Category Archives: Flowers I love

Baby’s Breath….The alternatives.

Babys breath, or to use its proper title Gypsophila. I have to confess……I hate it. Natasha will verify this!

Now having said that, forgive my brutal honesty, I do understand its popularity. It is a people pleaser, brides love it because it is ‘cheap’ and delicate and neutral. Florists love it because it is cheap and indestructible (I mean seriously. You cant kill it!). But just because it is cheap and indestructible, does that mean we have to use it?

Gypsophila has been done to death, every second wedding has got Gypsophila somewhere and some weddings ONLY have it! It lacks any imagination or creativity and it stinks…literally…stinks, hence the name ‘Baby’s Breath. Who wants their bridal bouquet to smell like bad breath?

Ok so maybe the smell isn’t that pungent, but put enough of it together and you’ll be looking over your shoulder to see whos looking while you check your breath!

I go to great lengths to persuade my clients that they really don’t want Gypsophila. Not least of which they are coming to me for 2 reasons, 1- I am a creative genius (trumpet fanfare!) and 2- is I grow my own flowers. ( I don’t grow Gypsophila). I offer alternatives to ‘Gyp’, as if its the delicate tiny flowers that is your buzz there are lots of alternatives, and best of all these alternatives give me the scope to get my creative genius out! So here are my alternatives, all of which I grow.

 Achillea The Pearl. Just like Gypsophila, it is almost indestructible. Elegant sprays of pure white double blooms, slightly larger flower size than Gyp, but only slightly. Available all summer long.

 Omphalodes, This is one of my most treasured little plants. Very similar to Gypsophila, tiny pure white flowers in large sprays, unlike Gyp, Omphalodes smells so sweet! Unfortunately though Omphalodes is not indestructible and needs to be minded slightly, but that’s not to say that it cant be used just as for Gyp. Available May-August

 Ammi Magus, Who couldn’t love these little umbrellas of tiny white delicate flowers, sweet smelling and tough as old boots. Fantastic for creative arrangements. Available April-Oct.

 Thalictrum. So not white, but other than that it really is so very similar to Gypsophila. Completely indestructible, large clusters of  teeny tiny flowers. No bad smells and you couldn’t get a more delicate flower. Available July/August.

 

 

Babys breath, or to use its proper title Gypsophila. I have to confess……I hate it. Natasha will verify this!

Now having said that, forgive my brutal honesty, I do understand its popularity. It is a people pleaser, brides love it because it is ‘cheap’ and delicate and neutral. Florists love it because it is cheap and indestructible (I mean seriously. You cant kill it!). But just because it is cheap and indestructible, does that mean we have to use it?

Gypsophila has been done to death, every second wedding has got Gypsophila somewhere and some weddings ONLY have it! It lacks any imagination or creativity and it stinks…literally…stinks, hence the name ‘Baby’s Breath. Who wants their bridal bouquet to smell like bad breath?

Ok so maybe the smell isn’t that pungent, but put enough of it together and you’ll be looking over your shoulder to see whos looking while you check your breath!

I go to great lengths to persuade my clients that they really don’t want Gypsophila. Not least of which they are coming to me for 2 reasons, 1- I am a creative genius (trumpet fanfare!) and 2- is I grow my own flowers. ( I don’t grow Gypsophila). I offer alternatives to ‘Gyp’, as if its the delicate tiny flowers that is your buzz there are lots of alternatives, and best of all these alternatives give me the scope to get my creative genius out! So here are my alternatives, all of which I grow.

 Achillea The Pearl. Just like Gypsophila, it is almost indestructible. Elegant sprays of pure white double blooms, slightly larger flower size than Gyp, but only slightly. Available all summer long.

 Omphalodes, This is one of my most treasured little plants. Very similar to Gypsophila, tiny pure white flowers in large sprays, unlike Gyp, Omphalodes smells so sweet! Unfortunately though Omphalodes is not indestructible and needs to be minded slightly, but that’s not to say that it cant be used just as for Gyp. Available May-August

 Ammi Magus, Who couldn’t love these little umbrellas of tiny white delicate flowers, sweet smelling and tough as old boots. Fantastic for creative arrangements. Available April-Oct.

