These little trees can be made using different materials. This one’s made with spruce and fir. You can use eucalyptus, bay, rosemary, conifer, birch the list is endless.
We’ve been sheep shearing here on the farm this week. All the wool is rolled and bagged ready to go to British Wool in Bradford. However, wool is not worth anything like it used to be years ago, wool clothing seems to have gone out of fashion. Maybe the care needed to keep your wool jumper looking it’s best in our hectic lives is just too much. Wool is in so many products, depending on the grade/quality of the fleece. From clothing and carpets to insulation in houses, a natural material in bed mattresses and a great slug repellent to name a few.
With an ever increasing awareness of our environment, the over use of plastics and looking to more natural alternatives, we would like to share with you some benefits of using wool in the garden that you may want to try.
Pop a good clump of wool into the bottom of summer bedding pots (don’t forget to drop a bit of crock over the hole at the bottom before you add the wool, to stop the hole getting clogged). Wool is like a sponge and holds loads of water, meaning you won’t have to water your plants as much in hot weather, great for when you go on holiday. Plus if the wool is from the rear of the sheep, it may have some extra benefits, sheep poo is full of trace elements and nutrients perfect for your flowering plants (don’t add too much just a small piece will be enough).
Now you’ve sorted underneath, wool works as a great mulch in pots or for plants in the ground. Don’t cover such a thick mulch if your plant is loved by slugs, as this provides a wonderful underground shelter until dusk, when they rampage through your borders!!!
If you have plants that slugs like to munch on, Dahlias, Delphiniums, Lupin, Stocks, Zinnias to name a few. Then wool is great at stopping them eating away those new shoots. Unlike a thick mulch to hold moisture in. Pull the wool apart so you have a really thin mat that you can see the soil through (you should be able to see all the individual fibres, you can go even thinner than the picture above). Wool fibres are barbed when pulled apart like this, the barbs are similar to us trying to crawl across barbed wire, slugs really don’t like it. Keep the wool in good contact with the soil so they can’t sneak under.
Don’t buy the plastic toppers for canes, wool wrapped around canes/sticks that support plants, stops people poking themselves in the eye and the nesting birds love pinching bits for their nests, which in turn brings birds into the garden to eat all the greenfly!!
If you can find a local farmer who has sheep ,ask them if you can take the clippings from the sheep’s behinds. We clip out our sheeps behinds before clipping, normally April/May time to keep flies/maggots away from the sheep. We call this part of the wool doddings, but it may be called something else in your area. Fill a tub with the dirty wool and top up with water. Leave to brew!!! Its’ the same idea as making a nettle tea but doesn’t smell as offensive. (You can, if you are feeling brave collect sheep poo from the field, pop it into an old pair of tights, drop it into a bucket of water and leave for a week). You want to add a few cupfuls to a watering can (it should look like really weak tea). Rich in nitrogen, potash, potassium and trace elements it’s perfect. Reduces your plastic too as you aren’t buying bags of granule feed or bottles of tomato feed.
Finally this one’s a recent discovery this year. We make these on our Creative Times Together days. Wool balls slightly felted make great dryer balls. Pop at least 3 of them in your dryer, add some essential oils, if you want your washing to smell of your favourite scent. It reduces your drying time by wicking away the moisture into the balls and as the balls bounce around the dryer in between your clothes, this aerates and aids drying.
Wrap chicken wire around the ring, making a shallow trough, where the plants will go.
Now wrap material around the chicken wire. Stitch the edges to the wire with a sturdy needle and wool. This holds the compost in place, retains moisture and tidies up the back of the ring. We use hessian, an old wool jumper that’s been shrunk (it takes on a felty feel, which is perfect) or fleece material. This is from an old fleece coat.
Then push you plants in between the copper rings; you can open them up to get the plants in and squeeze together to hold the plants in place. Pop small bulbs like Muscari, Crocus or Anemones for late flowering in between. Don’t be afraid to squeeze in plenty of plants. You can use herbs too, which you can snip for the kitchen.
You can either hang up on a wall/door, giving you your own little living wall/door or pop on a patio table to enjoy whilst you have a cuppa on a warm Spring day.
When it starts to look tired pull out, pop the spent bulbs in the garden for next year (leave the foliage on to let it die back naturally; this provides energy for the bulb next year) and plant up for a summer planter.
If you fancy a more natural design, line your chicken wire with moss, plant up with your chosen flowers and fill in with compost.
