polytunnels still needed watering, and Saturday afternoon was a large session of emptying all the waterbutts on to the Roses and cleaning them out, ahead of the forecast full day of rain on Sunday. (they're now almost full again!)

Sunday was a rare day off as the Ride London Cycle race meant that Staple Lane was closed, and we couldn't get to the farm. Some Biennial pricking out was my only "work " for the day. However on the TV coverage there was quite a crowd of spectators in my gateway, so i'm hoping the Clandon Open Gardens sign (26th August) on the gate will get some of those spectators coming back at the end of the month. With a full day of rain, the cyclists may have been bedraggled, but the field was looking a lot happier.

So there you are, a week at Plantpassion, - Flowers for florists, events and local people from a flower field in the Surrey Hills.

 

 

Pick and plonk to get you started with flower arranging

i'm often told by my customers that they never pick any flowers from their garden. 

Now I live in a part of the country, where there are some gorgeous gardens, and there's a lot of choice for cut flowers in most gardens. Every supermarket, and farm shop and garden centre seems to sell flowers, plus they can get them from me in the form of Friday flowers, or flower arrangers buckets, but people are still reluctant to decorate their homes. One of the reasons (i've been told), is that people aren't confident to know how to arrange their flowers. This is the start of a series to get you happy and confident with what to do with your flowers, wherever you get them from, and how to make the most of whatever you've got. No "rules", just some ideas and inspiration to get you going.

 Rose heads in a tea light holder

Rose heads in a tea light holder

The first technique to master is pick and plonk. Before i started flower farming, this is what i did all the time. Whatever i picked from the garden or the allotment, i just picked and plonked in a bottle or a vase.

 Sweet peas in a jam jar

Sweet peas in a jam jar

Pick and plonk, can be one flower head, or a bunch of the same kind of flower heads. The only thing you'll need is a vessel that is the appropriate size for the flowers.

 Multi-headed rose in a decorated wine bottle

Multi-headed rose in a decorated wine bottle

The "right" vessel doesn't have to be an expensive vase. Look in your store cupboard for some great vessels for pick and plonk. This wine bottle was decorated for a wedding, but is now a perfect pick and plonk "vase" for taller (50cm) stems. Whereas jam jars are great for shorter stems (15-25cm) 

 Tomato ketchup, Firefly drink, and pasta sauce jars all making excellent vases.

Tomato ketchup, Firefly drink, and pasta sauce jars all making excellent vases.

Pick and plonk is great for flowers bought from the supermarket. Just take off the wrapping, cut a small amount off the end (so they start taking up the water) and put in the vase. 

 Tulips bending naturally after a week pick and plonked in a vase....

Tulips bending naturally after a week pick and plonked in a vase....

and it doesn't have to only be traditional "flowers" that can be pick and plonked into a vase to decorate your home. How about other additions from the garden? There are plenty of foliage, and  stems from the vegetable patch that can used as pick and plonk candidates.

 Amaranthus red army, and caudatus, which are grown on the vegetable patch, as well as the flower garden. 

Amaranthus red army, and caudatus, which are grown on the vegetable patch, as well as the flower garden. 

So this weekend's challenge is despite the drought, and the hot weather, find something from your garden that you can cut and put in a vase. Look for stems, scent and shape, as well as flowers. And enjoy....

 

How to keep your flowers looking fresh and at their best for your wedding or event

When you get your flowers from Plantpassion, they'll already be conditioned. This means that unlike market flowers, you don't need to cut the ends, soak them overnight, or strip off foliage or take off side shoots or deadhead and divide up the bundles. Our stems will come ready for you to use except cutting to length. However there are quite a few things that you can do to make sure they stay as fresh as possible. Here's our suggestions.

Wedding flowers in a car.jpg

1) when you take them home in the car, wedge them in (gently) in the footwell, so that the buckets don't fall over the first corner you take. We can provide you with buckets if you are able to recycle them back to us within a week - if not, please bring some of your own. 

2) when you get them home, transfer them into fresh water, - either into fresh/  more buckets or rinse out the buckets you've brought them home in and fill again. They should ideally be half full of water, and do check that in the moving of them the stems are all at the same length, and they're all still in the water.

