Poppies

This is the first year that we've grown poppies. Poppies don't like their roots being disturbed so we thought we'd try a few different planting methods; sewing into cell trays, planting them directly into the ground and sewing into guttering which we had cut in half. We had pretty varied success!

We followed Sarah Raven's advice on 'sowing seeds into gutterpipes'. This technique didn't work at all for us. We must have done something wrong as she says it's a great method. Perhaps we didn't make enough holes for the drainage as lots of the seedlings rotted. In the end i think we had only 3 seedlings from 4 pipes with about 100 seeds in them! Sewing into the cells was pretty hopeless too.

It was direct sewing which actually worked. However the seeds took ages to appear and in that time we had decided that nothing was going to grow so we filled the bed with scabious instead. I'm sure you can imagine what happened next....we had a very beautiful mess on our hands. Our scabious went mad and so did the poppies, both growing vigorously. Scabious are incredibly windy and tangly and the poppies grew all around them, in between and practically on top of them. 

So, harvesting our poppies has been a bit of a challenge this year but as always we have learnt a lot. Next year we will dedicate a whole bed to them and try to be a little more patient!   

Some of our favourite poppies this summer....

Poppies 'Angel Choir Mix'

Poppies 'Angel Choir Mix'

Eschscholtzia californian 'peach sorbet'

Eschscholtzia californian 'peach sorbet'

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Our favourite August blooms - Cosmos

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An absolute must in a cutting garden. Cosmos are incredibly easy to grow from seed and as long as you pick them and keep on top of the dead heading they will flower from August until late October. They are the most productive flower in our cutting patch.

We sowed our seeds at the end of March and they were ready to plant out by mid May. It is important to give cosmos room as they like to spread out so space them about 40cm apart and make sure you stake them as they need support whilst growing. We pinched ours out to encourage even stronger growth.

Available in the most heavenly array of candy colours; cream, white, buttercup yellow, the palest of blush, lipstick pink, deep burgundy to name but a few. Their petals range from single to triple to frilly to fluffy. They have multiple flowers on a stem and grow up to 2m tall. 

They are perfect in all arrangements including bouquets, table displays, large vases and large scale flower installations.

In short we would be lost without them.

Happy planting!

Ellie & Anna x

We buy our cosmos seeds from Chiltern Seeds and Sarah Raven, they have the best choice and are great quality. Our favourite cosmos this year was the 'fizzy rose picotee'.

Fizzy pink

Fizzy pink

Candy stripe

Candy stripe

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Early morning in the cutting garden

The Cutting Garden

Favourite flower this month in the cutting garden....

We were overjoyed when this gorgeous 'dwarf pink blush' Malope started flowering. With such lovely big bell shaped petals and tall straight stems. It's perfect for large arrangements and looks wonderful tumbling out the side of our urn vases.

It's incredibly easy to grow. We sowed the seeds in early spring and by May we had strong seedlings ready to plant out. We packed them into the beds about 9 inches apart and thriving in the hot weather, we watched them grow. By mid June we had a healthy crop and the more we picked the more they flowered.  

They need staking as they grow tall and have a tendency to fall over. They also get very thirsty and need watering often.

Next year we are going to plant Malope successionally so that we can have these wonderful flowers from June until September.

Happy growing!
Ellie and Anna x

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How to grow the glorious sweet pea....

Sweet peas have to be one of our all time favourite summer flowers. They remind us of sunny days spent pottering in our Granny's garden. We love them for their heavenly scent, delicate petals, wonderfully bendy stems and the sunset colour palette they grow in.

We planted all sorts of different colours this year and here you can see a sea of sweet pea blooms. We wish you could scratch and sniff your computer screen!

This year we sowed some seeds in November and some in January to see which worked best. You can plant your seeds anytime from October to March.

