Armfuls of flowers, at your whim, to do with as you please….to scent your home (including your bedroom, and your loo) and enough left over with which to play lady bountiful…that’s one of the reasons I got into gardening.
I’ve been growing flowers for cutting since I began this whole gardening malarkey…making my way through trial and error. It’s not a difficult thing to do, but there are ways and means in which you can maximise your yield (and therefore your joy), and so when Georgie Newbery (above, in linen apron) of Common Farm Flowers told me she was holding a course on cut flowers for town gardens, just down the road from me, I jumped at the chance to get the lowdown from an expert.
Many of you will know that Georgie creates wonderful, uniquely special posies, bouquets and occasion flowers from her cutting garden in Somerset. Her arrangements are not only beautiful, but seasonal and chic.
Here’s a very bad picture of what she brought to the workshop, (held back in March when it felt like there was nothing lovely to be picked, let alone tied up and plonked in a vase. You can see more examples here.
And (get ready for hearts to THUMP) Georgie is going to make up a posy for one very lucky reader – see below for details!
But back to the workshop: I got so much more than I ever dreamed.
Georgie is one of these people who (correctly) believe that the more you give, the more you get in this world. There’s no scientific way of explaining it, because we’re talking about feel-good factor here…simple, honest generation of good-will. You’d think a fully comprehensive day learning about how to grow your own flowers for cutting at home might be the one course a flower farmer would think twice about giving…Not so – in fact the opposite is true…and Georgie knows this.
Within moments of sitting down, not only did I have a mouth crammed with delicious home-made cookie love, (see above) but a ream of paper, listing all of Georgie’s best tips…all the little things she’s learned in her experience of working with cut flowers at Common Farm. New information, stuff I’d never heard before started pouring out of her. She gave us a recipe for the perfect posy, very cleverly, in terms of shape and texture, and therefore what to plant in our patch in order to create that, ultimate mix. She told us her secret potting mix (and I mean she showed us exactly what was in it). She imparted two or three great recipes for home-made fertilisers, courtesy of the very brilliant Sara Venn, who teaches courses at Common Farm on composting, amongst other things).
She also told us her particular method for sowing seeds….“SOW THINLY, DARLINGS”…this was a revelation to me, (a person who assumes that half of what I do will come to naught, and therefore always sows far more than I need.) After Georgie’s course, I have come away with an entire cutting patch in one seed tray. She only let me sow five (yes, FIVE) cosmos, five sweet peas, four cerinthe, five molucella and the merest suggestion of a pinch of nicotiana (I’m sure she would have preferred me to tweeze each one of those out of the packet individually, had we had the time, or the eyesight for it). Apart from being obviously money-savey and un-wasteful, this method struck me as being just so fantastically, epically OPTIMISTIC….just to assume that every seed is going to come up. I love it, and will never go back to sowing extra ‘just in case’… unless of course I WANT a jungle.
I scribbled away frantically, asked far too many questions, stuffed myself with a delectable, home-made lunch (even the butter was churned at the farm next door to Georgie’s house) and came away with a head full of dreams and a joyful heart.
Georgie’s courses are here. Be really, really quick booking them, because they fill up FAST.
These few precious seedlings will be planted in my patch, along with the ammi majus and a few other annuals I sowed in the autumn. ‘Excited’ does not *quite* cover it. I’ll keep you up-dated.
To get that gorgeous posy,
….which will not only gladden your heart, but open your mind, simply leave a comment below, and subscribe, if you haven’t already, to my mailing list in the bright pink box below, and then go over here to subscribe to Georgie’s too. This is our way of keeping you up to date on flowery things…Don’t worry we won’t bombard you with stuff and we will NEVER share your details with anyone… not ever.
The winner will be announced in a couple of weeks…good luck!
…Because I am away, and I’ll miss doing Eastery stuff like this – some little projects from my vault: Just click on the titles to find out how to make and do.
…I’ve been trialled and tested and let me tell you this:
I wouldn’t be welcome in my own garden…I wouldn’t be able to take it. I know this because I’ve been in bed for the past two weeks with the most almighty plague which I haven’t been able to shake without the help of evil, pesky pills (the sort that will, no doubt, kill us all in the end anyway)…
All this, I suspect, because it’s been a bit colder and wetter for a bit longer than normal. It irritates me beyond measure.
I yearn to be a geranium, but I am actually an orchid, FFS (more of which later)…
If I didn’t have a small child to look after, I might well stay in bed until May you know….
It’s the centenery of the Chelsea Flower Show, … Have you got your tickets? If not, then I have TWO to give away, for the Wednesday, courtesy of my lovely friends at the RHS. See below if you want to get your hands on them.
