Friday, 20 July 2018

"I must have flowers, always, and always"

Since my last blog we have had the Beast from the East swiftly followed by the warmest of summers. There is some rain today, a soft gentle rain, probably not enough for the garden but better than nothing.  It was a long 5 weeks without rain here which is very unusual and resulted in lots of journeys up and down the garden with watering cans.
“I must have flowers, always, and always."  This is a much used quote by Claude Monet and it is very apt for a flower grower.

I now have the flowers, lots of them, which is just as well as there has been a run of parties and weddings all needing beautiful British grown flowers.

When I first started growing flowers I thought that would be it, simply growing and selling to florists.  I had no idea that wedding floristry would become such a large part of my world.  I have no formal floristry training, I'm self taught and a student of workshops and online training.  

My first wedding was very nerve racking and I was delighted to hear from the bride after the wedding who had taken the time to write a lovely note thanking me for her flowers. Since then there have been lots of brides and thankfully, lots of lovely notes and kind words!  It is still a nervous time for me, making sure I have understood the wishes of the Bride and Groom, ensuring all the flowers are looking at their very best on the day and putting together the flowers for their special day.  

It seems strange to be tending to small seedlings when the garden is flowering its socks off but that is what is happening at the moment.  The biennials for next year have been sown and will be planted out in September when I can find some space in the polytunnel and cutting garden.  Foxgloves, honesty, wallflowers, sweet william, sweet rocket and campanula are all sitting patiently waiting.  Hopefully there will be early flowers in the spring of 2019.

So whilst the rain is falling and I am inside, its high time I chased my children out of bed, in time for lunch!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy the photographs of bouquets, large arrangements, buttonholes and jam jars.

If you like what you see and are planning your wedding, please do get in touch, I love talking flowers.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Spring is not really springing

Well wrapped up against the cold
The start of 2018 has been cold, wet and snowy.  The garden has been covered under a thick blanket of snow for so long and finally it disappeared and now as I sit by the fire keeping warm it is snowing again!  

My first wedding of the year is this weekend.  The bride to be and her mother came to the house at this time last year to have a wander around the garden to choose the flowers for the wedding.  There was lots flowering.  Tulips, daffodils, hellebores, snowflakes and fritillaria.  This year there is nothing!  Luckily I can still source flowers from the UK from wholesalers in the south west of England so we will be ok which is a huge relief.

The seed sowing has continued and at last they seem to be growing.  This weekend was spent planting out the first batch of sweet peas in the polytunnel.  These were sown in January as the October sown seeds were killed off by the cold.  

Roots looking healthy

They look a bit lost but will soon start to climb 
Generally I sow sweet peas in root trainers, they love to stretch their legs

A new addition in the polytunnel is a rose bed.  They have been transplanted from the garden and hopefully it will mean bigger and better blooms in the summer.  Getting battered by wind and rain and a lack of sunshine took its toll last year and the blooms I had were very inferior so fingers crossed.

So whilst there is a very slow start to spring I am heartened that finally the annuals already planted out in the polytunnel will soon start flowering and we will have flowers like these ones.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Autumn and Winter at Schoolhouse Flowers


Whilst the garden has gone into hibernation the work still goes on clearing beds of the spent flowers and putting them through the shredder to make wonderful compost for the coming year.

The pile of tulip bulbs stored in the garage were planted in November and I eagerly await seeing the first little tips appearing above ground in February.  They are planted in rows, very close together, think eggs in an egg box.

Tulip bulbs planted in polytunnel 

The ranunculus and anemones are planted in beds in the polytunnel and hopefully the mice will leave me a good few to sell in the spring.


Early December was all about wreath making.  Foraging for greenery, wiring all the decorations for the wreaths and table centres, spray painting poppy seed heads and alliums collected and dried earlier in the year, sorting through the dried helichrysums to find the best ones and collecting the moss for the wreath bases.  The thought is rather daunting but once the radio is on and the first one starts to take shape it doesn't take too long.  The only down side is the cuts on my hands from the wire and holly and the colour of my hands at the end of the day.

Wreath making starts

The first few are ready 

A special order for two identical wreaths, first one ready

First time using lotus seed heads, I will definitely be using them again
Our table centre, I remembered to make one for us too!

