20 August 2021
The flush of summer blooms is well under way and with such a variety in flower at the same time, we’ve been packing selection boxes off to our subscribers and customers every day – with all sorts of treasures that have been so exciting to see come into bloom.
This year is a total trial. It’s not how we planned to sell our homegrown flowers, but we’re so glad it’s developed into what it has as it’s given us a clear direction and now we know that our homegrown flowers are sought after, it means we can plan and plant differently for next year. It means we are planning crops to flower together at certain times of the year so that we can make up bouquets (with enough filler, focal flowers and linear flowers needed to make an interesting bouquet), whilst also having the numbers to sell single varieties too. Being a trial year means some crops have had excellent germination and produced an abundance of flowers and some have not. Some have done so, been lovingly planted out and tended to, just to be decimated by slugs, or pulled up by crows. There has been lots of testing. Vase testing, transport testing, packaging testing. Testing, testing, testing. We’ve had some fantastic wins (delicate flowers like our phlox being unphased by transport) and some blows too (some of the rudbeckia was totally fine, some was not!) Can we work out why the rudbeckia was SO unpredictable? No we cannot. It is such a beautiful, unusual focal flower which we loved so much, but we have pulled the crop and can’t risk it for next year as it just didn’t survive well enough when cut and transported.
So the verbascum, agrostemma, rudbeckia, tower clarkia and annual chrysanthemums bloomed beautifully but didn’t pass their transport tests. We can cross those off our list for next year, and trial some other varieties in their place. Our aim is to grow varieties and colours that are hard to find elsewhere, to open our customers’ eyes to what is out there, beyond the flower stand at the supermarket. No, they might not always last as long, but they will definitely be more interesting, be grown here in Cornwall, without chemicals and pesticides and a lot of them will have a beautiful scent, which is hard to get with imported flowers.
The wins have definitely outweighed the losses. Our delphinium patch is chucking out some incredible iridescent spires in silvery lilac and deep aubergine. They’ve been flying off the shelves and the feedback from customers is everything we hoped for. The apricot lemonade cosmos is delicate and softly coloured – every morning we find the bees having a snooze on the flower heads, drunk on pollen. The geranium leaf and the mint are giving us the strong scent we wanted to add to our bouquets and are finally long enough to pick. The calendula is beautiful and we’ve learned that for best results, it needs to be picked early, when the petals are still closed, to remain intact on delivery. The clary sage has been a beautiful and prolific filler flower which is on the list again for next year. The zinnias that didn’t get obliterated by slugs are flying. They are one of our favourite flowers growing here and it’s a huge relief that they passed their transport tests as we’ve always struggled with their longevity when importing them, so it was a bit of a gamble. We’ll plant these in the polytunnel next year to avoid the slugs. We also accidentally got some ducklings we found out were going to be culled – they are currently under a heat lamp in the studio until they’re old enough to go out. The hope is that they will eat the slugs. Whether they will eat all our flowers too remains to be seen. Could be the cutest mistake we’ve ever made.
We’ve planted some cover crops in the beds that have been cleared but are waiting for their next installment. For example, our phlox got a leaf spot so we pulled the crop to stop it spreading – it’s too late to sow another crop and also we were worried the soil might have some spores or traces of leaf spot in it and didn’t want to risk planting a new crop in straight away. We have used a type of mustard as a cover crop as it is a biofumigant – this will suppress soil borne pests and diseases, fungal pathogens and weeds. Then the bed will be ready for our ranunculus to be planted out in early winter.
We are clearing and prepping beds for autumn now. Our biennials are in the ground, ready to be overwintered and we are ready and waiting for our narcissi bulbs, ranunculus and anemone corms to arrive. We start sowing our hardy annuals that can handle being overwintered next week. We are still waiting for our sunflowers and chrysanthemums for the remainder of the year, whilst still getting a steady harvest from the delphinium, clary sage, zinnias, celosia, snapdragons, mint and geranium.Back to blog