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February 2014
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March 2014

Grown, not Flown - Surrey flowers for Mothering Sunday

The Spring has been mild and early here in Surrey. Compared to last year, when there were only Hellebores, Crocus and Narsissus Tete a tete flowering this week, I have a veritable feast of Flowers at Hill top farm. - Which is wonderful, as it's a week until Mothering Sunday.

Daffodils and hyacinths

As a child, I remember going to church and getting a bunch of daffodils to give to my mum, they were always just the plain ordinary yellow ones, but they were very cheerful.

This year for the Plantpassion Mother's Day flowers, we have a wide range of Spring bulbs, and we're also doing Herb planters again, as they proved very popular last year.

If you'd like to place an order for delivery on Friday or Saturday (Free delivery in Horsley, Ripley, Send and Clandon, - £5 for delivery to Guildford or Cobham) please either

Phone me - 07813 456865

email me -

or go on-line and do it all at here

Everyone will be individual, but here is an idea of the type of ingredients we'll be using.  - and no sorry none of the blue Hyacinths that the bee loves so much, - they are already over :(

Mothering Sunday posies and bouquet


Can Social media make you a better Gardener / Florist / Garden designer ?

Those who know me, will realise that I am a fan of Social media. - Twitter isn't all about what you had for Breakfast, Facebook isn't all posts about Cats, and Instagram isn't only selfies.

But can Social media make you a better Gardener, Garden Designer, Florist or Flower Grower?

Hyacinths (1 of 1)

Gardening can be an occupation that you do alone, Gardens, Greenhouses, Polytunnels aren't lonely but they're not normally a place for a crowd. Florists may be tucked in a workshop, Designers stuck to their drawing board, but with the world of Social media, you can reach out and find inspiration, discuss, debate and join in with your opinions. You can share experiments and see others successes, and also mistakes and mishaps to prevent you doing it yourself.

There are also a host of interesting suppliers out there, - and for flowery people, there's nothing like getting recommendations about the best variety, the longest lasting flower, the strongest growing plant, the best quality service in getting orders to you.

This week, i've talked to a book author about which varieties of Ageratum she recommends, and who to get it from. I've given my opinions to an American Flower farmer, who I greatly admire, I've been given some sample Dahlias to try by a brilliant supplier, who i'll now be using a lot more regularly, and i've joined in a chat about Photos for my blog which i'm learning about all the time.

In the last 2 weeks i've also been introduced to a Florist in Farnham who would like my flowers, Received messages from 3 more who are impatient for me to start selling them, and wanting to know what i've got ready and "met" 2 more South East Growers, who want to join Flowers from the farm.

Now social media isn't the only way that I learn about gardening, - I'm looking forward to my Garden Society Spring Show in a couple of weeks, where i'll see if my Hellebores and Daffodils can match up to others locally (and when they don't, find out what else I need to do). - I'm booked in to several workshops this year, to see how others grow Sweet peas, and Roses, plus i'll be learning from the Florists I work with in my quest to get there on the Handtied bouquets.

Hellebores being judged (1 of 1)

But for my daily burst of inspiration, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have given me huge amounts of Information, Inspiration and Enthusiasm, to learn, and improve my gardening and flower growing.

I've encouraged lots of people to join the Social networks that I love, and in February, I ran a "Social Media for Flowery people" workshop, with Rona Wheeldon of Flowerona. Our Aim is to let people know what they should be saying to contact with the right people, so there is never that "what shall I say?" moment. Rona runs a session about Photographs for Social media. - If you've ever read her blog, you'll realise how wonderful and emotional, beautiful pictures can be. - We're now running another Workshop on the 31st March.

- There are lots more details here, but it is aimed at those who have a Gardening or Flowery background.

Our last workshop, had Florists, Flower growers, Garden designers, Horticultural colleges, Floral Charities and a Catering company who supply a flower school, as participlants.

Social media workshop (1 of 1)

100% of them said they would recommend the workshop to others.

So YES, - I am a believer that Social media can make you a better Gardener, Florist or Garden designer, - it's a wonderful way to connect with loads of other like-minded people, - and if you'd like to learn how you can get the most from it, - please Join Rona and I on the 31st March.

