Autumn at Cloudberry Flowers

I was asked recently did I enjoy the time to sit back and watch daytime tv now the flowers were over for the season? This made me laugh as it couldn’t be further from the truth! Here’s a little insight into what I get up to when the flowers stop growing.

November this year was a month of very few flowers. Some years I am lucky and the season keeps going for longer. Early frosts in October this year brought the flowers to an abrupt end. Wouldn’t it be great to think the end of the flower season meant I could sit with my slippers on, feet up in front of the wood burning stove with a cup of tea browsing through seed catalogues and grand designs on in the background!

Back to reality  and it is jumpers, wellies, hat and waterproofs on and out into the garden for the muddy task of the day. Some days I find it really easy to go out and work if dressed in the right gear and other days its damp and cold and a bit of a boost is needed in the form of chocolate! It’s a physically demanding time of year and I am often working outside in cold muddy wet conditions. This week I was in the playground at pick up time to have streaks of mud on my face pointed out. I must start looking in a mirror more often! My birthday comes at just the right time and the girls get me stocked up with dairy milk for the digging and clearing to come. It might not sound much fun but I still get that buzz from clearing the perennials in the bed and finding the new growth for next year just peaking through the soil or the happy sense of peace that comes from digging in the garden with my friendly robin beside me.

 

I continue collecting seeds from the finished flower heads and press the last flowers that are still growing. The beds start to be cleared. All annuals need pulled up and perennials cut back. The annuals are then chopped into small pieces and wheelbarrowed down to the compost heap. Making good compost really helps mulch the beds next year. I never finish the job of clearing the beds before Christmas as I keep the plants in until the last flower has gone and I always start this job too late. It has also been hampered due to lack of access to the top flower patch while the building work in our back garden goes on. There will be plenty time in January as long as we are not under snow to finish the clearing and next year I will be more organised!

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The 215 dahlias I planted out in June need lifted, dried and wrapped for storage over the winter. This process takes me a few weeks as I only have enough space to lay them out to dry off in batches. I enjoyed the company of a curious robin who perched on my spade or the ground beside me singing whilst I dug. I have experimented with keeping a few dahlias in the ground over the winter but in our Scottish climate they rot. I have never lost any dahlias by lifting them and storing them.

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I have marked out my new beds in the front garden and they are ready for top soil. This involved me moving a lot of barrows of soil up and down the front garden hill. The chocolate is definitely needed here. I have got about 3/4 of the beds done now and hope to fence this new area and cover the paths with ground cover matting in January and February.

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This month I have spent some time giving talks to local groups. I spent a lovely afternoon with the Innerleithen Church Guild and then a morning with children at Priorsford primary school. I have done a few talks to adults about flower farming but it was my first time speaking with children. I was so keen to engage them with my love of flowers, nature, the outdoors and gardening. Without flowers growing I had to think of some new ideas to make my talk interesting. I took in some dahlia tubers, corms and seeds and showed the children that these very strange looking objects can grow into the most beautiful of flowers. I took with me lots of seed heads for the children to split open and find the seeds inside. They then collected these up to grow in the school poly tunnel in the spring. I love that the school has such an amazing facility to encourage a lifelong love of gardening and growing from an early age. I hope I can work more with children in the future.

Below is a picture of the dahlia tubers I brought in to show the children and a picture of what I showed them they turn into. I still find this an amazing process as they do look like a bunch of funny potatoes incapable of growing into anything.

 

Inside I have been successionally soaking and chitting my ranunculus and anemone corms. I then plant these up individually to grow on over the winter and provide early spring flowers. It is colder now so I don’t need to water as much but every week I must check and water my annual seedlings in the conservatory and also the bulbs I am forcing in the garage.