 Thalictrum. So not white, but other than that it really is so very similar to Gypsophila. Completely indestructible, large clusters of  teeny tiny flowers. No bad smells and you couldn’t get a more delicate flower. Available July/August.

 

 

And the good brown earth.

I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be in Spain, sipping cheap wine and licking my fingers after a healthy dose of tapas. This was the reward to myself for the years hard work behind me, and the opportunity to recharge the batteries for the year ahead….also did I mention cheap wine? However I find myself at home, feeling frustrated. I had a plan…as the season wound down as it does in November, as I do every year, I clear the tunnels, put them to bed so to speak. Take out the last die-hard annuals as the frosts pick them off, cut back the perennials, lift any reluctant weeds. Try to have the tunnels ship shape, ready for the springs new life and to give me the opportunity to take some well deserved rest. Unfortunately this year I slipped, as my mother puts it….on ‘Gods slippery banana skin’. With a departure date for Spain on 23/12, I had it in my mind to have all my winter work done before I could relax and take full advantage of all that tapas and cheap wine. The aforementioned ‘banana skin’ came in the form of a twisted bowel, emergency surgery, promptly followed by infection and a lengthy stay in hospital. Best laid plans……out the window!

There is a childrens book I used to read to my daughter, ‘And The Good Brown Earth’ by Kathy Henderson. A simple story about the seasonality of a garden, what comes to mind when I think of Winter and what is happening in the garden, this book pops into my mind, as Charlie the child character of the story asks his Grandmother whats happening in the garden in winter she replies with…’nows thinking time’. And how true is this, as horticulturalist/florist I find myself thinking……lots. Thinking about the year behind me, my successes, my failures, what I might have done differently. I think too as to what is in front of me…what I have yet to do, what I need to buy, what seed to order, how to improve on what has gone before. This is the usual ebb and flow to the seasons, in winter the plants rest, as do we,  hoping for enough cold to to kill the enemies, but not so much to kill our friends. Winter is as important to the garden as is the hope we will have a good growing season.

So now, as I convalesce, my brain still fully functioning is filled with the thoughts of all I haven’t achieved, my tunnels filled with dead annuals, untidy perennials, weeds taking full advantage of my ‘banana skin’. I did manage to prick out my winter hardy annuals before the ‘twist’ in fate (a pun in bad taste I feel!!!), but I didn’t manage to plant the some 600+ plants that were waiting for valuable space to be cleared for them and I try to tell myself that its winter and what harm will come. But attention to detail matters, and I am behind…..seriously behind. There is a lesson in here some where….I just need to find it.

Well true to the book, ‘And The Good Brown Earth’……now is thinking time, it is all my body will allow me to do. So plans are afoot, seed catalogs are being poured over, catch up plans being worked out. All the while winter is busy doing its worst, and the first signs of spring bravely poke out their heads. I took a stroll in the garden for the first time in a month yesterday and predictably the Crocuses and Snowdrops are the first green spikes of the new year…..the new season, and all the promise that comes with it. To my surprise, the very first of the Rhododendron in our garden ‘Christmas Cheer’ was flowering.christmas cheer

And even though I am not where I should be, I am full of optimism for whats ahead. Again Kathy Henderson’s book reminds me…..’and the good brown earth goes on doing what the good brown earth does best……’

I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be in Spain, sipping cheap wine and licking my fingers after a healthy dose of tapas. This was the reward to myself for the years hard work behind me, and the opportunity to recharge the batteries for the year ahead….also did I mention cheap wine? However I find myself at home, feeling frustrated. I had a plan…as the season wound down as it does in November, as I do every year, I clear the tunnels, put them to bed so to speak. Take out the last die-hard annuals as the frosts pick them off, cut back the perennials, lift any reluctant weeds. Try to have the tunnels ship shape, ready for the springs new life and to give me the opportunity to take some well deserved rest. Unfortunately this year I slipped, as my mother puts it….on ‘Gods slippery banana skin’. With a departure date for Spain on 23/12, I had it in my mind to have all my winter work done before I could relax and take full advantage of all that tapas and cheap wine. The aforementioned ‘banana skin’ came in the form of a twisted bowel, emergency surgery, promptly followed by infection and a lengthy stay in hospital. Best laid plans……out the window!

