Category Archives: Summer

Summer in the garden


There’s the picture of the summer in the garden – lovely Becs pulling up the weeds and generally making everything shipshape in one of the flowerbeds with Bev Pace from charity ‘Back on Track’ providing moral and practical support in the background. gracegarden-009

Our sign got a facelift too. We’ve come a long way in three seasons. The garden is fuler, with a greater variety of flowers and is abuzz with bees and people. The team has increased in size; Young Blooms has a new shopfront, closer to the garden and we’re featuring regularly in the press, spreading the word about the benefits of growing British flowers.

And late summer is dahlia and zinnia time. Even the wind and rain of the last few days can’t dampen our spirits. Gardens have a habit of lifting the spirits, don’t they?

Dahlia Love

We are great fans of those queens of the late summer cutting patch – dahlias. Available in rich, jewel hues or elegant pastel shades they are reliable and prolific plants which keep on giving for minimal input.

British flowers, wiltshire

Staking is important – to ensure that they are not battered by the August and September breezes, which have been quite strong this year. Other than that, deadhead regularly and pop a few upturned flowerpots stuffed with straw onto canes in amongst them to catch the earwigs and they’ll provide you with bucketfuls of lovely blooms right through the late summer, into the autumn and up to the first frosts.


We chopped down and lifted last year’s tubers after they had been blackened by the frosts, packed them in newspaper and stored them in a cool, frost-free environment. Then we planted them straight into the ground at the end of April. They are just coming into their own now.


We’re particularly fond of cafe au lat and any of the deep burgundy varieties but any dahlia is a lovely dahlia.


Grower’s tip – Cut the stems of the first flowers short and you’ll ensure that subsequent blooms grow on longer stems and don’t forget to shake off any earwigs before bringing them indoors.


Our dahlias will be finding their way into bouquets and arrangements over the next few weeks but there will be some for sale in our new shop at Hartley Farm. 

Why not pop in and say hello?


Workshop heaven

British flowers, bradford on avon

Five lovely ladies who joined us for our workshop.

We’ve been making the most of our glorious harvest of beautiful blooms working in partnership with Young Blooms running a series of workshops at Hartley Farm shop and in Newton St Loe. The ladies who joined us made some awesome hand-tied bouquets.

Sharing hints and tips for growing and arranging traditional British blooms was a great way to celebrate British Flowers Week. The British cut flower industry has been in decline for years in the face of cheap imported blooms which can be picked up in the supermarkets, but there is nothing in the world which shouts British summer more than a jar of home-grown sweet peas on the kitchen table.

Why stop there when you can gather nigella, cornflowers in several hues, sweet williams…..the list goes on.

If you fancy growing some flowers of your own, why not sign up to our newsletter? We send out a monthly email full of advice for what to do and grow in your own cutting patch.

And if you don’t have time then there are always plenty of fragrant home-grown blooms for sale over the summer in the farmshop.

Bath British flowers

Sumptuous flowers from the garden

Both workshops were so successful that we’ve decided to run more. The next will be a Floral Heart workshop on 7 August at Hartley. Keep your eyes peeled on the Young Blooms website and in the shop for booking details.

Celebrating British Flowers

We couldn’t be more pleased with the development of the garden. This week we’ve been cutting our first proper harvest of the ‘summer’ and bunches of cornflowers have been on sale at Hartley Farm shop. It’s great to be able to offer home-grown blooms with no air miles to customers – whether they are locals looking for a fragrant posy for a bedside table or a bride wanting a truly home-grown wedding day.

british flowers, bath

All grown in our garden

June 11th saw the start of what is now an annual event British Flowers Week, organised by Covent Garden Flower Market to promote the British flower industry.  “British cut flowers are back in fashion, fuelled by the rise of artisan flower growers and the trend for vintage, seasonality, fragrance and more naturalistic design. Nonetheless, British-grown flowers are still thought to represent less than 15% of the £2bn worth of flowers sold in the UK every year.”

Bath British flowers

Sumptuous flowers from the garde


We celebrated too by holding a British flowers workshop on June 11th which included  a tour of the garden and talk from us, picking some blooms to create a hand-tie, learning some tips and tricks and enjoying a scrumptious cream tea.

British flowers, bradford on avon

Five lovely ladies who joined us for our workshop.



