It’s nearly the end of the growing season for #britishflowers 2014. We’ve enjoyed a great early summer, a mild and humid mid summer and the most amazing extended Indian summer through Sep and Oct. I still had some sweet peas flowering on the plot at Hallowe’en!! A little bit uncharacteristic, but this is the thing with #flowerfarming, each year and season is different and it’s almost impossible to predict exactly when things will be in flower. It’s much better to guarantee brides and other customers specific colours rather than specific flower types.
Now, it’s time to clear the beds, sow the last of the autumn seeds and get ready for the madness of Christmas!! The work never ends #busyflorist #artisanflorist #flowerfarmer – love it!
Here’s some bright #seasonalflower photos to celebrate the last splash of Autumn colour from the #DitsyFloral #CuttingGarden.
This past weekend I have been concentrating on harvesting the hydrangea heads in my garden before the wet and windy weather ruins them all. I am delighted with the armfuls of blooms that I cut from one single shrub! These will now hang in the garage for drying. The trick to drying hydrangea is not how you actually dry them but the timing of when you cut them, so try to leave them as long as possible on the plant before cutting.
I plan to use the dried hydrangea through out the leaner winter months for floral arrangements and Christmas Wreaths, such as this gorgeous #natural #christmaswreath.
I’ve also been foraging around the garden for other ‘filler’ materials for drying – the furry seed heads of clematis, nigella and scabious seed heads, as well as apples that will be sliced into rings and dried slowly in a low oven for approx. 90 mins. I’m looking forward to experimenting with lots of dried ‘natural’ materials to my wreaths this Christmas.
I also collected the last of the sweet pea pods from my very brave sweet peas still showing a bloom or two in mid October, in Ireland…crazy!! #flowerfarmeryear
I thought it was time to update you on some of my progress and my commitment to seasonal #justpicked flowers.
I have been using my floral abundance to create beautiful Posy Jars, perfect for a small gift, so next time you visit friends bring a Ditsy Floral Posy Jar rather than a bottle of wine or box of sweets. Something different! Love flowers, love Ditsy Floral Design.
The most recent wedding by Ditsy Floral Design in early June was a little bit different. A quirky bride who had very clear styling ideas to complement her 50s style wedding dress and bright red accessories. I had fun working on this brief and created this mood board on Pinterest to inspire my creative thoughts. http://www.pinterest.com/elainegroves1/rockin-50s-style-wedding/
The final bridal design is a handtied posy with locally grown red charm peonies from Moorfield Flowers, white Avalanche roses, white freesia, tanacetum and home grown ammi majus from the Ditsy Floral cut flower patch.
I couldn’t let #Britishflowersweek pass by without a post. This is the second year of the celebration of British grown flowers, an idea devised by the New Covent Garden Flower Market, the main hub of flower trading in the UK. The idea is to raise awareness about the choice and availability of home-grown blooms and foliage in a market dominated by imports.
My own cut flower patch is starting to be quite productive. There’s love-in-a-mist, cornflowers, larkspur, cosmos, scabiosa, sweetpea, sweet william, candytuft and ammi. At home there aren’t many surfaces left which don’t have vases on them! Even so my scale of production, a polytunnel and a few raised beds, is tiny compared to the new breed of artisan flower farmers springing up across the water in GB. There seems to be a renewed interest in locally grown flowers, particularly with couples planning their wedding, so here’s my top reasons for choosing locally grown seasonal flowers for your wedding:
Why buy Locally Grown Seasonal Flowers for your wedding?
Flowers are grown, not flown! Nearly 90% of the flowers sold in the UK are imported and many travel over 3000 miles. The average flower miles of my bouquets are much less, as well as the plant material I supply from my own garden, I source from NI flower farmers and British growers as much as possible.
Flowers are hand picked the day before your wedding, ensuring they are at their freshest, most scented and will last longer in your vase.
Seasonal, locally grown flowers are very much ‘on trend’ at the moment with a move to supporting the local economy, local producers, as well as a shift back to more traditional native flowers such as Sweet Pea, Nigella and Cornflowers, flowers that would have been used by florists in years gone by, therefore a genuine nod to Vintage styling.
