Catching up with Cloudberry Flowers

Time has ran away with me again and it is a long time since I last wrote on my blog. This has been my 4th growing season and it has been the strangest yet for weather conditions. It has taught me that each year will never be predictable and I will never stop changing what I do and adapting to the weather as it comes.

This spring was very slow in coming with the tulips all blooming in May rather than successionally from late March onwards. I had planted a lot of hyacinths to flower over a few weeks but they all came out in a day. It did mean a lot of wastage as I couldn’t use them all at once in arrangements but they did look beautiful in the flower patch.

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Then we had the arrival of some very good weather which brought all the annuals on quickly. The lack of rain meant many an hour watering outside morning and late evenings. Due to the lack of water some annuals that usually would last months flowering were going over very quickly, with just a single flush of blooms. The sweet peas were the best they had been since I started growing them. They were glorious for a few weeks but then due to the weather the stems got very short and were fine in mini jam jars but couldn’t be used in wedding work.

Summer was beautiful and the flowers were amazing. I spent time on Prince Edward Island in Nova Scotia and came away inspired by the beautiful wild flowers there. The friendly people and magic of the island put it firmly at the top of places I would like to return to. The beauty of its coastlines, fertile farmland and wild flower meadows left me feeling happy, revived and ready to crack on in the garden when I came home.

As soon as the schools went back there was a definite change in the air. Autumn feels it has come very early with much colder mornings and damp dark days. Many of the annuals are slowing down now and it has been a good time to start collecting seeds. I like to make up mixed jars of seeds which make great presents and are available to order now as well as being in my christmas shop.

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The annuals might be slowing down but the autumn flowers are just hitting their stride with chrysanthemums, dahlias, scabious, amaranthus, cosmos and soon to be asters stealing the show.

So what has worked well this season in the unexpected weather? My proudest achievement this year has been my dahlias. The last 4 years I have fallen in love with a frustrating flower I have not been able to grow. I have had minimal flowers for the amount of effort and plants I had been growing.  Any I did have tended to be nibbled by earwigs, slugs and thrips. If I had 1 or 2 perfect flowers I was lucky. This year they have been glorious. That is not to say all of them are perfect, there are still a fair few nibbled ones out there, but I have had many stems of strong beautiful blooms. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason for this as I have changed a few things at the same time. Many but not all of my dahlias are growing in the new front garden flower patch so perhaps the light levels here suit them. Having said that the ones in the initial flower patch have also been good. I have been working on soil improvement a lot with the addition of compost to the beds in the winter. This was the first year I divided my dahlias before potting them up in the spring. I have also been using bloom bags to protect the buds of my wedding flowers from thrips. All of these things may have helped and next year I am full of enthusiasm for expanding these beautiful flowers.

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The sweet peas were the best they have been in the last 4 years and the only reasons I can think of for this are the good weather and the fact that they were planted in the new front garden ‘no dig’ flower beds. I planted some at the back flower patch this year too which were very disappointing in comparison to the ones at the front.

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The ‘no dig’ flower beds have been an amazing success. To think that that part of the garden was just lawn this time last year and now look at what it  has become! I am so happy with the success of these that I want to make some on the right hand side of the garden at the front so we have flowers down both sides. We can’t work out what to do here though as this is where I grow my bulbs and marking out new beds around these is difficult. Maybe a project for the winter.

My garden gate stall has always been just surviving for the last few years. It has had days to weeks of being very quiet with nothing selling and other days where I would sell a few flowers. The bonus for us on the quiet days was getting to enjoy the flowers that did not sell in our home. I have always dreamed of a busy stall with people dropping in to treat themselves, pick up a jar of flowers for a friend or nip in on the way home from work to get some flowers for your partner as a surprise. This year the stall has become busier and I have enjoyed meeting new people popping in. Growing a business takes time and patience and I am so grateful to everyone who has come to support my flowers. So a very big thank you to you if you are a regular customer or have told a friend or relative about it. It means an awful lot!

Another success of the stall as well as being gradually busier is having it open every day. I started this when Erin went to school and it has worked really well. I now know that you like to be able to pick up flowers on weekdays as well as weekends.

This year on the stall as well as liking your jars of mixed flowers you have enjoyed buying dahlias and sweet peas by the stem or as a wee bunch. I would love to know if there are any other varieties of flower you would like me to grow that I could offer by the stem for you to arrange at home or as a wee bunch?

