In Flower Farming There Are Good Days And Bad Days…..

Today would go down as one of those not so good days in flower farming. I have found from the start that it is a rollercoaster of a ride where one minute every thing is great, happy flowers and therefore happy me. The next day some weather or gardening disaster can have occurred and my stress levels go through the roof! Things have been going pretty well this season so far, my spring flowers have been beautiful and smelled amazing. Today I was planning to do more potting on of my seedlings while Erin was at nursery but I thought first I would have a look at my tulips. For a couple of days now I have been in a bit of denial but this morning on closer inspection I could ignore no longer that I too had the dreaded tulip fire in some of my beds.

Tulip Fire is a tulip disease where a fungus called Botrytis tulipae attacks the growing tulips leaves. The leaves look withered and have brown spots on them, the flowers don’t open properly and may have spots on them too. They can get covered in fungus although I haven’t seen this as the weather has been so dry. Here are some pictures of some of my affected tulips.

The only solution is to dig out all the tulips in those beds and the soil surrounding the roots and give the bed a really good digging over. You then cannot plant tulips back in the same place for the next three years as the fungus can linger that long.  It was hard work digging over the beds this morning and just when you think you have all the tulip bulbs up you dig again and find another one! It makes you realise just how many you planted. I did have some friendly garden birds sitting beside me who were very happy I was digging up fresh worms for them to eat!

I have lost 3 beds to tulip fire this year but I do have my largest remaining bed in a different part of the garden with some beautiful tulips flowering now so all is not lost! These beauties will be on the stall this weekend.

So what can you do to prevent tulip fire? It is recommended planting your tulips as late as possible as the fungus spreads less in cold soil. Frustratingly I have made sure each year I did this by not planting tulips until late November or December. The problem is our winters are getting milder and we are not getting the cold spells needed for our tulips. Also you must check the quality of each bulb before planting, they should be nice and firm with no signs of fungus.

It is very disheartening to have to dig up whole beds of tulips you have invested in and it does leave me with the question are tulips worth growing? The advantages are they are beautiful, they provide me with early season flowers and they look lovely in bouquets and bridal flowers. I also really like them and as a flower farmer you should love what you grow! On the other hand they are a massive cost each year and if you cannot sell the flowers it is a big loss to your business. I will have to go away and have a think over the summer about tulips and whether an early, beautiful but risky flower is worth another shot?! What do you think?

Catherine x

 

 

A good beginning to spring

We are definitely not home and dry yet as there are still many early spring days left and plenty time for a good storm. But so far this April the weather has been kind. It has not been warm enough to plant anything out yet, but it has been dry during the day so that I can get the beds prepared and ready to go. We have enjoyed some lovely walks, runs and bike rides in the beautiful countryside round about. If only it was this sunny all the time!

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During term time I feel like I am on a rollercoaster travelling at high speed with no time to stop and think. We go from one activity to the next and Cloudberry Flowers gets fitted in around a hectic family life. Last week was different the girls have gone to their grannies for a couple of days and I just gardened not stop! To have that solid uninteruupted time was really precious and I got so much done! The beds are weeded in the flower patch ready for planting, the sweet pea supports are in, hardy plants are planted, the much neglected rockery is weeded, the last dahlias are potted up, seedlings watered, seed sowing is more up to date and I have found time to write my blog!

At this time of year there are just so many daily jobs to do that it feels nice to be on top of things, if even for a sort while! So what else has been happening these last few weeks at Cloudberry Flowers?

Erin helped me with the potting up of the dahlia ‘sausages’ and I was amazed she stuck at it until the compost ran out and we had 46 done! I think she was amazed that such strange looking things could produce flowers! I got the rest potted up this week once the compost supply got replenished. They are amazing as a couple of days was all it took for new shoots to be sprouting.

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The daffodils have been in full bloom and my new favourites this year are the double whites, just gorgeous! Something has been nibbling the narcissus though and I think it might be pigeons. I wish I could have got a picture of our latest garden rabbit who has been sitting on the other side of the fence from the daffodils just staring in on a couple of different mornings. Thank goodness for fencing, even if it is just temporary netting and a few canes.

I have started sowing the half hardy annuals now with cosmos germinating quickly on the heated propagator bed. The conservatory is stuffed to the gunnels with seedlings and I am looking forward to the weather warming up at night so I can harden them off and get them planted outside.

I have planted lots of new roses and created a new bed for them in an unused bit of ground in the flower patch. I can’t wait to see these new varieties flower and mature over the next couple of years.

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Its time to start hardening off some plants for going to their permanent homes outside in the next few weeks, such as ammi majus and sweet peas. Last year the weather wasn’t good and the sweet peas sulked for a good while and never recovered. I know they are supposed to tolerate colder weather but I am just holding off that wee bit longer this year to see if it makes a difference. In the meantime I have got the sweet pea supports in place and I will bring up some barrow loads of compost in the next day or two to add to their planting site.

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I was excited for Carol from Carols Creations when her pop up shop opened on the Northgate recently. She is stocking some of my pressed flower cards and petal confetti alongside lots of other fantastic products made by local people and her own range of fantastic candles and flowers. Pop in and have a look if you are passing.