Seasonal flowers can be more cost effective for the budget conscious bride.
Local or home grown flowers help biodiversity, providing food and habitat to a variety of butterflies, bugs and bees.
Happy wedding planning and remember, you can also support local flower farmers and growers when you buy flowers from the supermarket or florist, always check for an origin sticker on supermarket flowers or ask your florist!
Hello and apologies for my absolute disgraceful lack of blog posts in recent weeks and months! I think this might be one of my worst kept resolutions ever!! And the guilt I’ve experienced every time wordpress reminded me to blog!!
But not to worry, I have actually been doing loads to build my business recently – with weddings and bridal consultations to my gardening discoveries and learnings. I have lots of content to update you on in coming posts. In the meantime, a quick update of me and some photos from a recent shoot in my garden…
Elaine Groves, a freelance florist and home grown flower grower in Banbridge, Co Down, Northern Ireland. From my small cut flower patch and polytunnel outside Banbridge, I grow my own flowers, herbs and foliages for a truly traditional ‘country chic’ or ‘wild romantic’ style. All my creations are hand made with love and dedication at my peaceful floral studio in the heart of the countryside.
This week, I have been deciding on the cut flower crops that I want to grow this Summer. I have already planted an Autumn sowing of seedlings in the tunnel, all these seeds were all purchased from Higgledy Garden . These seedlings are doing well and I hope they will bloom earlier than the winter/spring sowings. I also need to sow more of these seeds in March he as it is useful to stagger the sowing and planting out to get the longest possible growing season from each crop.
The first seeds I’m going to sow this year are Sweet Peas. I sourced my Sweet Pea seeds from Sarah Raven, picking a spectrum of pink colours. Perfect for weddings and in old-fashioned, highly scented varieties – ‘Painted Lady’, ‘Mrs Collier’, ‘Anniversary’, ‘Matucana’, ‘Lord Nelson’ and ‘Prince Edward of York’.
Sweet Peas don’t like root disruption, so I’m going to make seedling tubes from old newspaper that once the seedlings are big enough can be planted straight into the ground. You can also use toilet roll inners or even cut up egg boxes, although the egg boxes don’t allow the seedlings much growth. Basically the paper or cardboard will degrade in the soil allowing the root ball to break through and continue growing.
Zinnia Giant Mix – I trialled growing Zinnias in window boxes last year with great success and at the moment they are my favourite cut flower – they have a long cutting season and excellent vase life, you will easily get 3 weeks from a freshly cut Zinnia. The flowers of the giant variety are spectacular, huge and long-lasting. For a florist used to more traditional flowers, Zinnias can replace Gerbera very easily, but will need to be wired as a Gerbera for extra support. Some of the varieties also resemble Dahlias and others Chrysants, so they are very versatile. They can be a little tricky to grow as they are prone to botrytis, but I didn’t have a problem last year. I’ve also ordered Zinnia Elegans Envy an acid green variety that will add a pop of colour to a bouquet or work really well in an achromatic colour scheme.
Most florists will be familiar with Moluccella laevis or Bells of Ireland – these tall spikes of fresh apple-green bells are stunning in a simple vase arrangement. You need to put the seed in the freezer for a week before you sow it to guarantee good germination. So, this one could prove a little tricky and they will definitely need staking when they grow!
Cosmos are pretty and bright, and give you plenty of color for a small investment. I haven’t grown them before but apparently they are very easy to grow from seed and make beautiful cut flowers. Most cosmos are annuals, but there are perennial varieties. Popular tall choices include Bright Lights, Cosmic Orange and Cosmic Yellow; dwarf plants include Sunny Red, Sunny Gold and Lady Bird. Cosmos bloom all summer, and you can usually get a second bloom from them by cutting back the early blooms. When they go to seed, I hope to collect and save seeds for next year, who knows I might even have surplus to sell!
I have also ordered Eryngium, a funky decorative thistle that adds texture and last well into Autumn for seasonal designs.
I’ve also ordered some Dahlia tubers from Peter Nyssen who sell a wide range of bulbs online. Dahlias are a must in the cutting garden as they provide colour well into the Autumn and long after other summer flowers have died away. The more they cut the more they flower which is exactly what a grower florist desires. The Karma range have been bred specially as a cut flower variety as they have strong stems and a good vase life.
