Our Flower Patch

Inspiring a new generation of growers


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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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Six ways for flower growers to celebrate May Day

Toby-Bowood-Matt-Austin

A picnic at Bowood House. Photograph by Matt Austin Images.

All’s right with the world. Linda Snell has located. the Archers’ Maypole in time for the jubilant May Day celebrations in Ambridge at the end of the week. We love a party at Our Flower Patch and even though you are unlikely to find either of us dancing round a maypole on Friday, May Day is the perfect time of year for flower growers to stop, take stock and celebrate their hard work before their plots reward them with oodles of flowery loveliness and the odd weed.

Sara started celebrating early this year when she did a flowery photoshoot at Bowood House in Wiltshire in preparation for Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival on June 5th and 6th. Along with Saffy from Bath Flowersshe’ll be arranging, selling and generally shouting about homegrown British flowers. Why not pop along and chat to them? Don’t worry if you live too far away, Cally will be reporting on the festival for our school Flower Patch members and readers of this blog, so you won’t miss anything vital.

In the meantime back to May Day and our six top ways to celebrate this fertility festival and the start of summer.

Decorate a maypole or May tree

Unlike us, your young growers will probably love the idea of dancing round a maypole as a break from all the frantic planting, sowing and weeding. You’ll need a pole about three metres high to which you attach long ribbons. Aim for the ribbons to be about ¾ of the length of the pole. Plant the pole in a hole deep enough to prevent it swaying. Decorate the top of the pole with flowers or greenery. Then you’re ready for willing volunteers to grab an end of a ribbon and dance in and out, winding the ribbons round the pole.

Alternatively, decorate the trees on your plot with ribbons to celebrate the time of year. Write messages of thanks or hopes for the coming season on the ribbon. And if you don’t have any trees or large shrubs, plant some. Try to make it something from which you can harvest foliage for your cut flower arrangements. We like viburnum, euonymus, pittosporum and eucalyptus.

Hold a bonfire party

Traditionally cattle were driven between bonfires on the eve of May Day to rid them of evil spirits and keep them safe from harm. If you’ve been clearing space, then you might have plenty of material to burn. Getting together around a bonfire is a good way to reward your garden helpers for their hard work in getting your plot shipshape and provide space and time to chat about plans for the future. Obviously food is just as important as fire in any festival celebration which brings me neatly on to my next point.

Pack a picnic or hold a ‘bring and share’ feast on your patch where everyone brings something they love to make.

No celebration is complete without food. If you’re lucky, you might even have a few homegrown early strawberries to munch on or, at least, some jam made from last year’s crop to spread on scones. May Day marks the start of summer to me and so some homemade lemonade might start to make an appearance. You’ll find the recipe here.

Make a flower crown or a daisy chain.

Flowers are a big part of any May Day celebration. Floral crowns can be used to crown a May Queen or just to give your young growers some valuable practice at working with flowers to make something beautiful. If you choose a May queen then her throne (chair) can also be decorated with seasonal flowers. Check back through this blog for more information about flower crowns.

If your lawn is anything like mine it’s full of daisies. I love them and my daughter loves them even more as she has a steady supply with which to make daisy chains. If you wear a daisy chain around your head past midnight on May Day eve, you can attract good luck.

 Give a basket (or bunch) of flowers to a neighbour.

We have plenty of tulips on our patch at the moment but what might be even more special is a packet of seeds to spread the flowery love. Higgledy Ben our seed supplier has a huge array from which to choose.  Just a couple of packs will be enough to start a love affair with cut flowers. Soon you’ll be devoting a whole bed to a cutting patch. It’s good for bees and good for you, giving you a steady supply of beautiful blooms to cut for the house and saving you money. May Day tradition is that you must leave your gift in secret. If your neighbour spies you, they can claim a kiss apparently – so choose the lucky recipient wisely!!

Sow some herbs

Any excuse to get outside enjoying your garden is good and growing herbs is a great way to kick start a growing habit which will last a lifetime. I’m a fan of any plant which has more than one use. Growing herbs was the start of my love affair with gardening. One of my earliest memories is picking mint from an old Belfast sink and watching my granny make mint sauce. Herbs are bee-friendly plants, easy to grow, fragrant, edible and some make fabulous additions to cut flower posies. Rosemary, dill, mint, lavender and lemon balm regularly find their way into my jam jar posies.

Rosemary sage narcissi

Herbs and flowers are a natural pairing in Sara’s arrangements too.