Flowers, flowers everywhere……

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Well just look at that….February already! No blog action during January at all I’m afraid. Spent many a day sniffing the salty air, cooling off in the sea and making sandcastles. Other lazy days were spent trying to keep cool during one of the hottest summers I’ve experienced to date in New Zealand. And, of course, I spent a lot of time wondering through the WildFlower Meadow observing all the new varieties blooming away and snipping happily in the Cut Flower Garden. I was lucky enough to be asked to sell some flower posies at our local Farmer’s Market to help out my Florist Friend. It was such an interesting and  fun morning. Interesting as a flower seller to see which flowers were the ones that sold first and fun because I met some really interesting and lovely people – many of whom just loved talking about flowers!

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Here’s my little stall complete with a huge bucket of Sunflower ‘Vanilla Ice’.

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I used a huge variety of my flowers and herbs and the scent was just delightful. In the posies above you can see Zinnia, alstromeria, echinecea buttons, apple mint, bergamont Bee balm, scabiosa, feverfew and ageratum. 

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In the posies above I used sedum, dahlia ‘Embrace’, mignonette, orange cosmos and amaranthus. the vase of dahlias are ‘Cafe au Lait’. These were really for show as they only have a few days vase life. It’s best to pick them slightly immature as the bud is half to two thirds open. They are probably one of the showiest flowers I know. A real Fleeting Beauty.

So aside from having fun at the market I have started to make a list of Things That I’ve Learnt from the last two seasons as a Cut Flower Grower.

Successional Sowing : as every good vege gardener knows, successional sowing is essential to avoid the ‘hungry gaps’. I made just two sowings (!) However, theis second sowing really came into it’s own for the flower stall. I had sown salvia tricolour and salvia Turkistan white, clary sage and antirrhinums. Perfect to pad out the posies. I was also glad to have my scented herbs to fall back on. The applemint, scented geraniums and Bergamont Bee Balm in particular.

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AWOL plants ; I had a few mysteriously disappearing plants namely asters, sweet williams, echinops ritro, aquilegia ‘Nora Barlow’ and Geum Mrs Bradshaw. One minute they were there, the next….vanished. I think some may have been swamped by their stronger green leaved neighbours. Must leave more space inbetween plantings.

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Keep the same varieties of a flower separate : Why? Well, I planted 4 types of zinnia and apart from Giant Lime I wasn’t sure which was which. Same with the sunflowers apart from Vanilla Ice. On the plus side I had the best crop of zinnia and sunflowers ever.

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Remove finished varieties and replace with new : This follows on from the successional sowing point but I did tend to leave finished varieties to run amok willy nilly with the weeds which is not something I’d care to repeat!

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Slow burners : Some of the varieties I chose to sow took AGES to flower including buplerum and ammi majus and ammi visnaga. I will be planting these well away form the Cutting Garden because they take up valuable space.

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Stake and support : An obvious one but my sunflowers and dahlias should have been staked sooner…. I did toy with th eidea of using pea netting horizontally for the taller plants to grow through as many flower farmers do. I think this would have been over kill for my space though. Perhaps just larkspur and corncockle.

Grow More! : When I started my Cutting garden it was purely for me. However, now I’m selling the flowers I need a better more oganised strategy and most of all I need to Grow Heaps More. The varieties that were snipped up the fastest included sweetpeas and sunflowers. Paeonies are the other popular flower here in Hawke’s Bay. The other flowers essential for filling and adding interest include sage clary, nigella, poppy seed heads, scented herbs, hydrangeas (especially white) to name a few.

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Plant bienniels : I was too late last autumn but this year I’m prepared. I’ll be sowing sweet williams, stocks, larkspur…..

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Next time…an update on the Wildflower Meadow.

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