Category Archives: Spring

British flowers

Expansion of the ‘Not So Secret Garden’

Well, much has been going on at Hartley Farm during February and March as we prepare for the new growing season for ‘Young Blooms’. The Poly tunnel is beginning to fill with seedlings and Spring is firmly on its way.

British flowers

Seedlings looking good

We very much wanted to encourage Becks to regularly contribute to the flowers we are growing this year but ended to consider some additional space for a raised bed areas that she could easily access for planting, weeding and picking flowers. The Hartley team have therefore extended the ‘Not-So-Secret Garden’ area by changing what was previously a grassy slope near the car park and turning it into a raised bed while creating easy wheelchair access.

British flowers, bradford on avon

Our new raised bed

Now all we have to do is dig over the area and add lots of compost and well-rotted manure ready for some summer colour. We’ll also plant some herbs in this area which can readily be accused by Grace and her florists for adding to bouquets sold at ‘Young Blooms’.

In addition to the wheelchair raised bed area, we asked for a pathway to be made through the middle of what was an unmanageable, sloping flower bed which we used for perennials and shrubs. You can see a before and after shot, with the bed in question to the right of Becks and Grace.

British flowers

The before picture

British flowers

Our pathway down into the garden

We now have two pieces of garden on this area which will be much more workable, though there’s lots of digging and wedding and feeding of the soil before we plant in earnest on these patches.

Flowering sprouts

Polytunnel News..

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We have collected quite a few plant pots

We’ve spent the last few days tidying and cleaning the polytunnel in preparation for the new sowing season which begins from the end of January. We start with Sweet Peas, a hardy annual and have about five different varieties to sow, all in separate ‘long rooted planting tubes’.

We seem to have accumulated a vast range of plant pots and seed trays, but its surprising the quantities we use as the sowing and growing season progresses.

Its important to use clean plant pots and trays to ensure the growth of healthy young plants, so there;s a lot of washing up to be done in the coming weeks! We’ll also be using the pressure hose to give outside of the polytunnel a good clean which in turn will allow the maximum light in, to encourage plant growth, and then lighting an insect killer ‘block’ which releases smoke to kill off any unwanted parasites.

Wallflowers and Sweet Williams

British flowers, wiltshire

Our sweet-williams are looking promising…

Both the wallflowers and sweet-williams which we planted out last September/October (having first sown in seed trays last August) are looking well and have grown considerably since putting in the ground. We look forward to the scented flowers both plants will produce, with the wallflowers being picked around March, hopefully with some of the tulips we also planted as bulbs last November. They’ll make lovely Spring bouquets!





Bath, British flowers

Sweet-williams in the mix



The Sweet Williams should flower in May and make a perfect cut flower with a long ‘vase life’ in a variety of pink, red as well as white shades. They flower at a time when many summer garden flowers are yet to blooms, so are a good in between season flower to grow.




Flowering Sprouts!

British flowers, bath

Our flowering sprouts have finally arrived


Yes you really can get ‘flowering sprouts’ – so much nicer than the edible variety! These were grown from seed around May last year and on initially planning our, were pecked by the local pigeon population! They consequently had to be dug up and given some TLC back in the polytunnel before planting out again and tying lots of CDs on string around the planting area to scare off the pigeons this time. We had hoped that the plants would produce little florets in time for Grace’s Christmas Wreath making workshops, held last December, but whilst the plants looked healthy enough sadly , only very tiny florets were appearing on the stems and of no use whatsoever in the Christmas Wreaths!

Still, we haven’t completely given up on them – maybe they will have grown sufficiently to use for one of Grace’s Easter floral projects instead!

May in the garden


Every day brings new flowers and changes to the garden in May. We have a well-stocked plot beginning to burst forth and, as you see, our upcycled greenhouse is taking shape thanks to Craig.  We hope to have it fully completed in time for our British Flower Workshop on June 11th, celebrating British Flowers Week. Starting at 11.30am. It’s £35 per person and includes a short talk from us, a guide to creating a hand-tie of our flowers which you will be able to take home and a scrumptious cream tea! If you would like to book then call Hartley Farm shop to secure your place on 01225 864948. Book soon as there are only 5 tickets left.img_7333

The succulents continue to do well and we’re already selling our cornflowers in the farm shop and the love in the mist are ready to be picked too. This year we hope to use our garden flowers in the Hartley Farm cafe all through the summer.

