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July 2015

June 2015

Conditioning your flowers Why? and what we do here at Plantpassion

Conditioning your flowers is the thing that makes the biggest difference to how long they will last in the vase.

Trailer of cut flowers

Although it would be lovely to wander around the flower field (or your garden), pick a handful of the best blooms, and then arrange them in a vase, - that will actually be likely to bring you the biggest disappointment when the flowers wilt and die later that day or half way through the next. So what methods do we use to make sure that the flowers that leave here, will last ages. Usually over a week.

  • Grow them hard. Conditioning the flowers actually starts before you pick them, with how you grow them. Our Chalky Hillside, means that flowers don't have it easy in a glasshouse being fed and watered on tap. They have to grow sturdy stems, which don't bend and snap easily
  • Cut them early. Stupid O'Clock, is often the time I call it when I need to pick for a big order. Just after dawn, and the following hours are the best time for the plant stems to be full of moisture. I aim to have finished picking before the sun is hot on my neck. In the middle of June, that's before 9.00am. The 2nd best time is in the evening when the sun is going down,  then the flower is full of sugars.
  • Get them straight into water. Because I still farm on a small scale, I can pick everything into water. My buckets are cleaned, and filled with tap water, and taken out on my tractor trailer, or hand cart depending on the size of the order. I also strip lower leaves before putting stems in the water, so nothing makes the water mouldy. When we get back in from the field, we often add more water to the buckets, so that they really are "up to their necks"
  • Let them rest. Preferably in the cool and the dark. This is the one that most people don't get round to. Each flower has a different period that it would ideally rest for. Sweet Williams don't need much, - but Mint really needs 12 hours to soak up as much water as possible. Foliage generally needs longer than flowers, and thicker stems longer than thinner. So a Rose will need longer resting than Orlaya. Dahlias, longer than Zinnias.

What is does mean that each morning the numbers of flowers sitting in buckets in the barn swells. Then there is a pause (usually a great time for Breakfast / School runs, Instagram photos!) Then the florists and DIY Brides start arriving, and the buckets empty again, so that by mid afternoon I can review what's left, (usually very little) and work out what will need picking again tomorrow morning.


June Flowers & Open Days Galore

The first Field Rose opened today. It was a Darcey Bussel

First red rose of the season

This isn't a picture of it, as i'd sold it to a florist within a couple of hours of picking it. This is another that opened this evening. It's Rose season.

It's also Scent season

June scent montage

The Sweet peas are still amazing, and they've been joined by Sweet Williams, Dianthus, Herbs and more Alliums, these hanging bells are Nectaroscordum (used to be known as Allium Bulgaricum)

My Newly planted Lupins have been flowering their socks off. (although both my friend Dana Leigh and my Mother in Law had displays that I'm aiming to emulate next year) and there are whites, brights and every colour in between on my field at the moment.

Lupin montage

The Planting continues. Most of the Dahlias are in the ground, and there are lots of beds of small plants, or direct sown seeds just coming through. The Polytunnel is emptying, although the greenhouse has now been filled with Biennials. There are lots more Iceland poppies, and Hesperis and Honesty being sown as they've been so popular this year.

Planted up beds

If you'd like to see behind the scenes at Hill top farm, we have 3 public open days coming up.

This Sunday 7th June 1-5pm

Tuesday 16th June 1-5pm

Wednesday 17th June 1-5pm

There are more details and where to find us on the website Open Days page





First of the season's DIY Flower boxes

Wow, we're into June already today. The season has kick-started wonderfully this year, and last week we did the first of this year's DIY Flower boxes.

Pastel was our theme for Julie. She had been busily growing flowers in her own garden, but they were being reluctant to flower, so we boosted her blooms with a bucket of ours.

Pastel theme for DIY wedding

Pale purple Iris, Astrantia, White and Baby pink cornflowers, Pink Alliums, Creamy Alstroemerias, and Aqueligias Nora Barlow made up the Flowers, with scent and froth from the fillers with Orlaya, Gypsophila, Ammi, Rosemary, Mint and Thyme.

Lesley was our 2nd bride of the week. There was help in the offing from sisters and friends, so they were making a pedestal, and table arrangements from 3 boxes of flowers. The theme was Baby blue, White and Yellow.

For height for the Pedestal, we provided foliage of Beech and Ligustrum, - good background foliage is always important for large displays. We then added in Flowers of Blue Iris, White and pale mauve Allium, Delphinium, Hesperis, and for the touch of Yellow, Euphobia Oblongata.

DIY Blue Yellow white theme

For the table arrangements, there was again some wonderful background fillers with scent included, Mint, Bulplurum, Rosemary, Orlaya and Ammi, and they were teamed with Nigella, Cynoglossum, with Yellow splashes of colour from poppies.

DIY Blue yellow white theme 2

 Both of these were last minute bookings, so I was delighted that the field could provide for these and large florists orders even though the Sweet William is still stubbornly slow. If you'd like to find out about our DIY boxes, and how many you might need for your summer event or party, please contact us to find out more, or come and see us at one of our open days