Bio Diversity

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‘Treat the earth well, it was not given to you to your parents, it was loaned to you by your children’

 Native American Proverb

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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Have a good week everyone.

Great British Garden Revival

 

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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)

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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.

(A note for your diary – British Flower Week 15 – 19 June 2015) IMG_6659 IMG_6685

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.

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Ranunculus in the tunnels

 

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.

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Autumn sowings in one of the tunnels before christmas

 

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.

 

 

Tis the season to be jolly * Order your Luxury Christmas Wreath NOW *

Our Christmas wreaths can now be ordered.


THE WILLOW

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A hand woven willow circlet or circlets. This wreath is partially decorated with foliage, herbs, holly, seed heads and hedgerow berries.

THE TRADITIONAL

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Using blue spruce, conifer, or fir as the base. This wreath includes holly, berries, nuts, orange/apple segments, cinnamon, seed head & dried flowers.

THE NATURAL

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This wreath is packed with foliage and herbs, including rosemary, eucalyptus, spruce and fir. This wreath can be decorated with seed heads, cones, feathers, nuts or filled exclusively with foliage.

WILLOW HEARTS

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For a small gift, to a friend, for your child’s teacher or as a decoration to adorn your fireplace or tree, we have our herby hearts.

Bespoke Willow wreaths 12″ or 14″ starting price £20

Traditional or Natural – 10″ £15 12″ £20 16″ £30

Willow hearts – £6

We have also been commissioned for individual items for customers homes, which include party centrepieces, hearth and stair swags – contact us to discuss in more detail.

CONTACT – 07999556469 or e mail at holmeflowers@Hotmail.co.uk

PLEASE NOTE ORDERS ARE LIMITED AND TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT PLEASE ORDER ASAP


GALLERY

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It’s been a while

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sun is shining – progress in the flower field

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Well at last the weather is warming, the nights are not too cold and we have uncovered the dahlias and planted all our sweet peas outside.

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The sweet peas in the poly tunnel smell heavenly and each morning when you enter the tunnel you are met by the most amazing scent.

Everywhere you look there are new flowers and as June arrives the flower field takes on a new vigour. With scabious, roses, campanula, linaria, snapdragons, iris, chives, nigella, lupins, nepeta, sweet williams, rudbeckia, peony, clematis, calendula, ammi, an abundance of herbs, frothy foliage the list goes on.

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We have been overwhelmed with the interest from local customers wanting party flowers, birthday flowers, funeral flowers, brides wanting something different/natural for their very special day and florists interested in working with British Flowers.

We are always learning and love new design challenges. At times when there seems not enough hours in the day, watering, picking and sowing seems to morph into one another, once we line up our flowers to create, its as if the clock stops and we are in a relaxed state of zen!!

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Why British Flowers?

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Flowers are considered to be a luxury; to survive all we need is food, water and shelter. Whether you are a gardener, grower or just like to decorate your home with fresh blooms, flowers are not a primary concern. After the 3 essentials we then all have a choice, dependant on our lifestyle what we spend our hard earned money on. Some like to save first and spend occasionally, some like to live each day as if it were their last.

When choosing what to buy, price is one of the most important considerations; this is not always the best option and at last consumers are starting to ask questions and wanting to support their local businesses and community.

So why choose local over foreign imports?

Imported flowers are intensively farmed, sprayed with pesticides, refrigerated to keep them fresh once picked; which is not natural or environmentally friendly. They are then flown thousands of miles, handled numerous of times, utilising resource and energy. Being brought up on a traditional farm has taught me that supermarkets only look after themselves, they want uniform everything, they set the price to the producer and equally can cancel contracts with producers at the drop of a hat. As a consumer, we become a slave to convenience, enticed by loyalty points, vouchers off products and buy one get one free offers (that we don’t always want). How many times have you bought a certain product and then all of a sudden the supermarket no longer stocks it? Do we say anything, do we shop elsewhere to get that product, or do we just reside ourselves to buying another brand;  perhaps even their own brand?

Morning rain droplets, like diamond jewels nestled in the Lineria leaves.
Morning rain, like diamond gems protected by velvet cloth.

