Goodbye 2014…..what a year!

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I had to get a final post in for 2014 especially as I managed to spectacularly fail to deliver any festive posts! The run up to Christmas was a flurry of planting out seedlings, cutting sweetpeas for the market, making up wreaths and table decorations and dancing up and down with glee at the first sighting of a flower in the Wildflower Meadow! Yes, that’s right, we had flowers in the meadow for Christmas Day.

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I need to go back to my seed supplier to identify them properly but it looks like a type of poppy, phacelia and borage and a couple of unidentified beauties so far (any ideas let me know!). Can’t wait to see the other varieties as they come into bloom.

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Th photo at the beginning of my post shows the table runner decoration I created for Christmas Day Lunch. There’s something very satisfying about spending a bit of time spearing oasis with buxus, rosemary and ivy…..

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…..then gradually building up interest with gum nuts, baby quince….

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…..hypericum berries,

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….fejoa buds and seed heads and scabiosa starball………

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….and crowning it all off with three rather sculptural artichokes. A few days after Christmas the artichokes flowered with a purple spiky crew cut! That’s one of the things I love about using freshly cut flowers from my garden; they carry on growing and developing because they haven’t been treated with chemicals. I love the wildness of this.

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I also made a Christmas vase of flowers to go on the drinks table next to the BBQ. It was quite a different vase of flowers compared to last year. The Tiger’s Tail I used last year wasn’t in flower (not even close in fact)…..

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so I went for another tall and spiky favourite – the lupin.

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Teamed with immature hydrangeas, soft greenery…..

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…dreamy larkspur and the surprise element of a shocking pinky orange snapdragon I felt that they added a very festive feel to the day.

 

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We had some vibrant salads to go with the bbq-ed pork and oven cooked turkey and stuffing……

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I made some mincemeat although didn’t quite manage to get them into mince pies (!) and some reindeer biscuits for the children (who am I kidding!) and up went the festive bunting. I did lose a saucepan after a huge Chutney Making Disaster. I make Nigella’s Christmas Chutney every year – why it burnt this year? Who knows. To Mr Fig’s credit he didn’t even mention the blackened saucepan smouldering away malevolently in the carport. The dog didn’t go near it either 🙂

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I can’t write my final post for the year without a mention of the sweetpea love that has been blooming away for the past month or so. When I think how sick they looked when I transplanted them after months of over wintering in the greenhouse I can’t quite believe how well they’ve performed. They have been used in a wedding bouquet, a Golden Wedding Anniversary and a birthday and have graced the homes of numerous Farmers Market shoppers. I like to think I’ve spread a little joy through these scented lovelies!

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My home has resembled that of a florist recently as I’ve picked buckets of flowers from the Cut Flower Garden. I’ve been making up all sorts of flower arrangements.

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I’ve learnt quite a bit along the way about the need to condition flowers well before arranging for maximum vase life and also the importance of foliage and fillers as well as the flowers. Still loads more to learn….

I always make a point of NOT making New Year’s Resoultions but I do like to Make A List of Things I’d Like To Achieve or at least Aim For. In 2015 I’d like to:

  • carry on with the Cut Flower Garden Dream and perhaps turn it into a small but perfectly formed business venture
  • develop the herb garden and make some lovely herbal tea blends
  • develop the underplanting in the Nuttery

I’ll stop there before it turns into a list of Resolutions! I’d just like to say Thank You to everyone who has happened upon my blog and for taking the time to read my posts. To friends and family (for whom I started the blog so they could see what I was getting up to out here in NZ) I hope you like what you’re reading and that you still feel part of my life even though I’m So Far Away! To my friends in NZ who read this blog Thanks for your lovely comments and encouragement. We’ll be seeing New Year in on my friend Mrs Egg’s Farm so Happy New Year Everyone! See you in 2015!

 

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Bloomin’ marvellous

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Lots of busy goings on happening at the moment at the Fig Tree. The blooms are abundant in the Cutting Garden right now and I need to start recording what flowers and when to help me out next year. It’s been interesting to watch the tiny seedlings start to bulk up and in some cases produce colour and scent. The absolute star of the show has to be the humble sweet pea. I started growing these last autumn and over wintered them in the greenhouse. Once planted outside in the Spring they sulked like a moody teenager but I forgave them because look at the transformation!