While I wait for my seeds and Dahlia tubers to be delivered, I need to turn my attention to preparing the ground. I have a lot of new beds to dig; I’m going to need lots of free labour (retired dad – tick), lots of strong tea (Punjana – tick) and some chocolate biccies (tick). Now for a baby sitter…
I wanted to update you on my journey into the growing side of things @ElaineGrows – a grower florist or small scale flower farmer. As a non-gardener to date, this is all very new to me, but I’m passionate about seasonal cut flowers and I wanted to experiment with growing my own.
So, last year after a lot of googling and twitter following, I bought my first seeds from Benjamin Ranyard @HiggledgyGarden (the best cut flower seeds ever!).
My @HiggledyGarden seedlings are presently running rampant in my poly tunnel, maybe we’ve had a mild winter to date or maybe they are just supposed to be this big – I’m unsure but its all part of the learning journey! I sowed in Autumn (in October as it was in the tunnel, but if you are sowing outside in Northern Ireland you probably want to sow earlier, perhaps at the end of August). Sowing in Autumn should give me super strong plants that are more productive and flower earlier that if sown in Spring and if all goes well they will be flowering by May.
The Higgledy Garden Mix included Ammi Majus, Calendula ‘Indian Prince’, Cornflowers ‘Blue Ball’, Corncockle, Bupleurum, Gypsophila ‘Covent Garden’, Nigella ‘Persian Jewels’, Godetia ‘Crown Mix’, Larkspur‘Giant Imperials’, Candytuft, Eschscholzia Californian Poppy ‘Orange King’ and Scabiosa‘Crown’ – See more at: http://higgledygarden.com/products-page/seed-collections/#sthash.bcSbFSWq.dpuf
I’m really looking forward to the Ammi flowering it’s a tall, white, willowy hardy annual that has been likened to Gypsophlia on red bull. Nigella ‘Persian Jewel’ is an old school favourite, better known as ‘Love In The Mist’ and is reminiscent of old cottage gardens. Cornflower ‘Blue Ball’ is also a favourite, a sky blue ball of loveliness and easy to grow! I’ve also planted some Spring bulbs from Sarah Raven, Ranunculus, Anemones and Tulips.
I’m very excited to watch the growth of these seedlings each week, they are like little babies that need to be nurtured and I’ll probably burst with pride when they start to flower!! #excitedgrowerflorist #niflowers #britishflowers
The British flower twitterati have been buzzing and it’s all due to the Great British Garden Revival on BBC 2, 7pm all this week 6-10 Jan. Monday’s episode featured the growing movement surrounding British cut flowers – a hot trend for 2014! Search #britishflowers. Just watching the enthusiasm of Rachel de Thame (presenter), the growers and more importantly the florists has fired me up that this mildly romantic, whimsical business idea of growing and arranging my own cut flowers is going to work!
Bursting with ideas and inspiration on Tuesday, I attended my first meeting of the Northern Ireland Flower and Foliage Association NIFFA, a group of passionate growers and flower farmers steadfastly committed to seasonal home grown flowers. The discussion was lively and enjoyable but more importantly this group is my network for sourcing locally grown blooms for my wedding work and I hope to learn and develop horticultural skills from them. Northern Ireland grown flowers (#niflowers) are fresher by days than those imported from Holland and beyond. They are also more cost effective – imported flowers cost the earth, in air miles, refrigeration, preservatives and that’s not even taking into account the whack the wholesalers take!
It was last August when I successfully pulled off my first wedding using only Northern Ireland grown cut flowers and foliage, supplied mainly by Valerie Orr Trainview Farm (@TrainviewFarm) and raids on my own garden for Dahlias and foliage. Whilst the summer is clearly the best time for seasonal home grown flowers this experience proved to me that you can deliver beautiful, seasonal blooms, without importing from abroad.
This week has inspired me and solidified the fact that I am a grower florist wholeheartedly committed to the Northern Ireland and British cut flower industry. I can’t wait for the first of my home grown blooms to burst open in my polytunnel and I hope you too will support ‘Local’ and what could be a floral revolution!