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.
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.
This week has been the first week of the Easter School holidays and what a relief it’s been. It’s meant we have had a lot of extra help from eager workers wanting to earn a little bit of extra pocket money. Lambing is over; at last all the lambs are outside playing and enjoying the sunshine and space. Our first house marten and swallow have arrived after their long journey south. There is an abundance of both frog and toad spawn in the pond and birds are busily nest building, grabbing loose bits of wool caught up in fences and straw/hay left in the racks. The horses winter coats are shed bit by bit whenever they roll and very determined blackbirds wait for that opertune moment to grab what they can, to take back to weave the most intricate nest.
The week started with the second small poly tunnel going up as we need more and more room for seeds, dahlias and to get early crops of desired flowers for orders. You may be wondering why this weeks title is called Blue Jobs. Blue Jobs are what Sue describes as boy jobs. This week has seen us doing lots of Blue Jobs with not a man in sight! GIRL POWER (I must stress that husbands have helped us in previous weeks and will continue to help but both husbands have been busy so we have had to take it upon ourselves to get these jobs done) so with saw, hammer, nails, drill, screw driver and tape measure in hand – jobs have got done, and lessons have been learnt!
Mucking the beds to keep those darn weeds down!
The dahlias we lifted from our outside pile have started to sprout and have been put in their bed outside with their own little hoop house, to keep them nice and warm and protected from any frost. Within a week or so when they have got about 2 inch’s of growth on we will mulch with sheep’s wool which acts as a weed suppressant, mulch, slug deterrent and also gives them a feed (there is some old sheep muck still attached to the wool in places, just the right amount of nutrients).
Seeds are sown regularly now to give us plenty of stock when annuals in the beds tire and need replacing with fresh stock, this year we endeavour to get this right as we always seem to get so busy we forget to sow (diaries at hand and better organisational skills – we’ll see what happens).
We are very lucky to have the most amazing Pelargonium grower near us (http://www.firtreespelargoniums.co.uk). We visited them last week to pick up some nursery stock. Once inside the greenhouses you are amongst some of the most amazing scents. We generally grow pelargoniums just for their foliage but some of the flowers last well in a vase; unique flowers not seen often in an arrangement. We have, for some years now grown Attar of Roses which has the most aromatic rose scent. Ardwick Cinnamon as the name suggests smells of cinnamon and has the most tactile leaves, Chocolate Peppermint smells of peppermint and has a flat velvety leaf with a chocolate centre, Mabel Grey has a serrated rough edge with a very strong sherbet lemon scent and Lady Plymouth has a golden variegated leaf with a citrus scent. Sadly, Fir Trees has decided to close at the end of this season and if you get chance I strongly suggest you have a look on their website as all their stock has to be sold by the end of the year.
Our second order for this week was clematis. Following Erin Benzakeins (http://www.floretflowers.com) recommendation we purchased ‘A Celebration of Clematis’ by Kaye Heafey and Ron Morgan. Wow what a book, hard to get hold of in the UK but well worth the extra effort. The only trouble we then had was narrowing our choice down, decisions to be made, not our best asset but after many hours, coffee/tea drunk, we decided on our choices and have ordered them through Taylors Clematis (http://www.taylorsclematis.co.uk). More information on these and photos will follow in future blogs.
Finally, our order of more perennial plants from the wonderful Mires Beck Nursery (http://www.miresbeck.co.uk) will arrive next week and we have promised no more spending on the plant front until Autumn!!! Unless of course its for our own gardens, for trial purpose only!!!
This week also saw our deliveries start again. It gave us chance to catch up with customers we had not seen since delivering wreaths at Christmas. Our deliveries are very popular and this year orders can be made by text, e mail or telephone whenever the mood takes you (deliveries are on Fridays/Saturdays and orders must be made by Wednesday to allow flowers time to be cut and conditioned). Some of our customers get weekly orders, some get fortnightly orders and some like a large bouquet once a month. We are very flexible and taylor each order accordingly. All flowers are left somewhere cool (a garage, porch or shed) and are waiting for when you return home.
