Settling in the Sweet Williams


September’s new beginnings are all around. It’s back to school week with all that entails – new stationery, new uniform, new friends, the start of a new journey. It’s not so different in the garden as we begin to plan for next year by taking a critical look at how the flower patch has performed this summer, clearing space, chopping back, digging up, remodelling, extending and trying new things.

British flowers. Hartley farmWe’re planting out biennial seedlings now to overwinter. It’s the first time we’ve tried it and we’re starting in a modest way with Sweet Williams to fill the late-Spring gap when the bulbs are coming to an end and before the hardy annuals have got going. Christine has been bringing on some seedlings over the summer in her greenhouse. Now they’re ready to plant out. Sweet Williams have been around in British gardens since the sixteenth century and have seen a bit of a revival recently, even making an appearance in supermarket buckets in the ‘British grown’ section. Their clove- like scent and generally long vase life (two weeks) make them a favourite with cut flower enthusiasts. Young Blooms have bought them in from elsewhere for arrangements but we can’t wait for a corner of our own patch at Hartley Farmto be filled with gorgeous blooms. Ranging from pure white through varying shades of crimson to deep burgundy, we hope you’ll love them as much as us when you visit us next Spring.

Hartley farm, british flowersElsewhere we’ve decided that the red hollyhocks don’t earn their place in our cutting garden and would be better off flowering their socks off in the gardens of Bradford on Avon and Winsley. We’re digging them up and sharing the flower love by making them available to customers who’d like to plant them in their own gardens. Pop up and pick up a bargain at the garden gate stall. They really are lovely but we need the space for more flowers that we can cut and use in bouquets. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made. This is a working flower patch not just a lovely garden. We’re still cutting buckets full of sweet peas, dahlias and zinnias and, at last, our David Austen roses are giving us a second flush of gorgeousness. We’ll certainly be planting more in the Autumn for next year’s bouquets. The bank of perennials is also having a bit of an overhaul and we even have some delightfully quirky ornamental gourds about to burst forth, destined to take centre stage in some super seasonal table decorations. I love September.

Hartley farm, British flowers

Dahlia still going strong

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