Sunday, 28 June 2009

wedding bits

Celebrations - and weeds

A big weekend with two weddings, one for a great friend's son, and one in the Catholic Abbey in Hereford followed by a reception at the family home. Plus flowers for a graduation ceremony, all on the same Saturday. I always underestimate the time involved, and while wedding preparations take over, weeds gather even greater speed in the gardens as there's no spare work force to tackle them. I don't think people believe me when I explain that the gardens are rather weedy and very far from show gardens!

One wedding required 11 bridesmaid's bouquets plus over 40 buttonholes. It was interesting to realise how long it took! The other was lots of garlands and a globe, plus simple flowers, and garlands also take ages but I think the time spent is definitely worth it. I loved the rood screen in the church softened with alchemilla studded with a range of red poppies and cornflowers, and used simple alchemilla decorations on other surfaces, and a huge vintage zinc florist's bucket filled with Lysimachia, branches of philadelphus and great globes of alliums on the large central windowsill. The bride didn't want pedestals or pastels. The other wedding did require huge pedestals and Meg is a total whizz at generous countrystyle church displays so we did the abbey together and made huge arrangements of delphiniums, foxgloves, larkspur, golden philadelphus purple stemmed lobelia and lots of bits and pieces. They looked wonderful and I hope the bride's family will send through some photos as I (as usual) had no time to take any. I crept up to the local church the day after to snap what we had done there. 

This week I really need to hurl some more energy into weeding, but there are also lots of mail orders to go out - the gardens are becoming full of flowers all of a sudden. Outside there are stocks, annual cerinthe, ammi. dill, verbena, achillea, annual phlox, sweet peas, lobelia, astrantia, roses, alliums, veronicas, heleniums, eryngiums........

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Saturday June 20th

No weddings this weekend, so a bit of time to clear up - it has been terrifically windy in the field so the big blue campanulas and delphiniums have been pointing groundwards and will probably be over before the two weddings next weekend. Larkspur in the tunnel is beginning to bloom so that will probably be the main attraction with smaller campanulas, ammi, veronicas and veronicastrums for the spires. Bouquets this week have included alliums, astrantia, sisyrinchium, love in the mist, palest mauve and deep magenta knautia, sweet peas, cornflowers..... some of them have been very frothy on account of alchemilla which just begs to be used. I can't believe we are still weeding madly, but we have just about got through the annual areas and will then have time to water the rest thoroughly and cover with the mushroom compost which is still blocking the thoroughfare.

My mind has been turning to buttonholes and bouquets the past two or three days as one wedding next weekend requires about 40. The flowers need to be quite strong to make enough of a statement. I hope sweet peas will be flourishing madly for bridesmaid's bouquets next week, they were good for a couple of weeks only in the tunnel which then got a bit hot for them I think, but they're looking good in the top garden - very pale with a purplish rim, very scented, lovely for weddings.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Pembrokeshire wedding

It was a glorious day for Helen and Guy's wedding last Saturday in the beautiful ancient chapel at Manorbier Castle. A dream setting, and a dream day - which was just as it should have been as Helen had been dreaming of getting married at the castle for about 20 years! It was a privilege to decorate such a beautiful old chapel for them. They had spires of delphiniums and foxgloves, lots of white oriental poppies, beautifully scented stocks and a hanging hoop for the main window created from wisteria and decorated with love in the mist, foliage and alliums. A delicate half arch was made from herb foliage studded with roses.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Profusion and impatience

So many annuals have been temperamental to get going this year but they are beginning to show more optimistic signs. The first outdoor stocks are blooming now, cerinthe is getting into its stride,  the first batch of Ammi majus is flowering, and the first cornflowers are opening their little blue heads. But otherwise everything has what seems like miles to go - ammi is usually hugely successful here but I had problems with germination for some reason this year so have had to sow indoors and prick out, and have only tiny crops of early blooms which is rather disappointing. Some seedlings got swamped with corn spurry and never stood a chance - my fault for being too busy to look out for them at the appropriate time, and the ducks played havoc with the first bunch of snapdragons, deciding the middle of the patch was the perfect place for them to make mudslides. We were forced to resow rows of sunflowers this week, very late I know but perhaps they'll make it after birds devoured the first crop.

But some flowers are looking wonderful - delphiniums are managing to stay majestic despite the rotten weather that has been thrown at them, and they'll be much used in the next crop of weddings. Larkspur are blooming in the tunnel, along with stocks and sweet peas. Sparkling starry alliums are sweeping through beds, different astrantia are getting into their stride, knautia, cirsium and gladioli are beautifully bright. The cottage garden is anything but subtle, suddenly it's an explosion of colour - I think it calms down a bit soon as it's certainly not to everyone's taste at this stage! Roses are blooming their socks off, various poppies are coming and going, foxtail lilies are waving their tails about, and in the middle of it all the bright yellow phlomis is shouting to anyone that will listen - it has never been my favourite plant but the seedheads are rather wonderful so I've grown to admire it in all its brashness.

Bouquets this week include campanula, astrantia, heuchera, knautia, peonies, alchemilla, nigella, lobelia, stovks, pinks........ rather lovely I think!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

sunshine and rain

It's been the hottest week so far and flowers have been bursting out so fast. Beautiful iris sibirica in pale blue, lilac, and royal blue as well as white have been stunning but flowers are over in a flash when it's really hot. Love in the mist is flourishing, stocks and pinks and gloriously scented, and sweet peas are scenting the tunnel beautifully although all the colours are very pale so far.

I've been up at 4.30 latest every day this week so today am having my first day off in weeks, glad to have the rain doing the watering! The first WWOOFer  stayed three days but now the rain has come she has gone, realising that outdoor work was perhaps not for her,  but the second is brilliant, very positive and eager to please as well as very helpful. I've had no time in the gardens this week and am having to reconsider priorities - I guess the early days of any business are working out the best ways forward and the best use of my time as how best to use helpers. The weeds are getting a bit alarming in some areas but checked in others.

The first wedding pictures from last weekend's weddings have started to come in, I hope there will be more in a few days.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Help at last

WWOOFers have started arriving - helpers from the Working Weeks on Organic Farms organisation where people get board and lodging in return for half a day's work per day for as long as they stay. The gardens are in desperate need of assistance as my wonderful gardener Meg has been unable to keep up with little assistance from me as I have been too  busy doing picking, packing, admin and organising to even get into the gardens for days at a time. Now we need a concerted effort before the weeds win. As you may be able to see from the photo the wicker weeders are not doing a good job!

Today I picked peonies, astrantia, libertia, sisyrinchia, phygelius, alchemilla, scabious, conrnflower, delphinium, camassia, nigella, daisies, stocks, cerinthe, physocarpus, pittosporum....

bulk sales

It always looks rather fantastic when there is a mass order - Monday was the fortnightly big one for 44 stores so I had a long day, (4 am to about 9pm by the time watering and emailing was finished!), with Lucy helping with the packing. It was a blisteringly hot day but I think we managed to keep everything well watered and cool until the bunches were packed in their kraft paper and brown boxes.