British Flowers Week

Tomorrow marks the start of British Flowers Week, a celebration of UK cut flower growers and the independent florists they supply, as well as a call to the nation to buy home-grown and seasonal blooms.

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Our once-flourishing flower industry has suffered since the 1970s, when cheap imports from large scale commercial growers in Holland started to dominate cut flower sales. Today, the UK continues to import around 90% of its flowers from Holland, South America and Africa, with supermarket sales accounting for approximately 70% of those sales.

Thankfully, consumers are beginning to wise up and demand for fresh, locally-sourced, seasonal flowers is on the increase, as is the resurgence of flower farms in the UK.  British Flowers Week aims to capitalise on this trend with talks, workshops, competitions and other events happening across the country to encourage people to buy British. (Click here for more info.)

Allium

So how can we help? Eschewing cheap bunches from the supermarket in favour of blooms from a local florist is a great idea, particularly if you request flowers grown in the UK. For online flower orders, I have found Appleyard to be excellent.  Aside from their stunning bouquets and prompt next day delivery, they’re environmentally savvy, sourcing their flowers from UK growers whenever possible and minimising the amount of packaging they use.

But of course, nothing beats a freshly-snipped stem or two from the garden; a hand-picked posy should always be the first choice (cue gratuitous flower photos from our garden…)

Clematis

Poppy

Clematis 2

Clematis & Digitalis

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(PS. Yes. Ade likes clematis. A lot.)

 

 

 

The Sound of Spring

Across the land from parks to allotments, gardens to woodlands, there’s a sound gaining volume; a fanfare from the proud trumpets of  daffodils piercing through the soil, heralding spring. 2

I’m sure winter still has a sting in her tail, she’s not done with us yet. But you can’t help but notice the toneless landscapes are finally changing as pockets of Narcissus explode on the scene.

This welcome sight tells me we’re at the gates of a new gardening season with so much hope and excitement ahead of us. It’s a journey we all look forward to. Gardening blogs are crammed with tales of sowing, Instagram is brimming with colour and Twitter is almost at breaking point, enticing us to visit all things RHS-related.

So not to be left out in the cold, I spent my weekend flitting between garden and allotment, getting as much done as I could, while poor Agent Soph was left wondering what had happened to her missing husband.

First job, to pot up my pepper, chilli and aubergine seedlings. They have come on in leaps and bounds, and with their true leaves gaining size they were ready to trade up and move into something a little larger. 1 Collage

I also sowed some spring onions. I grew some last year and was delighted with the results. So this year, I’ve opted for White Lisbon and a red variety called Furio. They’re easy to grow, need little looking after and the taste is wonderful.

Not yet done with the compost, I decided to plant a bag of shallots. They were a freebie from a gardening website, so I was keen to get these growing. However, after last year’s ‘Onion-maggeddon’, where I lost my entire crop of onions to the dreaded onion fly, I planted these in tubs and have left them to grow in the polytunnel. I’m going to try to grow onions on the plot again this year, but this time I’m going to start them off in modules, get a good root system going and when they have some growth and the ground is warmer, I’ll plant them outside.. and firmly cross my fingers.2 Collage

Back from the allotment and straight into the garden, I pruned a couple of my clematis, gave them a feed and mulched them. Then the final job was to pot up my Nerine bulbs, (a lovely christmas gift from Soph’s parents.) I’ve never grown these before, and as an autumn flower they should really add some wonderful pink and white tones to the garden later this year.

But then it was onto the last and most important task of the day.. 1

… some cut flowers for my good lady wife, and home.

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Top 5 Flowers for October

The temperatures may have plummeted over the last few days, but our garden is still an explosion of colour, thanks to some savvy planting by Ade earlier in the year. Here are our favourite five flowers which keep our back garden blooming, despite the chill!

In no particular order…

  1. Cyclamen
    I was first introduced to this hardy perennial at my parents’ house in Suffolk a few years ago. It was the middle of winter, and freezing, yet a pot of the prettiest pink flowers brazenly bloomed when everything else had died back for the season.

Cyclamen

Ade potted-up these cyclamen a few weeks ago and they’re sitting happily in window boxes, providing a splash of colour in our otherwise bare front garden.

2. Cosmos

It’s easy to grow, very popular with the pollinators, and keeps flowering until the first frosts, cosmos is always a favourite in our garden.

Cosmos

The flowers still look fresh even though they’ve been blooming for weeks, and they still give the few remaining bees something to buzz about!

3. Dahlias

Ade’s a big dahlia fan and our back garden is crammed with a variety of them.

Dahlia

Native to Mexico and once grown as a food crop by the Aztecs (who knew?), Dahlias provide lasting colour in the garden, well into Autumn.

4. Michaelmas Daisies

We inherited our Michaelmas daisies from the old lady (and keen gardener apparently) who lived in our house before we moved here six years ago.

Michaelmas Daisies

During our first autumn here, great swathes of purple seemed to appear overnight, I had to ask my neighbour what they were as I’d never seen them before. Our Michaelmas daisies reliably bloom each and every year and I love them.

5. Chrysanthemums

Another favourite of Ade’s, our chrysanthemums are still looking wonderful.

Chrysanthemums

And they make excellent cut flowers too, which is great at this time of year when you may not be inclined to spend as long outdoors, yet don’t want to miss the final, colourful displays of the season.

What floral delights are blooming in your gardens right now? What are your autumn favourites?

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