Tuesday, 30 November 2010

about face

I'm generally rather perverse about christmas decorations - I don't usually do gold, I don't usually do conifer, I don't usually even do holly. And I think I've also said on more than one (hundred) occasions that I don't do dried flowers. But this year I am doing gold, conifer, dried, and holly. Mainly because I cut masses of lovely glossy bay last week for decorations, as well as some really silvery blue eucalyptus, but the past two nights have dropped deep into the freezing zone (it was 18 degrees below zero a few miles up the road on Sunday night). So when I checked the foliage today for sending out a multiple order I found it had nearly all suffered from frostbite and was not looking its glossy best. Time for the 24 carat gold spray - and a touch of conifer, and holly, and statice, as well as some preserved beech leaves..... amazing how things change. But that is what tends to happen here, we work with what we've got so it's hard to predict exactly what will be coming out. And that's why I also decided to do dried flower hoops this winter, for once I know what we've got to work with then.

 I've also been asked if I could provide some very inexpensive but effective hanging decorations. There is no way I can produce any kind of a wreath for well under a tenner, so I'm going for very simple hangers. I'm just waiting for the snow to calm down enough for my delivery of ribbon and raffia so I have something pretty to bind them with.

Monday, 29 November 2010

early snow

Not too thrilled with the weather. I would have preferred to get all the bulbs in - just when I thought I  still had time for once. I'm wondering if that will be it for 2010. Still, at least it means I will have to get into the flower house (with a million layers on ) and get stuck into all those christmas goodies. Pics will follow when I'm a bit better organised.

On the plus side, it's fun to be inside for once editing a book on resilient plants. Wondering how many of them would actually be resilient for this level of weather.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

no maintenance gardening?

I have been checking out another field this weekend, a field which is sheltered and warmer and on the alkaline side rather than acid. Soil is however still heavy clay, but actually I am growing used to that and it certainly has advantages for a minimal water regime. I am considering planting a few blocks of shrubs there next year to see how they do, and leaving them to fend entirely for themselves. As I am not a believer in chemical controls this probably would mean planting through landscape fabric, but my mind is whirring for other methods of keeping the good going and the bad down. I would like to experiment with no maintenance growing for a while, as everything is so incredibly high maintenance here, and it might be a good site for a few volume crops of foliage, berries or flowering shrubs. My mind is far from made up. The reason for even considering it is that I get frustrated by the exposure of this site. Yes there are advantages to all that movement of fresh air, but the lie of the land means it is hard to plant convincingly for windbreaks, and I just can't bring myself to put up that  industrial windbreak material. Yet. But it may come to it. Or I may try some planting elsewhere.

Oh yes the main disadvantage of the other site is that it is not close by. That is an advantage in that the climate is much much softer. But a slight disadvantage being three hours drive on a good day! So it really would have to be no maintenance for a while.

Monday, 15 November 2010

landscape fabric - hints please

The winds last week were fairly fierce here. On the far patch which is most exposed yards and yards and yards of landscape fabric paths dislodged themselves from their stakes and pins and disappeared to other areas of the field where paths really are not needed.  Does anyone have any helpful ideas how to keep the stuff down through winter gales. Last year we dug in the edges of wider strips, and weighted them down with metal gates, pallets, iron bars..... but still lost some of them in the worst weather. I suppose the solution here always has to be to plant more windbreaks but that won't help right now. All suggestions very welcome.

More funerals this week. I really like doing funeral flowers though the gardens are looking rather less than productive now! Tulips plod into the ground, as long as I do a few hundred most days we will eventually get them in, and as the last ones went in between the spells of snow and ice in January last year I'm not too worried.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

a glimpse

I think the bridegroom is getting a huge hug from his new father in law, but who knows......

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

finally some planting

Fantastic couple of days with perfect planting weather, the first 3000 tulips and 1000 alliums are in the ground. Hoorah. I'm told so often that I should be more mechanised but actually it's rather pleasant work planting bulbs on a nice day......

An interesting approach from a local MIND garden organiser to see if we can join forces in some way so the MIND group can grow flowers for us or something of that kind. I hope we'll work something out as I've been contemplating how we could work with some social organisation or other.

And we've booked for Cottesbrooke Plant Finders Fair next June, if you don't know it, it's the one fair definitely worth going to if you're a keen gardener. lots of wonderful specialist small nurseries and beautiful garden goodies. I'm planning already!

Monday, 8 November 2010

behind the scenes

If I could be granted one wish it should be for a bit less chaos and a bit more order in the way I do things..... my studio could never make a shopfront! But I guess I still must kind of love my chaos to hang on to it with such dedication! Old man's beard, spindle, hips and bryony are my current top hits.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

autumn wedding first snaps

The brief was to bring a bit of country into the city so I hope we managed to do that. Lots of autumn foliage, hydrangeas, berries, scabious, cornflowers and schizostylis, hips, clematis seedheads and old man's beard, plus the bride wanted traditional scented roses so I bought those in for her from the traditional scented English rose grower.... Personally I would happily stuck with all the home grown and hedgerow treasures but I can't deny that the scent of roses is rather divine at any time.  The scale of 1 Whitehall Place and the amazing decoration in the building mean that it isn't the easiest venue to decorate so I decided to stick with a few large arrangements - a lovely autumnal urn and two large hanging arrangements plus some fairly wild pillar decorations including lots of bryony and old man's beard - and more conventional table decorations and rather neater than usual table pedestals to follow the bride's brief. Her bouquet was a mixture of flowers, berries and roses, the bridesmaids had just roses (actually the most challenging part of the brief for me as I'm so used to doing our very mixed mixtures!) and a flower girl had a pomander of hydrangeas and roses. Buttonholes were hips, hydrangeas and roses. 

We had a lovely day getting everything ready, all rather stress free thanks to fab help from Florence and Kathleen who nobly turned up without having any idea what they would have to be doing, and Meg did a brilliant job with the hanging arrangements and urn. I hope the bride and groom loved their flowers..... if all was well I'm sure there'll be some proper shots and bouquet pix for the blog later.

Dissembling everything took a while, not just the difficulty of detaching the hanging arrangements and derigging the urn, but a film crew were using the venue for some 1950s film so I couldn't use the usual lifts and had to carry everything miles from the kitchen service lifts which involved getting lost several times in the basement labyrinth! All rather interesting!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

tulips still waiting

We did finally get started on tulip planting on Wednesday, but only got a couple of hours in as so much else to do. Look out for an offer on our christmas hoops in Gardens Illustrated december edition, and on courses in Gardeners World mag. But meantime it's full on preparing for the Whitehall wedding, photos will follow.....

Monday, 1 November 2010

november means thinking about christmas

Help, it's time to think about christmas fare although we haven't started planting the bulbs yet...whatever happens to time? And nothing is going to get done in the gardens this week because we've a big London wedding next Saturday so that's occupying all thought this week. I'm going to make huge arrangements with autumnal and preserved foliages, berries, fruits, old man's beard, clematis heads and loads and loads of very scented roses that I am buying in specially, and tables will have delicate arrangements with ivies, ammi, berries, fennel heads and suchlike, cornflowers, nepetas and roses. The venue is very large but I'm fairly confident the scent should still fill it and the whole should look magnificent. Fingers crossed.

And meantime it's time to think about christmas. I will be selling hoops on line but no winter flower arrangements this year, hoops will be made with bases of willows and dogwoods, covered with lots of mini posies of our dried flowers, seedheads, berries plus herbs. They will be lovely, but they can't get made yet!