Category Archives: Flowers

I’m keen on flower arranging and this year have done my first weddings and some commercial work. I’m keen to improve and maybe try growing flowers for cutting next year

So many flowers

A few months ago I got a phone call asking me if I’d take part in the flower festival at Ledsham Church….oh yes no problem.  The theme’s What a Wonderful World.  OK, so my brain cranked into gear and yes I thought, a globe of flowers with a little daisy chain dancing round it in mid air to the people of the world connecting with one another.  Shouldn’t be too difficult….. Plenty of time to think about it.

However, I did know what I had to live up to.  I’d been to the flower festival last year and what lovely displays.   The ladies in the village were no amateurs for sure.So the months went by and I imagined this pole sprayed black with my globe perched on it.  So I ordered massive floral foam spheres – one to use and one to practice on and my son made me the the pole.  3 weeks before the event I soaked the globe and tried to sit it on the pole.  Ha!  the thing was so heavy it was like lifting a medicine ball and there was no way it was going to stay upright… so one clever idea down I had to revert to putting it onto a traditional pedestal…but that was OK…not quite the plan, but OK.The day arrived and just over a week ago I landed at the church clutching my pedestal and my flowers.   The place was full of chatter, flowers and buckets and there was lots of activity, and there were some amazing creations in place already.

I loved Singing in the Rain, it did just look as though the flowers were raining down the umbrella, and  the colours in Sunrise…

There really were so many and they were so lovely….but I persevered with my little globe and hoped for the best and every now and again I took a look at some of the others.   There was an afternoon tea called My Mother’s Baking, then there flowers showing the joys of family, this year’s royal wedding, sport and cricket, nature’s bounty, gardening.

There was a patriotic red white and blue one, and then there were the lovely trees, beautiful weeping birch trees, put together to form an archway into thechurch.   A lovely idea for a wedding, such an entrance for the

bride to come through….Anyway I finished my globe.  It wasn’t bad and the colours were good.  See what you think.   As usual I needed to look at it again.   I went home and when I got back on the Sunday I liked it a lot more!

One of my favourites was done for Marie Curie, lovely pink colours in the church doorway.   

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I think we’ve turned a corner…..

I’m sitting outside writing this….its been a long time coming but that’s what I had in mind when  I bought this little house with its derelict garden.   I can smell the roses from my garden bench and the air’s warm and the birds are singing.

Almost two years ago I sat out here just after I got the keys.   My plumber and I were eating sandwiches for lunch on the hard stony earth surrounded by the old bathroom fittings which were chucked out here and goodness only knows what else…carpet, radiators, bits of wood, you name it.  Not just that but the garden itself was indescribably awful.  Not a garden at all.  And he said to me what on earth made you move here (I had a perfectly nice garden at my house in Leeds) and I said just listen…. so we sat in silence.   There was practically no sound and sitting here now I can’t see another house.  I can see the tops of the chimneys at Ferrybridge Power Station over the greenery mind you but I can live with that!

When I look at the house pre French windows and pre decking I can’t believe it.  It looks so different.  And well done son….I knew it was a good idea for him to retrain as a joiner!

The view’s changed a bit as well, this is how it looks from the  bench now and last year I’d have been looking at this.

I think the biggest improvement though has to be the lawn.   I seeded it in April of this year and banned the hens from it.   They and the birds were having a fine time eating the seed.   And of course it was so dry.  So much for it being a perfect time to sow grass seed  the driest spring for how many years?   So goodness knows how much water went onto it.   Anyhow eventually it started to grow, and so we said goodbye to the grey earth and welcomed the green growth.  Such a difference.   Its not 100% weed free, but then considering what was here beforehand that’s OK.  Its less than 6 months old so a year of mowing and weeding and it’ll improve.

And the front of house is taking shape too.   I was desperate to get a front porch and some raised beds.   It looked so naked when I moved in.  Not a bit like the cottage that the locals called it.   When I told someone where I lived she said “Oh yes, the old potters cottages”  but this didn’t look a bit like a cottage and there was nowhere to plant a thing.   So I’d been looking here there and everywhere for something to change the look of the front door (which is actually the kitchen door….because the house is back to front, but let’s not go there!) when I came upon a reduced garden arch thingy.  Rang my son who said things like, “Is it tall enough?  Will it be wide enough?”and “OK get it”.

So I did.   Anyway without going into the huffing and puffing about it not being quite right after a good deal of adaptation it was eventually installed complete with raised beds on either side…..yet  to be filled I have to say, but it won’t be long.