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Last week I finished the tulip planting. I have planted many of these in trenches outside in the flower patch and also some in crates. I have not tried this before but with spring weddings this year I need to make sure I have flowers in bloom. If I plant in crates and the weather is like it was this year with lots of snow and freezing temperatures I can take the tulips inside and bring them on there. Tulips are always one of the biggest financial investments of the year. The bulbs are very expensive and take a lot of work to plant. You then never have any guarantee they will bloom when you need them too. For example I did not have tulips blooming in April at all this year, they all came in May whether or not they were early or late varieties. So its head vs heart. My head says you don’t need many tulips, enough for your weddings and a few to sell as bunches as I don’t sell enough to warrant buying thousands. However the lure of the glossy catalogues dropping through my door more often than not makes my heart win. I just love tulips! I love the varieties that are different to what you might find in the supermarket, for example the beautiful fringed tulips. I can justify buying them by offering my customers tulips that are beautiful and different to what you would find anywhere else.

 

Its now Christmas at Cloudberry Flowers! I just love this time of year and I am looking forward to getting stuck into Christmas wreath making this week. There is still time to order your wreath this year, just get in touch anytime. I have been working on all my Christmas homegrown and handmade decorations to give you some ideas for something a little bit different this year. What do you get your granny, mum or auntie who have everything? I came up with making up bulb baskets as I know that plants flowering inside in January, February and March is something nice to cheer relatives up on dark winter days. My gift boxes of cards were for designed with the idea they would be great for someone who always likes to have a nice card to hand in the house to send throughout the year. What do you get for that work secret Santa present or to fill a hamper? My seed jars and mini hanging frames with pressed flowers are something small and a little bit different to give as a gift.

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Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas at Cloudberry Flowers without my sparkly alliums. I started growing this years ones this time last year when I planted the bulbs. They flowered in June and I cut them to dry in July and August. In October and November I spray them silver ready for Christmas. Great as a mixture in a vase or as a star at the top of your Christmas tree, they look fabulous.

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December will be a month of wreath making. I get the moss and all the foliage from the garden to make them.  This week I rake the moss out the ground and start mossing up the wreaths and next week I will start cutting the foliage and building the wreaths up into something beautiful.

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Last year I decorated my Christmas Day table with my wreaths with candles and it looked fantastic so I will be offering these for sale this year too. Wreath arrangements for your table dry out awfully easily in a heated house so make sure you keep them cool and give the foliage and moss a drink to prevent them drying out.

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In November I also bought a card machine so I can take card payments as well as cash. I know myself that I just do not use cash in the same way as I did years ago and if I was shopping I would prefer to use a card to pay. I hope this helps make visiting Cloudberry Flowers easier for my customers.

Looking ahead to next year I am excited by the weddings I have booked in and the growing has already started for these. It will be the start of Cloudberry Flowers 5th year and I am looking forward to having some lovely flowers back on the stall for my customers, where it all started in 2014. I have learnt so much and know the one thing missing from my job is sharing my love of growing with you. I would love to develop workshops for you here at Cloudberry Flowers. I had great intentions to start these this coming spring but building work at our house has revealed some major drainage issues that need to be fixed involving a lot of excavation of the back garden in the spring. Once I get my garden back I can focus on getting these off the ground and sharing my love of flowers and growing with you.

Have a fabulous festive season and I am looking forward to seeing you in the coming weeks if you pop into visit Cloudberry Flowers at its Christmas openings.

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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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A Stormy Night

I tossed and turned a lot last night. I could hear the wind howling around the house. Surprisingly I had fallen asleep really quickly despite the storm outside and I was sure when I woke up it must be 4 or 5 in the morning. To my great disappointment it was only 2am. It was going to be a long night. Sleep was not for coming back to me hearing what was happening outside! There is nothing you can do in the middle of the night. It is pitch black and I had no way of knowing if the flower patch was flattened. I would just have to lie there and wait it out! I wonder if my fellow flower growers loose sleep on nights we have gales like I do? I manage to sleep fine even if it is raining or snowing, which can be just as damaging to flowers, but hearing the wind gets me every time!