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This week I am putting my sempervivum plants on the stall for the first time. I found some tiny ones hiding in our rockery and wondered what they were. Since then I have found a new passion in the garden and started growing these over the winter. They are really easy to care for plants with amazing texture and leaves that have the ability to change their colour in the sunshine. The parent plant produces offsets which you can separate and grow on as individual new plants.

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I have been making more pressed flower cards using the flowers in the garden that are coming into bloom. These are for sale on Etsy, on the stall and in Carol’s shop. I love experimenting with the new flowers and seeing which press well and which don’t.

I have enjoyed being in touch with my brides for this coming year and making plans for the flowers for their weddings. It is always an exciting time thinking of what special flowers to grow for them and what combinations would look good with each other and fit in with their colour schemes.

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The stall is back up and running every Friday to Sunday and I can now take orders for bouquets too. It has been lovely after a long winter to see the flowerings blooming and get creative again. I am enjoying the perk too of any unsold flowers in the house which smell amazing!

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This weekend I tried out my strimmer on the flower patch paths for the first time. I think I need lessons! It’s quite difficult to strim only thre grass and not the flowers! After decapitating some alliums I thought I had better stop before I cut all the flowers! I will try again when I have less of an audience as Anna thought it was great fun watching mum wielding a strimmer.

Kirsten was also excited this weekend as it was the first time her legs had been long enough to work the pedals on the sit on lawn mower on her own. You should have seen her motoring round the garden with a big grin on her face paying no attention to Robert who is jumping up and down at the sidelines hoping for the best and trying to get her to go in a straight line and slow down enough to make the corners!

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Now that I have got on top of the garden I need to be patient and not plant out too soon. It is still far too cold in the mornings and I think they would get too much of a shock if I did. I am going to keep myself occupied with more seed sowing and watering, some family Easter time and I am looking forward to the Flowers from the Farm Scottish Growers meet up in a couple of weeks time. I’ll leave you with some pictures of the lovely Easter flowers there will be on the stall which have just come into bloom in the garden.


Happy Easter and enjoy the nice dry weather for getting in your own gardens.

Catherine x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March at Cloudberry Flowers

March means waiting…. It is a time of year for me when I go through a right mixture of emotions. I can be frustrated, disheartened and lacking in patience one day and feel happy, excited and hopeful the next.

Today was a great day. It was sunny and I got so much done. I dug another bed for my perennials I use for cutting. I did think I was done cutting beds but you can never have too many, so just one more for now! I got it planted up  and then divided a lot of perennials and transplanted them. I finished off the afternoon helping Kirsten sow some seeds for her garden.

Not every day is so productive and February and the beginning of March can feel like the hardest months as I just want to get going and I can’t. If I sow my seeds too early they will be too leggy trying to reach the little light there is or get bitten by a frost. Unexpected snow or really rainy days hamper what I can do outside when there is so much to be done. It all feels rather frustrating!

Its not all doom and gloom at this time of year though! There have been glimpses of sun now and again. I have been able to grab my spade put on my oldest clothes and take advantage of these nice spells. Digging, weeding and transplanting plants for all its worth. I tend to completely overdo it on these brief nice days and often end up eating a lot of chocolate and having hot baths at night to ease those aching muscles. Who needs the gym when you can garden! I love these times with the sun on your back digging and a robin just perched watching you nearby. Often I might see a frog or a mouse jumping out from nowhere and the birds are starting to sing in the trees. Its peaceful and my happy place.

Flower growing is a lot of hard graft and sometimes you just have one of those days. I raced out to the garden last weekend when the weather was dry and the girls had thought it would be fun to soak themselves as much as they could washing our cars. I managed to mend some arches, tie in roses, transplant plants and was feeling rather chuffed with the amount I had done! This was followed by a swinging branch in my eye and skidding on the slippy stones and ending up flat on my back. Feeling more than a little bit sore I suddenly realised I had gardened for far longer than I thought and I would have some very hungry children if I didn’t get on to tea fast. Learning to slow down just a touch might help sometimes as I raced to cook tea and rubbed chilli in my remaining good eye! That night sitting down at tea I was exhausted and sore but feeling otherwise great. I had got so much done. My kids had been happy all afternoon playing in water and I finally had some beds that had more plants than weeds. I had new homes for plants that had just been in the wrong place before and I had noticed so much new spring growth in the garden.

I might find March frustrating at times due to the weather but when we got some unexpected snow a few weeks ago it was undoubtedly beautiful and gave everyone the chance to have some fun.

Once the snow had melted a week later I was delighted to walk around our garden and see some of my favourite flowering perennials showing their first signs of new growth. The photo below shows some of these including my peonies, geum and astrantia.

The bulbs are definitely coming along nicely now too, although I think we are maybe a week or two behind last year. I am looking forward to all the tulips blooming for bouquets and the  muscari, fritillary and hyacinths for my jam jar posies.