The trick with sweet peas is to plant them into root trainers or tall pots as they produce tonnes of roots and need as much space for the roots to grow as possible. We plant two seeds per pot. It is also a good idea to soak the seeds 24hrs before you plant them as this softens the seed coating and speeds up the sprouting process.

Once your seedlings have grown 3-4 rows of leaves pinch out the growing tip - you do this by squeezing it off with your fingers. The plant will now measure about 1-2 inches. It's important to do this to stop the plant from becoming leggy and weak.

Once the last frost has been and gone it's time to plant your seedlings out. The great thing about sweet peas is you can plant them into window boxes, pots or flower beds. They like a sunny spot and make sure you water them lots as they are very thirsty.

As soon as your sweet peas start flowering (May-July) you MUST pick and pick. If you don't pick them quickly they will go to seed and stop producing flowers. As long as you do pick them your house will be filled with the sweetest smelling flowers for most of the summer months.

Happy planting!
Ellie & Anna x

What to do with sweet peas....

We use sweet peas in all of our arrangements. Short stems are perfect for bridal bouquets and table vases. Long bendy stems are wonderful in large vases, tumbling and trailing out of the side of the vessel.

This year our favourites have been 'juliet' and 'anniversary' for their pale champagne, blush tones.

They are delicate flowers with short lives, lasting about 3 days in a vase. But they are well worth those three precious days! If you want them to last a little longer you can try adding sugar or flower preservatives to the water.

The cutting garden is blooming

This month we've had bountiful crops of foxgloves, the sweetest smelling sweet rocket, glorious white iris' and delicate blush allium roseum. We use these wonderful home grown flowers in your wedding'sevents and workshops. We also now sell bunches at The De Beauvoir Deli just around the corner from our studio.

As well as cutting our flowers we have also been busy planting out our seedlings and tubers, weeding the beds and tending to our climbers.

Sweet Rocket - how to grow and what to do with them...

Hesperis Matronalis, otherwise known as Sweet Rocket or Dame's Violet is one of our favourite early summer flowers .

It grows very happily in either a sunny or shady spot and is a hardy biennial. This means you sow the seeds into seedling trays in May-July, plant them out in the late summer/early autumn and they flower the following May. It feels like a very long time to wait but it's well worth it.

They come in pure white, purple and every so often (if you're lucky) you'll find a few lovely pale blush stems hiding amongst the foliage.

We use sweet rocket in almost every arrangement we do. They are incredibly strong and sturdy and have the most heavenly fragrance. They last brilliantly in bridal bouquets and any kind of vase arrangement. They also grow very tall (up to 1.5m) so they are perfect for large displays. 

If you'd like to have a go at growing these wonderful flowers now is the time to sow your seeds. 

Happy planting!
Ellie and Anna x

Heavenly tulips

Last November we planted over 500 bulbs in our cutting garden. With 15 different tulip and 5 different narcissi and daffodil varieties were have been longing for them to flower. Over the last few weeks they have done just that and we now have perfect coloured striped rows of majestic tulips filling our raised beds - they are almost too beautiful to cut!

But of course we do cut these heavenly blooms - using them in wedding arrangements, bouquets (which we sell at The De Beauvoir Deli) and our flower workshops held at the studio in Hackney.

Planting tips

We planted our tulips in early winter, once the weather felt cooler but the ground hadn't yet frozen.

This year we dug trenches 3ft wide and 6inches deep and placed the bulbs, with their points facing upwards in a neat row along the trench. Then we covered them with soil, watered them thoroughly and left them to do their thing.

How to use them

Tulips are perfect for all sized vases and bouquets. We cut them down low for table displays and leave them standing tall and proud for large urns.

Some tulips have a tendency to lean and bow, weighed down by their heavy heads, which makes them tricky to use in bouquets and arrangements. To help prevent this from happening, keep them wrapped in paper until you use them.

Alternatively you might like your tulips beautiful and blousy in which case you should let them fall naturally in the vase, encouraging them to spread their petals and bloom.