My sensible head says to me it is mid October, the natural end to a flower season. We could have had a frost at the beginning of October and it would all have been over then. Does it matter if the wind comes in and flattens the flower patch tonight? My heart though (which does tend to rule!) says I just want a few more weeks of beautiful flowers, they looked so lovely this morning. Last year there were flowers in November, can it not be the same this year, or is that a bit greedy?! It seems cruel to have the whole flower patch flattened in one fell swoop. I think I would prefer a gradual cooling of temperatures and shorter days, with a few occasional frosts and a slower end to the flowers.

I love my job but by this time of year I am getting tired. Flower farming is physically and mentally tiring and by the end of the season with so many jobs still to do, planting bulbs, digging, mulching, pruning, dividing and clearing up for winter I could use the extra time without the flowers. And yet although it is inevitable and I know its coming I am not ready for the flowers to end. They are so extraordinary, beautiful and bring such pleasure to people. The end of the flowers also means the start of the winter!

I finally must have fallen asleep again. I hear the alarm and then Kirsten coming in to say daddy needs your help outside, I think its the stall! With a sinking heart I grab jacket and wellies and go to see what needs to be done. Walking through the garden I can see garden furniture scattered and the barbecue fallen over. And then yes there is the roof of the stall not where it is supposed to be! The whole thing had toppled in the wind. Fortunately it does look like it can be fixed fairly easily, but there will be no flowers on it today!

So what of the flower patch? I decided it was worth a quick look in my pyjamas. To begin with all you can see is the devastation after a storm. The broken stakes pulled out of the ground, the flattened flowers and the ripped tunnel sheeting. It does look like this might be it for this year. I hope my fellow growers and friends have come through the storm with polytunnels still where they are supposed to be and flowers still standing!

On closer inspection after dropping the girls at school it would appear all is not quite lost! Yes there is definitely a lost bed of rudbeckia and snapdragons and half my cosmos bed is ripped out. The dahlias have had a good bashing and I have lost quite a few. But the scabious and helichrysum are still hanging on in there with some asters, thistles and astrantia. There are roses still in bud. These Scottish flowers are resilient and I know I can be too!

 

 

Summer at Cloudberry Flowers

Summer isn’t a word I would use to describe the last few months! Dull wet and far too cold to get the paddling pool and shorts and t-shirts out, is more like it. It was a summer holidays full of waterproofs and hot chocolates, but great fun was had by all and as usual it went by in a flash. Now we are back to school runs and activities for the girls. I have my few hours back while Erin is at nursery to get some much needed gardening done and look back over this past season and make plans for next year.

The summer for me was all about the amazing opportunity to grow and arrange the flowers for some lovely weddings. Each one was so different, with varying colour schemes. Some brides wanted the chance to do it themselves and bought buckets of flowers to take away and other brides wanted the whole wedding arranged from table arrangements to bridal bouquets and buttonholes. What I loved most is the amazing locations some of my couples this year have got married in, from country houses, to the beach or on top of a local hill with amazing views. My homegrown flowers have been able to fit in with stunning natural locations. As weddings were such a big part of my summer I am going to leave any more chat about it for another blog where I hopefully may have some lovely photos to show you.

One of my favourite things to develop this year has been my natural petal confetti and this summer I have been delighted it has been off to so many weddings, to be thrown, used to decorate the aisle for the bride to walk down or as a table decoration. I have taken over the whole conservatory as well as the airing cupboard now as my drying space. The garden has produced beautiful petals in abundance such as roses, larkspur, cornflowers and lavender.

The garden in many ways has surprised me this summer. The weather really was not conducive towards flowers blooming. They like sunshine and warmth not consistent rainy, dull, cold days. However they have flowered and well enough to provide me with all I have needed this summer. Increasing my flower patch size and therefore my flower production has given me plenty blooms to work with and allowed for the one or two disasters I have had!

