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.

Florists Dahlia Day Workshop

My florists workshops are a fantastic opportunity for florists and flower arrangers both experienced and in training to take time out, enjoy the flowers, and have the opportunity to practice some floral foam free arrangements. 

Our summer workshop took place in huge heat, but for last Monday's workshop, we had lots of contrast with sun, rain, and scudding clouds. After a talk about Dahlia varieties and how we grow them at Hill top Farm, the florists were let loose on the field to pick their choice of the goodies out there. Here we all are debating which Dahlias to start with.

Discussing Dahlias

Discussing Dahlias

Considering the storm that had damaged the Dahlias the week before, there were plenty of beauties of every shade to pick, and the florists were given free reign over what they could have. I always love how from the same field, all my workshop participants can create such different designs.

dahlias waiting to be picked.jpg

Each florist had brought their own urn or vessel, and they all created amazing centrepieces. Then Emma Davies taught them how to think about Light, Background and Viewpoint to get the best photos for their portfolios. (that often means getting down low)

emma dahlia photo.jpg

Here are all the results, - i'm sure you'll agree that they're all amazing floral creations, and that Emma has taken great photos.

Sunflower Ruby Eclipse as the hero flower, with sweet pea trails, molucella and amaranthus highlighting the dark dahlias

Sunflower Ruby Eclipse as the hero flower, with sweet pea trails, molucella and amaranthus highlighting the dark dahlias

Preference and Cafe au lait dahlias on a beech background

Preference and Cafe au lait dahlias on a beech background

The pinks of the Phlox, Sedum and Karma Lagoon dahlias are softened by the Panicum frosted explosion grass

The pinks of the Phlox, Sedum and Karma Lagoon dahlias are softened by the Panicum frosted explosion grass

A low arrangement with the dark leaves of Physocarpus backing up the Digitalis and Dahlias

A low arrangement with the dark leaves of Physocarpus backing up the Digitalis and Dahlias

The scent from this one with the Dill and Rosemary providing the upper storey was wonderful

The scent from this one with the Dill and Rosemary providing the upper storey was wonderful

Pink and orange do got together wonderfully

Pink and orange do got together wonderfully

We'll be offering Florist's workshops again next season, a great opportunity to treat yourself, and take time out to "play with flowers!" and if you want to get more ideas for how to take photos of your floristry creations, do pop over to Emma's website and check out her FREE photography week by week instruction, and her books for beginners to enable you to take pictures like these.



How to create a DIY Wedding table centrepiece

I spend quite a bit of my time with brides trying to show them how to make maximum impact with the fewest flowers, so that they can stick within their budgets. Sometimes that doesn't mean using just bottles with single stems, but means making a big display with just a few key vases of flowers.

If you want to have a go at creating a centrepiece display that can use some garden stems, and some bought in flowers. - Here's one i made earlier.......

In a table centre display like this, the foliage and interest parts are just as important as the flowers. Here at the end of June, we used a great selection of green and yellow, plus seed heads. Then for the flowers we used the pinks of Campanula, Dianthus and Roses, with White Sweet Williams, and an accent colour of blue from the Tritellia.

The flowers of Dianthus, Campanulas, Bonica Rose, Cornflowers and Tritellia are shown off against a backdrop of Alchemilla, Bulplurum, Nigella, Honesty and Scabious seed heads and mint.

The flowers of Dianthus, Campanulas, Bonica Rose, Cornflowers and Tritellia are shown off against a backdrop of Alchemilla, Bulplurum, Nigella, Honesty and Scabious seed heads and mint.

Because we don't use Floral foam, and the vase we were using had a wide neck, our first task was to put in some chicken wire to support the stems so that we could have a bigger effect.

Vase with chicken wire

I then started by creating a shape and support matrix for the flowers with the foliage. Bulplurum was the first to be added because its thin wiry stems give strong support. Then mint for scent, Alchemilla and the seed heads were added in.

Foliage base for centrepiece

At this stage the vase was already looking like  a centrepiece display, but we added in the scented round heads of the Sweet Williams

and then the bell flowers of the campanula, the Roses and Campanula, and then the Tritelia bulbs

The finished result would look great as either a top table display, - An entrance hall arrangement, or something to floralise the buffet table.

If you'd like to get ideas for your wedding in the next year, do come along to one of our open days, where we can show you both the flowers, and the types of display you can make up. Either our public open days, where you can turn up whenever you want, and stay as long as you want, or make an appointment for one of our Bridal open days. 

