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March 2015
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April 2015

April Florist's Open Day at Hill top farm

Whew, what a week it's been.

On Saturday, Ashley finished the fence round our new planting area. - Hopefully my 24 extra beds are safe from marauding deer and rabbits now, although a pheasant had managed to get in by Sunday morning.

Ranunculus pastels

On Sunday afternoon we welcomed between 80 and 100 people to my open day (we all lost count).  That's a lot of cups of teas and talking. I am so grateful to Mum and Dad for helping me host, and to Jasmin and Molly who bunched and sold flowers for me, gave out cakes and got everyone to sign my list to win a bouquet.  (winner announced on my email newsletter tomorrow) Thank you to everyone who came.

it's lovely when you get feedback like this

Just wanted to say how much we enjoyed visiting Hill Top Farm on Sunday.  Your mum was great as was the tea and cake!
I am so impressed with how much you've achieved in such a short time
A real inspiration!  Hope you have a great year.

Then on Monday morning through my bleary eyes, I went and did an early picking of flowers, foliage and seedheads ready for my Florists workshop.

Florists on field by tulips

I love working with local florists, But I totally appreciate that unlike their usual Wholesalers, where seasonality isn't an issue, they can't get whatever they want whenever they want from me. 

So it's really important for them to see how I grow things. Here I am waxing lyrical about annual and perennial Tulips, and explaining how I can wait until they flower to give longer stems and bigger heads, and still give them at least a week of vase life.

After lots of questions, and a tour round a bright but breezy field, we repaired to the barn to drink coffee, and for these talented ladies to use lots of my April field ingredients to make Buttonholes and boutonieres.

Here are some of the results.

Buttonholes on square tray

Personally as someone who enjoys growing, but isn't the most creative, I thought the displays were all stunning. For me as a grower, the most important bit is how long does each of the ingredients last out of water? So after having a fantastic making session, and a great photography session, - watched over by Emma Davies, I set everyone homework of letting me know when each of the ingredients expired and whether they could be trusted to create the desired effect for a bridegroom, Mother of the bride or usher. Here are some of the results. - All of the florists went for a natural effect with just raffia, or Twool, none of them used wiring or guttering.

Buttonhole Jodie_

Jodie Vigor of Boutique Blooms, Made this Beauty with dark Ranunculus, Hypericum leaves, Grey Senicio foliage, Purple Fennel, Anemone and Hellebore.

Her feedback  (at 6pm) was.

"My lovely little buttonhole is sat here next to me on my desk...the fennel is very limp now and the hypericum foliage is too. The anemone and hellebore are doing ok, slightly drooped but I think that's good going and would be happy to send those out (they would have reached dancing time at a wedding at least). The senecio looks good and the ranuncula has done really well, still really firm stem and has opened a little more, beautiful!"

Buttonhole Caroline

Caroline Davy made this creation from Rosemary, Fennel, Mint, Senicio, Monarda seedhead, Ranunculus, Anemone and Hellebore. Her feedback was

"The buttonhole stood up really well.  Surprisingly enough, the worst to fare was the Hellebore.  The mint also  dropped quite badly but still smelt amazing … so could be forgiven!  By the time I got home, it did appear quite floppy generally but as a buttonhole – it would have been supported all day when it was fixed to the guy’s jacket … so probably not too much of a problem!  I did cave in about 5.30 as I couldn’t bear it all to die so I put it in water and everything is now perfectly upright again!  The Ranunulus have partly opened (they were both quite tightly in bud this morning) and  the Ran. Champagne is revealing more of its beauty!"

Sarah from Myrtle and Smith (check out that new website!) got a little carried away and made 3 buttonholes

Buttonholes Sarah

Her feedback was

"So, my buttonholes...

The Rosemary, anemone and other stem of purple flower who's name I can't remember (Erysimum) lasted the best.  The purple flower started to wilt a little but if cut short enough and secured in amongst other sturdy items would last week. (Top / Middle in picture)

The poppy seed heads, ranunculus and (other flower which I loved and can't remember..!) (Cerinthe)didn't last well at all and we're all floppy by about 2.30pm, including the mint.. But it smelt great!

The Hellebore lasted well as well, drooped a little but unless you knew what you were looking at you wouldn't have noticed."

Here's some more pictures and feedback from the morning. - Thank you to everyone for taking part, and for Emma for setting up the studio, and giving us hints and tips.

Florists openday montage

Jackie said

"The hellebores, tiny allium, senecio and rosemary all stood up well but the fennel and the poppy heads drooped after an hour or so. I remember being told that if you want a natural look for a buttonhole/ corsage and so don't want to use tape you can seal the bottom of the stems either with florist glue or - more eco friendly -  wax. I haven't tried it though!"

Helen said

"I've found the ranunculus and rosemary have lasted very well, the anemone is starting to droop as is the mint, and unfortunately everything else gave up not long after I got home, but the buttonholes were in the warm car for about an hour and a half as I had errands to run on my way back. I'm sure they would have survived a lot longer if I'd either pipped them in a drop of water or kept them somewhere cooler on the journey back!"

Rowena said (at 5.30)

"My buttonhole is fine, it is only the dill that is a bit floppy."

Thank you all once again for taking part, - for me, it's so interesting to see which ingredients were used. - I notice that No-one went for the pinks or the mini gerberas, and everyone used herbs and seedheads.

If you're a Surrey Florist who'd like to find out what's on my availability list each week, - do download the pdf on my Florists page, and signup for my weekly emails here


An Abundance of Tulips for Sunday open afternoon

Square tulips photo

Image Emma Davies

I've Written before about Tulips, and how I love them

Some of those in my 2010 blog post are still going now, even though they've been totally neglected in my front border while i've created an allotment and a flower farm. But I think I may have gone slightly overboard on planting them at Hill top farm this year.

Luckily, it's my open day this Sunday afternoon. So I need your help, - please come and wander round the farm between 1.00pm and 5.00pm, - i'll provide tea and cake, - and they'll be plenty of Tulips for sale (and quite a few other flowers as well)

Interested? -We're at Hill top farm, Staple Lane, East Clandon, GU4 7FP

Tulips montage


My Flower of the month for March - Anemone

As we finish March and move into April, I have to show you my flower of the month.

At a time of year, where the field is waking up, but there aren't huge amounts of blooms on show, - The Anemone has been an amazing flower to add to my collection.

White Galilee anemones

I've grow Anemone de Caen, and named varieties such as Mr Fokker (Blue) Bicolour (Red and white) and The Bride (White) for the last couple of years, but this year I was lucky enough to add to my collection some White Anemone Galilee, and some coloured Meron varieties.

The White ones are being grown in the polytunnel, and have been getting to an amazing length, with some up to 50cm tall. The coloured ones, which have been grown under fleece on the field all winter, have now been uncovered, and although they aren't quite as tall, the colours are great.

Anemone montage

While Red and Pink are amazing for making a bright bouquet zing, - I have to admit to this Bordeaux being my personal favourite.

Bordeaux anemones-1

I'm sure this is almost as close as you can get in a flower to the current Pantone colour of the year - Marsala (18-1438)

Last week, We had the first of this year's photo shoot collaborations, with Paula, using just my flowers, and Emma doing the fantastic pics, to produce this rather gorgeous creation, with Anemones in pride of place.

Anemone Bouquet

Here's the Galilee Anemone showing it's full depth

Anemone detail in  Bouquet

For those who like to know all the ingredients available in March in Surrey. - This bouquet also contained - Hellebore Foetidus, Hellebore Orientalis, Leujojum, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Senicio, Twisted Willow, Hyacinths & Tulip Super Parrot

Anemone bouquet montage