I do like to grow perennials from seed and there is nothing more exciting and rewarding than seeing a plant a couple of years on coming back up through the ground after the winter. This is especially because some perennials are just so difficult to grow from seed, like astrantia. The photo below shows some polemonium, feverfew and aquilegia I had previously grown from seed just putting on their new seasons growth now.

Seed sowing is a magical exciting time for me. After all that waiting and trying to be patient I can finally get going. This year I held off as long as I could, which I think was longer than last year! The dining room table is covered in every kind of seed you can imagine and so far I am managing to stick to my resolution of filling in my planting planner and labelling. Let’s see in April if I am still managing to keep that one up! Hardy annuals is all I am sowing just now. They are the plants that will survive a little frost. The more tender annuals I will start off later, closer to the time of planting out. From the last few years I have worked out that I don’t want to plant out anything tender before the 1st of June unless I have it in a tunnel.

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I have resisted putting up most of my low tunnels this year. Last year when I did storms in March ripped them apart, I was gutted and I don’t want the same devastation again. I may just lay fleece over my plants and put up the tunnels in late April when I think the worst of the winter weather is past. More than ever I have to watch the weather forecasts carefully at this time of year, watching for high winds and frosts. Being caught unaware from these I could lose all the flowers I have worked so hard to grow. The photo below shows my one concession to the tunnels so far but it is more of a rabbit deterrent than frost protection. The rabbits got in the fenced off area again and sheared off the tops of a bed of plants one night. You can just see some of the nibbled stalks in the bottom right hand corner! I think it was early enough in the year that they will recover and catch up by putting new growth on now as the weather warms. It is strange but our neighbours don’t have the same problem with rabbits that we do. They put it down to having a cat. That would be an easy solution if Robert wasn’t so allergic to them! Now when I remember I am trying to shut our front gates at night to help keep them out. It is at this time they all run down the hill from the high school playing fields to find their favourite garden! Even with the gates shut they still find a way in so all we can do is keep fencing them out my flowers. It’s not very aesthetically pleasing but it’s the best hope we have for my flowers.

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Also this month with the help of Robert we moved the stall. I have been meaning to do this for ages. Last year I had it on the gravel on the left as you come in the driveway. It was a good spot for it but it was in direct sunlight. I am really proud of my flowers being the freshest you can buy as I cut them straight from the garden where they are growing. But I need to keep them like this once they are arranged and that means keeping them out of the sun. Putting the stall facing the opposite way on the other side of the drive keeps the flowers away from the heat. Robert probably feels the stall is like our piano which has shifted rooms many times since we moved in! I am hoping that its new spot on the opposite side of the driveway will be its final home and no more heavy lifting will be required! It just needs a lick of paint when the weather warms up a bit and it will be good to go for the new season.

The photo below shows the stall in its new position on the right hand side as you go in the driveway . Today was the first day we had some real sun and I was really pleased to see my flowers on the stall nicely shaded whilst the old spot the stall was in had the sun coming right down on it. It was worth the heavy lifting to move it.

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Another important job to be done in March was to plant a bed of raspberries with the girls. We had enjoyed growing these in our old house and it was something the girls particularly missed. We have just planted 26 canes of Glen Ample and I had lots of help from my able assistants. We are looking forward to enjoying some family fruit in the coming years. The next stage here will be to build a fruit cage to protect our crop.

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For the rest of this month I will keep my seed sowing going. As soon as one tray germinates on the heated bed, off it comes and new seeds go on. Some seeds are amazing and germinate in 48 hours, others could take up to a month. Its like Christmas going in each morning to see which seedlings have popped up overnight! The photo below shows the heated sand bed I germinate many of my seeds on. It is usually covered in clear plastic lids or bubble wrap to keep it humid and moist. Some seeds are also in the airing cupboard in the dark, the fridge and the freezer. They all like different things and you have to cater to their needs if you are going to be successful!

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For the first time since I started growing flowers Mothers Day is quite late this year and I am hoping to have some baskets of flowering bulbs on the stall to bring a little bit of seasonal spring colour to our local hardworking mums. I will also have pressed flower cards, jam jar posies and bunches of daffodils available . These jam jar posies below were for this weeks stall. It was so nice to see a bit of colour coming into the garden and enough freshly cut homegrown flowers to work with again. The stall is hidden away in a quiet street so please do let your friends and family know where to find it so they can enjoy really fresh flowers and homegrown handmade products too.

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I have been excited to be working on my newsletter this week which I am hoping I will have ready in the next few days. It will be for anyone to subscribe to with their email and I will give you monthly updates on whats happening at Cloudberry Flowers, flowers that have come into bloom that will be for sale, news of any special offers or events and my top tips of the month for flowers and gardening.

By my next blog in April we will be back in the full swing of it, longer days, pretty flowers blooming and hopefully a little sunshine! These last few months of winter can feel long but life has a habit of moving along and before you know it the new season is off and its full speed ahead.

My journey into the wonderful world of wedding flowers

Providing natural seasonal homegrown and freshly cut flowers for weddings is the best and most fulfilling part of my job as a flower grower. I have been lucky to go on a journey that has taken me from growing just a few flowers for myself, to making jam jar posies for friends, all the way to growing and arranging flowers for weddings. Here is my story….