Sweet peas for summer

Bath, British flowers

Having kept a beady eye on the weather for a week or two, this week we finally decided the time was right to plant out the sweet peas. One of the stalwarts of the traditional cottage garden, to cut flower growers they truly are the gift that keeps on giving, producing numerous fragrant and beautiful blooms over a long season – provided that you keep on top of picking them. Any blooms left unpicked will quickly develop seed pods and then you can wave goodbye to your blooms. Of course, towards the end of the season, this is a positive boon as you can save the seeds to sow next year’s crop.British flowers, bradford on avon

We have experimented with growing up sweet peas up wigwams and trellis as well as in the traditional criss cross of poles, as we are doing this year and varied the numbers of plants scrambling up each pole. This year we are sticking to one healthy plant only per pole to see if this, along with a rigorous system of tying the plants in regularly will give us longer and straighter stems. Bath, british flowers

On the whole, sweet peas are easy to grow, provided that you put in a little bit of time to maintaining them once they are growing, tying the plants in and untying and sliding the plants down the poles once they have reached the top to encourage fresh top growth and stronger healthier blooms. The ‘spent’  growth at the bottom of the pole provides ground cover to suppress the weeds. You can also pinch out side shoots to promote more flowers – although this may result in poorer quality blooms.

They are hungry feeders so feed them regularly throughout their growing and blooming season with a well-balanced fertilizer and try to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Besides mildew, sweet peas are susceptible to aphids when they’re blooming. but t a strong spray of water usually deals with the aphids.


Young Blooms will be using them in summer bouquets and in wedding displays but you’ll also find bunches for sale at Hartley Farm Shop. Rarely seen in florists shops or supermarket flower buckets they are a firm favourite for a kitchen table or bedside posy.

A look back over the summer

When the nights are drawing in, the days are cold and wet and the best of the flowers are over, there’s no better way to get your garden mojo going than by looking back over the lusciousness of our pickings over the last few months.

Feast your eyes on these beauties…..

British flowers, Bradford on avon

A perfect table arrangement of dahlia all grown by us.

British flowers, winsley

All British grown wedding flowers

Of course work never stops in the Not So Secret Garden. We’ve been completing our overhaul of the perennials, planting bulbs and planning for next year’s harvests as well as preparing to run some wreath making workshops in December. Details here. It’s especially exciting that Young Blooms brides will be able to choose The Not So Secret Garden package next year if they wish. No flower miles, beautiful seasonal blooms grown to order right here on the farm. We love that.

British flowers, Hartley farm-shop

A stunning dried wreath

British flowers, Bath

Love these bright Zinnia

Partying in the garden

A party isn’t a party without flowers and we’ve had plenty to celebrate recently in the garden. Weddings, christenings, birthdays and our very own mini music festival, the Party in the Paddock have all benefited from our locally grown beautiful blooms.

Last weekend we held a very special celebration, throwing open the gates of the Not so Secret Garden to all Grace’s nearest and dearest for her mum’s seventieth birthday celebration.

British flowers

Gathered in the Not So Secret Garden for the Birthday photo

Following on from that, the Party in the Paddock , Hartley Farm’s  very own mini-festival, with food demos, live music, delicious grub and much more was a great  success, despite the Glastonburyesque weather.  It was a foody’s ideal day out  and a real celebration of local produce, both food and flowers. We love doing our bit to promote the cause of British flowers and reduce flower miles for our customers. It’s always a delight to show brides and others what’s blooming just a few yards from our shop and a thrill to pop out in the morning to cut from our very own patch. And it’s abundant right now. Come and see it.

Hartley farm,  British flowers

Our favourite zinnia

There’s plenty of opportunity to wander around the Not so Secret Garden to enjoy what’s blooming well, see what we’ve been up to recently and hear our plans for next year. Despite the dreary bank holiday weather, the rest of the week looks set fair. Celebrate the end of the summer holidays by popping in and taking home a bouquet of fabulously fragrant, gorgeous locally grown flowers from Young Blooms.

Wiltshire, British flowers

The dahlia patch is exploding into colour.

We’re looking forward to spotting you among the zinnias and dahlias.

Weddings, deadheading and a garden in full bloom

We’re cutting so many gorgeous flowers from the garden – for bouquets and for weddings. Two Young Blooms brides this weekend have requested locally grown British flowers to make their day special and we’ll be out picking the best of what we have on offer in our little patch of heaven at Hartley Farm.

British flowers at Hartley farm

Our flowers displayed for a wedding at Priston Mill
















The garden is buzzing with bees, customers at the farmshop taking a stroll in the garden and anyone we can spare keeping on top of the deadheading and weeding, which is a constant task in August.

British flowers at Hartley farm shop

One very full wheel barrow.

Some gardeners don’t bother to deadhead and some plants like salvia don’t need deadheading, because they don’t set much seed or the plant neatly does the job for you. However, if you want to prolong the length of the season when plants look great and maximise flower production -which we do – it’s a must.