I am hoping there will be a good few weeks of flowers left throughout October and if I am lucky into November. From the 29th September the stall will be moving across the driveway back under the tree to allow builders access where the stall is now. There will still be flowers everyday so please just pop in and you will find it in its new spot.

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As well as the successes there are always some failures in the garden and this year it has been the narcissi and the zinnias. The winter weather went for the daffodils and narcissi and they came through in much smaller numbers and later than usual this year. The zinnias were a flower I grew in my first season. I had a few flowers but they were not very productive and I decided not to grow them in seasons 2 and 3. However I am a bit stubborn and don’t like to be defeated. This year I decided to try again. I thought as Zinnias like sunny weather they would work. Again they have produced very small numbers of flowers on weak stems. I think it is time to let growers in Southern England grow the zinnias and concentrate on the flowers I know grow well here.

The other failure of the year is the grass. You may have noticed it looks more like a field than a lawn! We have had 4 lawnmower break downs this summer including the end of the life of the sit on mower. Some lawnmower incidents definitely come back to the girls and their imaginary games. A metal bar buried from some game in the middle of the grass put paid to the mower at one point. Other problems with the mowers were just unfixable and now we need to find a new sit on mower for the start of the spring next year. In the meantime it has been suggested to us we should get some sheep!

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If you have visited the stall in the last few months you may be be wondering why we have pulled apart the round bed on the opposite side with the oval hedge surrounding it. The bed here contained a number of shrubs which had outgrown their space and the soil was poor for anything to grow in. We have replanted the large shrubs at the bottom of the garden and will flatten this area using the soil elsewhere. Eventually my dream would be to have a greenhouse there with lots of pots of flowers outside that I could take into the greenhouse to overwinter there.

I have enjoyed making gift bouquets this year. The flowers are always special as they are handpicked from the garden to mark an important occasion. You have ordered flowers for birthdays, anniversary’s, moving into a new house, the arrival of a new baby and starting a new job. Sometimes I have arranged flowers as somebody just wants to say thank you or get well soon. I like my bouquets to be as fresh as can be so offer them in water. In the past I have aqua packed them in cellophane but I wanted to reduce my use of this. Now I offer bouquets in jars of water within a kraft living vase.

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I have enjoyed my wedding work this year. Every wedding is different with couples having their own ideas to incorporate flowers into their big day. I have supplied many buckets of flowers this season as more and more couples like to arrange their own flowers with friends and family. Dates are getting booked up for 2019/2020 now so if you are interested in locally grown flowers for your wedding please get in touch.

At this time of year Christmas seems very far away but already I have started to think about it. It has been the perfect time to spray the alliums that I have been drying whilst the weather is good outside. I hope you will enjoy them as part of your Christmas decorations this year.

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On rainy days I am making as many pressed flower cards as I can so I have a good stock over the winter. I am also making up gift boxes of cards which make great birthday or Christmas presents.

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Over the summer I make as much biodegradable confetti as I can. This year I have grown much more larkspur, one of my favourite flowers and it makes an excellent addition to the confetti mix. I store my confetti in airtight kilner jars in the airing cupboard. This provides the perfect dry dark atmosphere for storing it. If you would like any confetti for a wedding or event please just get in touch to order.

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As autumn approaches the flower patch gradually winds down. It is a busy time outside with bulb planting to do, pulling apart beds, composting, mulching and arranging the autumn flowers. There is always the tax return and accounts to do and this winter I will be working on my new website. As the days grow shorter I start to plan for the coming year and one of my hopes is to start running workshops. I would love to share my garden, flowers and what I have learned with you. I also have a love of baking and really like the idea of running workshops along a particular theme with the flowers and including refreshments with homemade cake. At the moment I would love your ideas. Would you be interested in workshops? Would you like 1 to 1 workshops or groups ones with 6-8 people? Would weekends, weekdays or evenings work best? Would you like to spend a whole day in the garden with a light lunch or a couple of hours with cake and tea/coffee? I would love to know your thoughts. My initial plan was to start my first ones in March but I think it is likely building work on our house may still be going on then. It will all depend on that winter weather but I am excited to start sharing what I love with you.

2019 will be Cloudberry flowers 5th birthday. I have so enjoyed the last few years, learning about gardening, flowers and finding myself and my creative side again after having the girls. There are so many things that I am still hoping to do and I am looking forward to sharing my flowers and new projects with you over the coming years.

