In A Vase On Monday – So Hard To Say Goodbye!

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Welcome to this weeks in ‘A Vase On Monday’, when I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to join in with her challenge to find something from the garden to put in a vase every week.

A-Midsummer-Vase

I have to start this week with a big apology – I am very conscious that I have been ignoring my blog to the point of neglect over the last two weeks – I am sorry if I have missed comments that you have left and I feel very bad for missing this months Cutting Garden Review. The truth is that I have been so busy over the last month that I just have not found the time to sit down and write or keep up with any blog reading – for the first time in the last few years I have been offline on an almost constant basis.

A-Midsummer-Vase

June has been a lovely but very full month. There have been the big events – Ascot and a midsummer opera, garden visits (including the lovely Spencer’s Garden and Peter Beales Rose Garden), lots of lunches and dinners and coffees with friends as well as the usual rounds of gardening, cooking and laundry. I have lots of photos on my computer and just need a few hours to sit down and write my planned posts.

You can see from my vase that my garden is coping with my neglect – all my lovely seedlings planted what feels like just a few weeks ago are bursting into flower. The quaking grass is finally doing its shimmering rustling thing in the borders and I have masses of stems of larkspur to choose from, as well as all the beautiful romantic roses.

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My peonies have almost finished for another year (very sad face!) – this weeks high temperatures will finally put an end to them. I just managed to squeeze a last bloom or two into this weeks vase, along with the roses.

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This David Austin rose Wolverton Old Hall is looking stunning this week. The gentle apricot rose is my current favourite shade.

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The ammi has been magnificent this year – the lack of rain has meant that its towering height (nearly 2 metres in places) has not resulted in its collapsing over the borders. It is a sea of shimmering white floating over all the other flowers – even the tall larkspur.

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As well as the quaking grass I added a few stems of honesty seeds for some texture to this weeks collection.

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As I write I am surrounded by our holiday preparations – this week we are flying to California for what should be an amazing family road trip. We have three weeks of mountains, beaches and city sightseeing ahead of us and of course I am very excited. I do fear, however, that I must be the world’s worst vacationer – I find it so hard to leave my little piece of paradise! As I gathered my blooms for a quick vase tonight I could not help but feel sad at saying goodbye to all my lovely flowers. Much will have changed by the time I return and I hate to miss anything at this time of year.

The dogs are staying at home and being joined by their great friend for the holiday (my poor little cat will have to go to the cattery though as she does not cope well when all three dogs are together). The garden will be well looked after in my absence and there is much to look forward to on our return – not least the dahlias which are already full of buds.

We have a very full itinerary planned, so I am not making any promises about blogging whilst we are away, but I will pop in if I have a moment and certainly hope to be posting photographs on Instagram if anyone wants to follow our trip.

My blogging will return to normal in August when I will be back with more Monday vases and the Cutting Garden and Greenhouse Reviews. Last week I had the pleasure to finally meet Cathy and her lovely husband – it was so good to put a face to Rambling In The Garden and have a good chat about all things flowery. I do hope that you will pop over and have a look at what she and the others have made from their gardens this week!

In A Vase On Tuesday – British Flowers Week

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This week I am posting about my home grown flowers in support of British Flowers Week. Today I am focusing on some of the lovely hardy annuals that can be bought from British growers throughout the summer. I would normally use the flowers that I am focusing on today with larger blooms such as peonies or roses, but for today I have given them a starring role together in my vase.

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British Flowers Week is all about raising public awareness of the UK cut flower industry. Like vegetables, flowers are now available in florists, supermarkets and garage forecourts all year round. The limited selection of flowers that we buy are grown using a plethora of chemicals, imported from long distances and can be grown throughout the seasons. The flowers are bred for a long shelf life and tend to be a limited selection of scentless but perfect blooms. In the same way that consumers have become more interested in freshly grown seasonal fruit and vegetables in recent years, so there is an increasing awareness of the pleasure to be found in buying fresh, scented, seasonal flowers which are increasingly available from UK growers.

This week I am showing my support for this movement towards British grown flowers by focusing on the flowers that I grow in my Cutting Garden at home, but which can also be bought from florists stocking British flowers and direct from British growers.

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I have been growing a selection of hardy annuals in my cutting garden for a few years now. My list of must grow seeds includes cornflowers, ammi majus, nigella, gypsophila and larkspur. Summer would just not feel right without these flowers.

One of my favourites is the blue cornflower. Cornflowers are available in other colours, but for me they just have to be blue – I could cut cornflowers every day in the summer and never get bored.  Cornflowers grow on long fragile stems, so are best purchased direct from a grower or at a farmers market.

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Nigella is a flower that reminds me of a ballerina’s tutu – these graceful flowers which I grow in shades of blue and white develop into the most beautiful seed pods which can be added to arrangements well into autumn.

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Ammi majus is the perfect filler flower – white and airy and again too fragile for mass market transportation. Similar flowers are ammi visnaga and orlaya grandiflora.

