What do Flower farmers do in winter?
What's happening at Hill top farm - March update

Propagation, Learning to grow Cut Flowers and more

Wednesday was a full day of propagation. - For someone like me who is a plant fan (yes, total fanatic) it wasn't a difficult day, and as I was in the company of some lovely people it passed very quickly.

In the morning I hosted the first of this year's "Cutting gardens from seeds and bulbs" workshop.

Claire starting a workshop in the barn

A bleak February morning isn't necessarily the most pleasant time of year to spend on my exposed field, but as these ladies were keen to know how to improve their flower yields from whatever their size of patch this year, they braved the M25, and came layered up to learn about how I plan and pick out the flowers and fillers to grow on my field.

We started with my explanation of the types of stems to put together to make a bouquet. - This was where my journey from "pick and plonk" to British flower floristry started 3 years ago. My Hellebore foetidus gave a fantastic example of a sieve as a base foliage.

Workshop in the barn


A tour of the field proved  how hardy and devoted these ladies were as they asked questions about all the hardy annual, biennials and perennials in the ground already, and learnt about our No dig theories

Workshop 2014 field tour

After coffee and marmelade muffins (well done Ashley your homemade marmelade was the star sticky ingredient) We warmed ourselves up in the Polytunnel, and I gave demonstrations of seed sowing, potting on, and taking cuttings.

Propagation demo and coffee

By Lunchtime everyone went home with a tray full of seeds, - and pots of cuttings, - Rosemary and Dianthus Green trick, plus lots of root cuttings of mint.

Thank you all for your enthusiasm, which was infectious. Despite the cold and damp, I stayed on when everyone left, and made 2 more trays of green trick cuttings, and planted out more Ammi and Larkspur. Then I went home and took more Dahlia cuttings. - Richard from Withypitts Dahlia's (from his workshop in January) had produced more, plus the tubers I put in the propagator were sprouting as well. so i've now got Cafe au Lait, and Pink Diamond being molly coddled in the greenhouse at home.

But my day wasn't finished, as in the evening I walked down to the Village Hall to our Garden Society meeting, and listened to Nick Morgans from RHS Wisley give a talk about propagation.

An extremely good turnout for a February evening showed how much esteem our group hold Nick in, and his talk was informative, educating, and entertaining. - I may even be tempted to try propagating some houseplants again.

There were lots of points that we both agreed on, and think are extremely important for anyone propagating new plants, - the most important are.

1) Use a good growing media (don't say compost, that's the stuff you make in heaps at the bottom of the garden) and sieve it for seeds so that the uneven lumps are taken out

2) cover most seedlings (apart from the tiny ones) with vermiculite

3) invest in a good watering can with a fine rose

Propagation is something that can seem scary to new gardeners, - but with just a bit of direction and practice, you could be producing hundreds of productive plants. - If by some chance you have too many of them, the Horsley Garden Society Annual Plant Sale is Saturday 9th May, - entry is 3 plants (or 50p) come and see what we've all been propagating.

(all photos by Emma Davies )



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