Our flowers are grown as naturally as possible, greenfly and slugs do like to nibble at the new shoots of certain young plants but with a wonderful network of British Growers through Flowers from the Farm, The British Flower Collective, #britishflowers, growers can liaise with each other and advice and support is always freely available. It’s clearly evident that if we harness nature and provide a bio diverse environment, pests and weeds, (things we would have sprayed and killed some 20 years ago) just encourage an abundance of different birds, toads, frogs, insects etc into the field. Ultimately, everything has a purpose and if we interfere with nature too much, we effect the natural balance, causing unnatural intervention that can have a long term effect.

Silky spider threads, with perfect weather conditions allowing them to travel

 

Buying British Local Flowers means you get flowers with beautiful scent, the colours are vivid and widely varied, they are not covered in chemicals, they will last in a vase if cared for correctly.  Your choice of flowers moves with the seasons and consumers are connected directly with the grower. Buying British, locally grown flowers and produce means you know it’s farmed ethically, not damaging to the environment and most importantly it supports local communities with employment and also strengthens our economy. 

Our new clematis planted at the end of each bed
Our new clematis planted at the end of each bed

Whatever it may be, sometimes cheap is not the answer. I think we all need to learn to perhaps have less and what we do have is quality, difference, supports a wide network of fields, supports our local community and the fantastic producers here on our little island. Sometimes less can be more!!

 

Busy Busy Busy

Mothers Day Posies  Spring table decoration for a dinner function

It’s been a chaotic few weeks.

 

Lambing is at last nearly over, much too our other sister Jayne’s relief. Jayne; who’s the shepherdess on the farm, has worked tirelessly over the past few weeks bringing new life into the world. Sue and I go out first thing in the morning to tend to all the jobs Jayne gives us in the maternity ward! After each ewe lambs, she is moved into her own cubicle for peace, quiet and to recover. If all is well they are moved in with other mums; into a large shed we have named ‘The Savoy’!! After a day, if the weather is kind, they are moved outside. The relief and pleasure on a ewes face is clearly evident, once she realises she is at last back outside with her friends and loads of green grass.

Late Sunshine

 

This weekend was also a very special day. Mothers Day is one of the busiest times of year for flowers. I read recently in our local paper that it’s even bigger than Valentines Day! We definitely did not anticipate that we would sell out so quickly for our Mothers Day Posies and we would like to thank all those that bought posies from us and all their kind words.

 

Large Mothers Day PosiesMothers Day PosiesMore Mothers Day Posies for delivery

 

We now have 2 poly tunnels as well as our greenhouses to cram even more seeds/flowers into. Planning now turns to our weddings and regular deliveries.  Some of the flowers are grown under cover, providing us with an early crop and also to get those all important long stems. The nettle brew is starting to stink and muck is being dug into all the beds where greedy plants demand it! The dahlias we over wintered in a traditional pile have come through without too many mice nibbles and most are happily sprouting ready to be planted out in our undercover bed, where they will stay until fear of the last frost has passed.

 

Dahila Pile

 

The other flower field has been ploughed and power harrowed and is ready for direct sowing. More seeds have been ordered (you can never have enough!!!! or so I keep telling Sue and trying to convince myself). As a grower supplying brides, florists and local customers it can, at times, be very difficult to estimate how many flowers you are going to need in each season. Everything has to be looked at from weather, if it’s too hot or too cold, too much rain or not enough and also new demand/new customers (which is really good but can be scary at the same time). Lessons are learnt all the time but there is something quite special about working with the land and flowers. Being surrounded by nature really does have a calming effect and although at times you have not got time to reflect or appreciate your surroundings, when customers come to the flower field, we are reminded why we do this job.

 

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Our final idea for the week was to do a video diary. Although the filming quality needs to improve have a look at our first draft.

Enjoy your week ahead. I believe the weather is going to be good overall. Sit down, grab a coffee, tea or a nice cold glass of wine, sit outside and try and spot your first swallow!

 

 

 

 

Making flower food

COATS OFF AND LETS GET TO WORK

We have been really lucky with the weather lately. It has meant we can tidy and plan the flower field in the sunshine with our coats off. The days seem to fly by at the moment. With appointments to see this years brides, finalising all our seed and bulb orders, weeding and covering 2 poly tunnels, sowing seeds on a daily basis it’s a good job the clocks turn back at the end of the month, we will appreciate that extra hour of day light.