The photographs above are some of my highlights from my weddings in 2016. What a journey it has been for me and my flowers!

Photography credit (bottom left, bottom right, top right photographs) Story of Love Wedding Photography by Natalie Martin

I will always remember seeing my wedding flowers for the first time. They were delivered early in the morning, before the champagne had been opened and before putting my dress on. Lifting the lid on the box in the garage where they had been put to keep cool, they took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. My mum and dads love of their gardens and my mums roses had been passed on to me. My dad had always been very good at giving my mum flower bouquets too, just because…  and I grew up loving the flowers in our house and garden. On my wedding day they felt like a special gift I had been given. They were very typical of the time and structured formally as a shower bouquet, a world away from the options for flowers you can have now and what I grow for my brides! At that moment of peeking at my flowers for the first time I could never have imagined the changes to my life that were going to happen, bringing me back to the flowers that I loved and the chance to create magical wedding bouquets of my very own.


My enjoyment of gardening was put on hold in my twenties as I pursued a fulfilling career as a dietitian  in hospitals in Gloucestershire, living in flats with no garden. Our first home had a tiny garden and with the arrival of my first baby girl there wasn’t much time to dedicate to gardening!  It wasn’t until an unexpected relocation to Peebles and later finding our forever home that I the chance to rekindle my passion for gardening. What followed was a lot of reading, trial and error growing and learning on the job. Sometimes the challenges of the weather, slugs, earwigs and rabbits just about had me giving in to them. I was determined they wouldn’t beat me and with a lot of blood, sweat and tears by 2015 I had started to grow enough flowers that the possibility of providing them for weddings was a reality.

I had an idea in my mind of the kind of bridal bouquets I wanted to provide, full of scented garden flowers with a just picked natural look to them. A bouquet that would remind brides of flowers they may have had memories of growing up, perhaps from a holiday they had been on or their mums or grannies gardens. A buttonhole that was full of scent and a bit of rosemary for remberance. Tables of jam jar posies full of natural scented beautiful flowers to provide a talking point but not be overwhelming. A miniature posy for a flower girl or a basket of confetti full of petals, naturally dried from the garden.

In September 2015 my dreams of wedding flowers became reality with my first booking at the beautiful Hartree Estate. I was unbelievably nervous before hand, strangely not so much about the arranging which has been largely self taught and should have been more nerve wracking, but about the weather! I am a girl that likes to be organised and in control and the weather I can’t control at all! On that occasion I need not have worried, the weather behaved and once I had got those flowers safely cut I could relax a bit. I was so proud of the flowers all grown by me from tiny seeds into amazingly beautiful bridal flowers. Months of hard work in all weathers and at all times of the day had been worth it and it made me so happy that other people loved my flowers as much as I did.

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2016 was my first full season for providing wedding flowers. I have loved every minute of it, the challenges, the uniqueness of every wedding, the amount I have learned. Being able to provide beautiful flowers I have grown from a tiny seed and seeing how happy they make people is just magical.

Couples who have chosen natural homegrown flowers from me for their wedding have often had their ceremonies in some pretty spectacular locations, from a windswept scottish beach, to a tipi covered in fairy lights with log fires and lanterns at the Hartree Estate or the top of a Scottish hill with amazing views. I love how weddings have evolved and now there is not just the option of a church or registry office ceremony followed by a reception in a local hotel. Now a wedding can be a reflection of a couples personality and as a girl who loves the outdoors and anything natural, vintage and rustic it is amazing to be able to be a part of these special days.

Photography credit (photograph on the right) Story of Love Wedding Photography by Natalie Martin

What have I learned about providing flowers for weddings?

The thing about growing flowers is they never do what they are supposed to do! You can’t predict them and you definitely can’t guarantee that a particular flower will definitely be in bloom on a persons wedding day, especially when you are growing flowers in Scotland. There will always be flowers and they will be beautiful but not necessarily the ones you imagine would be out at the time. The first thing I needed to do was grow enough to ensure that there would always be a plentiful supply for the weddings I do. By the end of 2015 the part of the field that was left as the girls play area had been turned into more beds for flowers and this year I have some new beds in the front garden too for even more flowers.

The weather is my biggest challenge as a flower grower for weddings in Scotland. My flowers can be growing really well only to be blasted by unforeseen snow, gale force winds or driving rain. I can control a lot of things with my growing but I can’t alter nature and the weather so I do need a back up to ensure no bride will be without flowers on her big day. I tell all my couples that whilst I will do everything in my power to provide all the flowers from my garden, in the event of adverse weather I may need to source some from other growers or wholesalers.

I only do weddings within the growing season when there will be flowers in bloom, April to September. October and March are possibilities but the chances of having to rely on flowers from wholesalers as well as my own becomes greater as well as more limited options for varieties of flowers. Sometimes even in my growing season there can be challenges. Last May I did a wedding for a lovely couple who were looking forward to their ceremony on the beach. I was well into my season with my tulips, narcissi, muscari and other spring flowers coming along beautifully and everything was looking good for my couples big day. The week before the snow came unexpectedly!