Sweet peas this year have been my one big disappointment. Last year I had masses of beautiful blooms. This year I started off hopeful with over 60 healthy plants grown from seed. They transplanted successfully earlier in the year but since then they have been terrible. Half of one bed just simply died. The sweet peas that have flowered have been on very weak short stems and have dropped their petals extremely quickly. I am not sure what it is that they have not liked. They have been watered and fed when needed, tied in and supported from the wind and short of talking to them, well pampered! Other gardeners in Peebles have also reported problems with their sweet peas this summer so maybe it has just been our poor weather. A failure like this just makes me more determined next years will work as they smell too gorgeous not to grow!

Without a doubt the hardy annuals such as cornflowers are a winner for me. They just keep on giving month after month. My over wintered plants that started flowering back in June are still flowering now. These I think will always be the backbone of my flower patch.

I always like to try new seeds to grow and my new favourites this year have been consolida blue cloud and achillea the pearl.

At long last I have had success in my perennial cutting border. Fencing has worked and kept the rabbits out, allowing my plants the chance to grow for the first time.


I never thought I would ever cut up the whole of our field at the back for flowers, but I did. I was sure then that I would definitely not need any more space for flowers. But my husband started to do a couple of beds for family fruit and vegetables down the front of our garden and 2 turned into 5! Here I am shovelling topsoil for the beds, a much faster job done as family team work. I filled the barrows and Robert took them down to the new beds. Erin just liked standing on the top of them to supervise!

I now have have 3 new beds for next year, fenced off from the rabbits and ready to go. I am so excited about these and have already been busy sewing biennials and thistle seeds in here for next year.

Dahlias are gorgeous flowers that come in so many shapes, textures and colours. They are a beautiful addition to the cutting garden at this time of year. However they are not quite so beautiful when ravaged by earwigs and slugs which is what is happening at the moment to my dahlias!

This beautiful dahlias is what I would love all of mine to look like! So it has been a call to action. Nightly patrols with the torch to eliminate the slugs and earwigs I can spot and then emptying out all the upturned pots daily where the earwigs like to sleep in the day. You can see the pots filled with dried grass on the stakes in the photo below.


After the frustration of nightly slug and earwig attacks on my dahlias, it has been very satisfying making a start on growing next years hardy annuals. I have grown some directly outside which are yet to appear. The ones inside are already germinating and I will prick these out and pot them on in a few weeks time.

The other job I have been doing since the girls went back to school is ordering my bulbs for next spring. Not easy for a floweraholic like myself. Narrowing down my list gets harder every season!

Below I wanted to leave you with some of my favourite pictures from the flower patch this summer. It might not have been the hot sunny few months I was hoping for but my flowers have been as resilient as ever.


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August in the cutting garden

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August this year has just disappeared in a flash, just like the school holidays. The children are now back at nursery and school giving me some precious time to get cracking in the garden. I can start to tackle the list of jobs for this time of year and all the ones that got a bit neglected over the holidays!

Going back to the start of the month I was pleased to come back from a holiday in Arran to find there was not too much damage in the cutting garden. We had been away when it was a particularly wet week. This had the advantage that friends and family did not need to water as much while I was away, but did mean a lot of the flowers had turned distinctly mushy! Annual flowers never cease to amaze me as a good deheading round the garden and they all sprang back to life with new blooms. They really live up to their name as cut and come again flowers.

Along with maintaining the cutting garden, weeding, deheading flowers and watering it is this time of year I start to look forward to next season and planting for that. My bulb order has finally gone in ready for the autumn. I had to try and curb my enthusiasm for trying far too many different varieties. It is very easy to get carried away! I do have some lovely new varieties of tulip and daffodil I will be trying as well as some more unusual bulbs.

I have also sown the first of my hardy annual seeds. Some of these I have direct sown. If it is not too hard a winter hopefully some will survive to produce stronger earlier plants in the spring. As a contingency I have also started sewing some undercover in the unheated conservatory. This may seem very early to plant hardy annual seeds but I find that in Scotland with the colder weather if you do not start them off early enough they will not have enough time to put down roots and grow before winter sets in. I have been sewing some of my old favourites like cornflowers and ammi majus but I also love to try new things so I have planted some antirrhinum majus or snapdragon, lagurus or hares-tail, godetia and sweet Annie for foliage.