3) if you're not using them straight away, store them in a cool dark place. Note they don't have to be cold, just cool.  These flowers have been grown on a field, and the only travelling they've done is home in your car, so they're not used to refrigerated temperatures and won't need cold as you're going to use them in the next day or 2. My Hall and downstairs cloakroom are the best places in my house, or a spare bedroom with the curtains closed is good. A garage or a shed in summer is not a good idea as it will have extremes of temperature.

4) Things that will make the flowers go off quickly are 

  • Heat,
  • Sources of ethylene (fruit, or petrol, so don't stop for fuel on the way home if you can help it, or store your flowers next to the bananas)
  • Bright sunlight,
  • Dirty water
  • not using sharp scissors / secateurs (if the stems are damaged they will go mouldy quicker, so sharp tools are required)

5) Your flowers have been picked to be open perfectly at the time of your wedding, so when you pick them up a day or so before, they will need to open just a bit more. We've done all the work for you, picking them at the correct stage, so if you follow the instructions above, they'll look wonderful for your wedding. If you want them to carry on looking lovely afterwards, do remember to take vases / or jam jars with you to put any bouquets back in, especially if you're having photos later in the day. Because they're fresh flowers, we're often told that our table flowers last well over a week, but we do use blooms like Roses which are at their peak, so may need deadheading, while the others carry on flowering.

6) Enjoy your flowers and your Wedding party, and do please send us photos of how the flowers looked, particularly if you've arranged them yourselves. 

 Photo by Ariana   www.arinaphotography.co.uk

Photo by Ariana  www.arinaphotography.co.uk

Can I buy your flowers? (and other questions for a flower farmer)

I'm often asked questions that I've given the answers to a hundred times before, but of course that doesn't mean that everyone knows,  so here's some straightforward answers to Can I buy your flowers? and other questions, for you to refer to.

Do you sell flowers? - Yes, although we love growing them, the money doesn't come in unless we sell them, so please buy away..... they go to :

Do you sell flowers?.jpg
  • Local people - as bunches, bouquets and flower arrangers buckets (local = Horsley and Clandon Villages, plus slightly further afield from Guildford up the A3 Corridor to Cobham. GU4 and KT24 are our main postcodes) prices from £10-£55
  • Florists and flower arrangers, as growers buckets and stem orders (If you know a florist who you think should try our flowers, please do send them here, for more details) prices from £35 +
  • To Brides and those organising parties as DIY buckets and as DIY floristry (where we make up bouquets, buttonholes and displays and you take them away) prices from £65 +  - our Average DIY bucket wedding is £260, and our average DIY floristry wedding is £500

Where can i buy your flowers? - and how can i pay?

From us by placing an order online, by email, or by text. You can pay by credit card through the Stripe system, or I can invoice you so you can pay me directly by Bacs, or you can pay cash on delivery/ collection, or you can send me a cheque. We can deliver to you, (Between Guildford and Cobham) or you can arrange a time to collect from the barn. Online or email orders are preferred as then I know i have all the correct information, and i don't have to get my gloves off and get up off my knees if i'm on the field to answer a telephone call or text.

The only retail outlet for our flowers currently is the RHS at Wisley in the gift shop. They sell seasonal bunches and Market bouquets (£5-£15)

When will I get your flowers if i order today?

Because we are dealing with flowers that we grow, rather than are bought in, we have to pick and condition our flowers before they go out to you. If you order before 9.30am Monday- Friday then you'll have caught us while we're picking, and we can deliver to you later that day. If you place an order later in the day, it will be next day delivery unless we've picked too much!. Just occasionally, I do have a day off, and my team only work with me Tuesday-Friday, so please do give more notice if you can. We also sell Friday flowers, and subscription flowers, so those have set dates for delivery, whenever you order them.

Do you send your flowers to someone further away?

I sell locally, and don't send flowers, as I believe they are better locally grown. However i'm a proud member of Flowers from the Farm, so please use their map to find a grower near to where you want to send flowers. 

I'd love to buy flowers, but i've no idea how to arrange them!

We can either make bouquets for you which we send in a vase (there's £5 off your next order if you recycle it to us as well), But we also have a flower club twice each month to teach you about flower arranging, and give you confidence with using seasonal flowers.