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Sitting at the tea table with the girls they suddenly heard their mum shrieking ‘it’s snowing!’ I disappeared out the back door at top speed to do battle with tunnels to put over the flowers and save them from impending disaster! That was a tough week battling with the weather, being constantly vigelent and making sure the tunnels didn’t collapse under the weight of the snow. The flowers were protected well and the following week I was so happy to be able to use these tough homegrown scottish flowers to make some beautiful spring wedding flowers, including hellebores, tulips and narcissi. Amazingly my couple had their beach wedding and you would never have known it snowed the week before!

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I have also learned a lot about flower girls and flowers. One of the things I was lucky enough to be able to do was provide flowers for a family wedding this year. As my children were flower girls and I was a guest at the ceremony and reception I could watch how much the flowers were dropped, thrown, picked out the bouquet and generally bashed about all day as the flower girls spent time running around enjoying themselves. I did learn for the future that tight binding and use of my most robust flowers in bloom at the time would be essential! A basket of Cloudberry Flowers confetti petals for a flower girl may well be a good option too!

Couples can choose to order buckets of DIY flowers from me to arrange themselves. One of the times this works well is if you would like homegrown flowers but you are not having your wedding locally. You can pick the flowers up a couple of days before the wedding and they keep fresh in their buckets of water until you want to arrange them. Some couples like to arrange all their wedding flowers themselves and DIY buckets are perfect for them. For others they might want to do a bit themselves. I have provided flowers in buckets for a couple to arrange on their tables which can be done a day or two before the wedding and then I have arranged the bridal flowers and buttonholes. Last year one family came to pick up the flowers and then decided they wanted more buckets and could I cut some right then?  A year before I would have had to say no as there would not have been enough flowers left. It was a real turning point for me as I was able to say no problem at all. Even though I had cut their buckets of wedding flowers I still had plenty more in the flower patch.

At Cloudberry Flowers I am probably best known locally for my jam jar posies as that is where I started and I am delighted to make these for the table arrangements at a wedding. They add a bit of country garden style to your tables and the great thing about them is they are at a low level. I have been to weddings before with a great tall arrangement in the centre of the table, beautiful but it completely blocks you from seeing someone opposite you and talking to them! These table arrangements in the photograph below are all just freshly cut and arranged from the garden and ready to be delivered to a wedding.

I can provide jam jar arrangements for weddings on their own or as part of a complete package with other bridal flowers. I can also fill special vases of your own with beautiful homegrown flowers. Last year I had a bride who had her bridal flowers done by the very talented Emma from Stems and I filled vases that the bride had collected with beautiful homegrown flowers for her tables. Here is a picture from my first wedding at Hartree where the bride provided some special vases of her own for me to fill with flowers.

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Natural petal confetti is romantic, beautiful, biodegradable, eco friendly and fun to have at your wedding. I have so enjoyed making my very own Cloudberry Flowers Confetti made from homegrown and handpicked petals that I naturally dry. I have experimented with different flowers I have grown from seed and different types of roses to see which dries best and now have my favourites to put together. Without the conservatory and airing cupboard at home I would never have managed to make the confetti successfully. There is a fair bit of grumbling from the girls that I have taken over the one warm room in the house with my petals. I can understand their complaints! Living in a cold old house it is nice to go in the conservatory in the summer but homegrown confetti is so beautiful I think it’s worth a bit of taking over! If I have an order far enough in advance I have also been able to adjust the petal mix to a brides chosen colours. You can collect it as much as a month or two before your wedding as it stores well if kept in a dry place out of sunlight. I have planted more roses this winter that I hope will make some great confetti and for the foreseeable future the airing cupboard won’t have any towels in it!

I couldn’t choose a favourite wedding from last season. They were all so unique, beautiful and special in their own way. I loved being able to work with different combinations and varieties of flowers with each wedding. That is what is so unique about using homegrown flowers, a wedding one week will have completely different flowers to the next as the season moves on. I had so many milestones from travelling with wedding flowers to a different part of Scotland, making my first flower crown, using different decorations from twine such as silk ribbon in my bouquets, learning how to transport buttonholes in water, using my homegrown roses in bouquets, making large volumes of confetti for weddings. Next year I know there will be new challenges too and I am looking forward to learning new things and working on the skills I have already learned.

Here are some of my favourite homegrown seasonal bridal bouquets from 2016.

Travelling and storing flowers in summer overnight was a new challenge for me. Just to be completely on the safe side I had the car as cold as possible for the couple of hours journey north. We were frozen through by the time we got there but the flowers were just fine! Initially I had planned to use a garage to store them in as it would be safe, secure and I thought cold as my one was at home. I had not thought at all that my garage works at home for me as it is made of old stone and is very cold, a new build homes garage connected to the house is warm! I was able to speak to the hotel and use their cold cellar in the end, but it did make me think for next time. I loved the combinations of flowers in this wedding bouquets with feverfew, cornflower, lavender, sweet peas and nigella all bound with different shades of lilac plant dyed natural ribbon or twine. The flower girl posies were bright and cheerful to go with their dresses and the sweet william, cornflowers and hare’s tail grass worked really well in the buttonholes, which had survived well in a little water overnight.