Earlier this month I planted out the biennial seedlings I had been growing in the conservatory. Planting them out then gave them a good chance to get growing before the cooler weather sets in.

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My sunflowers have started to bloom despite the cold summer and the attack on its leaves by a mystery offender!

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It has been my first year growing dahlias and this has been a bit of a learning curve. Both the flowers and the leaves have been nibbled and it took me a while to catch what was doing it. I couldn’t see any slugs on my nightly torch patrols and couldn’t catch any earwigs in my traps. Eventually it was the beer traps that revealed the culprit and it was definitely slugs, which had been hiding from me! The dahlias are beautiful flowers but have a limited vase life. However I have found that the karma varieties last really well compared to the bishop ones.

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This month I was excited to launch my real petal confetti for events and weddings. The box of confetti is the perfect size to fit in your bag if you go to a wedding and the confetti looks equally lovely as a table decoration. To make it I have been drying the lavender, rose and cornflower petals from the garden. This hive of industry has now relegated towels to the spare room bed and the petals get the airing cupboard! It is the perfect place to dry them.

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I have found that as my business grows I am needing to get out and about more in the car to deliver flowers to customers. My husband kindly put together a frame for the boot to hold my buckets without them moving all over the place. This means I can deliver flowers really fresh as they can stay in water right up to your door.

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The roses in the garden have been sensational for their first year. I am looking forward to using them in the future for cutting as the bushes become more established. Here are a couple of favourites from the garden and they all smell gorgeous!

Margaret Merril                                               Isn’t she lovely

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August is a great month for colour in the garden and here are a few pictures to show you what is flowering in the cutting patch this month:

Ammi Visnaga is just starting to come into bloom and the ammi majus is still putting on a good show.

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The bronze fennel is looking good.

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The salvia has been a brilliant cut flower this year and is definitely on the list for next season.

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The rudbeckia is just starting to flower. This is where you start to see the autumn colours start to come in, full of reds, yellows and oranges.

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The cosmos is just starting to pick up and bloom more consistently now. It should provide a lot of flowers until the first frosts.

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The cornflowers are still blooming. Along with the phacelia these flowers have been blooming from the same plants all summer!

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The sweet peas are really producing a mass of flowers just now. They may only last a few days in the vase but are well worth a continual supply in your home just for the scent as you walk in to the room. Cutting sweet peas has led to a few disasters this month! One of my more memorable ones was having just finished bunching up 2 jugs of sweet peas to go on the stall I made to walk out the garage. Somehow I managed to trip over a bunch of garden tools and the sweet peas and I went flying. I landed in a big muddy puddle and the sweet peas went sailing through the air to land in the dirt too. After a few frustrated tears and a few bruises we managed to start again and cut some more. The tools now have a new home in a shed where they were supposed to be in the first place! Looking back it now seems funny but it didn’t feel like that at the time!

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With the end of the summer holidays and people returning home the flower stall has been busier and I have enjoyed meeting new customers and making bouquets for different occasions. One of the things I love about growing flowers for people is there is always a different story behind someone buying them. Some people buy flowers to brighten up their day and their homes. Others buy them to cheer someone up when they are feeling sad or unwell. Or to make someone feel happy and help them celebrate an important occasion, say thank you, I love you or even sorry. Homegrown flowers I think are just that bit extra special as they have been grown with love and care and really do help put a smile on someone’s face.

Here are some of my favourite flowers from August to leave you with..

