Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year from a happy flower grower

Another year is here.  What will it bring, I wonder?  Lots of flowers and a new growing space would be top of my wish list (along with a polytunnel and more local business links in 2015).

It's funny how the year passes in a whirl of activity from March til December but as soon as the New Year's Eve celebrations are over and Christmas put away for another 12 months, my fingers and mind itch to get started on the next growing year.  My second seed order was placed last week and my mind is now constantly roaming over what new cutting varieties I'm going to find space for in the coming months.

I am, however, fully intending to remain strong and bolt down my seed packets until March - not a lot of point in making early sowings until the daylight levels are extended with the imminent arrival of spring.  I made an exception for a very late sowing of self-collected sweet pea seeds yesterday, which I've put in my unheated porch as I need red sweet peas for late May wedding flowers in Birmingham.  I will have to murmur words of encouragement to the sproutlings on a regular basis… and hope that a lot of them are indeed red like about 50% of the parent plants.

This will be one of my first bright coloured weddings with hot oranges, yellows and reds.  Nearly all wedding requests to date have been for pastels and blush shades, so it is nice to have something different.  I'm providing the bride with buckets of flowers which friends and family will arrange for the wedding themselves.  A lovely idea to get people involved in the day - and one of the ways I got started on this path myself, so you never know, I might even germinate some more local flower folk!  My first DIY wedding flowers order, so it will be interesting to see how it all works.

Flowers from the Farm is a network of British flower growers working throughout the UK.
Photo courtesy The Great British Florist
It's been lovely to meet so many other local growers in 2014 as part of my role as regional co-ordinator for Flowers from the Farm, a network of British flower growers nationwide.  We had our first West Midlands meeting in January, and have met up every couple of months as a group ever since, but nearby flowery neighbours met via this route are seen regularly.  Being part of something bigger has been good for developing my expertise and my network - I now know who I can call on for more supplies and helping hands, whilst all the time keeping things local!  Judith of Pollen Floral Joy has become a key ally for moral support and is a very handy brain to pick for ideas and collaborative projects like our crowning of Bully, Birmingham's iconic Bullring bull for British Flowers week in June.

Knowing there are other people out there, willing to share growing and business expertise is invaluable and makes single-handed self-employment much less like being a horticultural hermit.  Far from it. Flower growing has thrown me into a generous world full of green-fingered folk and I'm loving every minute of it.

January sees me resolve yet again to get my allotment shipshape - my half plot section is already something like ready, with beds weeded and covered with weed suppressing membrane to hold back the insidious self seeders and their bid for world domination.  The scruffy big plot however, still needs some serious attention and as ever, I vow that this year I will get the path layout right to enable better access across the plot.  I've got a massive heap of woodchippings which I scrounged from tree surgeons working in the neighbourhood, and I plan to press this handy waste product into service, laid down over some cardboard in the alleys which I earmark for paths.  I sense a whole lot of earthmoving coming on.  Let's hope for a drier winter than 2014 if it is all going to get done before planting starts in spring.

What jobs have you prioritised on your plot for this year?

I wish you all a happy, fruitful and floriferous 2015.

Seasonal British flowers.  Homegrown flowers for weddings Birmingham

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