Our Flower Patch

Inspiring a new generation of growers


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Mud, mud, glorious mud

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Getting muddy around the world

Usually the start of Wimbledon Fortnight and the end of the Glastonbury Festival is the perfect time to get down and dirty with mud, as the June skies cloud over and drop enormous quantities of the wet stuff on us all. However, this year our flower patches are more dust bowls than muddy puddles. It’s scorchio in Wiltshire and Cally is building up her muscles lugging full watering cans over to her allotment on a regular basis.

Nevertheless yesterday was an international celebration of all things muddy. International Mud Day was initiated by the World Forum Foundation, which aims to promote an on-going global exchange of ideas on the delivery of quality services for young children in diverse settings. It’s a great idea. Children love getting muddy and it’s a well known fact that fewer children are allowed to nowadays than in the past. Some children don’t own old, scruffy clothes, I recently discovered whilst working on a community painting project. 

As the World Forum Foundation highlights “studies have recently revealed the positive qualities of earth, soil, and mud. Science says that being barefoot is good for you. Mud has microscopic bacteria that soothes you, relaxes you, and calms you down. So that’s why it feels so good to kick off your shoes and socks!” And that’s why allowing children to dig in the soil, sow seeds, weed, nurture seedlings and get dirty is good for them too. We’d love to help you set up a gardening programme at your school which gets children in touch with the earth. Get in touch with the flower patch girls.

 


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A garden for all ages?

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Julie Foster’s ‘Garden for Every Retiree’

As champions of the school garden we are always delighted whenever we hear that our members are being helped out by grandparents and senior members of the community. They may have oodles of gardening experience to share with young growers or none at all, in which case young and old can learn together.

Recently, we have been contacted by the people behind some of the show gardens at the forthcoming RHS Hampton Court Flower Show and in particular, Julie Foster’s ‘Garden for Every Retiree’ which aims to inspire all those who have retired from work to use their gardens to foster a healthy lifestyle and provide a haven for wildlife. We also love the Henri le Worm Community Garden which aims to show children how much can be derived from being outside in the garden and connecting with nature. It shows how cooking and healthy eating are engaging and can be fun. What’s more it has an outdoor kitchen and an edible green roof!

Henri le Worm Community Garden

Henri le Worm Community Garden

Gardening is therapeutic and for young and old alike.The benefits of young and old working together are well known by those of us who work with multiple generations. However, just recently there has been press coverage about  initiatives such as a pre school opening up inside a care home for the elderly. It’s not rocket science. Generations ago, when families tended to stay in one town or village, children saw a lot of their grandparents and senior members of the family. Nowadays, where people are more mobile and settle away from their extended family, children spend more time with professional carers and they miss out on a huge wealth of important shared experiences with older members of the community.

We love the idea of older members of the community and children working together in the school garden and are delighted that in some of our member schools this is going on right now in the flower patch.

If you’d like to set up a shared flower patch next school year, get in touch and we’d be delighted to support you in getting it off the ground.

 


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Flowers in the curriculum

Julie Warburton's book

Julie Warburton’s book

We’re not the only ones who understand the value of using flowers to help children access all aspects of the National Curriculum. We have a kindred spirit in Julie Warburton,  who brings her floristry skills and background in teaching to engage children with the “blooming curriculum”. Her informative book, Teaching with Flowers for a Blooming Curriculum, written for teachers and teaching assistants of 9 – 12 year olds offers a hands on approach to learning using flowers and flower arranging as the launchpad to many aspects of the curriculum.

We were lucky enough to be given a copy to review a few weeks ago and have thoroughly enjoyed sharing in Julie’s vision for using flowers to teach anything from science to art and PSHE and everything in between. Her ideas are well linked to the demands of the National Curriculum and there is plenty of advice on the floristry aspects for teachers who are not experienced flower arrangers. Obviously our members are producing bucketsful of flowers on a weekly basis but for anyone who isn’t, Julie’s book provides detailed lists of the flowers that could be bought in to use in all the activities.

The bulk of the book is taken up with detailed plans for twelve flower arrangement ideas which provide an opportunity to practise practical floristry skills along with complementary ‘let’s learn about….’ sessions, each one containing teaching and learning ideas. Further sections provide advice for taking the ideas further and useful hints and tips for tools of the trade.

It’s an interesting read for growers of flowers and those who just want to work with the finished article, without the hassle of nurturing your plants or simply those who do not have the time or space at school to grow them. We think you might find something to interest even the least green fingered members of your class. Why not give some of Julie’s ideas a go and buy the flowers from your local Our Flower Patch school?

Julie’s book is published by Crown House Publishing Ltd and is available here.

 


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Getting ready for British Flowers Week

British Flowers Week Flag 2015

British Flowers Week is a celebration of British grown flowers and the florists who use them organised online by New Covent Garden Market. British Flowers Week this year is 15th June to 19th June. Lots of British flower growers are looking at ways to celebrate and spread the word about British flowers. On Friday and Saturday last week I had a stall with Saffy from Bath Flowers at the wonderful Toby Buckland Garden Festival at Bowood House.