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At Long Last The Garden Awakens

It has been a very long winter and the growing season is off to a very late start. But at long last there are signs of life in the garden and I can start to catch up on the many jobs that need done outside. It is so nice being back out there working, even in the rain!

Growing flowers indoors has been a saviour this year for having early spring flowers and being able to fulfil my orders. I have also been able to buy in flowers that have been grown by colleagues in the South of England to use alongside my own for larger orders. Being able to provide flowers that have been grown in Britain is important to me and it is lovely to be able to buy from fellow growers if I need to. Next year I have some early weddings and we have no idea what kind of a winter we are going to get. Luckily my brides have booked over a year in advance and this means that I can plan the planting for them specifically. I will grow flowers both indoors and outdoors for their weddings to cover all weather conditions we might have thrown at us then. Booking so far in advance also means I can grow the colours of flowers they would like too.

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The flowers outside are a month behind so far which is the latest they have ever been since I started growing for you. Just a tiny bit of sunshine this week has been enough though, to get some hyacinths, narcissi and iris flowering. The daffodils are finally getting buds. I wonder if they will end up just flowering all at once rather than staggering themselves like they normally do? At long last the tulips are getting larger and the perennials are putting on new growth too. I always find this time so exciting to see my plants remerge after a cold winter and my seedlings come on indoors. Nothing can beat planting seeds and coming down in the morning to see a whole tray germinated overnight. Or going round the garden and seeing some aquilegia and astrantia leaves peeping out from the ground.

Inside we are bursting at the seams with plants everywhere. In the last couple of weeks I have started hardening off a lot of my autumn sown hardy annual and perennials. This involves taken them all out in the daytime and then putting them all back at night as the temperature dips. With so many trays going in and out it can take a good half hour at the beginning and end of the day to do this. After a couple of weeks of doing this they are ready to plant out. We are not out of the woods yet with threats of ‘beast from the east 3’ looming! so any I am planting out are getting covered in heavy duty fleece to protect them.

Today was the first day of planting out which felt such a satisfying thing to do after being stuck in limbo for so long, waiting for the snow to go. Below is a picture of some feverfew  that I grew from seeds in August and now are ready to grow on outside.

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I have been trying out my new bulb auger I got as a present for Mother’s Day and boy does that make planting bulbs easier on areas of tough ground! I am looking forward to putting it to better use in the autumn. Here I am just transplanting some snowdrops from one area of the garden to another.

I have been planting lots of new hellebores. Every year like my roses I like to add a few new ones. These ones are all a white variety to be used in spring bridal work next year. Many people think that hellebores do not make a good cut flower as they wilt, but if cut at the correct time and conditioned properly they are magnificent.

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I have been making new pressed flower cards with the flowers I have in bloom and these will be ready to go on the stall over the Easter weekend along with some jars of my first outdoor flowers, sempervivums, the last bulb baskets for this year and my seed jars. If you fancy having a go at growing some mixed cut flowers using seeds from the Cloudberry Flowers garden these little jars contain a good mixture of some of my favourite annual flowers. The stall is already open 7 days a week and as new flowers start coming into bloom more arrangements will be added daily so please pop along anytime for a treat for yourself or a gift for someone.

Its time to get the dahlias out of storage. In late autumn after the first frosts I lifted these up and prepared them for storage. I tried a new technique of wrapping them in clingfilm I had been reading about and I was impressed to see they have all come through the winter with no shrivelling or rot. In the last few years I have just repotted my dahlias in the spring, brought them on inside and then planted them out after the last frosts. This year I have been dividing the tubers for the first time to give me more plants. To do this you must cut a tuber away from the old plant making sure that you have a few eyes on them. A tuber without eyes will not grow into a new plant. They look like little raised bumps close to the top of the tuber. Below you can see the original plant on the left and the 4 new tubers I have cut from it.

Crows, pheasants and pigeons are a bit of a problem in our garden as well as the rabbits! They like to nibble on the narcissi so I have invested in some bird netting to put over the top of the growing flowers to keep them off.

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I have been laying more ground cover over the grass paths. This week I have been doing the ones surrounding the beds built in the front garden last year as I had some left over from doing the top flower patch. This will help cut down mowing time for Robert and keep the weeds and grass from getting into the beds. I have also been putting black polythene over particularly weedy areas over the winter, mulching the beds and laying fleece over the perennial bed to give them a head start getting established again.

