A look back on 2023

A look back on 2023

January and February:

January brought us back to reality after the heady fun of Christmas. In came the annual detox and the big after Christmas clean-up, down came the garlands and wreaths that we’d put up all over town a few weeks before, and all composted.

Then, our attention turned to a very ignored field. We'd had prolonged frost the month before, so the first job was to see if could save our 1000 or so dahlias, that hadn’t been lifted and had largely been ignored. They were cut back and mulched; only time would tell whether any were alive (wait till March's update to find out). Beds began to be cleared and cut back,  and the first field-grown sweet pea seeds were sown.

Away from the field and in the warmth of the workshop, dried flowers became our main crop and orders were made daily. Potted bulbs also kept us busy; the sweet smell of the hyacinths making the work all the more pleasant!

February came with a big chill. We fleeced what we could in the field and crossed our fingers - the winter so far had been very cold, and cold for long stretches. Was this the new norm? Was this global warming...we all pondered.

Valentine’s Day came round and, with no red roses in the field, we turned to the only flower available, the beautiful snowdrop. We’d grown a big batch over the winter, which we potted up into handmade pots made especially for us by 2 Spot Ceramics. This was our sustainable and seasonal offering.

Valentine's also tipped the daylight hours into the ideal length for growing, so seed sowing would keep us occupied for the rest of the month.

By the end of February, spring was on its way. The early daffs began popping out, change was in the air.

March and April:

March began as winter. It was cold, grey and miserable. But, as the month passed, the days grew longer, the air warmed up, and life began to return to the land. 

Our main focus was seed sowing. Soon the propagation tunnel was groaning under a sea of trays, finding space became a game of Tetris. We also prepared the field for imminent planting, but we had to also be restrained as frost was still likely for at least another two months.

But, we finally had flowers! Sweet smelling narcissi, hyacinths, fritillaries, anemones and the first ranunculus. It was exciting and thrilling to see beauty after months of nothing.

Along came our first wedding of the year, Mother’s Day, and, before we knew it, we were back trading fresh flowers. The 2023 season has finally begun.

With April, spring had finally arrived. Chilly nights but lots of daily sunshine helped the star of the month; tulips. We were awash with colour at last. Paired with narcissi and ranunculus, the bouquets looked beautiful, heading out locally and across the country by courier.

In the field, focus was on tidying up the perennial beds. We weeded and mulched. This job needed to be done before attention turned to planting annuals next month.

The seed tunnels were now full, holding thousands of seedlings desperate to get in the ground. But, frost was still a concern, so we had to be patient. 

Finally, we were up to full steam, busily growing, cutting, and watching intently for the summer plants. 

May and June:

May was manic, but in all in a good way. In the field, it was changeover month. We saw the spring guard - the last of tulips and ranunculis replaced with early summer. In came the Sweet William, Sweet Rocket, Orlaya, Astrantia, Aquilegia, Alliums and much more. The pallet turned from brights and bolds to pastels and purples, big chunky flowers swapped for dainty and delicate.

It was two big events that were the highlight of the month; the Coronation and Chelsea. As part of a network of growers called Flowers from the Farm, we were invited to donate blooms from all corners of the country to be part of Shane Conolly’s beautiful display in Westminster Abbey. It was a huge honour to play a tiny part in that big day, and to celebrate British flowers on such a big stage. But the highlight was winning the village scarecrow competition at the Coronation party, with 'Mr Green', our King of the flowers.

Less than a week later, we were off to Chelsea Flower Show, with a car full of fresh blooms for Poppy Sturley’s incredible gate display, and dried flowers to decorate the trade stand of The Great British Bee Co.

We also tried to squeeze in enough time to plant over 10,000 annual seedlings as Chelsea heralded the end of frost season. It was nice to have a field full; nice to finally have flowers in abundance.

Summer soon arrived, with the hottest June on record. We sweltered, but after a chilly winter it was quite welcome. Each week new varieties popped up in the field. We had Cornflower, Nigella, Peonies came and went, Larkspur, it was all light and frothy. The perennials worked hard, Phlox, Astrantia, Campanula, Linaria, Achillea just to name a few – a reminder that perennials are the unsung heroes of the cutting garden, and far more sustainable than fussy annuals.

Wedding season began too. It was a joy to see our homegrown blooms head out to so many happy occasions, and so trusting of the brides and grooms to go with the ‘whatever is looking its best that week’ memo. One wedding was even next door - it was truly zero air miles and zero car miles!

The farm was finally up to full speed, flowers were shooting out across the country to be enjoyed at weddings, homes and by other florists. But with this heat, was it to stay - were we in for another roasting summer?

July and August:

By July, we were awash with blooms. The grass was green, the sun was out, everything was rosy. The month began with a gouache painting workshop with Becki Clarke, and a ceramic masterclass. It was lovely to see so much creativity come out of the tractor shed. The lavender bloomed and was swiftly harvested for drying, and the field began to swing towards high summer. In came rich, hot colours; reds and oranges.

Weddings continued to keep us busy, all celebrating the best that British summer could offer, with sweet peas, roses and delphiniums. It was glorious.

Before we knew it, August arrived. The kids wre off school, and with it came Dahlias! We love them...the big ones, the small ones, and all the shades from milky white to deep velvet. The colours in the field became rich, with plum and golds. These were the colours of deep summer and early autumn.

We were running at full speed, cutting flowers from dawn till dusk and soaking in the abundance. But with it came a distinct fragility, as by September we’d be at the tail end of the season. How long would it last?

September and October:

The schools were back and normal service resumed. Bouquets and wholesale flowers were cut and delivered daily, weddings and workshops filled our weekends. Dried flowers also became the focus, preserving what colour we had for the winter months.

It was still warm and it had rained, so the flowers were happy. Away from the field and in the propagation tunnels, attention turned to next year. June sown Biennials were ready to go out and we were midway through sowing hardy annuals, the little gems that would give us so much colour next May and June.

As we slipped into October, temperatures began to drop at night, and darkness arrived so much earlier. Was winter on its way? Yes! On 16th October, we were hit by a hard frost. That was it, no more flowers.

Attention soon turned to autumnal wreaths, hoops of glorious seasonal foliage and dried flowers. We made them, and you all made them through out kits and at our workshops, The season celebrated in all its glory.

November and December:

One word summarised this period – Christmas!

Christmas came early as we began to help our local pubs, cafes and shops embrace the festive spirit. We made giant wreaths and garlands, dressed shops and sprinkled Christmas all over the place – and all with 100% British, local and seasonal foliage and berries, and not a drop of floral foam! Proof that being sustainable doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality or luxury.

With the local businesses all set, then came the wreaths. We made them and you made them too, with kits and at our workshops. Over the course of 7 days, we helped over 100 people create glorious and truly seasonal wreaths, all hosted by some wonderful local businesses. Hundreds of our wreaths headed out across the country to adorn your front doors, all seasonal and all completely compostable.

Then the final part of the Christmas puzzle was the homely bits. We spent the last few weeks of December dressing dining tables, staircases and fireplaces. Finally, it was time to stop, down tools and rest. And...

...that brings us to now, to reflecting on a wonderful year, A year of beautiful flowers; joyful weddings, events and parties, and also a year of contemplation, with funerals and bereavement. Through the highs and the lows, we hope our flowers have brought you a little happiness and a smile this year. Thank you so much for all your support. 

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