April should be the REAL New Year! For me it’s a month of promise where the energy of the earth is unavoidable to witness. Despite the uncertainties of Winter, April brings with it urges to get up off the couch and contribute to new beginnings. Feelings of hope, happiness and anticipation that come with planting a cutting patch have been irresistible and the springtime flowers that are already blooming recklessly are playing the messenger….I actually forgot about the forget me not seeds I scattered in the fall and when I saw them blooming I felt like they were screaming out ‘remember me!’. Every single morning I witness new arrivals. Everything seems to have grown since yesterday! Spring just can not be restrained. And neither can I. So begins my second year of growing flowers to cut and fill our house with their beauty.
Welcome 2016! It has been a year since I began my 4 Blooms and a Bee journey, and I have to say, when I think back to this time last year, I had no idea how much beauty, discovery, and hard work I was about to encounter!
With the garden looking so bare right now it’s hard to believe that flowers actually bloomed, that bees busily buzzed and that aromas filled the summer air of our little garden.When I look back at these photos it reminds me what an amazing year our family had in our garden. It was so worth it. The happiness and contentment I felt when working in the garden was enough to get me officially hooked. Not only that, our house was filled with seasonal flowers all year round which always brightened my day.
Here are a few of my favourite arrangements, one from each season.Another great pleasure I have had over the last year is having the chance to share the whole experience with my friends and family. The original aim of 4 Blooms and a Bee was to get people thinking about the origin of the flowers they are buying, inspire others to seek out more local, seasonal alternatives and even try to grow their own seasonal blooms. On occasion I think I may have achieved this, but mostly I have opened a new discussion with friends and family that I had not had before, and for that I am grateful.
Never has the change in seasons been more visible to me than this year now I have my own cutting patch. And the change from Summer to Autumn has, I have to admit, been the most depressing. Don’t get me wrong, amidst the over growing flowers and browning of the leaves there has been unbelievable beauty surrounding me, but seeing my flowers die and come to an end in such a messy way brought me one October day to literally pull up my whole cutting patch! There had not yet been a frost, so I think there was probably a few weeks left in my Dahlias, Zinnias and Cosmos but I couldn’t bear it any longer! Once I’d done it, it felt good to have a clean slate again. I filled up my beds with more soil and compost, dug up and prepared my Dahlia tubers for winter, and started planting my early spring bulbs.When I look outside now though and see the empty boxes I can’t help but feel a pang of desire for curved flower beds and a perennial garden, one that is not such a production line of flower growing! I wonder about next year and what I will grow. And then my eyes turn to the beauty in the rest of my garden, the tress, and nature around me. Summer and all its abundance might be over but Autumn brings with it its own breath-taking beauty and some of the most amazing colours I have ever seen.
Well I didn’t think anyone would notice, but perhaps I underestimated the strength of flower power! Thank you to my mum, mother in law, and their friends for giving me the nudges I have needed to get myself back in gear again.
It’s been a busy couple of months with family visiting from England, two kids birthdays, camping trips, one child starting kindergarten and one starting preschool. I have still been growing, cutting, arranging and photographing, just not blogging! Something has had to give and with so few followers I didn’t think anyone would notice!
Anyway, I’m back and will shortly be catching up with my weekly flower arrangements and a post on the state of the cutting patch as Autumn sets in. In the mean time here are some photos from the cutting patch over the last few Summer months.
Well, I have to say, I didn’t really believe the day would ever come where I would actually have flowers to cut in my cutting patch! Realistically I suppose there isn’t really any reason why it wouldn’t. Seeds grow into seedlings, into plants, and they do finally flower! But for some reason up until now it’s only been in my hopes and dreams.
Mind you, it has not been a walk in the park with everything coming up roses! I already have a list as long as my arm of things that haven’t worked out and things to try next year, and it’s only July! I also still have a ‘to do’ list I can’t keep up with for the rest of this year. In the last few weeks the cutting patch has been higher maintenance than ever before. Watering, weeding, staking, and cutting blooms before they go to seed. I spend many evenings from the minute the kids are in bed until it’s too dark to see outside tending to my flowers. Thankfully, in the most part, I find it relaxing and therapeutic.
For those that are interested in the gardening side of things, over the next few weeks I plan to update ‘The Cutting Patch’ section of my blog with a bit more detail of what I’ve actually been doing out there to ensure these flowers keep blooming. For everyone else, just keep enjoying ‘The Blooms’. The weeks are racking up and I am starting to have flowers a plenty!
Week 23 of The Blooms
I’d say the success of my cutting patch so far has been my ‘Blue Boy’ Cornflowers. Every night I cut another big handful of these beautiful blue flowers. I love their intensity of colour which has been extremely versatile when arranging with other flowers. I’m now kicking myself that I didn’t try growing the rich dark red wine coloured variety called ‘Black Ball’ as well.
This hardy annual has been really easy to grow, requiring nothing more than pinching out and staking. They are of good length, require no feeding, and grow best on poor soils. Also as their stems are thin, they take up very little space in the cutting patch and once cut, they just keep on blooming.
I arranged the Cornflowers with some Blue Fescue ornimental grass from my own garden, leaves of Smoke Bush picked from my neighbour’s garden, and finally the white wild flowers of Corncockle grown at my new favourite organic flower farm Bath Tub Gardens in Pemberton, BC. (As a side note, if growing or arranging Corncockle, it’s one to keep out of reach of very little fingers, as it’s known to be poisonous if ingested).