Inside I am still sowing seeds constantly. Up until now I have been sowing hardy annuals and perennials. This week I have started off the more tender annuals such as cosmos and statice. These will be brought on indoors until the risk of frost has past in late May, early June. Seed sowing starts in January each year with my first sweet peas, but did you know I will be sowing different types of seeds every week up until September. This is what allows me to bring you flowers right through from spring until late autumn.

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This blog has been all about the garden and me in waiting, on the brink of getting those first outdoor flowers. Next time I write my blog I am hoping to have lots of beautiful pictures to show you of them all blooming away and ready to find good homes. I am so looking forward to providing you with beautiful locally grown seasonal flowers again this year and if you would like to find out more about how you can buy them to enjoy please just get in touch anytime.

Catherine x

Email: cloudberryflowers@gmail.com

Tel: 07813700786

 

Loose Stems and DIY Wedding Flowers

Are you feeling creative and would love beautiful homegrown flowers for your wedding day? Do you like to arrange flowers in your house and would like some loose stems? Do you arrange the church flowers? Or maybe you run a business where you would like some loose flowers to arrange in a vase for your reception? I can provide you with mixed buckets of beautiful flowers or loose stems, grown here in my garden in the Scottish Borders. They are seasonal, unique and super fresh.

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DIY Wedding Flowers

As well as growing popular cottage garden favourites I also grow less well known varieties, which make excellent cut flowers. Using my buckets of flowers for your wedding or event will mean your flowers will be completely unique. They are often scented too and are available from April to early October for weddings each year.

Buckets of flowers are £50 for a DIY event bucket with 50-60 stems. This is enough to fill 4-6 jam jar arrangements or make a couple of bouquets. Buckets of flowers are usually collected on a Thursday or Friday morning for a Saturday wedding.

I love to see what my couples and their families have been able to create with my buckets of flowers. Here are some pictures Leonie was happy to share from her big day, with the gorgeous arrangements she and her family made.

Photo Credit Sansom Photography

You might feel that it would be too much pressure to arrange all your wedding flowers right before your wedding, but you still want to be creative. I also provide a ‘buckets and bouquets’ service where you can order buckets to arrange the tables yourself and I can arrange the bridal party flowers. You can enjoy the fun with family and friends arranging your flowers a couple of days before the wedding and then I can take over for the flowers that need to be arranged closer to the time.

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One of the things I often forget to do is photograph my buckets of flowers before they are collected. Here is a couple of snapshots of my flowers off to a wedding delivery. They were already in the boot of the car before I remembered to take the photographs!

DIY flowers are a great option for you if you would like to do some of the arranging yourself for your wedding, you have creative friends and family who would love to help and you want beautiful natural unique flowers for your big day.

DIY buckets of flowers are not just for weddings though. They are great for smaller events and businesses too.

Loose flowers for other occasions

You can order as many or as few stems as you like from me to suit your particular needs. I also sell flower arranger buckets £30 for 25-30 stems which are ideal if you don’t need as many as 50-60 stems:

Church Flowers

If you are arranging church flowers and would like stems of beautiful flowers cut straight from the garden please do get in touch. You do not need to be restricted to buying a whole bucket. If you just need a few stems that is absolutely fine too.

Flowers for Business

Do you own a business where you would like loose flowers weekly or fortnightly to fill a vase on your reception desk? Or maybe you own a holiday cottage, B&B or hotel where you would like flowers to greet your guests. Flowers can be available by the bucket or in smaller numbers depending on what you need.

Flowers to fill your vases at home

Do you enjoy flower arranging and instead of buying a pre made bouquet you would prefer to arrange flowers yourself in your own vases? Please do get in touch for more information. I can provide you with as many flowers as you like freshly cut for you from the garden. Given the right after care these flowers can last an incredibly long time.

I am having a party

Filling your venue or home for a party with flowers is a great way to make an impact. You can collect all sorts of vessels to contain your flowers from jam jars to gin bottles! Please do get in touch if you are having a party this year and would like some flowers.

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When should I order my loose flowers or buckets?

If you would like more than one bucket of flowers please do book at least a month in advance. This allows me to check that I can provide enough flowers for you at the time you need them and that I have no other bookings for your event date.

