Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Janus-headed gardener

I'm gearing up for my last flowery market of the season on Saturday.  It all feels very autumnal with hydrangeas and dahlias in their rich colours, along with hips, haws and other berries.

But just as I'm looking at the end of my market stall year, I'm looking at the start of the next season, planting daffodils and alliums for next spring and sowing hardy annuals in the greenhouse.  So far, my cornflowers have been amazing - up and at 'em just two days after sowing!!  Calendula, scabious and a grass which is new to me - agrostis Nebulosa - are all zooming along, trying to keep up with their neighbours.  Ranunculus which I planted in the greenhouse border are also putting up their first tentative leaves and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a good spring crop next year.

I've got anemone 'Galilee' corms winging their way to me via Royal Mail as we speak; tulips resting patiently til November in the cool, dark garage, and the allotment seed catalogue calling loudly to me from the living room.  I think didiscus is going to be my new flower to try in 2015 as I fell in love with it at a recent meeting of flower growers when I saw it in the flesh.

2014 has been a good year for Tuckshop Flowers and we seem to have poked our flowery heads a little further above the parapet into the public consciousness.  Hopefully all these seedlings that I'm nurturing now will find a good home in a new patch of land in 2015 so that I can grow my business even further.

Picking autumn raspberries at the allotment yesterday, it didn't feel like two minutes since the start of spring, and yet there I was, along with other plot holders, clearing out finished crops and doing the first bits of winter digging.

But before we get to next spring, we have a spot of wreath-making to do over the Christmas period, so I'd better toughen up my hands and keep a beady eye out for wreath ingredients.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Amused by being a muse!

I've just been given a lovely thank you from one of my customers who picked up a bunch from my farmers' market stall.  She'd forgotten her purse, but as she was someone I knew, I told her not to worry about it and we'd settle up some other time.  So off she went with a small jam jar posy to put on her kitchen table.

Not only did I get payment, I also got this:

A lovely interpretation of her bunch, made by her mother-in-law on an iPad.  I don't think I've ever seen a picture where I know each element so intimately and was delighted to see that my flowers inspired such creativity - proof that it's not just me that thinks they're beautiful!  I really love it and all that remains is for me to find it a suitable frame and location.  Now I'll  have to give her another bunch, to say thank you in return.  Do you think this cycle could just keep going?

Monday, 15 September 2014

September seeds

Wow!  Where have the past few months gone?

My lack of blog posts is a sure indication of clement gardening weather and a busy time on the flowery business front.

Now we're already in September and I'm mentally time travelling into next year's flowers.  A quick rummage in the fridge, where my seeds are kept, reveals the source material for a forest of cerinthe, cornflowers, corn cockles, larkspur and vivid orange calendulas.  And as it is raining this morning, I feel a greenhouse sowing session coming on.  All these hardy annuals can be sown now while there is still some warmth left in the season and this gives them the chance to build up a healthy root system as the weather cools and discourages them from putting on lots of top growth.  They won't be much to look at until spring next year when their rooty headstart will allow them to burst into life well ahead of any seeds sown in the early spring.

And even before the shops start playing Christmas carols, if you want indoor bulbs in flower for the festive season, between now and mid-October is the time to plant them.  Leave them somewhere dark and cool and just moist (not wet) until the growth is about 5cm tall, then bring them into cool and light conditions to put on a final flowery burst.  Hyacinths will need about 3 weeks in the light before they flower.  This year, I'm forcing prepared hyacinths, white and blue crocuses and pretty blue grape hyacinths (muscari).  Lots of limboing up and down from my three quarter height cellar with the tricky steps….

But later I'll have lots of these:
forcing hyacinths indoorsforcing crocus indoors 

And now I'll get out into to the greenhouse which I cleared at the weekend - it's now bare apart from 4 denuded stems of tomato plants with lots of green fruits, and the indoor chrysanths which I rescued from the garden centre sell off earlier in the season.  I've never grown chrysanthemums before, so am curious to see what they do (in spite of my neglect!).  I don't know what it is about things that grow under cover, but once they get beyond the stage where I would naturally plant them out, I lose interest in them and tend to leave them to their own devices.  My garden may flourish, but my houseplants all wither as a result.  I've just killed off my last houseplant, a very hardy parlour palm which has hung on for about 8 years.  It has now been replaced by dried flowers which I don't need to take any care of.  Bad mother.

Another month of flower markets to go, and then my brain has to really switch into Christmas mode, organising venues and supplies for wreath-making workshops, planning my range of plants and products for Christmas markets and drilling those china teacup planters for all that I'm worth!