So whats happening in the Cutting Patch? It’s been about two and a half months since I first planted my seeds. I’ve been nurturing these little seeds with all my heart! Watching them grow into tiny seedlings, potting the seedlings on, planting them out into their new flower beds, weeding around them, watering them, picking off earwigs and slugs, pinching them out, protecting them from dog paws, 2 year old mischievous fingers, baseballs and frisbees, staking them up, and dare I say it talking to them mostly asking when the ‘bleep’ are they going to give me flowers! Patience Hannah! Patience….but it’s very hard to believe a flower will ever come!
I am starting to wonder if I have enough sunny hours on the cutting patch during the day to grow flowers. What if Autumn and the frost come before I have chance to yield a single bloom?!
The good news is that I’m enjoying my new responsibility of caring for my crop and although disheartening at times, it is incredibly therapeutic. There is something rather pleasant about being up at the crack of dawn watering my plants bare footed in the soaking wet grass, and again in the quiet evening when the kids have gone to bed and I finally get chance to clear my head and take some deep breaths!
Nearly everyday I hear my 4 year old son say “Mum isn’t it amazing how all these green leaves have come from tiny seeds?” And I say “Yes it sure is bud, but you just wait for the rainbow of flowers to come”.
So I do have faith they will come….It’s all just a matter of time.
Making native wild flower seed balls with the kids was a fun activity that ticked several boxes. First I knew the kids would want to get involved. Planting seeds and bulbs conventionally in the garden with mum has started to wear a little thin in the fun department so I thought this would renew their interest.
For me, I’m desperate to grow wild flowers. Yes , I’d love to pick a few as cut flowers, but more importantly I’m keen to grow a little environment where native wildlife can flourish, in particular, the bees. The ‘bee’ in 4 Blooms and a Bee comes from my personal desire to help fight the disappearance of bees. The bee population has been dropping rapidly for the last decade and although scientists think contributing factors include the proliferation of certain pesticides, fungicides and disease baring parasites, a decline in natural habitat, along with the loss of bees’ preferred wildflowers, is also a big factor. So as well as avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers and fungicides on my cutting patch, I thought making and throwing native wild flower seed balls into empty spaces in my garden would not only be fun but good for the bees as well!
So here is what we did.
5 Parts Red Powered Pottery Clay
2 Parts Potting Soil (We used Peat Free)
1-2 Parts Native Wild Flower Seeds (I used Pacific Northwest and Bee Blend from West Coast seeds)
1-2 Parts Water
Mix all the ingredients together, roll into small balls, let them dry for 2-3 days and then throw them where you want wild flowers to grow! It was easy.
Time will tell how well they work. The idea is that the clay will protect the seeds from predators like ants, mice and birds, the soil will give the seeds the boost they need to germinate, and the rain will give them the water they need to grow. Spring and fall are the best time to make and throw seed balls. Help the Bees! Give it a go!
Last time I updated my progress in the cutting patch, it was mid March and I’d decided to hedge my bets and get planting before going to England for 3 weeks. I planted seeds in pots in my greenhouse, which my lovely neighbour agreed to water while I was gone, as well as some outside directly into the raised beds. I don’t think I really expected to see anything when I got home but there was some success waiting for me. In my green house I had tiny little Centaurea and Cosmos seedlings.
And in my raised beds I had more Centaurea plus some Ammi and Lupin seedlings.
After the euphoria, depression set in pretty quick as I realized how much had not germinated. I’d been gone 3 weeks…surley enough time for seeds to germinate…but obviously nowhere near the right conditions.
I held off sowing any more seeds and became obsessed with the weather! Not hard for an English lass! I’ve even got the kids at it. My son Crosby reads the weather to me from my iPhone first thing every morning. We discuss the weather and seasons constantly throughout the day. In fact it’s astounding how much his everyday life relates to it. You know, important things like he can’t play on the trampoline because it’s hailing (and I’m thinking my seedlings are getting beaten down), and that the creek is too high for him to walk trough today because it hasn’t stopped raining for 3 days (and I’m thinking my seeds are probably washed away by now), and it’s so hot he wants to run through the sprinkler and eat dinner on the deck (and I’m thinking maybe I should plant some more seeds now), and how now its spring and then its summer and in July it will be his birthday (and I’m thinking in July please let my cutting patch have flowers in it). Of course my thoughts are just as important as his ;).
About week or two ago we had a hot weekend where the temperature reached 17 degrees C. I couldn’t hold off any longer and I planted seeds in pots in the greenhouse again and also direct. I’d looked at the forecast and although it was for rain, there was no mention of what actually came last week….hail storms and temperatures around 2-5 degrees C. My dahlias were also delivered last week and I was too scared to plant them. I felt so defeated. I seriously thought I’d be back to the shops to buy more seed within no time.
And then yesterday I saw them……lines of tiny little shoots sprouting through the soil in my raised beds. Whilst my seeds don’t seem to be germinating very well undercover in my greenhouse, in my raised beds they are doing it!!! How they survived through all those storms I will never know. Maybe it’s the compost I added to the raised beds? 😉
I swear gardening is like a rollercoaster. Highs, lows and lots of anxious apprehensiveness in-between. And I’m sure this is only the beginning of it. Is this something I can cope with!? Am I going to be resilient enough? Patient enough?
Who knows. The weathers looking good for the next few days….sunshine and showers, warmer temperatures….maybe I’ll get my dahlia’s in after all…..