Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Compost office

Friends were very amused to call at the house to where I am moving to find me having a very animated conversation with the solicitor doing the conveyancing for me - from the compost bin.  There's no landline there yet, and this seemed the best place I could find mobile reception....

I can no longer pretend it's not happening

 A good day yesterday, getting stuck in to digging and shifting.  It does all seem a bit monumental. I\m hoping for a delivery of potato boxes today. I cannot imagine when anything will get into the ground the other end as I have hardly started clearing ground. Wonderful George has been maintaining the lawns and hedges beautifully the other end for decades one day a week. He doesn't usually laugh much. When I scratched my head and said I was freaking out about where on earth I was going to put plants he said "Well how many have you actually got?" "Three acres" I say, I have never seen him with tears almost streaming down his face in laughter before! I did reassure him they are not all coming with me.......

Annie started digging up the new roses, potting them up so they can stay in pots for however long it takes

Maz and Steve on the barrows and bags 
Clearing all plants from beds the other end

My secret weapon the other end, George who is better than any tractor, though a bit surprised to be digging up the lawns he has maintained one day a week for 30 years........

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Lack of imagination

A certain company not a million miles from me has just launched a new website, taking their cut flower business out of their main mail order business so it seems to be a completely separate company not associated with their main business. It is hard not to notice certain similarities to what I do!

First I had the Jigsaw contract supplying flowers to all their shops. It didn't work for me after a while as I grow my own flopwers rather than relying on buying in other people's, and as I want to send out a really good variety, and it was actually too tricky getting the volume just right at all times, plus I needed cashflow rather than waiting more than 90 days for payment. So I backed out. These people buy almost all of their flowers in and are a large mail order business. I saw their flowers in Jigsaw recently, 4 sedums and a few asters....
I started selling sprigged jugs for flowers. These people are suddenly selling EXACTLY the same jugs on their website. I packaged in moss..... I was the first to do mail order wedding flowers.....

Well good luck to them of course, but why not go for some originality rather than feeling the necessity to copy others, especially when you are actually quite a big business.

And, I don't know how they can send out flowers mail order that they have bought in from other growers or via the local wholesalers, as this means the flowers they are sending out are already at least two days old before they start bunching them, so at least three or four days old before they are sent out to customers. How does this work?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Plants on the move

A van load of peonies went off down the motorway yesterday, and all are now rehomed. My mother always said peonies wouldn't grow in her garden but I hope she's wrong........ Her wonderful George Dare, who has done her grass and hedges one day a week for over 20 years is helping me that end, digging me more beds in the garden, the rest will have to wait. I suddenly panicked about spaces and the amount of plants I have to move. He laughed when I told him I had three acres worth to fit into a few herbaceous beds...... I do have a plan! But it is too wet to cultivate the adjacent field now so plants are going to be crated up for the winter I think. It is all interesting.

Fingers crossed that my house buyer has fallen back in love with my cottage and land again. I would like to exchange in the next few days as I need a month between exchange and moving to sort out the plant digging.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

To wrest or wrench or heft

You could almost hear some of the largest perennials shouting as we wrested them out of the ground. Or should that be wrenched. Or hefted.  They might have been shouting for joy as their confined roots hit a wider world. Or maybe just complaining. Thanks so much Esther for coming over just to help, and for sticking with it even though I hadn't managed to contact you to say I was waiting a fortnight. You were brilliant and I really enjoyed your company. Good luck with your plans for moving too.

It was a beautiful day. It would in fact have been perfect to have stuck with my original plans for getting digging. but I was so thrown yesterday when my solicitor implied that the woman who had wanted to buy this house suddenly decided on the day we were meant to exchange contracts that she had possibly had second thoughts. That maybe this is not the place she wants to spend the rest of her life after all......But hopefully it will just be a massive last minute wobble, and anyway what happens is meant to be. And today everywhere was looking completely beautiful. Lots of flowers still standing, all bathed in a  golden glow. So much so that Tammy and James' young children, Lucy and Joe (buying perennials for Tammy's cut flower enterprise in Herefordshire), stripped off almost to nothing and were running about like two little pink cherubs. Cherubs with goosepimples.

Let's hope the weather will be kind in a fortnight so we can get a mass of plants moving.

Plants for sale, business is moving

It's official. I'm moving the business, or what I can. It has all been very up in the air as I had a buyer for the cottage and land and couldn't make any decisions until that was sorted. In fact nothing is definite there but I have decided to move as planned anyway as there is a limited window for moving plants and getting things reestablished, and I intend to carry on the business seamlessly in spring (watch this space!)