Ideally the more advance notice I have the more I can grow flowers to suit you and your event. For example if you are having a spring wedding having your buckets booked by the previous July will allow me to buy in bulbs in colours you would prefer. If you were getting married in the summer booking your buckets by the previous January means I can grow flowers from seeds to suit you. It is fine to book up to a month before your event but you will receive a mix of what is flowering best in the garden at the time without a choice of colours and varieties.

If you would like 1-2 buckets please order at least 2 weeks prior to your event during April-October.

If you would like a small flower arrangers bucket a few days notice will be all that is needed for me to cut and condition these for you.

If it is just a few stems you would like, for example for church flowers please just pop by anytime or give me a ring. I am usually around to cut these for you on the day.

In March, early April, late October or November please just double check with me that there are flowers available. Every year is different as the weather varies. Some years it is warm and there are lots of flowers in March and April. In other years they are buried under snow! Similarly in late October and November it can be warm and sunny and there are many beautiful flowers blooming. Yet other years there are a run of frosts in October ending the season earlier.

Why should you buy loose flowers or buckets of flowers from me?

Its very easy to pick up flowers in the supermarket for an affordable price so why should you buy loose flowers or buckets of flowers from me? There are so many good reasons, many of which gave me a reason to start growing flowers a few years ago.

Homegrown flowers are all unique by the stem. They wont be perfectly straight and uniform but differ in height, shape and thickness. This adds character and a natural style to your arrangements.

My loose flowers are often scented, which is so rare in supermarket flowers.

My flowers are as fresh as they possibly could be. I bring clean buckets of fresh water out to the flower patch so that I can cut my flowers straight into them. They are then conditioned in my old stone garage which is cool and the perfect temperature to keep the flowers fresh for you until you.

If you buy loose flowers from me you are buying something local that has been grown right on your doorstep and not travelled thousands of miles to get to you.

You can order as many stems as you need rather than having to buy a whole bunch.

My flowers are seasonal so you will not get a rose in March but you will get beautiful scented narcissi or early tulips.

The flowers will vary from week to week as the season moves on so if you wanted some regular flowers for your home or business your arrangements will always look different.

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I love growing my flowers for you every year and would be delighted to provide you with any loose flowers that you need. To discuss flowers you might like regularly in the coming months or to order stems and buckets of flowers you can contact me by phone, email, facebook message or at the house. Please leave a message on the phone if you don’t get me as I am often in the flower patch gardening and might miss you.  I will call you back as soon as I get your message.

Catherine Duncan

07813700786

cloudberryflowers@gmail.com

http://www.facebook.com/cloudberryflowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Herbs in the flower patch

Herbs really bring a dish to life when you are cooking. I feel the same way about adding herbs to my jam jar posies or bouquets. The texture and scent they add to a bunch of flowers really lifts them.

I thought of writing something about herbs this week after picking up a little book to read called ‘How to grow herbs’ by Ian Thomas. It was a fascinating read not only about how to grow herbs but also on their many uses through time.

Mint and lemon balm

Two of my favourite herbs I used last year in jam jar posies were apple mint and lemon balm.

Lemon balm is often used in salads and stuffings. I have read historically that it has been used to make a tea to help depression and anxiety or used to help indigestion. It has also been said to aid a good nights sleep and been used in essential oils. It has antibacterial and antioxidant properties and is thought to symbolise ‘good cheer’.

Mint is also widely used in cooking and is thought to aid digestion and nausea. It is thought to symbolise ‘warmth of feeling’.

I love the scent of mint and lemon balm. I do find they need conditioning well if they are going to last in arrangements. This involves cutting them when it is cool and then giving them a long drink overnight. These herbs can spread rapidly so I have contained them by growing them in pots. I was constantly snipping them for my jam jars so I never did end up getting the stem length for bouquets!

          
Rosemary

Best known to us for adding flavour to roast lamb, rosemary has a long history of varied uses. It was worn as a bridal wreath dipped in scented water in the Middle Ages at weddings and became a symbol of ‘love’. It was also well known as a symbol of ‘remembrance’ and was once thought to strengthen memory. It was even said to be burnt to purify the air at the time of the plague to help ward off infection.

Last year I planted a couple of ‘Miss Jessops Upright’ rosemary bushes and inherited a good sized mature plant in a pot. I found it to be fairly slow growing but I am hoping it will become more established in the garden this year. It likes a sheltered spot and in windy Scotland the protection of a wall can be helpful.

