Sunday, 29 March 2015

British Summer Time

I accidentally set my alarm for 6.20 this morning, instead of 7.20 - I forgot it was so clever it would add the extra hour by itself! It was good to get an early start on my uni work, but it's a shame the weather is so gloomy and rainy outside.

But it is now British Summer Time. Which means longer, brighter evenings, and eventually more of this: buckets of colourful, scented flowers from the garden!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Music festival vs musical

My 'Miss Saigon' hyacinths look gorgeous now. They are a stunning, sexy purple and the scent is wonderful - it's not as sickly-sweet as some hyacinths. They are short and fat though, which means they are not much use for floristry (although maybe if I grew them differently they would be?), but they look beautiful grouped together in a pot.

I compared them to another purple I grew a few years ago. This is 'Woodstock', which grew long and lanky, and didn't last very long. I think I need my hyacinths to be somewhere in the middle!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Floral cupcakes and toxic daffodils

I did some flowers for the Garden Museum's cart, which is part of the museum's stand at the Edible Garden Show at Alexandra Palace this weekend (you can still buy tickets for tomorrow!). I bought some edible (if they are grown organically) flowers from Alagar at New Covent Garden Market, to mix with the herbs and bulbs that are in the museum's cutting garden.

I learnt yesterday, during Jonathon Moseley's weekly #flowertalk hour, that tulips petals are edible. Unfortunately, the tulips in the cutting garden are not ready yet, but there are loads of daffodils. Daffodils are definitely not edible - apparently, some people have been getting them mixed up with spring onions as they are often sold in the same section in supermarkets. Don't mix them up! But as the flowers are so seasonal and there is an abundance right now, it didn't seem right to leave them out of the display.

I wanted to make some rosemary bowls to use as bases for a couple of arrangements. I reused two plastic plant bowls and reused floral foam (cutting out the horrible bits and turning it upside down), cutting the foam into a rounded shape and taping it in place. Then I covered the two bowls with rosemary. There is loads of it in the cutting garden, and it's certainly edible - the staff in the Garden Cafe use the herbs in their cooking. I stuck double-sided tape around each plant bowl, and then placed a large rubber band around the centre. I cut the rosemary into similar-sized lengths that just came higher than the bowl, and added them close together around the bowl, using the rubber band to keep them in place. Once the bowls were covered in rosemary, I tied raffia (again reused) around the centres to cover the elastic bands.

I left one looking quite green and natural, with lots of edible sage and lavender from the cutting garden, and a few inedible daffodils. For the other, I wanted to make a giant cupcake, so I used layers of pink and yellow carnations (which would be edible and scented if grown organically!) and more sage.

I had been saving carefully broken eggshells (using a knife along the very top, rather than tapping the egg on its side) with the intention of making a "bird's nest" planted arrangement as Isabelle Palmer does in her wonderful book The Balcony Gardener. But I didn't trust myself to a) plant up the eggshells without breaking them or b) plant plants that would actually survive the week! So lovely gardener Liz at the Garden Museum took them off my hands and returned them filled with wild strawberry plants.

Liz wasn't due to work on Thursday morning, when I was getting the flowers ready in the museum's knot garden, but she happened to walk past and see me, and decided to join me and help. She found me some violas (more edible flowers) and some mixed planted gifts that she had made up earlier. She also cleared out the flower cart so I could fill it with the new flower display. She also found me a flowering herb called cardamine that I had never heard of before, but whose delicate pink flowers grace the garden in front of the museum.

I crumpled some chicken wire into two metal buckets and threaded lilac, quince blossom, the stems of the poor beheaded carnations, and a few leftover carnations into the gaps.

And I made a few posies with daffodils (definitely toxic), snowflakes (also toxic, I suspect), and edible lavender, rosemary, sage, and cardamine (the leaves are edible, I think).

You can buy edible flowers from here and here - which is the safest bet if you aren't sure whether something is edible or how it was grown! Later in the year, there are lots of edible flowers, from roses to borage to lavender flowers. Another reason to look forward to the summer.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

I feel a song coming on

I've seen Madame Butterfly, but not the musical based on it, Miss Saigon. I was hoping these hyacinths would be ready for Mother's Day for the many women who love the musical!

And Pink Elephant reminds me of a Madonna song that came out when I was at school, with the line "Pink elephants and lemonade". The flowers that have opened smell amazing.

Gyspy Queen just looked like a nice salmon-orange colour when I was browsing Peter Nyssen's webshop...hopefully it will be when it flowers.

And my muscari, aka grape hyacinths, are showing promise too.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Whistlestop Mother's Day flowers

It's been a busy week, and I haven't taken many photos, except when I got to relax for half an hour yesterday evening in the museum! Here are a few photos that I did take. Happy Mother's Day, and I hope you reached out if today was difficult for you.

Leftovers for me!

I have to say a quick thank you to the amazing team at C. J. Love, who work crazy hours and were still chirpy and helpful the morning before Mother's Day, helping me to find alternatives to the sold-out daisies I had planned to use. Thank you so much!

Mothering Sunday in the Garden Museum

I made some posies yesterday for the Garden Museum's Mother's Day treat - a personal Q&A with Matthew Biggs (of Gardener's Question Time), cream tea in the lovely cafe, and a bunch of flowers and a planted gift to take home.

The beautiful cutting garden is choc-a-block with different narcissi, hellebores, and the promise of tulips.

I think this daffodil is called Pink Pride - what a wonderful name! (And on a side note, I was delighted to see Paul Harfleet interviewed in the Guardian yesterday. His Pansy Project is one of the loveliest and most peaceful acts of defiance I've heard of.)

I filled buckets full of spring flowers, mixing tulips. and sweet-smelling hyacinths and genista (broom) with the daffodils.

Once I'd finished making the bunches, I went to see Liz, one of the museum's talented and dedicated gardeners.

She had finished planting up gifts for mothers/children to take - florists' favourite Narcissus 'Erlicheer' along with violets and something else...ivy, maybe?

She was writing labels for the gifts when I came over. I admired her shiny new hand trowel!

I took some pictures of the knot garden and the spring bulbs that have flowered or are on their way.

There are primroses too - the perfect flower for Mother's Day because they symbolise childhood!