I'm leaving bare bones of plants behind in the field if the current potential purchaser still intends to buy, if she pulls out all field plants will be up for sale. Even if I leave a good selection there will be many many well grown stock plants for sale as I don't need to move all of them, including:

Penstemon Huskers Red
Rudbeckia Juligold
Rudbeckia goldsturm
Aster frikartii
Aster andenken Alma Potschke
vs white asters
Iris sibirica
Bistorta superbum
verbena bonariensis
white currants

and others!

I shall be holding a dig up/sale on 3rd/4th November. If you can help me dig things up in return for plants, that's great. If you just want to buy some plants, that's equally great.
But please mail to let me know you're coming.

And if any of you have a really good camera and would like to come an take some pictures that's also great as a daily broadsheet will be running a feature about the move and I said I'd supply them with some digging day pictures!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Last wedding of the season

This year I decided not to take wedding bookings after mid October, as I know from experience that it can get difficult to pick later, even though we have lots of flowers, as I don't grow late things in the tunnel, they are all outside, and there comes a time when we need to knuckle down to Autumn clearing and dividing and bulb planting and suchlike and get out of the studio into the mud. So yesterday was the last booking, the next wedding to decorate will be my son and Daisy's on December 1st.

Silke was looking for reds and pinks and slightly faded vintagey colours with roses in the mix if possible. It was really fun to do and I'm looking forward to some pictures as they looked just right against the rather opulent reds of the venue. For now, a taster of the preparation in a rather damp flower shed!

And tomorrow I was having a bit of help digging up some of the hardy perennials but as there is no confirmation yet about moving I'm having to put a hold on it. All very nerve wracking!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Time flies by

Goodness it doesn't feel almost a month ago that Amy and Mike got married at Mordiford. Amy wanted wild, unstructured flowers, just a smallish mixed bouquet, herbs in the buttonholes, nothing too yellow or orange and absolutely nothing resembling a thistle! I'm still using the same sort of late summer flowers for weddings this weekend, without phlox or veronica but with loads of asters and green ammi along with larkspur, astrantia, cosmos, nigella hispanica, dahlias, grasses...... and the first of the gorgeous autumnal leaves. Every season has it's own delights.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Rumours and realities

Help! There are rumours about that I am giving up growing flowers. Exaggerated I'm afraid. But I may be moving... which means digging up thousands of plants and relocating them to a different soil, different climate, different area..... and starting again with a new uncultivated field and garden.

It's at that desperately scarey stage when I don't know if it's all happening or not, as nothing is yet signed in any direction, which is why I haven't really mentioned it. I never meant to move, I have spent oodles of energy and money here including building my perfect packing shed this year and buying more land, and I had intended to stay for as long as I could imagine, but one never knows quite what is round the corner. Circumstances meant I had to throw everything up in the air and see what landed, and currently it looks as though a big move is on the cards. I had even thought of selling the business and someone was very keen but when it came down to it, I didn't want to. I love growing flowers. I love producing something beautiful from my own piece of ground. I love playing with it all.

Of course I don't love struggling with the elements, watching the weather and, this year, the slugs, but I guess that's just part of the job.

And I'm freaking out about how on earth to move the plants, especially when there is nothing waiting ready for them. But you never know what challenges are round the corner and it is almost the end of my flower season as the frosts are about to descend with relish, so there's a lot of digging and driving (3 hours each way)  to do. I aim to be up and running without too much of a glitsch for the new season next spring. Moving the house doesn't feel too challenging, that's just a matter of a lot of packing, moving the field is a whole other ask, but the prospective buyer is OK with me coming and going all winter when things are dormant. If anyone has any good ideas how I can turn another uncultivated area of weedy pasture into a perfect growing area in one fell swoop I long to hear from you! Some of the plants are destined for an existing garden, but I'm afraid the existing garden is about to be trashed with every plant dug up from every bed in order to make space for some of mine. It's tricky as the existing garden contains some lovely things, but none of them cuttable so I'm afraid they're destined for a big heap, I have to be ruthless but I'm not sure if I'm going to manage it.

And I'm prospectively moving from well composted and well worked soil to heavy bastard wet weedy clay...... but I'm sure all will be fine. My friends all smile and tell me it is all rather typical as I am happiest when i have another challenge, but this wasn't one I am expecting. But yes, I am rather excited by it all.

But it may not happen, and I may still be here next year. Who knows? All I know is that flowers will continue but if I move there may be some changes to the way I work at the earlier part of the year, but I am happy that all the commitments I have taken on for next year will definitely happen, and I hope all will flourish. As they say, watch this space......

I need to build a new shed (which won't be so posh as the one I have built here as cash will be strapped) and create acres of space. But i am confident it will all happen.

And if anyone would like to come and do some digging and clearing in return for some plants, you would be incredibly welcome, the first major dig-up is the weekend of 20th/21st, a fortnight away...... just get in touch.  Raise a glass to the next stage!