How do I find out more about your flowers, and get reminders of what you have available?

We are all over social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube, Pinterest, and we send regular emails about what's happening on the field, please sign up here 

Proud member of Flowers from the Farm

Just after I set up the flower farm almost 5 and a half years ago, I went to a meeting of other flower farmers in Devon. There I met Gill Hodgson, the founder of Flowers from the Farm, and became a member, of a group of (then) about 30 growers across the country. 

This week, Flowers from the Farm is promoting British Flowers at the pinnacle of horticultural excellence - The Chelsea flower show. In the centre of the Great Marquee is a stand showcasing the best in locally grown seasonal blooms created and designed by FFTF members. It has flowers supplied by FFTF members (94 of them) and is sponsored by members (now over 500 of them) and has no external funding.

Flowers from the farm stand close up.jpg

Wow!, what a feat, what a team, what a display, and in what a year! The hard work will all be worth it when this coming Wednesday evening, they'll be a feature on the TV coverage of the show that follows the growers through the season.  ** Updated, and the Stand got a GOLD**

Flowers from the farm in the pavilion.jpg

So are my flowers there on the stand? Well, no actually one of the most wonderful parts of Flowers from the Farm is that there are now so many capable, experienced and talented members, growing in gardens, allotments, fields and glasshouses, and working as a team sharing knowledge and experiences, that between us, we can promote British Flowers all over the country without over stretching us all and creating  problems in our individual businesses. My flowers will be off to Hampton Court at the beginning of July to continue educating the public that locally grown and seasonal flowers are the best.

I have to say though that thanks to one of my regular florists, there are some of my flowers gracing a couple of the display stands at the RHS Chelsea flowers show, and there's a copy of my book there somewhere to help with any reference queries.

So i'm a really proud member of Flowers from the Farm. If you're planning to go to the Chelsea flower show this week, please do go and find the FFTF team and enjoy the full range of the flowers available in May. If not, join me on the sofa on Wednesday evening at 7pm on BBC 2.

 

Florist's open day for our Surrey flower farm

Yesterday we had a lovely group of new (to us) Florists come to the field. We love giving this chance  to florists to see the field producing it's goodies. They are used to the already picked and travelled plastic wraps of the wholesaler, market or dutch lorry. As we wander round the rows, in the sunshine (avoiding molehills admittedly) they get to see the flowers in bud on the plants, the plants that will become flowers in weeks or months time, and the picked blooms sitting in buckets of water in our cool barn without being bunched, sorted or counted into wraps.

If you'd like to see what's likely to be available from a flower farm in Surrey in May, and you're a florist or student of floristry, then please do come along to our next Open Day this Thursday 17th, anytime between 10 and 1pm. - Fill in the form to let us know you're coming so we've got enough flapjack.

Here's our You-tube time-lapse of this month's key flowers

Green and white all Surrey grown May wedding flowers

Today it almost felt like Spring, and i've been out in the garden, and at the farm making lists for what needs planting in the next few weeks. 

I've had a few days off with my boys over half term, which has meant i'm fired up and ready to start seed sowing and attacking my inbox, which is full of Wedding and party enquiries.

So now's a great time to show you the flowers from a wedding at the beginning of last May. Pete and Amita were married at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park. It was obviously an amazing time of year to be married there, as the Wisteria looks amazing in the background of these fantastic photos by Krishanthi (www.photographybykrishanthi.co.uk "Photography by Krishanthi") 

Bride and groom agains Wisteria.jpg

Amita was keen on a neutral flower colour scheme, and a week before the wedding i was worrying a bit as all the best flowers on the field seemed to be bright. In the end though there were plenty of blooms and a wide selection of green and white. We had the last of the Tulips, the first of the White Ranunculus, and lots of Anemones, Special Colibri Poppies, Sweet rocket, and plenty of green and white foliages.

Amita wedding bouquet against dress.jpg

This bouquet was quite a bit larger than most wedding bouquets i make, but the scented Viburnum and Mexican orange blossom shrubs provided a great backdrop, and the Bleeding heart (Dicentra) and Solomons Seal, provided great interest and movement in the bouquet.

