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March 2013

February 2013

Planting Bluebells and Snowdrops in the green

Today's job has been to start creating a Bluebell wood

Hatchlands bluebells-3
This is Hatchlands, - just down the Road from us,  showing very clearly that English Bluebells (Hyacinthoides Non Scipta) like the Alkaline soil found at the base of the Surrey North Downs.

This is some woodland that is in one of my Customers garden.

Woodlandscene-1
Very Similar trees, and setting, - so we're starting a Bluebell wood. This year we're just putting in a 1000 bulbs. - They come "in the green" - which means bulbs dug up when they are green, and living, rather than dried off.

Box of bluebells-2
Last year, I did the same with Snowdrops, by a woodland driveway.

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and despite the cold wet weather, - they are looking great this spring, - a carpet of white which will spread year after year.

Carpet of snowdrops-2


RHS London Design and Spring Plant Show 2013

The RHS Spring Design and Plant show, always seems to clash with half term. - Last year, I took my son, - It cost me in bribery, but we had a good time, - you can read our last year's exploits here.

Today he was with a friend, so I had a couple of hours to schlep up to London on my own.

The first view in the design hall was this amazing painting by Susan Entwhistle.

SusanEntwhistleposteratrhsshow-2

I stood for ages admiring her pictures, until I reminded myself i've a cut flower farm to pay for.... The design hall had good displays from the main Design and Landscape organisations. - If you want to see a range of portfolio work, it's a great place to start.

The main plant hall was really crowded, which is great for the future of the shows, and had some amazing displays. One nursery (didn't write down the name, sorry) had used dried Lunaria seed heads as height for their displays of Snowdrops, and the first thing that caught my eye was an Acacia Baileyana in full bloom.

These were other high points for me.

RHSspringshow2013-1

With my cut flower hat on, I asked the ladies of the Nafas stand, but no, not all the flowers in their display were English, - somehting to work on for next year I think.

I loved the Mcbeans orchid display, - I remember a visit to Mcbeans when I worked at Wisley, and being fascinated by their displays and glasshouses. - If you want an english grown Orchid, then they have an open day happening this weekend on 23rd/24th Feb.

The show is on again tomorrow Wednesday, - if you're in London, it is free for RHS members, and well worth a visit even if you have to pay entrance. - Enjoy the first plants of spring.

 

 


Windbreak planting to protect our cut flowers

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I do get some magnificent views of sunsets from Hill top farm. However the openness of the hill side does work against me for the cut flowers, because there is usually a stiff breeze blowing over the brow of that hill the sun is setting behind.

So today's job was creating a windbreak to help to protect my beds of hardy and half hardy annuals.

Willow planting-2
it's Half term, so it was a family effort again. - Amazing what bribery with a doughnut will do to get over a hundred Willow sticks (rods/ withies/cuttings) in the ground.

The Willow used was 4 different varieties, Purpurea, Q83, Daphnoides and Flanders red - all sourced from The Willow bank - I'd love to tell you there was scientific reasoning behind these particular varieties, - but in truth, I liked the mixture of colours. - So here's to wind protection, Willow for Christmas wreaths, and Catkins next spring.

 


Cut flowers and calamities - this week at Plantpassion

So this week has been 7 day roller coaster, - one of those weeks......

Of incredibles highs  -

Like managing my first floral event of Valentines day, and getting enough orders (Tulip posies, Narsissus bouquets, and David Austin rose bushes) to fill my truck on Thursday morning for delivery

Valentinesbouquetdeliveries-1
and getting comments from happy customers

"it was a lovely homecoming surprise. It was well received for sure & xxxxx will be planting it tomorrow"

 

Like going back to see a front garden i've designed, after the landscaping phase, and getting asked to do the planting plan

Isleybeforeandafter-1

And of Lows -

(not very visual these)

Getting a new water meter fitted at Hill top farm, and finding that it's turning. Not spinning, which would indicate gushing water, but the plumber thinks that there is a leak, not just a drip. - So the water has been turned off for now. 