But first, I’ve been getting excited about the show from my snotty bed. May is a favourite time of year for me – Newness and the knowledge that it’s going to be *relatively* safe to go outside without being hit with a stabbing wind or lashing rain…
It’s very difficult to get a proper idea of which show gardens are going to make me go oooh this year, but here are a few (in no particular order) that I’m getting a bit excited about:
Jo Thompson’s FERA garden
A garden that starkly draws our attention to the fact that our trees are under threat from pests and diseases. It’ll have an avenue of DEAD trees in it…beauty and ugliness side by side.
Adam Frost’s Homebase Garden
This is being billed as the ultimate modern family garden, with an emphasis on helping children to understand the natural world. Lots of wild-life attractors here, along with a place to sit, eat and play.
Kate Gould’s Wasteland
A garden built on waste ground, and full of recycled materials sourced from that site.
Ulf Nordfjell’s Laurent Perrier Garden
I just know this is going to have me come over all dreamy and peculiar…sucker that I am, for softness and romance.
Christopher Bradley-Hole’s Daily Telegraph Garden
This is supposed to echo the making of the English landscape – you know, the way in which it got all patchworky with fields. Full of English native trees and shrubs, and the blocks will represent those fields. I like the Japanesey edge to it as well.
It’s tough to get a proper view of the show gardens, which is why my favourite bit of Chelsea is pretty much always lurking around in the big tent, taking hundreds of pictures of exquisiteness and listening in on the experts giving advice on how to grow stuff.
Now: those tickets.
If you want them just do the following:
1. Enter your email into the ‘Subscribe’ box on the right of this page. (Don’t worry, you won’t get bombarded with emails; it just means that these posts will go to your inbox…I only post about once a month). The reason I want you to do this is because I’m planning on doing some new stuff, just for subscribers – little videos and extra projects that subscribers will get before anybody else.
2. Tweet or share this post on Facebook (you don’t HAVE to do that, but it would be very gorgeous if you did). You can find my Twitter and facebook page just up there on the right, underneath the subscribe box. Either just re-tweet or share straight from my twitter or facebook page, or hit the ‘Tweet’ or ‘Share’ buttons at the bottom of this post, but remember to tag me by name so I know about it.
Facebook Laetitia Maklouf
3. Put a little comment in the box below telling me your favourite thing about Chelsea (this can of COURSE, be food, or gardening gloves, or GNOMES) x
I have done a BIT of gardening recently…
…well, I say *I*….what I really mean is *he*
HE turned my compost heap, and HE mulched my beds.
I had not touched the compost for two years, and the bottom layers were lush.
Hunk likes the physical work (and it really is a work-out…much better than the gym). You may not believe this, but I watched him, in the soft drizzle, working away and was hit by a pang of jealousy that I couldn’t join in (bun in the oven). He likes to work to music…it keeps things flowing.
The garden looks all warm and comfy now…and much tidier (I also pruned my roses you see).
…I plan to do an Arne Maynard and wrap some of them around dome-like structures this year…see how they like it. It was so beauteous at Chelsea last year, and I tried to do it when I got home, but the everything was too stiff and prickly and I chickened out. I’m going to need some of those lovely big willow or hazel supports…where do I get them? Anyone know?
I’ve been busy doing a bit of filming and writing for the very brilliant app that is IntoGardens, and its sister, ‘Gardens’ for iPhone. Do check them out, if you’re at all interested in gardens and general loveliness.
I was going to flash some seedlings at you in this post, but it’s too long, so you’ll just have to wait.
Meanwhile…please do sign up on the right (where it says ‘subscribe’). I won’t bombard you with hideousness I promise, it’s just a feed so you get this (rather sporadic) blog in your inbox, and so that you get exclusive stuff, for subscribers only, like little how-to videos and stuff like that! xxx
I went into the garden today (bit early, I know – how unlike me…I mean it’s not even MARCH yet is it)
…but there was a sliver of sunshine, and the grass was gleaming, and the whole thing just sort of said ‘come hither’. So out I waddled, inappropriately dressed as usual, and stood next to the Lonicera, and breathed deeply. I planted this shrub three years ago, when I bought it in a small pot at the garden centre. I never dare to hope too much when it’s something I truly madly deeply love, so the fact that it has shot up and out and everywhere and is now blooming its gorgeous heart out is the best feeling…like I just won something in a raffle.
If you don’t have one of these, they’ll be on sale NOW, flowering so you can sample that sweetly floral pong. Buy one and put it in. QUICK. It will make your Februarys sing.
There are snowdrops too.
I find it ridiculously difficult to get a good photograph of a snowdrop, but here you go. These are a slowly increasing patch of I forget which one…S. Arnott perhaps?, which are prettily scented, and which I pick mercilessly (naughty me)…but then I’m not in the garden enough over the winter to praise them like I should.