First trench dug for dahlias and tulips breaking through the soil & first tunnel going up

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One of the things we start to make now is our flower food. We use a lot of muck from the farm for our perennials as a mulch and in the trench’s, dug out for our dahlias and sweet peas (both dahlias and sweet peas are greedy feeders) but once our plants start to establish we like to use a nettle brew to encourage good leaf and root growth. Armed with rubber gloves we go picking young nettles, some of which won’t make the brewing barrel in the shed but end up in a pan in the kitchen. Nettles make the most amazing soup and are rich in vitamins. Sue has the most amazing recipe loaded with onions and garlic, a huge chunk of homemade bread, sat outside with her menagerie of chickens; what more can you ask for. One word of warning when picking nettles for the kitchen. Make sure the nettles you pick are a good distance from road sides and areas where dogs could been!!

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Nettles good for feeding both plants and us!

At the end of this week it’s Mothers Day and we have been overwhelmed by interest in our flowers for this special day, (we are now sold out of flowers for this weekend). The race is on to cut, condition and get all our Mothers Days posies out.

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Enjoy your week, we hope all Mothers out there have a wonderful weekend and don’t forget to put your clocks forward an hour on Saturday night.

 

Mothers Day / Gift Vouchers

If you are wanting to get that someone special something different and unique, why not get a gift voucher from Holme Flowers.

Single voucher

Autumnal arrangement

Our gift vouchers can be for a single arrangement (in a vase to keep) or a bouquet (£10 £20 or £30)

A weekly, fortnightly or monthly subscription.

Tea cup arrangement

Weekly for a month (4 weeks) £40

Weekly for 6 months (26 weeks) £260

Fortnightly for a month (2 weeks) £20

Fortnightly for 6 months (13 weeks) £130

Once a month for 6 months £60

Chocolate cosmos and zingy dahlia and zinnia mix

Sweet Peas

The race has started. As the light hours gets longer, these little gems start to pierce through the soil and between each seedling there seems to be competition. We sow sweet peas in Autumn and Spring for successional sowing throughout the year. Personally, I like to sow in Spring as there is great excitement when the birds start to sing their song, attracting mates and letting us all know that, at last the season is changing, the evening light is getting longer, mornings are lighter and there is a real zing in the air. This has to be my favourite time of the year, new life is at last starting to unfurl. We start lambing in the middle of March, the children get so excited about the possibility of nurturing a lamb needing that little bit of extra help, when born. Everything, including our peas start to stretch, look to the light, and want to grow. The only thing not growing is ourselves, this is a time to shed those excess pounds laid down in Winter. This is so easily done, just get out with a spade and dig, take the dog for a long walk, go for a bike ride or discover a new walk with the family. As animals come out of hibernation we too take off our coats and feel the freedom of movement and motivation.

Beds ready and prepared for Sweet PeasSue tying in peasSweet Pea rows with a mulch of sheeps wood

This year we are growing show varieties from Owls Acre Seeds and our usual favourites from Moles Seeds and Chiltern Seeds. The field is drying out at last, with the winds we have had lately, we can at last get in and start weeding, and preparing the beds.

.Strong fushia pink sweet pea Cream sweet pea fringed with a delicate lilacSoft pink sweet peas for table decorations for a garden party

Sweet peas seem to evoke childhood memories in all our customers. The colours, the delicate frill of each petal and of course the hypnotic scent. We sell our sweet peas at our local farm shop (Baldersby Shop) and to our ‘Delivery On Your Door’ customers. Sweet Peas are not available easily from florist shops or through supermarkets as they do not travel well. This is where the British grower can benefit. We cut our peas and condition in a cooling shed over night (this also gets rid of the little beetles who like to lodge in the peas!) and deliver the next day. If kept cool and the water changed regularly, peas can last for 5- 7 days.

Anyone can grow Sweet Peas, they are easy to grow. Why not try some in your garden or courtyard. We also invite you to come to the flower field and we can pick colours/varieties that you like. They are intoxicating.

Vintage Bouquet studded with the heavenly scent of sweet peas.  Lily of the valley, Iceberg Rose and Pure white sweet peas

By Wendy X