Next week, we are very lucky to welcome Gill Hodgson (Flowers from the Farm founder) and Judy Laushman (co author of Speciality Cut Flowers and Director of The Association of Speciality Cut Flower Growers http://www.ascfg.org – photos etc will be on next weeks blog.
Enjoy the sunshine, it looks like its going to be a really nice week. Enjoy the bank holidays, sit back and admire what’s around you. Sue says I have Wendy moments when I reflect on the simple things in life, but seriously I think sometimes we all need to get off the conveyor belt of life and just sit, listen, laugh and just enjoy being here. (Wendy moment over!!!)
The word Spring makes us think of new beginnings, energy, vibrancy and excitement of things to come.
In just over a weeks time, we will have our first lambs of 2014 and if the weather keeps dry and sunny, these new arrivals will be racing in the fields with all their friends, whilst their mums spring in her step can be reignited after carrying her heavy load or loads (hopefully no more than 3 to carry!).
In the flower field life has begun to unfurl. As the snowdrops tire and recede, an abundance of new arrivals are shouting out for our attention. Hellebores, Muscari, Daffodils, Anemones, Ranunculus, Sweet Williams, Erysium, early Tulips to name a few, as well as all our foliage which provides the perfect green canvas to showcase our flowers. We grow all sorts of different foliage/herbs and are always looking for new species to include with our flowers; you can never have enough foliage!
Last year we were asked to do so many different flowery projects and were able to meet so many lovely people. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone’s face when they sink their nose into a bouquet of flowers. The sense of smell brings back memories, uplifts the spirit and just makes you smile.
We have had such a lovely response about our flower deliveries and cannot wait to start delivering again this year. There is something very special about leaving flowers at someone’s home (whether it be in their porch, garage or shed) for them to collect on their return home from work or a day out. If you are interested in getting flowers delivered, have a look at our page ‘Delivered to your door’. There is no commitment you can just ring or text if you fancy a bunch of flowers, its that simple, (deliveries are twice a week, at present). Or perhaps you are thinking about Mothers Day and wondering what to get mum this year. Our ‘Mothers Day Gift Voucher’ may be what you are looking for, check out our ‘Mothers Day/Gift Voucher’ page.
We also provide natural arranged designs/bouquets for birthdays, themed parties, anniversaries and special venues. Flowers can be arranged in jugs, jam jars wrapped in lace, hessian or ribbon, milk churns, wellies, urns, teacups to name a few. We have also been commissioned to weave (using our willow, hornbeam, birch and beech) arch’s for weddings, the brides and grooms initials for pew ends, circlets and weaved cones to place arranged flowers in for parties. Each request has been unique and we take great pride in producing something bespoke and specific for each event. See our ‘Special Occasions’ page
The other request we had numerous times, was if we would do a workshop for weaving or flower growing/arranging. This is something that we hoped we would have had time to do last year, but never got the time to plan and organise. This year we hope to arrange a workshop and will keep you posted about this. In the meantime if any of you have a specific request please let us know. Numbers would be limited on each workshop day in order that everyone get the most from the day. Lunch would be provided and there would be lots of tea/fresh coffee and homemade cakes throughout the day. If you were lucky enough to come to our Macmillian Coffee morning last year there was an array of sweet treats. The sun shone all day, the birds sang and people were able to walk in the field and ask questions about the flowers we grow and take home some of their favourites. We had the most amazing day and raised over £280, definitely something we want to do again this year.
Today we have at last started our blog. The sun is shining and all is good.
This month is a month of planning in the field, sowing seeds and ordering more seeds (where there is bare earth, seeds can be sown). February is a compulsive month, seed catalogues drop through the letter box and the temptation starts. Sue and I have it off to a perfect patter. If we purchase something the other does not know about, we use the excuse that it’s for our own private gardens for research purposes only. However, when the seed trays start to burst into life and need to be transplanted out, they seem to make their way to the field!
February is also a time to sift through many photos taken over the previous year that need to be sorted into some sort of order. It’s impossible in the busy months, weeding, sowing, picking, conditioning, arranging and delivering our flowers to sort out all the photos we take, so whilst everything is sleeping in the field we have time to organise our paperwork, photos etc. As the buds and bulbs start to show themselves we realise that our time is running out.