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Looking at the growing patterns across the UK at this time of year makes me realise how much further behind we are here on our hillside in South Wales. Our last frost date is a good month later than the date for Kent. This means that we are still in the winter phase when I don’t seem to have a lot of flowers in the garden, apart from the Sarcococca and the odd rogue anemone which seems to defy every natural law known to man. I can see the daffodils, hellebores, narcissus and quince pushing out buds and beginning to flower, and I can’t wait for the tulips to appear. I suspect the tulips will be late as I didn’t plant them until 31st December. However, until then, I am able to buy British grown daffodils at £1 a bunch to go with my catkins, pussy willow, golden euonymus and golden variegated holly. Yellow is a spring colour that creates a lovely warm glow of optimism and cheer, and with storm Ciara still blowing around, we need it.
Whilst spring gets under way, it seems that dried flowers can still fill this gap with a bit of creativity. If you love the architecture, tones, shapes and spaces created by dried flowers then they can be very satisfying. As well as adding them into wreaths throughout the autumn and winter, I’ve been stocking bunches in the Maker’s Gallery, Crickhowell. I love the shape, tone and lustre of stems of Rodgersia alongside teasels, strawflowers and poppy seed heads as much as the lightness and airiness of Ammi and Hydrangea annabelle. This does mean that this year I will need to grow more – lots more. I already have my seed and I will be growing Ammi, strawflowers, honesty, poppies, statice, grasses, larkspur and Amaranthus, among others.
Along with a number of other hardy annuals, I started the Ammi and honesty in the autumn. Ammi sown in autumn will grow a good 5ft high in the garden whilst Ammi sown in spring will barely make it to 2ft. If your experience is different, I would love to know. It may be down to my lack of expertise and it will be interesting to see if this happens again this year. Honesty (a biennial that flowers in its second year) was sown in autumn because I would really like it to flower this year but we will have to see about that. It can be a bit of a gamble but as long as I have lots of options everything should be ok and I will be sowing in succession too.
I am learning that autumn sown seed can be well established by spring with good strong roots, which means that as soon as the plants go into the ground they should romp away to start flowering by late spring /early summer. I really should have tried to plant some of this before the start of winter. Currently they are tucked up in the Rhino – seemingly, quite happy.
Sowing of my next batch of seeds for summer flowers will start on Valentine’s Day (today). And I will start with my Sweet Peas, as well as a further selection of Hardy Annuals which should make for beautiful vibrant, fragrant and pretty bouquets and arrangements.
However, as I write this a few days before going to press, storm Ciara may hold me back with wintery showers predicted. Sowing in the greenhouse shouldn’t really hold me back as it is frost free, but I am reluctant to lose seed sown in weather that is too cold, so for the sake of a few days I may have to wait.
Happily, though, my gorgeous Rhino greenhouse has had the perfect Valentine’s gift - a good wash with plant and bug friendly disinfectant. Until I started washing it down, I hadn’t realised how green the glass was and can’t believe how light the greenhouse now is which is great, as the days are getting longer and I need as much light as possible in the greenhouse now.
Happy Valentine’s xx
If you'd like to find out more about La-Di Dardy Flowers, you can find them on Instagram or go to https://www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk/members/la-di-dardy-flowers