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News from My Flower Patch

Here you will find news of what we are doing at My Flower Patch. We might tell you what we are growing, planting or picking at the moment. We will tell you about any exciting events we might be attending, or maybe just feature a favourite flower. There will often be lots of pretty photographs, that's for sure! Click "Subscribe Now' to make sure you don't miss any posts.


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Spring tulip at My Flower Patch

Well, it's been a mixed bag weather wise so far at My Flower Patch. We've had some sun, some rain, some hail! But I managed to find a sunny day to take a video. It's a bit windy but no where near as windy as the February one. We have made a few changes since the last video. Added some new no dig beds, and paths in between. Taken out the old annual growth and cut back some of last years perennial stems to make way for this years growth. There is lots going on back at home in the green house and grow tunnel too, maybe I should video those next! :-) 

When I took this video I had just harvested a couple of small buckets of tulips. We are making a slow start with tulips, but we are getting there. I think the cold nights haven't helped things along. It was -0.2 in the grow tunnel last night. On the night of the 11th April my grow tunnel showed a max temp of 31.4C and a minimum of 0.3C quite a difference. But the plants I have in there are growing away getting ready to be planted out. 

We have set up some new cold frames and I'm also using some plastic mini greenhouses to act as large cold frame type areas. They offer less protection that the glass house or grow tunnel and help get the young plants ready to be planted out. 

In the seedling stakes we have cornflowers and achillea bulking up nicely. We have snapdragons and foxgloves growing on from plugs I bought, and we have been sowing up a storm. So my new propagation bench is full of seed trays as well as the old one now. It's always a battle at this time of year to work out where to spend my time. We try to get a balance between working at the patch and back at home in the greenhouse or tunnel. But there literally aren't enough hours in the day, or enough space on my propagation bench. 

I hope you enjoy a quick tour around My Flower Patch. I hope you are enjoying the series of videos showing how we grow our flowers. There will hopefully be a lot more in flower by the time I shoot next months film. Bye for now. 

 

Sara

 

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Well I did take the video in March, but didn't quite get around to uploading it until now! Oops! It's a busy time of year when you are growing flowers. You may be able to see some of the changes that have taken place. The tulips are poking through and we are slowly clearing and preparing the flower beds for their new plants. Lots going on behind the scenes in the greenhouse  & my grow tunnel also. I should probably do a video of those this month. Anyhow...enjoy a less windy & less noisy March on My Flower Patch! Sara :-) 

 

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I was lucky enough to be offered a copy of Terrariums, Gardens under Glass by Maria Colletti to review by the publishers Cool Springs Press. It came at a time when I was just looking into Terrariums and their variations. I have fallen (quite hard!) for succulents and have been looking at various ways of displaying them to use in indoor planted features. 

We have provided vintage terracotta pots of succulents for customers during the lean flower months so that they have something of interest and beauty to decorate their spaces that are usually adorned with our flowers. 

A true terrarium is a sealed vessel. Something that is not suitable for succulents. This would be something like a bottle garden that were so popular "a few" years ago and are seeing a resurgence in trendier homes & magazines. The author takes you through how to construct these and gives options of suitable plants to use. She also looks at maintenance & trouble shooting if you encounter problems once your sealed vessel is planted up. 

Maria Colletti explains in detail how to construct many other glass gardens. She discusses the suitability of various plant types for different containers. For example a narrow opening will conserve more moisture and so will be more suitable for a plant wanting humid conditions than an air plant. 

One of my favourites is probably the Wardian case with their metal and glass construction. An example of which is featured on the cover. The original Wardian cases were used to protect plants collected on botanical explorations from the harsh conditions they may face on the long sea journey home. The cases would provide the correct hot and humid atmosphere that the plants were used to.

I have seen reproduction Wardian cases, and also glass & metal planters based on the same look. I might even source some for myself.

I also love the cloches and compote dishes that Maria plants up and can see these being perfect used for a non-flowery dinner party centrepiece or as table decorations at a wedding. I have done some succulent planters in vintage glass jelly moulds, and these look fabulous.

Maria gives step-by-step instructions on how to construct various glass gardens, including hanging glass baubles with air plants and small floating water gardens. She shares top tips like using funnels to direct sand, soil or gravel to just the right place, or using a piece of paper to keep the layers separate if you want a layered look to show at the side of the container. A squirt of a water sprayer is recommended to remove stray soil from the inside of a container, followed by a polish with kitchen paper. 

I have admired the glass structures that I have seen on Pinterest and Instagram that are planted up with succulents and small indoor plants. With the knowledge I have gained from this book, I can reproduce even more indoor gardens and have the understanding of what will work best in what situation. 

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There aren't many flowers at My Flower Patch at the moment. It is February, it's been wet and mild, so the weeds have continued growing and the slugs are still around. I have decided to start a monthly video diary so that you can see a behind the scenes view of how the flowers come to be. It's a weeds and all look behind the scenes at the patch, showing you a little of what is involved with flower growing here in Upavon, Wiltshire. As you will see we don't have a polytunnel at the patch, so the flowers are truly seasonal. We do have a small grow tunnel at home, but this is as much for starting off seedlings as anything.