Amita bridesmaid wrist circlets.jpg

Instead of Bridesmaid bouquets, Amita's 4 bridemaids had a wrist corsage each. These were all individually wired and had hand dyed ribbon to tie them on. The Rosemary, Maythorn, Ranunculus and Anemones gave a lovely different effect to a hand held bouquet, and were showed off wonderfully against the lovely Navy blue dresses.

bride and bridesmaid bouquet and wrist corsages.jpg

For the table decorations Amita and her Bridesmaids found the most amazing collection of bottles and jars, for us to fill, and we had 5 lovely containers for each table to theme. I loved seeing how these were displayed at the venue.

table arrangements 2.jpg
table arrangements.jpg

Thank you Krishanthi for sending me these lovely photos. I'm sure Amita didn't put down her bouquet all day by the wonderful array of photos with her clutching it. If you'd like to see more of her photos do pop over to Instagram @KrishanthiPhoto or facebook https://www.facebook.com/photographybykrishanthi (she's been nominated for Best Wedding photographer of the year!)

Thank you Amita and Pete, for trusting me to provide you with all locally grown flowers. For labelling your vases and containers beautifully to make my job easy. Thanks also to your lovely bridesmaids who collected the bouquets and containers on the morning of the wedding,  oohed and ahed in all the right places to make a very early morning finishing off worthwhile.

Here are some more of my favourites.

Amita in garden with bouquet.jpg
Amita in garden with bouquet 2.jpg
Amita and Pete Walking with bouquet.jpg
bouquet on patio.jpg

Sustainablility in flowers and business

As often happens, it's an email that's inspired today's post.... I got one from Zack, who's read my blog, and wondered why I hadn't written about sustainable growing. It's a big thing in his home garden, with varying degrees of success, so he was wondering how it fared on a much bigger farm.

blue anemone.jpg

My first thought was "I bang on about sustainablity all the time!" but actually looking through the blog, I havn't recently. So coupled with the discussions that I held with my breakout group at the Flowers from the Farm conference on Monday, this post is all about how my Small flower farm, has become, and continues to be even more sustainable each year.

First let's look at what we mean by sustainable

  1. the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

    "the sustainability of economic growth"

  2. avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.

    • "the property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely"

So my flower growing business needs to be sustainable on 2 levels. The biological systems that are needed to grow healthy plants, that provide fantastic flowers. Plus the ability of my business to continue on year after year, providing top quality flowers for the customers, making me a decent living, and providing a workplace for my staff.

Twool.jpg

Actually for me the 2 are really closely intertwined.

When I started the farm, I didn't have money to invest. My Mantra was reduce reuse recycle. Manure from local horse stables, pots from the local garden centre, plants from local gardens, vases from charity shops, cast out kitchens, 2nd hand greenhouses, packaging cardboard, wooden pallets, waterbutts, bins, milk bottles, newspaper have all been repurposed on the farm. All with the aim of creating better growing conditions. If you get known as someone who recycles, it's amazing what comes your way.

What we do buy in is recyclable. Twool, (shown above) is our biodegradable flower tie material, We wrap our flowers in paper and tissue, and if water is needed for transport we use buckets or vases, not plastic wrap that will be discarded and binned when home. We offer a money off your next purchase recycling scheme to get our vases back.

flower arrangers bucket spring.jpg

 

If we buy in flowers, we always go for those with as little wrapping as possible. - We love Smith and Munson Tulips as they come in paper wraps that go on the compost heap. plus Narsissus that need no wrapping at all. If we need to wrap our flowers while they condition, we use newspaper.

Smith and Munson tulips.jpg

 

There is no electricity at the farm. Great for the environment,  brilliant for my work / home life balance. No temptation to be at the farm late. Short days in the winter, longer ones in the summer. No debates about when visiting groups need to leave, Dusk it is...  We use power tools a minimum amount, mindful of noise pollution as well as the fuel used.

The Plastic we do use, is all bought with using it as many times as possible. We've bought stronger sowing trays, which should last 10 years or more, Environmesh for covering the plants to protect them from pests. But the best addition to our Sustainability on the farm has got to be the weed fabric.

Unlike a lot of flower farmers, we rarely use our fabric to plant through. We use our fabric in the off season. 