If you'd like to have a go at making your own arrangements, then do sign up to one of our Flower clubs, or our workshops so that you can try your hand at arranging with natural locally grown flowers

4 Weddings and lots of flowers sent out

I've survived the peak wedding week of the year. There's always a major wedding weekend in high summer. The last 2 years it's been the first weekend in August, this year it was the last weekend in July. With 4 sets of wedding flowers to go out through the week. 2 wedding florist orders, 4 other local florists, and a plethora of flower arrangers buckets and bouquets to get to the right people at the right time, it needed 4 whole pages of my notebook for the planning! but everyone got their flowers on time.

I even got to meet 2 of my brides this weekend, which is a rare occurrence for me (being DIY flowers, someone usually gets sent to collect) but both of them seemed genuinely pleased with what they were taking away with them, and the field, and my team produced when it was needed, (don't they always), and the range of flowers was astounding. I even managed to find time to take some snaps, - So here's our selection of end of July Surrey Grown wedding flowers.

First to depart were the flowers for Natalie and Alan. They had a friend helping them make up the displays, and had asked for a Burgundy, pink and purple theme

Burgandy Dahlias, Sunflowers, Hypericum and amaranthus. Pink Cosmos, Phlox, Antirrhinum and Achillea, Purple Verbena and Buddleya and a supporting cast of Mint, Ammi, and Panicum grass

Burgandy Dahlias, Sunflowers, Hypericum and amaranthus. Pink Cosmos, Phlox, Antirrhinum and Achillea, Purple Verbena and Buddleya and a supporting cast of Mint, Ammi, and Panicum grass

On Friday morning a Purple and white theme went out with a Gentleman who's second Daughter was getting married with Plantpassion flowers. Thank you to Katie to recommending us to Suzy, and i hope you all enjoyed putting these together.

Hydrangea, Monarda, Antirrhiunm, Feverfew, White flowering mint, Evelyn Dahlias, Nicotiana, Daucus Dara, Panicum, Ammi, Buddleya and Hypericum

Hydrangea, Monarda, Antirrhiunm, Feverfew, White flowering mint, Evelyn Dahlias, Nicotiana, Daucus Dara, Panicum, Ammi, Buddleya and Hypericum

The next wedding was had a theme or wildflowers or  meadow flowers and relaxed, a mixture of light colours. I'd met Stephanie and Arturo several times, and they were relaxed, so they were quite happy to go with the flow. They had a buckets and bouquets wedding with buckets of flowers to fill mini milk bottles for all the tables.

Poppy/ Scabious seed heads, mint, Nicotiana, Cynoglossum, Achillea, Phacelia, Feverfew, Molucella, Daucus seed heads, Ammi, Sedum, Buddleya, Antirrhinum

Poppy/ Scabious seed heads, mint, Nicotiana, Cynoglossum, Achillea, Phacelia, Feverfew, Molucella, Daucus seed heads, Ammi, Sedum, Buddleya, Antirrhinum

Our Wildflower and meadow flower mixes are our cultivated versions of what you might find along verges and in meadows during the year, I'm always devastated when our local council cuts our verges and the wildflowers disappear for the year (always too soon) - so this is our approximation of that.

We then did the buttonholes and bouquets. Normally i'd use a grass in a wildflower buttonhole, but i decided to go with Rosemary this time, as Stephanie had mentioned scent. 

with different ingredients in each buttonhole, but a relaxed wildflower meadow theme

with different ingredients in each buttonhole, but a relaxed wildflower meadow theme

And here's the wedding bouquet. 

Wedding bouquet with Evelyn and Bonica rose, Dahlia, Cosmos, Scabious, Verbena, Veronicastrum and grasses

Wedding bouquet with Evelyn and Bonica rose, Dahlia, Cosmos, Scabious, Verbena, Veronicastrum and grasses

Our last wedding of the weekend (thanks to Liz and Steve for getting married on a Sunday, so i could fit all of them in....) was actually the most fun for me. The majority of the flowers that go out for weddings are lighter colour shades, so when i met this couple for the first time last year and they said they wanted Primary colour flowers to go with their Comic Book Theme, - I know it was going to be something different. I've loads of pictures from their displays, so i'll save most of them for a separate posting, but for now, Here's The Brides Bouquet.

Primary colours bouquet with sunflowers, solidago, agapanthus, antirrhinums, Nostalgia rose, Dill, Echinops and Mondarda. (and paper flowers)

Primary colours bouquet with sunflowers, solidago, agapanthus, antirrhinums, Nostalgia rose, Dill, Echinops and Mondarda. (and paper flowers)

I didn't really mind that Staple Lane was closed on Sunday for the Cycle race, and i couldn't get to the farm, a day off was well needed. I loved growing, picking and creating all these flowers, thanks to all the couples who put their faith in my British Flowers to produce all these different themes from one small field.