I've got to find where in the 100 odd metres between the water metre (the other side of a neighbouring field) and my taps the leak is. This is going to mean fixing various water points that we can see, finding the point of entry to my land so that a stop cock can be put on, and crossing fingers that it stops the meter turning. If not, there is 100 metres of pipe to be dug up and replaced. (anyone know any water diviners?)

And wondering why Dad had waked past the bed of Ranunculus when we went to plant up some more, - only to find that something - Deer? Pheasant? Badger? Fox? - has taken a fancy to them, and nibbled them down to the stems. As we have a huge perimeter at Hill top farm, a predator proof fence is

a) too expensive, and

b) going to take ages to install, - so we're working on deterrants, and barriers at the moment.

Plus the realisation that we've only created 16 beds so far, and that I need 28 more by the middle of May.

However, tomorrow is another day, - and it's got Willow planting on the timetable, Plus Sunday Roast with friends, so i'm sure i'll be feeling a lot more positive when Monday comes. It's nearly time to sow more seeds, - so Bring on the sunshine, and i'll turn my challenges and calamities into Solutions with flowers on them!


Garden Bloggers Bloom Day February 2013

February front border flowers-1
Everything that is flowering in my garden this Mid February morning is represented in this border.

The Snowdrops, Cyclamen Coum and the Hellebores are all looking lovely, but we could do with some warmer drier weather to enable me to pause for slightly longer when I get out of the car to look at them.

All round the Northern Hemisphere, there are lot of others having the same issues, - pop on over to May Dream Gardens to see the links to other GBBD posts.


English flowers for Valentines, - in February!

So my new flower farming project is all about English flowers. About Scent and Sustainability. About beauty in a vase without Air miles or chemicals.

But.......

Valentines day is in February.

What's a girl to do when the customers want flowers, but the temperature is finding it hard to get above 3 degrees.

Stockyard bouquets & posies-1
The answer of course is to get fantastic Cornish Narsissus, and Lincolnshire Tulips in and add them to local foliage, et Voila.... English Cut flowers from Plantpassion at the Stockyard (Horsley Station Coffee shop)

and for those that must give Roses on Valentines day, we have David Austin rose bushes, for planting in the garden, and getting flowers and scent from June onwards.

We're taking orders in the morning, and will be delivering locally next Thursday 14th or phone me 07813 456865 to place and order.


A Month as a Surrey flower farmer - progress so far

We finished working up at Hill top farm today as the sun set.Sunsetfromhilltopfarm-2
Today's task was planting Allium's - 1 bed of 300 Allium Speraecephalon - and one bed of mixed alliums, donated by Mum and Dad from a garden border of their's that had produced huge amounts of bulbils.

Alliumborders-3
We made a small trench in the soil to plant, then covered them over with a good layer of organic compost. Our pile of which is getting rapidly smaller, as we're now up to nine beds covered.

We've also made 8 raised beds to make good use of the large area of hardstanding that we have.

Raisedbedsx8-1
These have all been planted up with Herbs. So far, lots of Mint, Sage, Parsley, Rosemary, Rocket, and Mustards, which I'll use both as culinary crops, and then as flowers. There are 7 more of these to be made over the next week, so they'll be more Rosemary, Thymes, lots of Chives (I luurve the flowers of Garlic chives) Basils (in May) and Marjorum.

i'll also be growing Dill and Fennel, but they will need deeper root runs, so will be in the ground.

This month i've also got my planning application in for my Polytunnel. - The beaurocracy of the planning department is not something that I have enough patience for, but I have finally (I hope) used the right form. Plus given the right diagrams, to explain how my Polytunnel is of less height than the hedge that will shield it from the Road.

So i'm making excellent progress so far. February will be another month of moving compost and making beds (well acutally i'll be doing that every month for the foreseeable future!) but as we get towards the end of the month, i'll be able to start sowing seeds again.

if you want more regular pictures of what i'm up to, have a look over at https://www.facebook.com/Plantpassion