Treat your mum this Mother’s Day, with a bouquet of British Flowers from Holme Flowers …
We are now taking orders for Mother’s Day bouquets. Prices start from £25.
Text or call 07999556469 to place your order. Local deliveries are free or bouquets can be collected. Contact Us (see map for delivery details)
We also design Grave Wreaths. These are in a heart shape design, including rosemary (rosemary signifies remembrance), eucalyptus with a small posy of flowers arranged at the top of the heart. Prices start from £10.
Or why not purchase one of our gift vouchers for your mum, to receive Friday Flowers; which start in April. Vouchers can be tailored to suit your budget. Flowers for sale
We are so excited about Monday’s Large Scale Installation class with the talented Fiona of FirenzaFloralDesign. Where students will get to visit our farm, pick flowers from the field, forage amongst the hedgerows, eat delicious food using local produce down by the river in our new Bothy. Named by Fiona some time ago, when we asked our followers what to call our new workshop; at the time its name was Shed on Wheels!! We had some lovely ideas but when The Bothy was mentioned it just seemed a perfect name for our workshop, that now allows us to work around the farm. It seems perfect that Fiona should be the first one to use the Bothy.
Fiona will be sharing with students her techniques and styles, at different locations on the farm. She’ll use British Autumnal Flowers, foliage and fruits. The photos showcased here are of the Sarah Winward Big Urn Class which took place earlier in the year; where Fiona and Sarah created the most stunning urn arrangements, in May. The photos were taken by Holly of Belle and Beau Fine Art Wedding Photography.
The beginning of British Summer Time heralds the time between the Spring Equinox and Easter.
For us it is one of the special times on the farm; lambing time.
Bringing new life into the world is such a special experience. Even after having seen thousands of lambs born over the years, each birth is unique. Something inside changes you when you give birth to your own, you become so much more understanding of each ewes needs, pain and the sheer exhaustion they feel. After a few days of nurturing inside, they are taken outside. For the ewe this is the first time she has been out for several months on lush fresh grass (several weeks before they lamb, we bring them all in and feed them a special feed mix and silage, to help them with the last stages of their pregnancy). No sooner has she entered the field, her head is down and she eats. Her lamb or lambs on the other hand have never seen grass or experienced wide open spaces. Its not long before they are skipping around and given a few days they will join up with the ‘gang’ of older lambs. (This brute was nicknamed Hercules. This picture was taken just a few hours after he had been born!)
Spring is seen on the farm in many ways; hedgerows bursting into bud, corn crops in the field start to blanket out the brown bare earth, the flower fields new shoots start to emerge, frog spawn in the pond, birds looking for nesting sites and the whole of the countryside takes on shades of vibrant green.
‘Treat the earth well, it was not given to you to your parents, it was loaned to you by your children’
Native American Proverb
Not that long ago gardeners were encouraged to keep their gardens tidy which in turn meant there would be little room for the likes of slugs/snails to find homes and ultimately devour our favoured flowers, fruit and veg. Now advice given is to encourage all manner of beings into the garden to provide a diverse range of species, which in turn means less chemicals needed to kill the pests.
We have always been an advocate of bio diversity, encouraging wildlife into the flower fields, which in turn has helped us with pests, nutrition and pollination. For the first time this year, the flower field had a new arrival, bees. We are lucky to have an expert bee keeper, Mike, in the village. Mike has been looking after our new residents and it has been really fascinating learning all about these little workaholics . At present they are all tucked away in the hive, bundled together in a large ball, protecting the queen, until the weather warms up and they will all spring into life again.
We have also built a brown hedge on the farm and it has been really interesting (especially for the children) to see who has taken residence in this new home.
It’s not until we sat down and thought about all the different areas of the farm and how beneficial these are to nature, that we realised just how easy it is to encourage different types of wildlife. We have several spinneys, the river, ditches, hedges, trees, ponds, compost heaps, leaf mounds, log piles, long grass not cut, bird boxes and various buildings for birds like owls to nest in.
We do get bothered by slugs, snails, greenfly etc but now we have a diverse range of wildlife here it’s meant that predators who are willing to feast on these beasts have a home and continuous food supply, this has in turn meant that we no longer suffer as much with damage from pests.
We read last week that there is more organisms in a handful of good homemade compost than there are people on the planet. So we challenge you all to be a little untidy in the garden; don’t cut back everything before winter, to give creatures somewhere to hibernate, keep the grass just that bit longer, make your own compost, make your own bug hotel, and let some of the leaves under your hedge decompose instead of tidying them all away.