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These tiny white gypsophila flowers are completely different to the often tired gypsophila which is available in the supermarkets. These little flowers are fresh and dainty – perfect for a summer bouquet.

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I am still waiting for my larkspur to flower, so will probably not be able to include these delphinium like flowers this week.

These are only a small range of the hardy annuals available from the professional growers, so next time you want to buy a few flowers for the house or send a special bouquet, why don’t you ask for something locally grown. The more demand we can muster for these beautiful fresh flowers the more generally available they will become. Find out more about British Flowers Week by checking the website. You can also find beautiful photos, discussions and information on social media using #BritishFlowersWeek.

Next  I will be focusing on garden roses – although I will probably have to post on Thursday morning as I have a long day at the Ascot races to look forward to tomorrow. The flowers at Ascot are always a highlight of the day for me and I will be checking to see if any of the displays are British grown!

 

In A Vase On Monday – British Flowers Week

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Welcome to this weeks “In A Vase On Monday’ when I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to join in her challenge to find something from the garden to put in a vase every Monday.

This week is British Flowers Week and all over the UK flower growers and florists are focusing on the beautiful flowers and foliage that are grown in Britain. Locally grown flowers smell better and last longer than flowers which have undertaken a long cramped journey to reach our shelves and British Flowers Week is all about promoting our British growers who are bringing increasing numbers of home grown flowers back to our florists, supermarkets and farmers markets.

I have set myself the challenge of not buying any flowers this year – Cathy’s meme has shown me that there really is always something to be found in the garden. Not everyone has the time or space to do this, however, so this week I will be joining in with British Flowers Week by looking at the flowers in my Cutting Garden that you could be buying from a local grower. Many of the lovely annuals are rarely seen for sale as they do not travel well, but by finding a local grower you would have the full range of flowers picked fresh from the field to choose from. For more information do look at the website British Flowers Week. You will also find lots going on at #BritishFlowerWeek on social media.

Peonies-British-Flower-Week

This weeks jug of home grown peonies is quite similar to last weeks – except the jug is shorter and rounder and the photos were shot outside at the end of the day rather than inside in the morning. I am making no apology for using the same flowers – in peony season I make the most of what I have and all my vases are dominated by my favourite flower.

Peonies-British-Flower-Week

Peonies are an expensive cut flower to buy. When I lived in London I used to treat myself to one bunch a season and I promised myself that if ever I had a ‘proper’ garden I would grow enough peonies to fill far more than one vase each peony season.

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I have certainly fulfilled that promise – for the past two weeks I have been picking peonies almost daily and still they keep coming. The first five peonies were planted in the spring of 2010 and I have planted many more every spring since then.

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The original 5 year old plants are now quite substantial and have had in excess of fifteen buds each. The peonies that I planted this spring will not flower until next year and then will only have one or two buds. Like asparagus, peonies require patience, but once they are established they just get better every year.

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In with the peonies I have included some of the hardy annual Ammi majus, which has just started to flower in the Cutting Garden. These plants were grown from seed sown last autumn. By way of comparison I sowed a few trays in the greenhouse and overwintered the plants in the cold frames. They were planted out in March. I also direct sowed a few rows and kept them protected with a fleece tunnel. Both types of sowing have flowered outside at the same time, along with the batch that was sown in February in the greenhouse and also planted out in March. The only difference is that the seed sown indoors and overwintered under cover has grown much taller – almost too tall.

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The photo above is focused on the yellow interior of peony Bowl Of Beauty.

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Peony Gay Paree is a similar form but the interior is a pale pink. Also in the jug is Sarah Bernhardt and Monsieur Jules Elie.Peonies-British-Flower-Week

I know that tonight I am preaching to the converted – all we participants in Cathy’s weekly challenge know that our home grown flowers are fresher, more varied and smell better than most of the flowers generally available to us in the shops. Things are changing though – the supermarkets are stocking more British grown flowers – there are some lovely Sweet Williams and stocks available at the moment and M&S used only British flowers on their Chelsea exhibit back in May. Farmer-florists are increasingly popular in America and we are heading the same way with far more small growers focusing not just on growing flowers buy also providing design services and bouquets.

It is my intention to post a daily flower focus this week to help highlight the types of flowers you can find if you choose to buy British (apologies to all my readers from abroad but the same principles apply wherever you are). I might struggle on Wednesday as I am out for the day enjoying the racing at Ascot – but I will try.

I would love to hear how you feel about buying locally grown flowers instead of imports  – where would you go to buy a special bouquet? If you have any good local growers do share their details and give them a plug (this is not restricted to UK readers – we all need to promote our local flower growers wherever we are). If you are reading this and you are a flower grower with flowers to sell, please leave your details and give your business a plug!.

Finally thank you to Cathy for organising this meme and inspiring us all to grow more of our own flowers – I hope you will pop over to her blog to see what she and the others have made this week.

 

 

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