Our Surrey Grown Dahlia Selection for 2017

It's the end of July, and already our expanded Dahlia patch is producing plenty of stems. We've increased the numbers of our favourite varieties, so that we can provide enough for larger florists orders, and for our summer weddings. We're just trying a couple of new varieties this year as we're pretty happy with our range, and i'll keep you updated later in the season as to how they do and whether they stay on the list for next year. For now, here's the names and pictures of what you'll be able to order from us this season. For my local customers, bunches of Dahlias will be available from the Crossroads village store each week, and they feature in all of the Flower arrangers buckets at this time of year.

Cafe au Lait

Cafe au Lait

The first bucket of these beauties has gone off to a wedding this weekend. Cafe au lait is still (for this year at least) the Brides Favourite. It's beautiful, big, and each one has slightly different colouring between hints of pink, cream and caramel. This is not an easy Dahlia to get hold of this year or to grow, and the price reflects that.

Still at the lighter end of the colour scale, our white Dahlia selection consists of Tu Tu, Karma Serena, and Waterlily white. We're trialing some others, but the results aren't in yet.

Waterlily white, Karma Serena and Tutu.

Waterlily white, Karma Serena and Tutu.

Other light coloured Dahlias include our favourite from the last 3 years, Evelyn with It's touch of purple at the centre.

Dahlia Evelyn

Dahlia Evelyn

We've also got more this year of Crazy love, which i've plenty of pictures of as it's Emma Davies favourite.

Crazy love

Crazy love

Although most people aren't keen on yellow dahlias in floristry, we've found one that most people like, - meet Canary Fubuki. 

Moving on to our Peach Dahlias, we've got the prolific Preference.



Plus the beautiful, but not prolific Carolina Wagermanns (we lost some of the tubers overwinter, so have less than last year of this one)

Caroline Wagermanns

Caroline Wagermanns

And we started off a couple of years ago with just 5, but they've been so popular, we're now up to a full row of Wine Eyed Jill

Wine eyed Jill

Wine eyed Jill

On to the pinks, and i have to admit that we're yet to find a good pale pink to add to our collection, But if you want bright pink then we've got 2 stunners for you. Gerrie Hoek, is probably best described as fuschia, and it's shown off in this wedding bouquet, and Karma Lagoon is a Magenta.


Gerrie Hoek

Gerrie Hoek

Karma Lagoon

Karma Lagoon

The next set of colours are those more commonly associated with Dahlias, - The jewel bright colours are fantastic for brightening up displays, and are some of our strongest growing plants, so often have the longest stems.

Our favourite reds are Prom (A small ball) and an unknown named variety (that i just call red) that came from a clients garden many years ago.

Prom and Red

Prom and Red

Our longest lasting in a vase (regularly lasting a week) is our stunning orange variety Jowey Linda. 

and becoming more and more popular are the dark colour varieties, we've grown 6 of them this year. Rip City a large headed beauty, Nuit D'ete (Not pictured, but like a dark Tutu) and Dark Spirit a small pom pom

Dark spirit and Rip city

Dark spirit and Rip city

We've also got the wine coloured Karma Naomi and the Cafe Au lait equivalent in a dark colour - Blackjack

Black Jack and Karma Naomi

Black Jack and Karma Naomi

We finish off our selection with Karma Choc, So dark, it's impossible to get a good photo of it growing!

The beginning of August is early for us to have a full range of Dahlias ready, but the weather conditions have been great for them, so please get ordering.

Pink and White flowers for July weddings

It's the height of summer, and the peak of the wedding season too. If you're planning for what flowers you want for your event in coming weeks or next year, here's what we've got currently in the ever popular theme of Pink and White.

The main flower for me in July is the Antirrhinum

Left = Potomac Bicolour, Top = Rocket mixed, Bottom = Potomac Pink

Left = Potomac Bicolour, Top = Rocket mixed, Bottom = Potomac Pink

We also grow the really popular smaller Pink Trumpets. This was used last weekend in Adele's Bouquet, and we can never grow enough of these. (seeds currently sold out, fingers crossed this is available for next season) 

Peachy pink Antirrhinum pink trumpet in this July wedding bouquet.

Peachy pink Antirrhinum pink trumpet in this July wedding bouquet.

Other key flowers in July in Pink include Achillea, which we grow in lots of shades from blush and cream through the pinks to the bright Raspberry. Cornflowers, which are popular throughout the season, and Roses. While a lot of our Roses flush in June, and then only put out a few flowers during July and August, the multi cluster Rose Bonica, gives us colourful blooms at a regular interval.

As well as the key flowers that our brides recognise and ask for, we also have some great filler flowers. There's the wild carrot Daucus carota, and the pink form - Daucus Dara.