There is still much to do.   My veg patch now extends way down behind the greenhouse, but it has further to go and it needs to have the little elder which overshadows it considerably reduced, if not removed.  Not made my mind up on that one yet.  Its producing a good yield as well this year for such a new project.   We’ve had onions, garlic, carrots, courgettes (well who hasn’t?), lettuce and other salad leaves, new potatoes and 2 types of beans and radishes.   Still to come are the maincrop potatoes, spring onions, chard, spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and pak choi.  And of course loads of tomatoes from the greenhouse as well as chillies and cucumbers.

I started on a fruit garden as well but that really hasn’t had the attention it deserves, but I have got some pears that look like they’ll be good to eat this season and I’ve had rhubarb and some strawberries.   The hens got to the last of them though and I think the gooseberries.  Well at least they disappeared.

Now that I’ve got this far I’m thinking about next year.   I’m sure gardeners are the most optimistic of creatures.   Always looking forward.

The focus has got to be on the fruit garden.   I might need a fruit cage to keep the birds off it, and not just the hens.   My garden birds are so well fed I seem to be constantly filling up the feeders but that doesn’t stop them for helping themselves to other things they fancy.

As well as that I’d like to clear a bit of land and turn it into a cutting garden.   English summer flowers are so lovely and although I suspect I shall always have to buy in flowers for my floristry work because I simply don’t have the space to grow commercially,  I’d love to be able to gather bunches from my own garden for the house.

Of course whilst I’ve been writing this I’ve had to move indoors.   Its been trying to rain and its got a bit chilly out there.  Oh English summers hey.  But with a bit of luck it might just brighten up into a lovely evening whilst I’m watering the hanging baskets.

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Soft colours for a new border

I planted up a nice little border this week in Leeds.   It needed a rework.   The established beds had been planted up some years ago and over time plants had disappeared and my least favourite thing – bindweed had been gradually creeping through what remained along with its best friend the couch grass.  I really loathe bindweed.   Its such a nightmare to kill off and it doesn’t matter how much you dig you are bound to leave a bit somewhere and so off it will go again.  However, I’ve written about bindweed before though so I shan’t rant again.

So a lot of digging!  And on the left of the border geranium Johnson’s Blue had got out of hand.   Its got a lovely blue flower early in the year but then it doesn’t do much at all and it keeps increasing in size year on year unless you keep it under control, only its pretty early flower has saved it here but very much reduced to a shadow of its former self.

The newly planted border looks a bit thin (I hope you can tell which is which!) but come back next year and I promise it’ll be full of flower and colour.   The client wanted soft colours, pinks, mauves, whites and blues and lots of flowers with a reasonably long season so in the border are a range of fairly easy plants, phlox, iris, campanulas and grasses….which aren’t doing a lot at the moment – as well as verbenas, ecinacea and sedums, which will be in full flight any minute and continue right into the autumn, and a nicely scented English rose which should flower all summer long with a lovely verbascum which is flowering right now.  There were already alliums in the bed which will now come through the new planting, and on the fence, though tiny at the moment, I’ve planted a white Japanese quince which should cover the panel with flowers in the early spring and then have fruits later on.

Because there are steps up through the border I’ve put in some Mexican Fleabane (erigeron karvinskianus) alongside and hoepfully it’ll self seed between the stones.   I think its probably my favourite plant this week…..ummm or maybe not, maybe it was the verbascum Pink Domino….

At home we’ve installed a scarecrow in the garden to fend off the fox.   The wretched thing took Elsie almost a fortnight ago and so having Googled all things anti fox we came up with either electric fencing (ouch what about the cats?), male urine (so poor son is banished from the bathroom) and a fairly quick fix, Sam the Scarecrow.  This is all well and good but he keeps making me jump!  Let’s hope that he makes the fox jump too.  I must get it into my head that Sam lives here too now.  Somehow I suspect that  this may not be the end of it and so my search for the perfect solution will continue.

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Wittering and Twittering

I think I am developing an unhealthy Twitter habit!  I’ve been taking part in Reach Further’s #12dot (12 Days of Twitter) and have learnt all sort of stuff, but now, whatever I do I need to tweet it…  Not sure I can write anything that’s any longer than 140 characters but let’s have a go.

Lovely wedding on Friday – very pretty bride, beaming groom and the flowers weren’t bad eitherWeather was brilliant too which is remarkable since it’s done nothing but rain since.    I know we all pray for good weather but it isn’t the best for the flowers, you get them from the market in tip top shape and then you try to keep them that way….

As usual the Mustard Pot made a lovely venue and the couple had filled the garden with fun things to do – hoopla, 10 pin bowls, and amongst other things limbo.  Didn’t hang around to see the bride do that in her frock!  And inside they’d collected dozens of pretty china cups and saucers for coffee after dinner which went perfectly with the simple jugs and jars of pretty country flowers

The theme was vintage/country, so lots of seasonal flowers, nothing too stuffy.   The pew ends were simple bunches tied with raffia which we lifted with the pedestal and moved down to the pub for the reception.   Makes sense to get double the use from your flowers where you can.

