Hello dear readers – what a long time it seems since I was last here writing my flowery musings. I am very sorry for my absence and have greatly missed writing my gardening thoughts down to share with you, but I have had a very hectic month. Between wedding planning, university student homecomings, a graduation and our own wedding anniversary, every day seemed to be accounted for.
Life is calming down now and I am making plans for September to return to my regular monthly blogging slots for the cutting garden, greenhouse and monthly jobs to do as well as getting back to making my weekly Monday vase to share with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden. I will be away again for two and a half weeks later in August for our family holiday, so I am planning to use the next couple of weeks to catch up with all the posts I had planned but never got time to write – I have not yet shared with you my day with The Garden Gate Flower Company, shown you the flowers from Royal Ascot or told you anything about the big wedding I have been preparing for! There is so much to catch up on that I hardly know where to start, but I think I will begin with wedding preparations.
Way back in June I organised a day in my garden for the lovely group of ladies who had volunteered their time to help me with the flower arrangements for the big wedding. They were all friends of the brides mother and had known the bride since she was a little girl. This lovely group of ladies were keen to join in with the floral preparations, but thought a little tuition would be very helpful.
Flowers for the church, georgian house and marquee were to be styled in a ‘grand country house’ fashion, taking inspiration from alI that an english country garden has to offer in July. Many of the flowers were coming from my cutting garden, with all the fillers foraged from my hedgerow boundary and garden trees and shrubs. I needed the ladies to know how to cut and condition the flowers from the cutting garden and where to find all the extras that we would need to make the arrangements have that country house feel.
There was one big problem with this plan – I have had the most disappointing year for flowers that I can ever remember! Regular readers will remember tulip fire galloping through my borders in April. That was followed by weeks of cold wet weather that led to the complete failure of my peony crop. This demonstration day was planned for late June when the garden should have been bursting with roses, but most had rotted on their stems. My hardy annuals that I had started last autumn and even sown a second crop in February to hedge my bets, had found their roots under water for a week and quite literally drowned – need I go on. We went ahead with our day nonetheless, but I made hasty phone calls to advise the ladies to come prepared with wellington boots and rain coats.
Everyone arrived in good spirits undeterred by the weather and after coffee and a chat we headed out to see what could be found. The darker shades of roses had stood up best to the horrendous weather conditions. I also had a good crop pf self seeded nigella and all the pink you can see above was from the Sweet Williams which seemed unaffected by the wet conditions.
My determined ladies made the best of the soggy conditions and filled their buckets with whatever they could salvage.
Below you can see the state of my peony beds on the day – although these beds often flood in winter the peonies seem relatively unfazed by wet winter conditions. Flooding in June however is a different matter and the plants are now beset by fungal problems and die back. I am going to lift them in the autumn and move them to drier conditions in a new bed – I just hope that will not be too late to save them.
The cool damp conditions did mean that my greenhouse sweet pea crop lasted until the wedding day. I would normally have given up on it much earlier as the plants begin to die in hot conditions, but this year they just kept on producing and made it to the top table in the wedding marquee.
I was keen to demonstrate that arrangements can include all sorts of materials from the garden and that an abundance of flowers is not always necessary to create a lovely effect. Everyone had great fun roaming about the garden after I set them free from the cutting garden.
After all this cutting we were ready for lunch! The flowers were stored in the kitchen whilst we made the most of the sun that had just come out and ate a lovely lunch in the garden, that had been prepared by one of the ladies.
Having talked about the best way to cut and condition home grown flowers in the morning, I gathered everyone together in the kitchen after lunch and demonstrated the technique for making a large foliage rich bouquet. In contrast to the hand tied technique which produces quite a tight result, this method allows the flowers and foliage to move more naturally and is perfect for the current fashion of loose flowing bridal bouquets. We then all rushed back outside to make the most of the afternoon sun and my guests had a go at making their own garden bouquets.
Whilst the ladies were enjoying an afternoon cup of coffee and a slice of cake I popped back inside to practice my table centre technique with a few choice blooms that I had saved for myself.
It just goes to show that even a terrible gardening year will yield a few beautiful blooms!
Next up on my blogging catch up will be the photos from the bouquet making day with The Garden Gate Flower Company.