Look out for them when you visit and while you’re here, take a wander around the garden and see what else is new.01043f1235298f1510fead9be260fdbd38f04a221b

Visitors to the garden

As well as a flurry of spring pre-planting preparation and seed sowing we have been welcoming some special visitors to the Not So Secret Garden recently. We’re always pleased to see Marie Lennon from BBC Radio Wiltshire. Marie has been one of our supporters from the very start, when the cutting patch at Hartley Farm shop and Cafe was just a dream. Recently she came back to the garden to see how the plot is developing.

British flowers

Being interviewed down in the garden by Marie Lennon

You can hear all about it by tuning in to her afternoon show on April 3rd. We’ll pop up a link as soon as it becomes available and we’ll be popping up on the radio once a month to update you on our growing plans and share hints and tips for growing cut flowers. As you can see we’re very excited.


We’ve also been visited by Claire from Perennial, a charity who have been supporting our plans to get Becks back up to the Garden. They help horticulturalists who have suffered accidents or financial hardship and provide a whole raft of advice, help and services for horticulturalists. We all met Claire recently to talk through the situation and are looking forward to working more closely together in the future. You can follow their work on Twitter or by logging on to their website

We’re always happy to show people round the garden. Why not pop in when you’re next up at Hartley ?

Celebrating Mothering Sunday

Seasonal scent and colour for a much loved mum

Seasonal scent and colour for a much loved mum

Our partners at Young Blooms are flat out this weekend preparing lots of beautiful bouquets for the mothers of Bath and West Wiltshire. Meanwhile the garden is enjoying a spot of spring sunshine after the snow (yes snow!) last night. Not that it lasted long in our part of the world. A wander around the lanes nearby reveals clumps of snowdrops, hanging on, wild daffodils and primroses coming into their own. Meanwhile, in the churches nearby, groups of volunteers are busily making up small posies of spring flowers and foliage for the children to give to their mums in the Mothering Sunday service tomorrow.

Traditionally, on Mothering Sunday, three weeks before Easter Sunday, sons and daughters who were in service and required to work at Easter were given the day off to return home to their families and ‘mother church’ carrying a simnel cake, which they had baked and stopping to gather posies of wild spring flowers from the hedgerows. It was a welcome break and celebration in the middle of the

We are happy to keep up the tradition and endorse this combination of spring flowers, cake and getting together with family and friends by holding two spring workshops in the garden in March. Bring a friend, learn a new skill and take home something lovely for Easter. Details here.

Be our British Valentine

The cut flower industry in Britain is huge but I wonder how many of you, picking up a bunch of flowers to brighten a gloomy Winter’s day realise that 95% of the flowers sold in Britain are grown overseas? That’s a change from thirty years ago when only about 5% of the flowers sold in Britain came from overseas.

British flowers

Send your love in a floral way

The buy local, eat seasonal approach to fruit and veg consumption applies just as much to flowers. Of course that means that you can’t always have what you want but that doesn’t mean that a beautiful bouquet can’t grace your home all year round. It can. And we are one of dozens of growers making that happen.

British flowers, bath

The bees go crazy in the summer for the flowers

With the decline in habitats for butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects, buying British grown flowers is an easy way to do your bit along with planting flowering plants to bloom throughout the seasons in your gardens. British flowers in your vase have already helped increase the biodiversity of the area in which their grown and provided food all the way up the chain. Many allotmenteers here at Hartley Farm grow a proportion of flowers for cutting alongside their veggies for that reason as well as the obvious advantages of having a few buckets of blooms to arrange around the house.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, one of the biggest days for florists in the whole year we’ve been thinking about what #britishflowers alternatives could be promoted instead of the ubiquitous red roses, which whilst lovely when home grown and are in reality poor unperfumed jet-lagged things that have been flown hundreds of miles to represent love in the UK in February!

British flowers, wiltshire

Hellebore’s from the garden

Here are our favourites to include in homegrown Valentine’s bouquets
• Anemones in jewel colours are very seasonal for February, not to mention totally stunning.
• Tulips
• Ranunculus
• Narcissi
• Hellebores
• Dainty bulbs planted in pretty vintage teacups and miniature bulbs planted in heart-shaped planters
• Heart shaped woven wreaths
• Hyacinths, pussy willow, viburnum and blackthorn make a lovely bouquet
• Snowdrops
• Violets
• Myrtle -despite not flowering in February the dark green glossy leaves have the
There’s a little of time to think about how you might support local, seasonal flowers for Valentine’s Day. Pop into Young Blooms to chat about what they could do to bring a bit of romance to your Valentine. Perhaps a gift voucher for one of our upcoming workshops would hit the spot with that special someone.
Maybe the colour of Valentine’s Day should be a rich purple not scarlet. It’s certainly the colour of the season in homegrown terms?