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February 2017

January 2017

Easy growing Cut flowers from seeds for beginners

It's late January, the winter has been cold and frosty. That's good for ensuring we get less bugs this year, but not good for keen gardeners who want to get going, so here's 5 easy to grow cut flowers that you can be planning and plotting for if this is your first time growing.


Bright summer sweet peas

Sweet Peas

yes, my last blog was about these, and you can sow them in October, and then plant them out at this time of year. But you can also sow them now if you must, or through March and into April. If you're a beginner gardener, I recommend the Spencer varieties. These are great for scented summer blooms.

Top tips

  • Sow in a deep pot, or a root trainer
  • You can soak them first, or even leave them on some wet cotton wool or tissue for a few days to sprout, but i'd just suggest buying good quality seed (i.e not those that are in the cheap rack at the garden centre) 
  • Make sure your compost is sieved, and add some vermiculite for good drainage
  • When they've got a good healthy root growth plant them out, but they often sulk for a couple of weeks after planting, so don't worry. 
  • Tie them into something so they grow upwards
  • feed and water well
  • pick, and pick and pick, as soon as they start flowering




There are lots of colours of cornflowers now, and as a cut flower, although fiddly to pick, they are beautiful on their own or with other things.

Top Tips

  • wait until March to start sowing, early seeds tend to get very leggy
  • Sow seeds in modules, or prick out when just 2 leaves
  • they germinate very fast, sometimes within 3 days, and can then grow into rosettes within weeks so don't sow too many
  • Plant them out at least 30cm apart, this will mean that each plant produces a minimum of 20-30 flowers if you cut them regularly
  • Pick and pick and pick


Simple ammi and cornflowers arrangement

Ammi and Cornflowers grow so well together that really they shouldn't not be both grown. This was a picture (by Emma Davies) of one of my first arrangements, and just a few plants of each will give you a similar arrangement every week for several summer months.

Top Tips

  • Ammi Major is slightly easier to grow than Ammi Visnaga
  • Both are small seeds, don't sow to thickly, or sow in deep modules
  • They don't like root disturbance, so prick/ thin out when very small
  • Plant at least 30cm apart as they'll grow tall
  • Pick and pick and pick


Now one of my favourites, and easy to grow from seeds. As well as the multicoloured flowers, there's also Scabious Stellata Pingpong that has amazing seed heads.

Scabious stellata

Top tips

  • Wait until March, then they'll be enough light for them to grow on quickly
  • Seeds are larger, so easy to sow one per module in seed trays
  • plant out as soon as the roots fill the module, can be as quickly as 6-8 weeks from sowing
  • space at least 30cm apart, these will produce masses of flowers
  • pick and pick and pick and pick, on as long stems as possible. They will start flowering in July from an early March sowing, then will have  pause, but will reflower again in September.



As easy to grow seeds go, Nigella is up there, in fact it often sows itself profusely, often so profusely that you don't get good results, so here's my 

Top Tips

  • It can be direct seeded (here's how to do that and the advantages and disadvantages of direct seeding) or it can be module grown
  • You get a lot of seeds in a packet, don't sow them too thickly
  • If you sow into the ground, make a straight line so you can weed round them
  • Thin out if you've got too many plants (i know it seems harsh but you'll get small plants with few flowers otherwise)
  • Pick and pick and pick and pick

Want to have a go? If you've not grown cut flowers before, these are the ones to try with first. My friend Ben over at Higgledy Garden sells all these seeds - (Not sponsored, just that he's a good egg, and sells high quality seeds)

Or if any of those terms like sowing direct, modules or pricking out were alien to you, why not treat yourself to a morning at the farm to find out more about propagation, and take away a garden of plants to grow on. Details of Workshops are here  particularly of interest may be the Growing your own from cuttings and seeds 


The Sweet Peas are in - January on the farm

This January has been frozen so far. In fact there have been more frosts and car scraping so far this winter than in the last 2 winters put together, and we've got a week of frosts forecast for the next week as well.

But there's hope of Spring to come because the Sweet peas are in.