When we started, we hand weeded all our beds at least once a season, sometimes twice. Back breaking, and not productive, and it meant there was no profitability from some crops. After our first season we ran out of time to weed, and the beds were left with fading crops, and they just grew over with weeds. We could have used chemicals, but i don't like using them on the plant beds, only occasionally on the paths and hardstanding,  so we had the same amount of work to do in year 2 as year one. We learnt from that, and now we strim the crop as it finishes. We leave it on the bed, and cover with the weed  membrane. Between 2 and 5 months later depending on the time of year, and how soon we want the bed, we lift off the membrane, rake off the debris (a lot of which has mulched down into the soil enriching it) hand weed any deep rooted perennial weeds (fewer and fewer each year) add additional compost if needed and plant again. 

Mulched beds montage.jpg

This takes so much less time and input, and creates such good bed conditions, that it has to be our most sustainable process on the farm. It means we have more time to raise great quality plants in our recycled greenhouses, and my team enjoy working at the farm, instead of coming in to endless weeding every week.

It means our time can be used picking and selling fabulous flowers that make people smile. That's the best part about a sustainable business : Happy smiling customers and staff.

 

February flowers and Spring round the corner

It was a long January.....

Probably no colder than usual, certainly no snow this year, and with few School runs to do, I had more lie-ins that normal (and if you read my blog about New Year resolutions I've kept to all of them so far), but it felt like it went on for ages....

February is now here, phew, and it's brought with it buds, and the first of this season's flowers. The Snowdrops (Galanthus), Snowflakes (Leucojum) and Hellebores are now budding and starting to flower, and the Muscari, Hyacinths, Narssisus and Tulips are poking through.

leucojum.jpg

of course there are now plenty of winter foliage plants on the field, so we're working our way through the Eucalyptus, Viburnum, Rosemary, Senicio, Pittosporum and Sage, and this week we've been pruning the Willow to make our Valentine hearts.

V heart on barn door.jpg

Next week we'll be adding to our field and garden foliage, and the first few flowers , with Tulip blooms and Anemones from Lincolnshire, and Alstroemerias from Sussex. Our Valentine flowers are perfect for your loved one, and are easy to order through the website or directly from us by email, text or phone claire@plantpassion.co.uk or 07813456865

Valentine website page.jpg

 

 

New Year resolutions

Hellebore and alstroemeria bouquet.jpg

I do like to make resolutions in the New Year. For me the main thing about the beginning of January is that from now on the light will start to return, so it really does feel like a new start

Since i've been working outside, i've become a lot more attuned to the seasons.  My mind and  body work easily for long hours in the summer, but the winter mornings mean it's impossible for me to get out of bed. This year with no early school runs to do, i've given in, and my first resolution for 2018  is "listen to your body". This i've heeded, so far with Lie in's until 8.30 or 9.00am meaning i'm much more productive as soon as i do get up.

I've also vowed to declutter in 2018. it's so easy when you're busy to just keep piling the "stuff" up without sorting it out. I was given a lovely novel to read last Autumn, (A spring affair by Milly Johnson) which got me thinking, and so far this year i've sorted my wardrobes, my study bookcase and started on the loft. I even made the smallest beginning in the barn today  (more to do there) but i'm hoping all this decluttering will mean that i'm tidy, organised, and that i find things that i'd forgotten i'd got, which i can either repurpose, or recycle.

My third big resolution is to hoe more......... This one came about because i listened hard to Charles Dowding at the Flowers from the farm Autumn Conference and he recommended hoeing before you can see the weeds. We lost the battle with the annual weeds last season, mainly because we covered everything with environmesh when it was planted to prevent the rabbits eating everything, and then didn't remove it until the weeds were pushing up past the plants. so we'll have even more this year. But if i attack them while they're still small small, and do it every day, I might stand a chance.

Last week, I read about only resolving to do the smallest amount that you think you can keep up every day for the rest of the year (thanks Emma, great tip) So my 3 resolutions are

1) spend 5 minutes sitting down each day really listening to my body and how it feels.

2) remove one thing from the house or farm each day to be repurposed or recycled.