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Whats been happening in the cutting garden – June review

This week I have been taking the chance to look back and see just how far the garden has come on. The weather probably has a lot of us thinking of booking last minute flights abroad for some sun now the school summer holidays are nearly upon us! Cold temperatures, rain and wind has meant a very slow start to the flowers in the garden this year and it has taken every ounce of patience to wait on them coming.  Now everything is starting to come to life and I constantly find new flowers blooming every time I go up to the cutting patch, which is a delight after such a slow start! Looking back at some old photographs from a few month ago and looking at the garden now I can see just how far it has come on.

Below you can see pictures of the garden in February on the left and then how the beds look now with all the summer annuals establishing.

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Sweet peas

The sweet peas at the beginning of May on the left are now really starting to climb up the netting and the first few flowers with their gorgeous perfume are just coming into bloom.

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My scented border

The herbaceous border in March is shown on the left and then on the right it is shown now with all its new plants. Some of the perennials I have planted are phlox, delphiniums, choisya, pittosporum, nepeta and philadelphus. Over the next few years these will establish and provide lots of colour and scent in the garden.

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Nigella

This is my first year growing nigella which are just flowering now. To protect them from the wind I have supported them with some horizontal pea and bean netting. These flowers are so unusual I really love adding them to arrangements. I have spaced them out a lot which has not been necessary so next year I will plant them closer together.

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Corncockle

My bed of corncockle is really flowering well now and is full of strong plants that were overwintered.

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Cornflowers

This year I have been growing blue ball and black ball cornflowers which I sewed in the autumn last year and overwintered too. Now they are strong plants full of flowers.

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Phacelia

This has been flowering for a few weeks now and makes an unusual and very pretty cut flower with a great vase life. It also can act as a green manure for your garden.

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Gypsophila

This is gypsophila convent garden which I have found difficult to grow successfully from seed in any volume, but I am determined to work on this as I absolutely love it for its delicate beautiful flowers.

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Calendula

This is my bed of calendula which have been welcome brightly coloured flowers for the last few weeks. I have found that they do attract greenfly and I dislike to use harsh chemicals in the garden. So I have been spraying these if needed with a very dilute solution of washing up liquid and water. What I really need are a few more helpful insects like ladybirds to feed on the greenfly!

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Dahlias

My dahlias have been planted out since the beginning of June but I am afraid the weather has not been kind to them and they have shown little progress so far. I will have to watch them over the next few weeks to see if they improve and hopefully keep the slugs away with nightly patrols to check for them!

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Hesperis and Honesty

My bed of hesperis and honesty keeps on flowering. These have really given a lot this year and were wonderful during a time when other flowers were scarce.

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Bupleurum

This particular hardy annual I love as it provides some really useful foliage in arrangements. However I have real trouble getting it to germinate! So I have been particularly proud of this one in the garden which I sewed last autumn. It survived the winter and is now a really strong plant compared to my spring grown ones this year.

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Foxgloves

I have some truly amazing foxgloves starting to flower in the garden. These are so tall they are bigger than me! Foxgloves make a good cut flower, although they are toxic if eaten so should be kept well away from children. For a grown up party or event they make a spectacular statement!

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Anemone and Ranunculus

Earlier in the year I tried growing these gorgeous flowers and much to my dismay I got only a couple of successful ones out of a good hundred or so bulbs. I was very disappointed and unsure what did not work. Maybe the mice ate the bulbs or the weather was just not conducive to growing them this year. However I decided to have another bash at it with a later planting. I am very excited to say that under the far tunnel in the picture I look like I may just have quite a few of these beautiful flowers in the next few weeks to pop in my jam jar posies. Here is the first ranunculus just blooming now.

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Roses

My roses are really starting to grow now. The ones in my new beds are coming on, but it is the ones in the containers that are shooting ahead and even have the first buds on them. Unfortunately one of my favourites a David Austin climbing rose called Claire Austin that I planted next to the house to grow up round the front door has been well nibbled by our friendly garden rabbits. Although this has been disappointing it is showing signs of regrowth and it just made me really glad that I fenced the 2 new rose beds at the front otherwise I think I would have had no roses this year! I have now fenced round the one at the door to give it some time to recover! The photo below shows my New Zealand rose in a container and its first buds.

