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November 2015

My Top 5 Bestsellers to Surrey Florists in 2015

It's blowing a hooley outside while i sit here and write this.  I've taken out a good proportion of the Dahlias today. It's going to get cold at the weekend, and my season for selling Wholesale flowers to florists is well and truly over for 2015.

So which ones were the most popular? Which did i get orders for week after week? Which did i sell more of than anything else?

After going through all my delivery notes, and meticulously working out the data, here are the results.

In 5th place - Dahlias

Cafe au lait dahlia

Cafe au Lait Dahlia, certainly helped that total, although i need to find some Beginning of the week brides to sell them to next year, (Florists take note, there are just as many flowers, just less demand) as i had quite a few that needed picking on a Monday that got wasted.

In 4th Place - Antirrhinum

These amazing Potomac varieties of Antirrhinum have given me an endless succession of blooms since the beginning of July. - I grew some in pots to put on the FFTF Hampton Court display, and they weren't needed, so they've been in my polytunnel ever since. I picked another 3 blooms today, yes they are still going!

Antirrhinum white

The even more amazing thing is that these had 20m of beds, compared to the 60m of Dahlia beds - Result.

In 3rd Place

Cornflowers

Blue Cornflowers

This one suprised me a bit, I thought i'd mucked up on the cornflowers, I didn't have as many as the year before, although that meant that we kept up with the picking. A second flush at the beginning of September from self sown and transplanted seedlings helped, as my direct sown May crop didn't come up at all. Blue is the most popular, but White and Pink are still desired for weddings, and the Black was requested specifically on several occasions. Plenty of these already planted (and netted from the rabbits) already.

In 2nd Place - Scabious

When i finished my figures to find out my bestsellers, and i realised that Scabious was that high on the list,  i immediately went out to the greenhouse and pricked out another tray of seedlings, and found another bed on the field to plant them in.

Scabious white with bee

These flowers, loved by bees, florists and me, are available in a large range of colours. It's the pink that eludes me though in germination - must try harder next year.

No 1 - The Top Seller of 2015, - requested the most, and with the best scent of any of the top 5 - Mint

Apple mint-2

My nine types of mint, mean that there can be scent in bouquets from April to late September, so it's hardly surprising that mint is my bestselling line. Grown in just 6 raised beds, 2.4m x 1.2m that's a productive use of space.

For those of you that just have to know more

in 6th place was Sweet peas

in 7th Hesperis

8th Orlaya Grandiflora

9th Ammi Major

10th Ranunculus

Thank you to all the Surrey Florists who bought my flowers this year, and added to these totals. There will be more of all of them next year.

Details of 2016 Florists open days are here


Review of my best Cut Flower Dahlias in 2015, and how i grew them

It's the end of the first week of November. No frost means that there are still Dahlias flowering on my field, although the stem strength is appalling, so they are no longer being cut.

They have however been fantastic this year, with few exceptions, so here is my review of the season, before I forget all the details, and just have the pretty pictures.

Dahlia beds in September 2015

In the past, i've always removed all the Dahlias from the ground over winter and stored them, frost free in boxes with sawdust, covered in fleece. But now we've got the the point where there are A LOT of dahlias. So, last year we tried leaving some in. We cut them back at the same time as we removed the others in late November, and mulched them thickly.

Did it work? - Well yes, all the plants came back, although the winter was fairly mild with only 5 or 6 hard frosts, and no longer than a couple of days at a time of frozen ground. This summer, they were some of the first to flower, and they continued flowering throughout the season very prolifically. We tried leaving in Dahlias Evelyn, Preference, Cafe Au Lait, and Jowey Linda.

Dahlias Evelyn JLinda CauL Pref

So you'd do it again? - Well yes and no. Those that we left in the ground definitely had smaller flowers than plants from new tubers, and a lot smaller flowers than those we grew from cuttings. So I wouldn't want to leave the same tubers in the ground for another year. However as a device to save some labour in the Autumn, I would risk it again with other plants that were in their first year. Plus some of my florists commented that the smaller flowers were a lot better size for putting in bouquets

So what about those grown from Tubers, how did they do? - Last year we had so many tubers growing on in pots in the polytunnel, that we didn't have the space or the time to go through them all and do a slug patrol. The consequence was that we had 40 or so plants that weren't worth planting out, because they'd been so badly eaten, that 's a lot of waste.

This year with slightly fewer tubers to pot up, and ensuring we did a slug patrol in mid May, we kept them in better condition. They were all planted out in the last week of May, but weren't flowering fully until the middle of August. Probably suffering from the lack of water this season in June and July. From Tubers, we grew more of the Evelyn, (but most turned out to be something else) Preference, Cafe au Lait and Jowey Linda, but also Karma Naomi, Karma Choc, Karma Lagoon, Karma Serena, Canary Fubuki, Nuit D'ete, Rocco, and Ambition.

This is almost the full range of what we grew

Dahlia heads on a tray

The real success this year though were the new to us varieties, and the ones that we grew from cuttings.

My Birthday present last year was a super dooper propagator,

Dahlia cuttings and prop

After making do for years with propagators with no thermostatic controls, this was a fantastic boost to my ability to produce lots of cuttings, early in the season. The only shame being that at Easter I was invited to speak at the RHS London show, by then i'd potted on my cuttings, and moved them to other propagators in the greenhouse, and i forgot to turn it off before i went up to London.  Please learn from my mistake that fried Dahlia cuttings are no good, and i lost 2 trays, so 30 cuttings.

However those that survived made amazing plants

Dahlia Caroline Wagermanns

This is Carolina Wagermanns. Sourced from Withypitts Dahlias, this is set to become a firm favourite, and although i only had one tuber to propagate from i managed to get 5 plants, and lots of flowers from it. It teams well with Jowey Linda.

Shooting star is also one from Withypitts. I wasn't keen because it is billed as "yellow" but here teamed with Canary Fubuki and Karma Serena, it looks beautiful

Dahlia Shooting star

My new varieties from Tubers were (anticlockwise from top left) Dark Spirit, Wine Eyed Jill, Karma Serena and Crazy Love. All good enough to grow again, particularly Crazy love, which Emma Davies took quite a shine to (large amounts of photos of that one)

New dahlias from tubers

The propagation from cuttings will also come in handy for this variety, which came to us labelled as Evelyn, but isn't. Anyone know what it is?

Dahlia unknown pink

So will i grow the same ones again next year?

My pale colours of Cafe au Lait, Evelyn, Preference, Karma Serena, Tu Tu and Waterlily white were all great this year. - With my unknown pink, and Crazy Love that is a brilliant selection. I had a few Sugar diamond last year, which seems to have gone missing and needs to be replaced, and i might need a salmon pom pom to complete the colour set.

The Deep dark colours of Nuit D'ete, Karma Choc, Karma Naomi and Dark Spirit are all fabulous, but a few of the large headed Rip City would be a good addition.

and for the Jewel colours, i'll stick with the bright pink of Karma Lagoon, Jowey Linda, New Baby and Ambition, but i need A purple, and Rocco is too small and too much hard work, - Any suggestions for me?

In the next couple of weeks they'll all be lifted from the ground and stored in the barn, or maybe i'll leave some in the ground........