Finally, now is the ideal time to put up a nest box. As the days get longer, birds are starting to check out that all important nesting site. Robins love nesting in tea pots, pans hug up behind ivy (just don’t hang too high).
Have a good week everyone.
Anyone with a love of flowers will be aware of the Great British Garden Revival which has been broadcast on the BBC over the past weeks. Those yet to view their recordings are in for a real treat (grab that cuppa, stop what you’re doing – don’t forget to keep a notebook by the side of you – notes need to be taken)
British Flowers have such beauty; through their kaleidoscope of colours, diverse range of textures and most importantly their indulgent scent. Rachel de Thame is one of a growing number of celebrities on a mission to promote British Flowers and rightly so. Buy Seasonal British Flowers and we guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Logging onto Flowers from the farm website – http://flowersfromthefarm.co.uk/ allows you to find your local grower, build up a really good relationship with them; whether it’s for flowers for a special occasion, wedding or regular flowers just for your home, you certainly won’t regret it. (The website is being updated at the moment so keep logging on to keep up to date)
This week has been such an exciting week for British Flower Growers. Along with Gill Hodgson (founder of Flowers from the farm) and Fiona Pickles (owner of Firenza Floral Design) we met with the RHS team at Harlow Carr to discuss British Flower Week and a very exciting partnership has begun. Watch this space guys …. more news to follow.
At this time of year when most of the fields are in a deep slumber its time to decide and plan for the year ahead. What seeds to grow, what new flowers to trial and where on earth do we find room for even more flowers! This year we have ordered more roses, different dahlia varieties and some unusual lovelies along with our normal orders. This will be our 4th year of growing for you all, where has the time gone.
Annual seeds are so easy to grow, everyone can have a small cut flower patch in their garden or even on a balcony. When weeds start growing in the garden it’s natures alarm call to start sowing your seeds; as the day light hours get longer and the temperature starts to increase. Some growers follow the lunar calendar to sow seeds, some use a gardening book whilst others go on years of experience. Just don’t be frightened or daunted, experiment, write a diary its definitely the best way to learn.
This weeks weather looks like a mix of warm and cold. Whatever the weather wrap up warm, get outside and look for signs of Spring. The nights are definitely getting lighter, snowdrops are emerging and the birds have started to sing their distinct song.
Have a good week everyone. Sue and Wendy.
Happy new year to all our readers. We hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and are ready for the year ahead.
January is a time where Sue and I can at last get to grips with paperwork and planning; not just in our business lives but in our personal lives too. Houses are cleaned, decorated and sorted. Paperwork is filed, thrown, dealt with and the final part of our lives seems to be put into some sort of order!
This month also gives an opportunity to file and transfer all our photos and videos taken over 2014. The videos do make us laugh and would never be for public viewing, but for us, are more valuable in the planning process than photos. Twice a month, throughout the year, we take a video of the fields detailing what is growing, what we have been doing, things that have not worked, things we should do next year etc. Visually, this is so much better than photos for remembering what was happening at that time. We’d never make a BBC camera person, but is one of the most valuable things we do.
Photos of individual flowers, across the seasons, makes us realise that you really can’t have a favourite flower. Each season indulges you with other beauties. My favourite all time flower was always the Rose but now I really can’t say that just this flower captures my heart. Each season presents itself with some real treasures, some of which I never really thought I liked that much. When you work with flowers on a daily basis, sowing, growing on, feeding, watering, staking, cutting, arranging and ultimately sharing with others, it makes you realise that its impossible to have one favourite. Here are some of our Spring favourites:
Have a lovely weekend everyone. Wendy.
At last we have got round to writing our next blog post, slightly late I know but there does not seem to have been much time to sit!
We have been really busy with deliveries, weddings, parties and welcoming people to the flower field. Never in our wildest dreams could we have met such lovely people and had so much interest in our flowers.
When you work in the fields all day long you never seem to see much change as the seasons roll into each other you are unaware of things growing so fast. It’s not until other people come to the field or we look at photos that we realise how quick things grow and the seasons move on. Each year we seem to learn new things. Twice a month we take video diaries of the fields so that in the depths of winter when we are planning for the next year, we can look back and see what worked well and what we need to change. These videos are invaluable along with our written diaries and really help us plan for the years ahead.
With the nights starting to draw in all too quickly now it seems and a definite nip in the air, Autumn is creeping up on us all. Hopefully the weather will hold and September will be a glorious month where late sown flowers come into their own and flowers, berries and seed heads are collected for our Christmas wreaths.