Top tips for March seedsowing

This weekend is blocked out in my diary, - it says seed sowing.

In preparation this week, i've been clearing all the overwintered plants out of the greenhouse. - I've planted out lots of last summer seed sown perennials - Echinops Ritro, Stachys Lanata, Rudbeckia maxima, Delphiniums and Verbenas.

The overwintered sweet peas are planted out in the polytunnel, - so now i've got free space, and free seed trays to sow this years seeds into.

So I thought i'd give you an idea of what I sow into what.

Propagator and seed trays (1 of 1)

At the beginning of the growing season, I use heated propagators to start off seeds. - This is great for those Half hardy annuals that need a long season to get into flower, - like Cleome, Molucella, Anthirrinums and Scabious. Before now, - i've not had electricity in the greenhouse, so these propagators have been balanced on tables in front of the windows in the house with the most light. - This year for the first time, they've been in full use in the greenhouse for the last 3 weeks.

When it gets to March, and I can start the hardy annuals that don't need bottom heat to get them going - Cornflowers, Ammi, Larkspur and Gypsophila are good examples, - then I start to use seed trays, - The ones with 5 strips in them are great if you want a decent number of anything, - you can sow 20-30 seeds in each strip.

If you're wanting smaller numbers, then a window sill propagator with modules is ideal.


I use lots of these green windowsill propagators, and the inserts last at least 3 seasons (i'm on the 4th season with a few of them) I sow 4/5 seeds into each module. - If you are useing them for saladings (Rocket, mizunas, lettuces etc) then you can just pop each module out into the ground. - if you're using them for flowers, then you can prick out from them into cell trays.

This is my favourite size of tray, - it has 84 modules, and i've got some with 66 modules. They are deep enough that you can get a big enough root system on each seedling that they can be planted out into the soil as soon as the weather is appropriate.

Cell trays (1 of 1)

 The list of plants that i'm going to be sowing this week includes

Chrysanthemums, Asters, Amaranthus, Stocks, Verbena bonariensis, Calendula, Cerinthe, Euphorbia Oblongataand more Sweet peas.

I sow into my own mixture of seed compost - This post I wrote gives a lot more information about composts, but I've now moved on to a peat free rather than reduced peat mix, using a sieved mixture of organic municipal waste and a peat free compost.

However there are lots of plants that I won't be sowing for at least another month. - Some don't like root disturbance, some have their growth "checked" if they stay in pots for too long. Either way you want them to be at exactly the right growth rate to put them out as soon as the last frosts have disappeared, Some, i'll wait to sow direct into the soil instead of starting them inside - These include

For direct sowing - Dill, Nigella, Bulplurum and Zinnias

For quick germination and planting out before they get too root bound - Cosmos, Tithonia, Zinnias, and Sunflowers

Hold off sowing them until late April. (or mid May if frosts still look likely)- Which is great, because all the hardy annuals you sow this weekend will be ready to go out by then.

Enjoy the sunshine, and get sowing


Creating your cutting patch workshop - In the sunshine

I'm just about to go and deliver to the cafe's, - it's Snowflakes (Leucojum) this week, - but I thought i'd do a quick review of Wednesday's cutting patch workshop.

We started in the barn with coffee, and a demonstration of the types of foliage and flower shapes you need to grow to make a full bouquet, rather than just a few flowers for the vase. Then we made best use of the sunshine for a tour of the farm to see what we've already got flowering and growing.


Cuttingpatchworkshop herbs (1 of 1)

Here's me waxing lyrical about the need for mint for scent, and showing how I grow my 9 varieties in raised beds. (thanks Paula for the pic)

Then after more coffee (or mint tea) we warmed up in Polytunnel, with a demonstration of seed sowing, taking cuttings (Dianthus green trick and Chrysanthemums) and potting up dahlias.

Everyone then had an opportunity to choose their favourite seeds and sow them to start their own patch.


Cuttingpatchworkshop (1 of 1)

If you'd like to have a go at growing your own, - or picking your own cut flowers, - pop on over to my workshops page, and maybe i'll see you at Hilltop farm later in the year