3) spend 5 minutes hoeing every time i'm at the farm (the amount of time it takes to hoe one 10m bed - I've timed it) 

Happy New Year

Excess plant sale, can we help you fill your Surrey borders with Cut flower plants?

Over the last 5 years, we've had plenty of practice at propagating plants.

We've got pretty good at it, and as soon as our gro-house empties of one crop, we fill it with others. 

 Gro tunnel full of plants this Spring

Gro tunnel full of plants this Spring

This means that we've got to the point where we've got excess, too many, more than we can fit in.....  Can you find a home in your garden for them? - We're mostly selling well rooted pots of plants that will give you a really good crop of flowers for cutting next year, or will make your garden borders look great. They're all priced to sell so we've got room in the polytunnel - most pots are between £2 and £5

Here's some of what we've got available (and details with photos below)

Achillea and Achillea the Pearl, Helenium Moerheim Beauty, Leucanthemum, Mint, Nepeta, Helianthus Lemon Queen, Salvia May night, Bearded Iris, Alstroemeria (variety unknown sorry), Oriental Poppies, Helianthus Lemon Queen, Dark Leaved Euphorbia, Ranunculus Double Feverfew and Chivesb. They'll undoubtedly be more as we get round to weeding more of the field, and potting up what we find.

Achillea and Achillea the Pearl. We love these plants for dependable July flowers, strong stems and a bountiful supply of cut flowers. However to give us the best each year we need to divide them quite severely, so we've got plenty (or if anyone wants a big clump to divide up themselves, we've still got plenty of them too!). In a garden they can be left in situ for several years, and will give lots of flowers, just with smaller flower heads in the following years.

 Pastel Achillea

Pastel Achillea

 Achillea the Pearl

Achillea the Pearl

Helenium Moerheim Beauty

This orange coloured August flower needs some sunshine, but will give strong stems with burnt orange blooms if offered the right position. 

helenium.jpg

Leucanthemum. Wow these can flower..... You don't need a whole row of them, as we found out this year! Also a sun lover, these started in June, and just went on and one - we've even had another flush in the last couple of weeks

leucanthemum.jpg

Nepeta. This Stalwart of May has a scent that isn't to everyone's taste, but the grey blue flowers are a wonderful drift of colour, and it has stems that can be used for flower arranging even before it's flowers come out, making it an important beginning of the season plant. It's a big plant, so don't plant it next to the lawn, but it will look great softening wide paved areas.

Nepeta.jpg

Mint. We've become experts at growing mint for cut flower bouquets. One of our favourites is the Morrocan mint 

 Morrocon mint on the left, apple mint on the right, there's a Surplus of the Morrocon at the moment

Morrocon mint on the left, apple mint on the right, there's a Surplus of the Morrocon at the moment

Salvia May night (or it may be Caradona, the label is missing)

any way it's a purple spired plant that looks good in June and July and looks like this 

Salvia May night.jpg

Oriental poppies. Ok, I admit, this one is being rejected from the field. I love the colour of the flowers, but they don't last in a vase. They've been saved from the chop the last couple of years because they have wonderful seed heads, - but i need more space, so they're going....

oriental poppies.jpg

Alstroemeria

We've collected a range of these over the years from oranges, through peaches and pinks to creams, so i can't tell you what colour it will turn out, but we've divided all our clumps, so are selling the excess

alstroemeria.jpg

They'll be lots more in the spring as well, We'll be dividing up our Dahlia tubers, and we'll let you know if there are excess of anything else.

If you're interested in any of the above, or want to know what we might suggest for the holes in your border, please fill out the form below. We deliver plants locally, or they can be collected from the farm by appointment.

Name *
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Stretching the Wedding flowers season, Late October flowers for Surrey brides

The mornings have turned cold, and although we haven't had our first frost yet here, it's not long away.

We've stopped our Florists sales for this year, as we need large numbers of each thing to tempt them in, and although there are still flowers, they're in smaller quantities. 

There were enough though last week for us to stretch our wedding season further than before, and provide DIY buckets and bouquets for Rachel's wedding on Wednesday 25th.