There is a childrens book I used to read to my daughter, ‘And The Good Brown Earth’ by Kathy Henderson. A simple story about the seasonality of a garden, what comes to mind when I think of Winter and what is happening in the garden, this book pops into my mind, as Charlie the child character of the story asks his Grandmother whats happening in the garden in winter she replies with…’nows thinking time’. And how true is this, as horticulturalist/florist I find myself thinking……lots. Thinking about the year behind me, my successes, my failures, what I might have done differently. I think too as to what is in front of me…what I have yet to do, what I need to buy, what seed to order, how to improve on what has gone before. This is the usual ebb and flow to the seasons, in winter the plants rest, as do we,  hoping for enough cold to to kill the enemies, but not so much to kill our friends. Winter is as important to the garden as is the hope we will have a good growing season.

So now, as I convalesce, my brain still fully functioning is filled with the thoughts of all I haven’t achieved, my tunnels filled with dead annuals, untidy perennials, weeds taking full advantage of my ‘banana skin’. I did manage to prick out my winter hardy annuals before the ‘twist’ in fate (a pun in bad taste I feel!!!), but I didn’t manage to plant the some 600+ plants that were waiting for valuable space to be cleared for them and I try to tell myself that its winter and what harm will come. But attention to detail matters, and I am behind…..seriously behind. There is a lesson in here some where….I just need to find it.

Well true to the book, ‘And The Good Brown Earth’……now is thinking time, it is all my body will allow me to do. So plans are afoot, seed catalogs are being poured over, catch up plans being worked out. All the while winter is busy doing its worst, and the first signs of spring bravely poke out their heads. I took a stroll in the garden for the first time in a month yesterday and predictably the Crocuses and Snowdrops are the first green spikes of the new year…..the new season, and all the promise that comes with it. To my surprise, the very first of the Rhododendron in our garden ‘Christmas Cheer’ was flowering.christmas cheer

And even though I am not where I should be, I am full of optimism for whats ahead. Again Kathy Henderson’s book reminds me…..’and the good brown earth goes on doing what the good brown earth does best……’

dahlia

Fabulous Dahlia (said with a slightly camp san-fran accent!)

These wondrous flowers really need no introduction, a lover of the lime light, Dahlia’s take centre stage whether it is in the garden or in a vase. I find these super easy to grow flowers an essential addition to my gardens. They start to flower just after my first flush of roses are fading, they champion the gap, filling my bouquets with the craziest most outrageous blooms.

DSC_0027

Regarded as a vegetable rather than a garden flower initially, dahlias were discovered in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors, not until 1872 was a box of tubers sent to Holland. Within a few years Victorian catalogues listed hundreds of varieties, trust the Victorians to see sense in growing them for beauty and not nutrition! The Victorians believed it to be most dignified to have a Dahlia border, and only the most aristocratic garden grew them.

I have to confess, when I started growing flowers to sell, I rather looked down my nose at Dahlia. I used to think of them as tacky and garish. And in some respects they are garish. The colours can be intensely strong, and their form also can be overwhelming. The dinner plate Dahlia’s which can be 30cm wide is a little too big for me, but mostly Dahlia’s are fun, they have such a variety, I would challenge the biggest flower snob to not be able to find one they didn’t like. ( I think there was too many negatives there…you know what I mean!)

DSC_0024not-lydia

What I think has to be said is that the Dahlia is quite the most rewarding plant. For a bed of manure to grow in,( they are super hungry!) Dahlia will reward you with endless amounts of flowers, keep cutting, they keep coming, all the way to the first frosts. They last forever in a vase….F.y.i only cut them when they are fully open! The really huge headed varieties are difficult to arrange, but I’m sure they have a place somewhere…other than the dinner plate! I can’t recommend them enough…….Go forth and plant some Dahlia!

These wondrous flowers really need no introduction, a lover of the lime light, Dahlia’s take centre stage whether it is in the garden or in a vase. I find these super easy to grow flowers an essential addition to my gardens. They start to flower just after my first flush of roses are fading, they champion the gap, filling my bouquets with the craziest most outrageous blooms.