Flowers in your hair as a bride can be stunning. My challenge has been finding homegrown ones that are robust enough to last out of water and stay in place during the day. I can provide individually wired flowers for a brides hair and the hairdresser can add these in as she does your hair.

My biggest achievement from a floristry point of view was making my first flower crown. I had to teach myself how to make these and did many a trial run before working out which garden flowers were robust enough to last out of water and cope with a windswept hill where the ceremony was going to be. I knew I wanted the crown to be beautiful, scented and also minimalistic. You can make flower crowns with large flowers but I wanted my crowns to look subtle and delicate. I was able to use some beautiful smaller flowers and herbs to make it and the best bit for me was my bride later telling me she had still been wearing it dancing at night! It lasted all that time and proved that homegrown flowers can be robust as well as delicate.

Photography credit (top photographs and bottom left) Story of Love Wedding Photography by Natalie Martin

As well as providing the bridal flowers for weddings I can also provide confetti and natural rustic buttonholes or ladies pinned corsages for guests going to a wedding. Please just get in touch anytime to order these all year round. Today I have just been putting together some buttonholes for a winter wedding.

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Here are a selection of buttonholes I have made and at the bottom of the photographs is one of my ladies corsages with homegrown roses and my individual boxes of confetti.

So what next for Cloudberry Flowers and my seasonal homegrown flowers for weddings?

My diary is starting to fill up with bookings for 2017 and 2018 but I still have availability if you would like to get in touch. I am happy to take bookings for DIY buckets, jam jar table arrangements and confetti as well as fuller bespoke packages for you.

Each of the weddings I have to look forward to are all unique, some with just requests for confetti or buckets of flowers and others for a full wedding service from growing the flowers right through to arranging them. I am excited to be providing the flowers for weddings at the Hartree Estate, located close to the town of Biggar. It is a stunning location for a wedding with exceptional hospitality, food and entertainment and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Here at Cloudberry Flowers I can help you with your wedding and you will be choosing flowers that have been grown with a whole lot of love, dedication and passion. From a tiny seed you could have flowers like this…..

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For more information about Cloudberry Flowers Weddings please take a look at my Wedding page on this WordPress site. You can also get in touch via email for a copy of this years wedding guide and more information about what I can provide for you.

Email: Catherine at cloudberryflowers@gmail.com or call 07813700786

If you would like to find out more about weddings at The Hartree Estate, their website is http://www.hartree-estates.co.uk

You can find out more about Natalie Martin’s Wedding Photography at her website http://www.storyoflove.co.uk

 

Looking back and looking forward

My blog is a bit like a diary to me and not a very well kept up one at that! It is two months since I last wrote anything so I know this piece is in danger of being very long. I have a tendency to write everything I am thinking down as if I was catching up with an old friend I hadn’t seen for a long time! Read on for a round up of Cloudberry Flowers past, present and future.

Here we are post Christmas. I have eaten far too many naughty but nice things, exercised far less than usual and spent more time indoors playing lots of new board games with the girls. I now have very itchy feet to be outside and getting going in the garden.

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December was amazing. I was so pleased people liked the Christmas homegrown items I had been making. Everyones favourites were jam jar posies with narcissus and foliage I had grown, wreaths made with garden moss and foliage, Christmas potpourri, hyacinth bulb baskets I had forced and the alliums I had grown, dried and sprayed. I have always loved Christmas and this year I was able to indulge myself in a whole month of being creative. I was so caught up in Cloudberry Flowers at Christmas it was the first time ever that I have not readjusted the decorations on the Christmas tree after the girls had gone to bed. I think I liked it better with several decorations to one branch anyway! By the end of the month I was happy but pretty tired!

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After a very hectic December I did want to have a proper rest over the Christmas holidays and it was time to put Cloudberry Flowers away for just a wee while. This I seem to find completely impossible to do. It is a part of me I can’t put down and quite often when I am least expecting it a new idea will pop into my head and I want to write it down before I forget. Or I see something in someone’s garden and I think I would like to grow that and have to go off and identify it! This year the schools went back much later than last year and once we were into January I definitely had given in completely to no more Cloudberry Flowers over the holidays. I was lured by the temptation of the seed catalogues and I even managed to persuade the girls it would be fun to be out in the flower patch with mum and collect seeds for a while. The novelty of wielding a pair of sharp garden scissors and seeing if you could collect a larger box of seeds than your sister held out for a wee while whilst I tackled a badly neglected patch overrun with weeds, with never ending roots. It felt so good to be outdoors digging!

I am very fortunate to live in a town full of inspirational woman and friends. These women manage to juggle family life with careers but also have a dedication to getting out in the great outdoors on their mountain bikes or running. I am in awe of this commitment to their sport no matter what the weather. It is fair to say that I do not have the same dedication to these popular sports in Peebles and instead I would best describe me as dabbling in them now and again!