Sweet pea jug

Since Christmas there hasn't been much planting progress, because our time has been spent taking down and putting up greenhouses. 

not one, not 2, but 3 of them.

Like buses, Greenhouses don't come in ones. After waiting all last season to see if one would be offered on our local Streetlife community group, (and missing out on the only one that did because i was too slow to answer) in December i asked if anyone was getting rid of  their Greenhouse and would like it taken away and given a good home.

We had offers from 4 Horsley residents, one of which was for a lean to, which we don't have an appropriate wall for. but we said yes to the other 3 - whoopee.

My long suffering husband got a Christmas holiday project, and Mum and Dad and William all got collared to help again, but the upshot of it is that we now have 3 additional covered growing areas, for the grand total of a couple of hundred quids worth of Greenhouse glass.

Greenhouse montage

The smallest one, is already being used for seedlings, and is in one of the sunniest and most sheltered places on the farm.

The largest one, a grand 12ft by 8ft Eden double doored beauty is where the Sweet peas have now been installed.

Greenhouse sweetpeas

I was worried they were getting a bit leggy, but they had great root systems and the already tall stems meant they all got tied into our support system.

by late April, through May, and into June, these plants will be producing Winter Sunshine Opal and cream blooms, like these ones from last year.

Winter sunshine sweet peas

I've also been creating some winter farewell flowers. There are bunches of daffs and bouquets back in the local village store, and the anemones and ranunculus are looking promising to get my florists season going as soon as April arrives.

Jan blog montage

Even though the ground is too frozen to plant anything, we've had a delivery of wood chip so we can start making more (weed free) paths. I've been keeping myself busy by doing some Garden consultations, which means i've got planting plans to design over the next week.

I've also spoken to Florists at Hadlow College about British Flowers, and i'll be talking to the career course students at the

Jay Archer Floral Design Flowers School next Monday. Good job the planting plans for the field are almost there now, and the Tax return is filed!


A book about British Flowers for florists

One of the most frequent questions that i'm asked is.

"what will be flowering in pink in June?"

closely followed by

"when will Dahlias be flowering?"

Pink in June

(Pink in June suggestions - Campanula, Sweet Pea Opal, Digitalis Excelsior, Rosa Eglantine, Paony (unknown variety propagated from my garden) or Sweet Williams, Nigella, Cornflowers, and Iceland poppies.

If you replace the pink and June with other colours/ shades and months, Or replace the word Dahlia with any other flower name, you get the majority of the questions that I'm asked by florists. It's not that they haven't bothered finding out, there isn't currently any one document or book that tells florists when the natural flowering time for each variety of British Grown Cut flower is.

So i've written one.

Well if i'm being accurate, i've been helped by Vanessa Birley and Emma Davies to get to the point where we have a huge amount of written material and photos ready to be published. The next part to get to the point where we have a physical book in our hands is going to take a bit longer, but those Questions still exist, so as well as the book we've set up a blog.

As well as information about the flowers that are available all through the year grown by commercial and artisan growers all over the UK, we'll have interviews with Growers, and Florists who regularly use British Flowers. 

We've been lucky enough to work with some amazing florists during the last year to create Photo shoots to show off the best of British throughout  the season, and the blog will enable us to show you the behind the scenes shots from the shoots as well as the beautiful displays that they created in different styles.

Every single flower photo and display in the book has been created with Only British Grown Flowers, the majority of them grown at Hill top farm in Surrey. 

I could go on an on about the book, as it is my baby that i've spent plenty of late nights and early mornings on, but not all of you that read this blog are florists or floral arrangers, which is who the book is mainly aimed at. So i'm going to make sure that this blog continues giving you information about what i'm doing at the farm, and the flowers that are my favourites, and how i grow them.

If you are interested in a comprehensive guide of the flowers, fillers and foliage that are available each month grown in the UK, and want to know more about when the book will be published, please do bookmark the blog, and sign up so we can let you know our progress. (email will ONLY be used for information about The British Flowers book)

PS my first Dahlia sales date to Florists was really early in 2016 on the 21st July.