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The future

Starting my business Cloudberry Flowers over the last eighteen months has been an enormous learning opportunity. I have learned so much through reading, meeting other flower growers and through trial and error. What I have learnt this year is that I cannot have too many flowers and that next year I really want to increase again the amount I am growing. So very kindly my lovely husband has been out in the evenings recently digging me some new beds. Last year when I first had the idea of Cloudberry Flowers I started with 2 small beds that I had dug and now the whole field at the top of the garden is converted to a cut flower patch! It means exciting times next year as I can plan what flowers to grow more of.

The final beds in my cutting patch 

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Next week is the end of the school term for us and I will be busy enjoying making some thank you presents from pupils for their teachers. Here are some I made this week for a few early gifts.

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Getting out in the garden at last!

A big thank you to everyone who helped me identify some of my shrubs last week! Here are the suggestions I got for each one: 1. Lonicera Nitida, Variegated Privet 2. Garrya Elliptica, vViburnum 3. Senecio 4. ? 5. ? 6. Euonymus 7. Winter Jasmine 8. Euonymus 9. Aucuba Japonica, Laurel 10. Pittosporum 11. Ivy. As you can see 4 and 5 are a bit more tricky. I am wondering if number 4 is a spindle tree?

This week there has been a change in the weather and I have been able to get in the garden every day. The list of jobs is endless. Where do you begin! Planting, pruning, weeding, digging? For me it started off as planting time. My over wintered  hardy annuals are now out in their beds including sweet william, honesty, hesperis, wallflowers and some cornflowers. I am still holding back on planting out the sweet peas as they will be more open to the elements in the garden and not protected under fleece.

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Also this week I received my Peter Nyssen order which I had placed before Christmas. I was like a kid in a sweet shop!  When you place an order so long ago you forget about it for a while and it’s a lovely surprise investigating the contents of the box. Inside were my 12 dahlia tubers. I have never grown these before and there are so many to choose from. I decided to try a real variety including some single flowering, semi double, decorative, karma and ball ones, so by the end of the autumn I will have found some favourites. They really are very strange looking tubers. Like a bunch of different sized sausages strung together. I have read that until after the last frosts you should keep them under cover planted up in 3 litre pots. I filled my pots of this size with some multi purpose compost, popped in the dahlia tuber and covered it up to the level of the old stump from last year. Even with the 3 litre pots it was difficult to fit some of the tubers in if there was a long wayward one sticking out. Once they were planted I gave them a water and have put them out in the conservatory where it is light and frost free. You can see in the picture below the dahlias old stump just showing level with the top of the compost.

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My scented shrubs have started arriving and I have been busy designing my borders this week so I have a plan drawn out of where they are all to go. At the moment I am keeping them indoors at night in the conservatory and outside in the day as it is still very cold here. In a couple of weeks when it is milder I will plant them out.  In the meantime I am doing lots of weeding to get the borders ready. This is my ‘before’ picture of what it looks like now!

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I have also been a bit naughty and have ordered another couple of plants this week! I had thought I was finished and had everything I needed for my new scented border. That was until I was helping a good friend with some suggestions for her garden. I recommended to her some phlox due to its beautiful scent, and after talking about them got far too tempted and ordered some for myself too! I am finding you can’t have too many scented shrubs and plants in your garden!

Also this week I have been sewing more seeds. This time I have started some half hardy annuals on the heated propagating bench including cosmos and didiscus. It always amazes me that from a tiny seed a little plant can emerge and I probably spend far too much time going into the conservatory to see what has popped up next!

The last few days have felt very busy in the garden. It has been great to be outdoors enjoying the fresh air and the company of our friendly garden robin, who pops down beside me when I am weeding. I have also loved the company of my other little helper this week. My 3 year old daughter has enjoyed making mud pies and digging big holes beside me while I plant! I wonder what you have been doing in your garden this week?

Just a little bit of Spring to leave you with ……

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