DSC_0027

Regarded as a vegetable rather than a garden flower initially, dahlias were discovered in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors, not until 1872 was a box of tubers sent to Holland. Within a few years Victorian catalogues listed hundreds of varieties, trust the Victorians to see sense in growing them for beauty and not nutrition! The Victorians believed it to be most dignified to have a Dahlia border, and only the most aristocratic garden grew them.

I have to confess, when I started growing flowers to sell, I rather looked down my nose at Dahlia. I used to think of them as tacky and garish. And in some respects they are garish. The colours can be intensely strong, and their form also can be overwhelming. The dinner plate Dahlia’s which can be 30cm wide is a little too big for me, but mostly Dahlia’s are fun, they have such a variety, I would challenge the biggest flower snob to not be able to find one they didn’t like. ( I think there was too many negatives there…you know what I mean!)

DSC_0024not-lydia

What I think has to be said is that the Dahlia is quite the most rewarding plant. For a bed of manure to grow in,( they are super hungry!) Dahlia will reward you with endless amounts of flowers, keep cutting, they keep coming, all the way to the first frosts. They last forever in a vase….F.y.i only cut them when they are fully open! The really huge headed varieties are difficult to arrange, but I’m sure they have a place somewhere…other than the dinner plate! I can’t recommend them enough…….Go forth and plant some Dahlia!

Zany Zinnia Sept 1st

I can’t quite believe it’s September already, with the lovely summer we have had it seems quite impossible that we are now into Autumn, and with it the downward turn in the season. Nevertheless, there is still plenty a blooming. A flower I have always grown predominantly for flowering later in the season is the zany Zinnia. An annual flower ridiculously easily grown from seed, starts to flower just as all other high summer annuals are becoming rather tired.

Zinnias fell out of favour for a while with home gardeners, but they are now back in fashion with a vengeance.

ZinniaI grow a variety called Tetra Flowered “State Fair” which is a lovely old series of giant dahlia-flowered zinnias from the 70’s. A time tested winner that performs well in the garden and in the vase, and is great for attracting bees and butterflies to the garden.

The semi-double blooms are large and long-lasting. The blooms grow to around 10 to 15 cm (4 to 5in) wide and come a full range of bright uniform colours including scarlet, pale rose, orange, bright pink and dark pink.

State Fair is a tall and sturdy plant and an excellent choice for garden colour when all else starts to look drab. They have greater tolerance to diseases than other cut flower zinnias. The thick stems are less likely to bend when being cut and the blooms have a longer vase life.

Zinnias are the perfect flower for beginners, they are extremely easy to grow from seed and provide colour from mid-summer to first frosts, keep cutting and they keep reappearing, an absolute ‘must have’ flower in the garden is the old fashioned Zinnia.

I can’t quite believe it’s September already, with the lovely summer we have had it seems quite impossible that we are now into Autumn, and with it the downward turn in the season. Nevertheless, there is still plenty a blooming. A flower I have always grown predominantly for flowering later in the season is the zany Zinnia. An annual flower ridiculously easily grown from seed, starts to flower just as all other high summer annuals are becoming rather tired.

Zinnias fell out of favour for a while with home gardeners, but they are now back in fashion with a vengeance.

ZinniaI grow a variety called Tetra Flowered “State Fair” which is a lovely old series of giant dahlia-flowered zinnias from the 70’s. A time tested winner that performs well in the garden and in the vase, and is great for attracting bees and butterflies to the garden.

The semi-double blooms are large and long-lasting. The blooms grow to around 10 to 15 cm (4 to 5in) wide and come a full range of bright uniform colours including scarlet, pale rose, orange, bright pink and dark pink.

State Fair is a tall and sturdy plant and an excellent choice for garden colour when all else starts to look drab. They have greater tolerance to diseases than other cut flower zinnias. The thick stems are less likely to bend when being cut and the blooms have a longer vase life.

Zinnias are the perfect flower for beginners, they are extremely easy to grow from seed and provide colour from mid-summer to first frosts, keep cutting and they keep reappearing, an absolute ‘must have’ flower in the garden is the old fashioned Zinnia.