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I’ve been cutting sweet peas since November (sixty odd bunches of twenty stems so far). Their scent is exquisite and I’m thrilled with the array of colours and the two mottled varieties; one pink and one purple. Just gorgeous. These have been selling out at my friend’s market stall. It seems that they are irresistible.

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Other scented loveliness can be found amongst my stocks. These old fashioned flowers have a spicy note which I adore. I grew these in the spring so I’m quite pleased that they’ve got this far. I’ll be sowing them as a biennial next Autumn and will be looking to see if they are taller and stronger than their Spring sown cousins.

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While not scented the larkspur are coming along nicely. I couldn’t find any pea netting for them to grow through so they’re a bit on the kinky side 🙂 Perfect for mixed posies though.

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I have a huge soft spot for this little family of scabious. They romp away all summer and into Autumn. The architectural scabious starball is the first to grace us with it’s presence in early Spring.

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The white flowers are fleeting and replaced with this papery sphere.

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This chocolate scabious is great at all stages of development;bud, flower and seed head. A real trouper!

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Another favourite of mine is the wispy, ethereal Love-in-a-mist. I have the white one and I adore it in every stage from bud to alien like seed pod.

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And from the delicate to the more robust Dahlia. This one is called Embrace and has a lovely peachy tone and a fairly small flowerhead so not too droopy when cut.

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This is Dahlia cafe au lait in the early stages of blooming. It’s the first time I’ve grown this variety and I’ll be interested to see if the colour fades to a milky coffee hue.

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More peachy brown here with Calendular bronze beauty. It’s another great flower that looks good in the bud stage as well as in bloom. It’s sticky just like it’s cousin calendula officinalis too.

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Ah the perky, opulant Snap Dragon. A flower sure to bring a smile to your face.

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This is honesty Sissinghurst White and it really doesn’t look much at all does it? This is a plant that requires a bit of patience being a bienniel. When it does bloom the flowers aren’t too much to look at but the seed pods are spectacular.

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Aren’t they amazing? When fully ripe the seed casing will turn brown and fall off leaving behind a silvery, translucent disc; perfect for using in dried arrangements.

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What about greenery? A bouquet or a posy needs backbone foliage and I’ve been concentrating on growing this as much as flowers. I have several Alchemilla Mollis plants maturing nicely along with bupleurum, euphorbia, eucalyptus, hostas and the tactile, silvery Lamb’s Ear.

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Eventually the Herb Garden will produce lots of scented foliage too; scented geraniums, feverfew, mints and rosemary.

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There will soon be a blast of yellow colour from the sunflowers. I specifically chose vanilla ice for it’s smaller flower heads and I think the other one is Terracotta (will need to check my dirt smeared and very dog eared notebook!)

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Hydrangas aplenty! I like to pick when they’re at the tiny bud stage as well as in bloom. I inherited all of my hydrangas so I’m not sure of their varieties. I’m particularly fond of a variety that has a black stem – very striking.

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The roses have just been divine this year and my Cecil Brunner just keeps on flowering….

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This is Clary Sage and has been growing in my garden for two years. This year it decided to bloom! Again, a very interesting and unusual flower. As it matures it becomes very upright and has pinky bells like an overgrown delphinium.

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And finally the berries that make me think of Christmas. I used this in my Christmas bouquet last year and I’m sure I’ll be using these glossy jewels again – perhaps in a christmas wreath this year. They last forever and just add an extra texture to a posy.

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A pretty good start to the Cutting Garden in it’s first year all in all! I still have quite a few seedlings to plant out (getting a bit behind as usual). The likes of gypsophila, eucalyptus silverdrops, asters, more zinnea, candytuft to name a few will soon be joining their fellow flowery friends. So far I’ve filled up 2 of the main beds and have started on a third. The fourth will be used for bienniels. One thing I’ve learnt is that you can plant out cutting flowers far more densly than you normally would plant. You live and learn!

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Here’s todays pick all ready for the lovely Kerin to collect and turn into gorgeous posies at the Farmer’s Market!

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Right someone stop me! I’ve posted more than enough flowery gorgeous-ness for one post! I need to go and have a lie down 🙂