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The one thing I need no motivation for though is my flower patch. No matter whether it is snowing, blowing a gale or pouring with rain I am happy to be out there gardening and I feel lucky to have found something that I love in life. When a job advert came out for a dietitian last year it made me question should I return to this for the job security, regular income and the pension it would provide? My feelings were I would take the uncertainty of my world in Cloudberry Flowers any day, just to keep doing a job I love in the great outdoors surrounded by the flowers I love to grow.

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New Year is a time to make a fresh start, make some resolutions and plans for the coming year. Once I get the decorations packed away and family and friends have gone home it really does feel like a fresh start for me with the start of a new growing season. I feel full of anticipation and excitement and the garden is full of new possibilities.

Just now I am spending time looking back over the last year for Cloudberry Flowers and what worked and what didn’t. I have started sowing sweet pea seeds and next week I will start getting the beds in the flower patch ready for when I plant seedlings out in the spring. Although the stall is not open at this time of year and there are no flowers to buy it is a busy time behind the scenes as there is so much digging, weeding, mulching, pruning, cleaning and sowing seeds to be done.

What an amazing year I have just had though. I cannot believe how far my wee business has come and I am so proud of Cloudberry Flowers.  The photo below shows the field back in 2014 before the beginning of cloudberry Flowers and now you can see the cutting garden it has become, where all your flowers are grown. So what is next for this coming year?

The garden gate stall will be back in March with my jam jar posies and small bunches. The most popular days that people buy flowers were Fridays and Saturdays last year, so I am going to keep the opening times for this Fridays-Sundays, March-November.

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I would love to do more garden bouquets to order and offer delivery in the local area. I loved making these last year as everyone I made was different depending on what was in bloom and they were a really lovely gift for a special occasion. Made to order bouquets and jam jar posies will be available 7 days a week.

My petal confetti sold really well for weddings and events last year particularly in the larger bags. I would like to continue making as much confetti as I can, even if I do take over the house with it! If you would like some for your wedding please just get in touch.

I was most proud of the flowers I grew and arranged for weddings last year. Every wedding was different and it was such a privilege to provide the flowers for a couples special day. This year I have more weddings booked and again these vary from providing DIY buckets of flowers to growing and arranging all the wedding flowers. If you or someone you know is getting married and would be interested in natural homegrown flowers please just get in touch as there are still some dates free this year. Look out for my blog in February which will be about all the amazing weddings I provided flowers for last season.

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I was so pleased that other people have liked my pressed flower cards as much as I have enjoyed making them. I still need to work on how to sell these, as the stall isn’t always practical if the weather is bad. They are available all year round even when the stall is shut so ideally I need to look into somewhere to sell them from. My Etsy shop was my way of being able to sell my cards to people that follow Cloudberry flowers, but who do not live locally. To begin with I was disappointed and thought it just wasn’t go to work. There were no sales and not many views. I thought there was just too much competition and my products were not being seen. I was on the verge of closing that outlet for my cards and confetti when I got my first sale and since then I have had a few more. I am hoping it will start getting easier for my products to be seen and I felt so proud that my cards were being ordered and sent throughout the UK and the USA.

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I have had two full flower seasons now and I am beginning to get a good idea of the flowers that are consistently good for me that I grow, the ones that are more of a challenge and the ones that I just can’t grow at all!

This year I am going to grow more of what I am good at, cornflowers, phacelia, ammi, cosmos, corncockle, eryngium, snapdragons and nigella.

I am going to stop growing some flowers all together such as stocks, they just don’t work for me!  Some flowers such as sweet peas, larkspur and dahlias I love but they were somewhat of a challenge last year.

In my first season my sweet peas were amazing and last year they were a disaster. I couldn’t work out why as I wasn’t doing anything differently. I could only put it down to the poor weather we had over the summer. I am not going to let them beat me as I love them too much and have just planted the first batch of 120 seeds today. Fingers crossed!

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Larkspur is one of my favourite flowers for bouquets and making my confetti but I just cannot seem to grow it in any volume. It really frustrates me and is one of my main challenges for this coming season.

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I have fallen in love with dahlias but not with the slugs and earwigs that plagued them last year. I would say half my flowers were badly eaten which I was so disappointed by. Like the sweet peas in my first season of growing them this had not been a problem. I am going to try again this year and use every trick in the book I know to keep them at bay!

I love my homegrown flowers and I would love it if they were more accessible to people and less reliance was put on foreign imports. As I start to increase the volume of flowers I grow over the next few years I have wondered if local florists would be interested in buying my homegrown flowers when they are available, as well as those from their wholesalers. I have had some interest from one local florist who does some amazing creations so this could be an exciting new opportunity.

A date for your diary for next year is the 6th of August. I will be opening my garden for charity as part of Scotland Gardens. It will be for one afternoon and my garden along with three others in Peebles will be open. It is a chance to see where I grow my flowers and also an opportunity to see some other hidden gems in Peebles, all beautifully kept by their owners and offering something different to see. There will be tea, cake, flowers and plants for sale too and more information will be available nearer the time.