Of course there had to be roses, in the bouquet were Avalance and Akito roses with gyp, white lisianthus and freesia, and variegated pittisorpum and the bridesmaids’ posies were simple but with blues and violets to match their dresses.

And after all that loveliness I had to find a way to get 19 half barrels from Knottingley to Leeds.   Man with Van was great, but we still had to stuff 3 of them into my car, talk about the sublime to the ridiculous.  But they got there and they look good as well.  I took a photo when they arrived, oozing the smell of booze over the garden but I failed to take one when I’d done.  I suspect I’d seen too much of them by then.

Quite glad of the rain today really – at least I can’t dig anything or plant anything, hooray I get to stay inside.   A little light plant ordering is on the cards I think.  Oh careful the sun’s coming out….

and if you want to know where all the wittering and twittering is find me @MaggyAnne, see you there maybe?

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Why June is Wonderful

Suddenly at this time of year the English garden is transformed.  The beds are full, flowers are everywhere, and there’s a scent of roses on the breeze.   Even this year when the weather is completely unpredictable the magic is still happening out in the garden.   I love roses, just love them, and especially heavily scented ones.   Old fashioned roses are some of the most beautiful, but their beauty is short lived, they flower once and then they’re over.   Here in my new garden I’m mostly planting new varieties that will repeat flower until the autumn, are disease resistant, but still have the scent and the flower shape of an old rose.  One day they’ll fathom a way of publishing the scent, if only.

To keep your roses looking good in summer, unless its the kind that has attractive rose hips in the autumn, dead head (take off all the dead flowers) as soon as you they start to go over and that will keep new flowers coming.  Just cut back to a leaf bud with a sloping cut.  And if you see any black spot on the leaves pull the leaf off and get it into the bin, not the compost heap.   You need to get rid of the disease and out of your garden altogether.

Other than that just weed around the base and get a good rose feed to give them a boost and keep them flowering throughout the summer.

Of course there are lots of other amazing things going on – and allium christophii has to be one of the most amazing.   Up it comes like any other allium on a tall stalk and then it opens and every year it makes me stop and stare.   With a flower head around 8 inches in diameter and its shiny purple petals it glows when the sun shines on it.   Order some for the autumn and sit back and wait.   All alliums are easy to grow, like many bulbs you can almost put them in and forget about them.

This weekend I’ve got lots of weeding and tying in to do, I’m going to try to keep away from the serious digging.   The recent winds have knocked my roses about a bit so they need some support and the rain has brought on the weeds so they have to come out.  Finally I have to get my broccoli planted out (again), the netting came off and the pigeons got the young  plants so I’ll  have to do it a bit better this time.   May be then I can take a seat out there and enjoy!

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Lovely suddenly

After such a horrible winter how lovely is it to feel the sunshine?
Mother’s Day has just passed and the flowers seemed to come out just in time.
I used jelly beans in this arrangement and it tempted the bar staff where it was to try picking them out….hopefully it’s still in one piece and they’ve not managed to eat the lot.
Meanwhile in the garden I’ve at last seeded the lawn. Must keep watering it!
And in the greenhouse and garden there’s lots of activity. The broadbeans are on the up as are the lettuces and pak choi.. the sweet peas are coming through and the cerinthe is almost ready to go out (bit soon maybe), I can hardly keep up.

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Cabbages and Chickens

This caused a bit of hilarity when I handed it over.   I like the idea of using something different  in arrangements so here’s a savoy cabbage hollowed out and filled with rosebuds.   I’m planning to make a few of these at Christmas filled with red roses or carnations and just lightly sprayed with some silver sparkles.

At home the hens are definitely not happy about the weather and the lack of daylight.   If I let them out in the morning before daylight their little heads peer at me from their perches as if I’m mad.  I can almost hear them ticking me off for getting them out of bed too soon.  However if I leave it too long Elsie gets in a proper tizzie.    Current egg laying time is about 7.45 and current egg laying location is a corner of the shed where she found some left over bear grass which is now a nest so I have to let her out or else.

Meanwhile the other two – Ivy and Daisy are so ravenous having been cooped up for such a long night they make a beeline for the breakfast bowl.   Current breakfast being warm mash – yum!

Egg laying is dropping off a bit from these two girls but Elsie, once she’s settled in the shed, continues to lay an egg every day without fail.   So on that basis alone I think she deserves to lay her egg wherever she wants to.

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