There's also the great Cynoglossum, which is like a Forget me not.

put together and added to with white, this is the effect for a pink and white DIY boxes order for the first weekend in July

Contents of the buckets - Achillea, Roses, Clary Sage, Cynoglossum, larkspur, daisies, Achillea the pearl, Daucus Carota, Ammi Visnaga, Catananche  Hypericum berries and Cornflowers

Contents of the buckets - Achillea, Roses, Clary Sage, Cynoglossum, larkspur, daisies, Achillea the pearl, Daucus Carota, Ammi Visnaga, Catananche  Hypericum berries and Cornflowers

Cropping this month - June

Yes, i know the Calendar still says May, but the flowers are telling me it's June, so here goes with the countdown and pics of what's likely to be ready.

Sweet Williams, Nigella, Cornflowers, Alchemilla, Alliums, Orlaya, Phacelia and Ammi

Yep, these are the heart of the June flowers, The rain a week ago, meant they all doubled in height overnight, and will mean a lot of picking this week. (and for weeks to come)

But there's lots of perennial/ long lasting plants that flower in June as well, and they add in to the mix to give a huge range, including the Rose, Delphinium, Astrantia, Foxglove, Lupins and Peonies

Then obviously there's the fillers and foliages, so this month i'll be picking Sage flowers, Nepeta, Stachys, Mint, Flowering thyme, Senicio, Beech, Privet, and later in the month the first of the Hypericum and Physocarpus. 

There are still bulbs, Nectaroscordum, Tritellia, Gladiolus the Bride, and Alstroemeria

later on in the month, there will be Larkspur, Achillea (now with the ladybirds working hard against the aphids) Scabious and Daucus.

As always i'll walk out onto the field and find 5 things i haven't mentioned, - Campanula, Calendula, Lavender, Linaria, Veronicastrum, Leucanthemum, and Clary sage are all planted, - but you get the idea..... Please check out my Instagram feed for regular updates. 

Reviewing the Tulips

Really this is notes for me to look back on next year and later this year when we're busy planting again, but Emma took lots of lovely photos of the Tulips, so i'm sure you won't mind me sharing them.

Vase of tulips doing their wonderful drooping thing

Vase of tulips doing their wonderful drooping thing

Tulips are fickle, and fast. They go from just poking through the ground to flowering in fast succession. Although they are hard work - you have to harvest them every morning,  they need wrapping in newspaper to prevent them drooping and they are expensive to buy, they are such a fantastic range of colours that i wouldn't be without them.

The first week of the Tulips included my ever faithful Apricot Beauty, The New to me, on recommendation, and now being recommended to everyone else Purple Peony, The beautiful Purissima, and Flaming Purissima, Superparrot, Candy Prince and Red impression.

I'll have the same first Tulips again next year, although they'll be more of the Purple Peony, and Apricot Beauty, which i'll also be trying again in the polytunnel (and hoping the rats don't get to them this time) and less of the Flaming Purissima.

The 2nd week of Tulips is always chaotic, and i was picking several hundred every day

We were picking varieties Clearwater (well the label said that, but it was my last to flower last year!) Gabriella, Mount Tacoma, Viridichic, Gwen and Shirley. The first of the Apricot Parrots, and Angelique (which continued flowering for about 12 days!)

The 3rd week of Tulips accelerated even faster! - usually we get 4 weeks, a few in the polytunnel early, and then a final week on the field where they hang on and flower over a good long period, but the heat of April meant that the Cut and Condition workshop on the 25th April, had most of the last varieties, and there were none left to pick by May. Ballerina, Arabian Mystery, Queen of the night, Menton, City of Vancouver (says it's an early, maybe it got mixed up with Clearwater?) White Triumphator, and Rococco Parrot.

As usual there was a slew of miss labelled Tulips. No Pink Clearwater Tulips flowered, but i got extra Menton in their place, which all sold. A third of my Apricot Parrot Tulips, turned out to be this lovely flowers

Apparently it's Tulip Mistress Grey (thanks wonderful FFTF fonts of all knowledge) So i will have to buy that next season as well.

The new varieties of Gabriella, and Purple Peony, were big successes, plus arabian Mystery, which i only grow a few of last year were great.

The only one that i had lots to take home of were Flaming Purissima, - A tulip i personally think looks lovely even when it's dead!,  but isn't to everyone's taste. 

So what am i missing that's your "Must have" and any tips for getting Tulips to flower in the polytunnel? I've managed it 2 years out of 5, the others have always fallen prey to rodents.

Next Year's aim is to have a full 4 weeks of Tulip sales........ watch this space


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?