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It is going to be an exciting and life changing year for me. Cloudberry Flowers I am hoping will continue to grow and my youngest daughter Erin will be off to school in August. It will be the first time in 11 years that I will not have had any of the girls at home with me during the day. I think you will know where to fine me though!

All my best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

Catherine xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My new Etsy shop https://CloudberryFlowers.etsy.com 

I’ve been feeling excited this week after opening my Etsy shop yesterday. I wanted my pressed flower cards and real petal confetti to be available to customers that were not just local to where I live. Etsy seemed the perfect place to start selling online as it champions homemade and vintage products.

So far I am selling my pressed flower cards and individual boxes of confetti. By the end of the week I am hoping to have my 1 litre bags of confetti and gift boxes of cards available there too.

As the flower season draws to a close for this year it has made me focus on how I can make my homegrown flowers last longer than the short growing season. For me pressing flowers and drying petals for confetti has allowed me to make a piece of my garden last through those cold winter months.

Each box of confetti and card is made with a lot of love. It takes me months to make each one, starting from growing the seeds, nurturing the seedlings, transplanting and growing on the flowers, to finally choosing the perfect ones to cut and then press or dry. It is a process I love from start to finish, although there is a lot of hard work that goes into it and often a few gardening disasters along the way!  I think it’s amazing that a tiny seed can become something so beautiful and my passion for this goes into every plant I grow and all the arrangements, cards and confetti I make.

My new Etsy shop is CloudberryFlowers and you can find it at: https://CloudberryFlowers.etsy.com 

I would love for you to visit and let me know what you think.

Catherine x

The perils of being a flower farmer

I have got used to being covered in bruises, cuts and scrapes since becoming a flower grower. It is not often that a day goes by where I am not scraped by a tree branch or I have slipped in the mud. This Autumn I have added to my list of gardening related injuries by a slightly more unusual mishap! As quite often happens when I am digging in the garden I recently felt some mud fly up and hit my eye. I rubbed it away and didn’t think anymore about it that morning. When I got inside I looked in the mirror to check there wasn’t anything there and my eye looked fine. Robert came home from biking at ten o’clock that night and thought I didn’t look quite right. He couldn’t pinpoint why and never said anything. A few hours after falling asleep I woke up with a sore face and went to peer in the bathroom mirror to find I only had one eye! Poor Robert was rudely awoken from his sleep to the lights blazing and his ever so slightly stressed wife demanding to know why her eye had disappeared! That was the end of any sleep for me and probably Robert that night as my eye continued to swell up. The next day I got some very odd looks on the school run and wondered how long my eye was to go on looking like this. To cut a long story short my eye had disappeared due to a sting on my eyelid which I discovered when the swelling went down and over the next few days my eye gradually reappeared!

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One of the reasons I grow flowers is it does help to increase the population of bees and butterflies in our garden, but that is the second time this summer I have been stung in the flower patch by a bee. Maybe we need to add it to the hazard section of the job description for flower farming!

My disappearing eye definitely caused the most excitement this month in the garden for my children, with Erin just telling me to ‘open your eye mummy’ but other things have been happening too. It is the time of year where the flowers start to slow down but the preparation for next year starts to get going.

We have  been digging up the front lawn again to lay more bulbs for next spring. It does look pretty bad at the moment and it has even been commented on that we been digging a graveyard and burying dead bodies in the garden! However it is amazing how quickly the ground repairs itself and in the spring there will be a good show of beautiful colour there.

I have transplanted honesty, hesperis, sweet william, ammi and cornflower seedlings into their outdoor beds. Last years mild winter meant that these plants survived and I got earlier flowers as a result. Hopefully these ones will overwinter well too. I have kept some insurance seedlings back to stay in the conservatory over the winter just in case the weather is particularly bad. Below you can see some of the transplanted seedlings in the new beds.

       

I have started to dig up and divide established perennials and will soon be mulching those shrubs that are more tender in the garden. Those plants that are particularly susceptible to frost I will dig up and overwinter in the conservatory. Below are some divided achillea that I have planted this week.

The weather was very kind during September and as a result the flowers were just beautiful. Here are a few of my Autumn favourites. I just don’t think there is anything better than the freshest of flowers that have been cut straight from the garden. They are just so vibrant, delicate, scented, colourful and last so long in a vase.

       

Even now half way into October there are still flowers coming out daily in the garden.

   

My thoughts have also turned to Christmas too. It is a while away yet and I am definitely not someone that likes to see the Christmas displays in August in the shops. Far too early! However I have discovered it comes around quickly when you have a lot of flowery things to prepare! I always enjoy making my Christmas wreaths but this year I have been coming up with a few new seasonal flower ventures to try too.

I have been busy creating more pressed flower cards and thinking of new ideas for these. I am really excited by my new project and I really hope that they will take off enough to become a part of Cloudberry Flowers permanently.

The next few weeks will see the last of the flowers for this year. Whilst this is always sad it is such a busy time putting the garden to bed for the winter that I hardly have time to stop and think about it. The last flowers start to become eclipsed by the new seeds pushing through the soil. The very beginnings of a new seasons exciting offerings and I can’t wait.