 Bridal bouquet with Nerines, Dusty Miller, Helichrysum, Astrantia, Eryngium, Clary Sage, Digitalis, Dahlias, Achillea, Acidanthera, Chrysanthemum Allouise pink and Lavender multifida

Bridal bouquet with Nerines, Dusty Miller, Helichrysum, Astrantia, Eryngium, Clary Sage, Digitalis, Dahlias, Achillea, Acidanthera, Chrysanthemum Allouise pink and Lavender multifida

Rachel was very laid back about what was going to be in her flowers, and hadn't specified any particular colours or themes, She just wanted flowers for the table, a bouquet with some additional matching stems for the bridesmaids, and some buttonholes/ corsages

 Corsages and buttonholes, using the pink and purple shades from the bouquet, but all individual.

Corsages and buttonholes, using the pink and purple shades from the bouquet, but all individual.

The photograph that she'd sent me looked wildflower, in a loose style, but was actually all imports (thanks pinterest), so although the Craspedia, Thalaspi and wax flower were off the menu, we had Eryngium, Feverfew, cosmos and Verbena to give a similar look, - here's the 2 DIY buckets of flowers we put together.

 Buckets of flowers including Daucus, Feverfew, Cosmos, Verbena bonariensis, Dahlias, Statice and Cynoglossum - plus some scented chocolate cosmos, maybe not on theme, but i couldn't resist!

Buckets of flowers including Daucus, Feverfew, Cosmos, Verbena bonariensis, Dahlias, Statice and Cynoglossum - plus some scented chocolate cosmos, maybe not on theme, but i couldn't resist!

Unlike in past year's i've actually had some of the brides collect their flowers this season, and it was lovely to meet Rachel after lots of email and phone conversations, and see her reaction to the flowers.

Then when i turned up at the farm on Monday, this was waiting for me...

 A personal note, and recycled jars #result #lovemyjob

A personal note, and recycled jars #result #lovemyjob

For the next few months, we'll be concentrating on making the field floriferous for 2018. There are still rather a lot of bulbs to go in, plants to propagate, rabbits and deer to keep out, and beds to clear. We'll be working on next year's wedding season very soon though, here's to lots more lovely laid back brides who want British Flowers for their weddings.

The next Wedding open day is 9th March, - more details here

DIY Event flowers for weddings and parties, and our last Open afternoon of 2017

DIY event flowers, - What are they?

When you're holding a party, you've usually got several choices, - grab some flowers from the supermarket or garden centre (cheaper, but takes time and effort) , or hire in a florist to make a beautiful display for your event (more expensive but show-stopping, and they do the work)

There is however a 3rd, middle road, - DIY event flowers. This is where we fit, firmly in the middle. We provide boxes of flowers to a theme (A colour scheme or a style), that you can take away and use for whatever displays you want. OR we can make your arrangements in your vases, plus design bouquets and buttonholes, and you can come and collect them and take them away to decorate your venue. We've made a video to show you what we mean

 

So that we can explain better how it works, and to give you ideas of displays that you can make up, and the vases and vessels you could use, we have regular open days through the year. I've got 2 appointments available  this coming Saturday on our last Wedding/Event open afternoon of 2017. If you'd like to come and see us at the farm, please contact us now

War is declared, so I get early season blooms

The Bulbs arrived today, and my anemones and ranunculus are waiting to be planted, so that i have a nice early start to next season

anemone hellebore bouquet.jpg

Although i'm really keen to get planting, I know there's something i have to do first to ensure the best chances of success to be able to put together a bouquet like this one above by the end of March. I have to wage war on my farm rodents, and the polytunnel slugs.

Today with the help of my Tess, who's survived a week of work experience with me on my Intern programme, we cleared the poly tunnel of all excess foliage and weeds, and did a detailed slug hunt.

I then reset all the traps that i'd put out for the mice yesterday. 3 of them got caught, and most of the traps were sprung, so i've got another couple of weeks of battles to get them to a level where i can put the Tulip bulbs and the anemones corms  and ranunculus claws in without worrying.

War on bulb eaters

I posted this photo on Instagram this morning and got lots of comments about the fact that it was Organic peanut butter, but the fact is that my Surrey mice don't like the cheap Tesco stuff, they need the nutty bits to get caught in the act!

Anyway, once we've waged war, and think we're on the winning side, the bulbs can start going in.