British Flowers stall Myflowerpatch.co.uk ourflowerpatch.co.uk

We had a wonderful time selling British Flowers. Most of the flowers and foliage on the stall were grown on My Flower Patchbut we also had flowers from Clowance Flowers in Cornwall, a wholesaler who specialise in British flowers, and some amazing polytunnel grown Ammi and Cornflowers that Kate Gibbins of Windmill Farm Flowers grew in Somerset.

We sold jam jar posies, gathered bunches wrapped in brown paper, and bunches of ten Sweet William, perfect just as they are. We also made bespoke, celebration bouquets to order. Customers loved how scented the flowers are. Many people commented on how the scent of the Sweet Williams took them back to childhood and evoked happy memories. Some people noticed flowers that they had had on their wedding day, or those that grew in their Grandmas garden. One lady can be quoted as saying that our stall made her heart sing!

We also made some simple flower crowns, from twisted birch with flowers and foliage wired on. These were a big hit and looked great on lots of different people.

Man in a flower crown

Suits you!

Little girl in a flower crown ourflowerpatch.co.uk

A magical unicorn wearing a flower crown!

It was great to talk to so many different people about the flowers I grow. There was a huge amount of enthusiasm for British grown flowers, for their scent, their natural look and the environmental benefits of both growing them and also not importing flowers from halfway round the world. The bees loved our stand and we often found that as we were handing over a bunch of flowers to a customer we noticed that a bee was hitching a ride! A “free bee” with every bunch became a standing joke. So why not have a go at a British Flower stall yourself. Maybe as part of your school summer fair. To help you raise money for your young gardeners, to have a giggle and to help promote British Flowers. If you are doing a stall during British Flowers week do let us know and we can help spread the word.

As for the Garden Festival itself, we were too busy on the stand to partake of too many of the benefits of the event, but the people we talked to were all really enjoying themselves. They loved the setting at the beautiful Bowood House. They loved the range of stalls that were there, from wonderful plants and tools to delightful gifts and clothing. The food was amazing (I did manage to grab one of Truly Crumptious’s cinnamon sugar delights), Saffy loved the goat curry she had. The Festival atmosphere was second to none, wandering musicians, a Ukulele band, Stilt walkers and a children’s area with lots of fun activities and crafts to try. There was tree climbing for anyone over six brave enough to try, Croquet on the lawn and tours of the private walled gardens of Lady Lansdowne. There were two places for listening to talks. The Speakers Marquee and the Inspiration Marquee. There were talks given by such stellar horticulturalists as Toby Buckland, Anne Swithinbank, James Wong, and the only one I managed to squeeze in to listen to was the irrepressible Jonathan Moseley. Then in the Inspiration Marquee there was a packed programme with talks about meadow gardening, saving allotments, and talks from Chelsea Gold Medal winners such as Chris Smith and Rosy Hardy. So all in all, I would highly recommend attending the event next year. We are looking forward to it already if nothing else just to see our new found Horti friends again!

Toby Buckland, Sara Willman, Saffy Dodds Smith and Jonathan Moseley

Toby Buckland, Sara, Saffy and Jonathan Moseley (with a photobomb from Rob Hardy)

 


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Garden inspiration – past and present

Sleightholmedale

Sleightholmedale

Half Term is a good time to get some inspiration for your flower patches either by visiting gardens or settling into a hammock with a good gardening book full of sound advice and LOTS of droolworthy colour pictures of delicious plant combinations. As my holiday had already been hi-jacked for a trip to London to visit the Science Museum and take in as many of our old haunts in North London as possible with the children, I had to be content with the latter. How fortunate then that Frances Lincoln had recently sent us a copy of First Ladies of Gardening to feed my passion for all things horticultural during a few days away.

Written in an engaging way by Heidi Howcroft and with the most beautiful full colour photographs of the views, vistas and plant combinations found in the inspiring gardens designed and maintained by fourteen  female British gardeners , it’s a real celebration of the English country house garden. A beautiful balance of words and pictures it covers some of the  noteworthy designers of the last century including Gertrude Jekyll, Rosemary Verey and Beth Chatto and the women who have continued with their legacy. The second half of the book focuses on  some modern ‘pioneers’ ( Rosanna James, Rachel James) who have made their gardens in some challenging conditions away from the traditional country house (Helen Dillon, Sue Whittington) . Yes there are some women missing who perhaps are worthy of consideration but the mix is nevertheless inspiring. Each chapter is more than just a glimpse over the garden wall  of gardens built at the seaside, in the heart of the city or on the edge of a hillside as well as  in the grounds of some of the most beautiful country houses of England.

First Ladies in Gardening

Glorious!

As well as a feast for the eyes each chapter contains a history of the garden, along with the “Guiding Principles” of the garden maker and their “Signature Plants” set out at the end in easy to find bullet point format.

I love the fact that most of these women are passionate amateurs, experimenting, making mistakes and learning on the job, rather like myself. None of their gardens are low maintenance, many have have tackled difficult sites and conditions and all have created gardens which reflect their personalities. That’s right up my street. For teachers, teaching assistants and parents who are inspiring a new generation of growers like the members of Our Flower Patch it’s the perfect way to get your own creative horticultural juices flowing.

To order First Ladies of Gardening at the discounted price of £16 including p&p* (RRP£20), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG290.
*UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Thank you to Frances Lincoln for the review copy, the discount code for our readers, and for providing the images to use in this post.

First Ladies in Gardening

An inspiring read.