I like to use rosemary in buttonholes for weddings. It provides scent, texture and a strong background for more delicate flowers at the front. Most importantly to me rosemary is a symbol of ‘remberance’ and there is often someone special on your wedding day you would like to remember.

       
Marjoram

The marjoram I grow in the garden comes into flower towards the end of our summer. I use it in bouquets and jam jars as it has a good stem length. It is thought to symbolise ‘wedded bliss’ and like rosemary was worn as a wreath by brides in the Middle Ages.

Lavender

Lavender has many well known uses in products such as soaps, essential oils, cooking and as an aid to sleep. I use it for scent and texture in bouquets, jam jars and buttonholes and I also dry it to add to my real petal confetti. Again it is good for weddings as it is said to be a sign of ‘luck and devotion’.

Last year I planted some new lavender with mixed success. The plants I put in the flower patch thrived. However I lost some in the border where there is wet clay soil. Lavender does not like its roots sitting in water and in hindsight I should never have planted it there!

This year I am going to add to my lavender collection with some new varieties such as ‘Arctic Snow’ and I will find areas of the garden with well drained soil to plant them in.

Achillea

I grow achillea or yarrow in the flower patch to use in jam jars and bouquets. It is thought to symbolise ‘everlasting love’. Legend says it was used by Achilles to treat the wounds of his soldiers and that is why it got its name. It does like to spread quickly and sends out roots which can start to take over if you are not careful. I am going to give mine another growing season and then lift and divide it next spring to rejuvenate it and control the spread!

Dill

Dill is a herb we use to season fish but it also produces lovely yellow/green flowers later on in summer to use in bouquets. I have grown taller varieties which I have found need good staking to protect them from our winds. The Greeks saw dill as a symbol of ‘wealth’ and the Romans thought it brought ‘good fortune’. It is also widely used medicinally.

Bronze fennel

Bronze fennel is said to symbolise ‘flattery’ and being ‘worthy of praise’. It is widely used in cooking in many countries. After sewing it from seed last year I now have a good established clump in the garden. It is used in cooking and in medicine but I use the flowers at the end of the summer in my arrangements. They have yellow flowers with a distinctive aniseed scent. The foliage is also lovely in jam jar posies but needs conditioning well and I am not sure it would stand up to being out of water in a bouquet.

Myrtle

I planted this fragrant evergreen shrub in the garden last year and hope to use it in my buttonholes. It is thought to symbolise ‘everlasting love, fertility and fidelity’.

Nepta

Nepta catmint is a shrub I came across last year which has beautiful purple flowers. It is also a plant very much loved by cats who will role around in it. Luckily we don’t own a cat but I will need to keep an eye out for any neighbourhood visitors! I planted a couple of plants in the garden last summer. Some started to establish themselves and I used them in the last few bouquets of the season. Others did not do so well. Determined to have lots more in the flower patch I have been growing new plants from seed. Some I am overwintering just now which I sewed in the autumn and others are just starting to germinate. I will grow them on and plant them out in milder weather.

Borage

I love the bright blue flowers of borage which I used in bouquets last year. It is known to self seed so I am hoping I will find lots of it popping up across the garden. It can be used in cooking, herbal medicine and symbolises ‘courage’.

Bay

Bay symbolises ‘glory’, however there is not much glory in my wee bay tree plants. I planted them last spring and although they are still alive after over wintering, over the twelve months they just do not seem to have grown. I will watch them this year in the hope they get a little taller and I can use them with my flowers. If not they will be good for cooking with!

Basil and Thyme

These are two herbs very common in cooking which I would like to grow this year to arrange with my flowers. Thyme is meant to symbolise ‘strength and courage’ whilst basil symbolises ‘good wishes’.

Feverfew

I grew feverfew from seed last year and got lots of healthy plants but none of the daisy like flowers. They have survived the winter well so I am hoping I will get some flowers this season. Feverfew has been used in the past to help headaches and arthritis. It is said to symbolise ‘healing and protection’.

I hope you have enjoyed finding out about the herbs I use to arrange with my flowers. This has definitely not been an exhaustive list and there are many others you can try. Have you ever used them in arrangements? If you have which ones do you like?

As a self confessed plantaholic I cannot resist adding to my stock in the garden and trying new varieties. One place I must visit in the spring is the Secret Herb Garden at Damhead near Edinburgh. I have heard they are an excellent place to source herbs and make very good cakes too!