We try to remove spent flowers as soon as they look scruffy. The simplest method is to just pinch off the faded blooms with finger and thumb. This works particularly well for roses, where snapping the stalk just below the flower head results in more blooms being produced more quickly. Pop into your wheelbarrow or bucket and add to the compost heap.You’ll need sharp secateurs for plants with tough stems (dahlias, calendula and some shrubs).

Bradford on avon British flowers

Dead-heading the cosmos

Like other busy gardeners we don’t always have time to keep on top of deadheading. But there’s a silver lining – leaving sunflowers, cornflowers and rudbeckia to go to seed will keep the birds happy; some roses produce beautiful hips and the seed heads of nigella look pretty in the vase too.

Of course if we are ever at a loose end, there’s a whole heap of jobs to keep the flower grower occupied in August – clearing and feeding beds ready for sowing hardy annuals in September; ordering spring bulbs for delivery in the autumn; cutting back herbaceous plants; taking pelargonium cuttings; propagating pinks by layering and laying traps for earwigs among the dahlias. (An upturned flowerpot filled with straw on a garden cane works wonders.) The thrifty flower gardener will also be collecting seed from calendula, papaver, aquilegia and cerinthe.

British flowers Winsley

How stunning are these Zinnia

Pop into the garden, feast your eyes on the flowers and introduce yourself. We’d love to hear what you think.

Dallying among the dahlias

dahlias in muted shades

Gorgeous dahlias in muted shades

Without doubt, the undisputed queen of the August flower patch is the dahlia, blooming its socks off from July, right through to the first frosts of Autumn. It’s hard to believe, when cutting these beauties that they were first bred to be eaten as tubers, rather than enjoyed in the vase. It’s an interesting taste apparently, somewhere between a carrot and a potato, with a dash of celery thrown in for good measure. Though when first spotted, growing wild on the hillsides of Mexico I’ll bet it was the flowers that drew admiring glances rather than the thought of a quick dahlia stew.

It’s one of the miracles of the flower patch. Plant what looks like an unremarkable muddy bunch of chubby fingers and you’ll be rewarded with dozens of beautiful blooms in myriad shades from  classy, muted pastels to statement-making jewel hues. Some dahlias are as large as dinner plates, whilst others are delicate, neat pompoms. A flower of such infinite variety is a definite winner for the florist and the flower grower.

Classy Cafe au lait

Classy Cafe au Lait

We grew many of ours from seed last year, lifted them, stored over winter and potted them up in the spring before planting them out. This year we took some cuttings too and now they’re romping away in their corner of the garden and we’re cutting almost every day.

Perfect in a sophisticated wedding arrangement



or as a single statement bloom.


We even sent a bucketful over to a nearby National Trust property this week so that visiting children could try their hand at some quirky posy-making.

Pop into Hartley Farm Shop and you might be lucky enough to bag yourself a bunch.

Dahlia time is well and truly with us.

As well as enjoying the dahlias and all the other gorgeous blooms in the garden we’re making a concerted effort to keep you all up-to-date with what’s happening at Not so Secret Garden via this blog and our newsletter.

Subscribe now for all our latest news, hints and tips for growing your own cut flowers and any special offers coming up. We promise not to bombard you with spam.


Dahlia love

The dahlia patch in the Garden is going slightly mad at the moment, I wanted to try & categorize some of them that are growing. Remembering names of varieties, ones that lasted well, colours that I liked etc etc….

However I got slightly sidetracked by taking the pictures below of them!

British flowers, Wiltshire

Rather yummy dahlia

Half of the dahlia we grew from seed and half came from Tubers. Varieties I know in the picture above are the one that has a red/pink centre and paler outer petals. That one I think is called ‘Art Deco’, the red dahlia next to it with the yellow centre is ‘Bishop of Auckland’. That variety has done really well this year, growing very tall stems, great for cutting and if you cut them at the right point, you should get 4/5 days of enjoying them in a vase.

photo (8)

The velvety red dahlia at the bottom of the photo is I think a variety called ‘Charma Choc’. Size of the heads are slightly smaller than the ‘Cafe Au Lait’ but by not much.

Most of the yellow ones are grown from seed so you could probably make your own names up for those!

British grown flowers Wiltshire


The pale peach dahlia at the top of the photo above is my absolute favourite. The size of each head if you let it get to full size is HUGE, its called ‘Cafe Au Lait’. I’ve posted some more pictures of this variety on our Facebook page so you can see how huge they really are.

Hope you enjoy these photos as I’m sure I’ll be posting more.

Happy Bank Holiday to you all.