So, take a look at the patch in all its weedy, windy glory in February, and then join us over the coming months to see the patch spring into glorious, colourful bloom. Not long now till we start seeing the flowers back at My Flower Patch.

 

Enjoy! Sara x

 

 

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Now that I am a flower grower I do not have as much time to read as I used to, it may also have something to do with having a small child and running a business or two. On holidays I tend to lose myself in a grisly thriller by Tess Geritsen or Karin Slaughter. During the rest of the year the only things I manage to find time to read are horticultural books. They may be tending more towards the growing, top tips and advice about which varieties to grow for cutting, or more towards the arranging side of things. Not quite books, but I do also flick through bulb or seed catalogues to find new gems to grow in my own Flower Patch usually resulting in me selecting far too many "must have" tulip bulbs or dahlia tubers to grow. Obviously, they are all necessary purchases! One book I do find time to go back to again and again is the first book by Louise Curley "The Cut Flower Patch". You can find a review that Cally Smart wrote about it, on the blog for my other business, Our Flower Patch here. I still find The Cut Flower Patch a source of inspiration and useful information. Therefore you can imagine I was eagerly awaiting Louise's second book "The Crafted Garden".

The Crafted Garden is all about getting closer to natural items and using them to decorate our lives. Some of the projects could be used as decorations in your own home or to create items that could be given as very thoughtful gifts. Each project is thoroughly explained by Louise and beautifully illustrated with photographs by Jason Ingram. Each activity not only has a "How To" section explaining how to make the project, but contains background information and useful snippets about the plants, flowers, leaves or seedpods that are used to create it. The craft projects are arranged season by season, with plenty to get your teeth into in each section.

This is so much more than a garden craft book. By dealing with the horticultural elements of each of the "My Key Plants" used in each project, you will find out how to grow, propagate or be given suggestions of where to buy the plants used. As a grower I love this element of the book. It may mean that some of the projects take a bit longer to complete if you choose to grow the "ingredients" first from seed to complete an activity but that is all part of the journey of discovery. Rather than a tub of glue, a can of spray paint or a load of sequins that may create something that is often quickly discarded, some of the projects may live for weeks or longer, gracing your table or your windowsill, often with suggestions of then planting them into your garden to continue to grow and develop. It is all part of enjoying the changing of the seasons and appreciating what nature has to offer close up, kind of like the school nature table that so inspired Louise in her childhood.

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Beauty in an Eggshell

One of my favourite activities is the eggshell vases. It reminds me of something I used to do as a child, but with the stylish twist of the weeping birch nest. A perfect way to see Spring flowers up close and remind us that the warmer brighter days are arriving. I have had requests for an Easter door wreath workshop, so I may just adapt Louise's idea to create a wreath. I am enquiring about egg shell availability from a friend who has chickens with different colour eggs, now wouldn't that be special. The days just need to get lighter fro them to start laying, come on girls! You can do it! 

The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley
Vibrant dahlias in squash vases.

I also love the squash vases. So bright and colourful and something I've not thought of doing with the ornamental or edible squash I grow most years. Perfect for an Autumn display in your home. What a wonderful way of making just a few blooms look so special. I must confess to being a bit of a dahlia addict. We will have some amazing new varieties at My Flower Patch later this year...watch this space. 

Louise also discusses responsible foraging, endangered moss and reminds us when flowers or plants are toxic. In a gentle way Louise helps us realise that creative projects can be made in such a way that they have a minimal impact on the environment. Reusing, re-purposing, recycling, re-creating and eventually composting your projects are all elements which are much discussed. Rather than traditional glitter why not use sugar frosting to bring a bit of sparkle to a Christmas table arrangement for example. 

Louise has already inspired me to have a go at an unsealed terrarium. I potted up some offshoots of succulents into a variety of open topped glass containers. Here is one, as they say, I made earlier. I am now looking around for funky containers, and planning a succulent planting workshop for later in the year. Get in touch if you would like to know more about any workshops we are planning. Our newsletter subscribers get told the details before the general public, so do shout if you would like to be added to the newsletter mailing list. The workshops will be held at Sticks and Stones in Woodborough, Wiltshire. So we get to have delicious cake and coffee at the same time as having fun and being creative. 

 

The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley
Succulent terrarium. Quick to make & very effective.

So if this review has inspired you to take a have a go at some of the projects in Louise's new book take a look at the special offer we have for you. To order The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley at the discounted price of £13.99 including p&p* (RRP: £16.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG355.
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

 

Enjoy! I'm off to pot up some new perennials that have just arrived. Have a great weekend!

 

Sara

 

Images extracted from The Crafted Garden by Louise Curley, photography by Jason Ingram. Published by Frances Lincoln.

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