Buy them now. Put them in a pot if you don’t have a garden (these come from a pot where I’d kept them, on my windowsill for five years). Use John Innes no 2 compost, with some added grit. Enjoy.
Hellebores are the very loveliest of things out now, with their speckledy petals and wonderful bruised colours..
It is for this reason alone that I forgive them for not having scent (cardinal sin) but you can’t have everything…you mustn’t be greedy. I grow them under my apple tree, but also in window boxes and hanging baskets, where they do well enough for me to murmur to myself ‘I must’ve done something GOOD’.
An essential plant in any garden (sorry to be bossy, but it is true), and, as I said, you don’t need a garden to have one or two in your life. Multi-purpose half and half with John Innes no 2 and you’re laughing.
Sarcococca. I won’t go on about sarcococca
….I blether about it far too much. Suffice to say if I had to choose between House of Cards (which I am LOVING) and my sarcococca, then Netflix would have to do without me. Here’s var dignya, for your delectation.
…And yes, if you don’t have a garden, then it will do perfectly gorgeously in a pot…nice and deep please. Thank you.
And an update on my indoor shenanigans:
I sowed basil and some peashoots, amongst other things, just under three weeks ago on my Crocus blog. Basil just appearing now (it takes its own sweet time, does basil), but I’ve been eating sweet pale green peashoots for a couple of weeks now, and they look (and taste) just DIVINE.
…it’s like you can FEEL the chlorophyll, coursing through your body, doing you GOOD. Time to sow another pot I think. I also have rich micro-pickings of lettuce, coriander and dill.
Even if it’s only February, my plate says it’s summer time.
…Here are some truly terrible photos of how I did my table and stuff…
Itching now for a day in the garden….
My daugher’s Christmas List goes like this:
Princess Dress (pink), Princess Gloves, Princess Ring, Princess Crown. Father Christmas has taken note.
Lovely old watering cans (£30-40) from Petersham Nurseries.
Beauteous Christmas (and any-time-of-year) light to hang on my apple tree (£119.99) from Crocus.co.uk
Jean Dange Bohemian Pot (£54.95) from Clifton Nurseries
Six fat quarters (that’s quilting speak for 6 pieces of fabric) in gorgeous vintage prints (£20) from V&A
Utterly glorious scented stuffed fish, made with old silks and brocades (£45) from Tobias and the Angel, where absolutely EVERYTHING is covetable.
Long tie shirt ($283) from Tucker. Exquisite silk printed things that I lust after.
A bouquet each month for a year. I defy anyone not to want this. (£450) from Common Farm Flowers
I didn’t die….
…but I HAVE been a bit distracted with things other than blogging recently.
We’re heading into Christmas (I love Christmas), and this year everyone’s coming to MY house, which will mean ‘decking the halls’ properly, WITH toddler, who has informed me that she expects to be involved in a big way. All that to come….
But meanwhile I wanted to shout from the rooftops (very late, but better late than never) about a brilliant talk by the wonderful Matthew Wilson on autumn plants that I went to at Clifton Nurseries. Luckily they’re still going on, so if you fancy some winter inspiration PLUS a shoppatunity, then book yourself in asap. I was particularly thrilled to be given the low-down on some grasses that I was lusting after, and these are definitely on my Christmas list.
…Oh, and also you get CAKE.
I re-did my window-boxes when I got home, by plonking in some chillies that I bought on impulse on my way out (as you do)…They were initially for a halloweeny fix, but they are still going strong and I love them….the white cyclamen will just have to wait a while…
…And I haven’t been totally idle.
The garden has been neglected (and is none the worse for that)…I’m sluttily leaving it until the second half of September, when I shall whip things into shape in that ‘back to school’ way we all have.
What HAVE I been doing?
well, mothering really. A three year old takes rather a lot of creative energy. You have to stay one step ahead.
I rarely manage it, so it’s mostly me, running on a treadmill, really fast, just to stay in the same place, if you see what I mean.
This is not a blog, just some pictures of the lavender bag we made together… (or rather, I sewed, and she said ‘oh commmoooooooon mummy’)
Sometimes I think this blog should be titled “An excuse to show you my small daughter’s beautiful dimpled hands”.
…but for information’s sake, you dry your lavender for a couple of weeks, pull it off its stem, make a little bag from some old, thin Liberty lawn (and using backstitch, of course…this is not the sort of thing for which one would go hoiking out the sewing machine…cumbersome things). I do not even hem – pinking shears do nicely – and tie the thing with a proper ribbon or bit of grosgrain.
The result is surprisingly heady, and I shall probably make more, because one small bag really does make a whole drawer smell delicious.
I’m taking a break for a bit now. Normal business will be resumed when the blogging god tells me to get on with it.
Until then xx