Today is the 5th of January 2018 and I am going to sow another batch of sweet peas.  The first batch, sown in October 2017, are looking rather bedraggled after the temperature dropped to between -6°C - 9°C for a few days but I'm sure they will bounce back.  Even though they look so delicate when flowering they are extremely hardy and like cooler temperatures to get going so fingers crossed.

The outside beds were covered with a thick layer of snow and so nothing was to be done apart from admire them on our way past to the hill for some tobogganing fun!
The cutting garden hiding under the snow

Cutting beds in paddock covered in snow

Now the snow has gone but the rain has arrived making everything very wet, muddy and sticky.  Far too cold to be doing much outside apart from more tidying and preparation but inside the polytunnel will start to fill up once again with the biennials and autumn sown hardy annuals. 

I'm off to the greenhouse now to have a tidy up and get some seeds sown.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Lazy, hazy summer days

What a lovely thought, lazy, hazy summer days.  Sadly in this small corner of the world the weather has been less than favourable with wet and blustery weather and only a few of those hot sunny days that we all long for. 

The garden has been doing its own thing as usual although some annuals have gone over far quicker than normal because of the continual downpours.  Whilst all this has been challenging it has again made me realise that failure to prepare means prepare for failure, as I constantly tell my children!

There will be more staking required for the next growing season, more successional planting so that if the worst happens, I will always have substitutes waiting in the wings.  A combination of rain and wind caused the cornflowers to tie themselves in a knot and then collapse but I had already sown some outside in June, about the only crop that does well being sown directly, so all was not lost.

Its so easy to overlook this crucial planning stage when every available space is full with seed trays and most of the plants are so in need of planting out they are hitching up their skirts and walking off the bench themselves, so I forgive myself for forgetting the 2nd sowing, let alone the 3rd one.

Biennial seed sowing also comes around far too soon, June to be precise.  Foxgloves, sweet william, honesty, sweet rocket and wallflowers should all have been sown to start off spring with a riot of colour.  I will admit that the June sowing date slipped a bit, I was full of good intentions of course but I just forgot about it.  However, all is looking good, there are trays and trays waiting to be planted out in September when I start clearing the beds.

Here are some photographs of the cutting garden and paddock and some of the beautiful flowers I grow.  I should say at this point that most of the photographs were taken by my daughter who has a much better eye than me.

So my jobs this week include clearing some beds in the polytunnel, deadheading to keep those wonderful blooms blooming, weeding of course, and making space in the diary for the orders already being booked for 2018.





Clary Sage
Cutting garden with raised beds
Paddock with cutting beds

Thursday, 29 June 2017

My first blog

Hello and welcome to my first blog and my new website which I am very excited about, but where to start, should I be witty, trendy, erudite, no I think I will just tell you about progress in the garden and share the highs and lows of being a cut flower grower in Scotland.  

I have no formal training, that is the first thing to get off my chest, I just love gardening and flowers but this new found love only started when we moved to our house here in the Scottish Borders.  The garden was a blank canvas with the exception of a wonderful old apple tree with a distinct lean, two pink peonies and a pretty laburnum.  After 14 years the garden has gone through a dramatic transformation with a woodland garden, spring border, white border, three new long borders, a cutting garden with raised beds, 12 more beds for cut flower production, an orchard and a new vegetable garden, I commandeered the last one.

The growing season here is from April to October, but this is heavily dependant on the weather, gardening at 700 ft has its challenges but I am constantly surprised by what will grow.  I have the use of a polytunnel which helps enormously as we can have very late and very early frosts.

Someone who came to visit us questioned why we had not bothered to install an irrigation system in the garden.  After I had stopped laughing I explained that it would be surplus to requirements, it's OK though, he's my cousin and has not lived in the UK for a very long time.  If he were here now he would understand why that is not really necessary.  It is pouring with rain so I am inside planning, and writing this.  Also I have time to look through the bulb and seed catalogues that are now jamming up the letterbox.  It seems strange to be thinking about next years flowers before we have really got going with the flowers this year but it's a guilty pleasure of mine to look through them all, write down what I would like and then go through the list again cutting it down by at least half.  Children and sweet shops springs to mind.

So today is an inside day, I will go to the polytunnel later, listen to the rain hammering down on the plastic and deal with the sweet peas that are now so tall I need to stand on a ladder to get to them. Weed between the bells of ireland, amaranthus, snapdragons and dahlias and clear the cornflowers which have served me well but now are passed their best and the outside plants are flowering plus I need to make room for the plants still waiting for a home.

I hope you will enjoy reading this.