The weather has certainly turned in the last week; we’ve had some proper frost and anyone mooching around Hartley Farm will have seen Helen and Christine hard at work, chopping down the frost-blackened dahlias and barrowing them over to the compost heap. It’s Helen’s turn in the spotlight this month so we’ve given her the opportunity to reflect on what makes her garden bloom and what puts a smile on her face in the Not so Secret Garden.
What’s your favourite cut flower – The bronze sunflower from the Not so Secret Garden. We’ve had so many blooms from the plants and they look stunning with amaranthus and the orange tones of dahlias and chrysanthemums.
And your favourite time of year? – It has to be the Spring with the promise of new, fresh growth and the vibrant greens and yellows of the first spring flowers. Wonderful.
Tell us where is the best place on earth? – It’s hard to pick just one. Looking over Longleat Estate from Heaven’s Point, the lake at Stourhead, walking a coastal path and being in the garden….
What’s your top tip for flower growing? – I’m a bit obsessed with dead-heading. Not only does it keep a plant producing more flowers but it also creates strong, bushy plants.
Is there a gardening task you’d be most likely to get someone else to do? – Yes. It has to be weeding. The weeds in the Not so Secret Garden can be enormous and the stinging nettles grow as soon as you turn your back. (Of course, this means the soil is hale and hearty -Editor)
What is the most important thing you’ve learnt from being in the garden? – Beware of the tops of garden canes. They are great for staking tall plants but can also catch and scratch your arms and face.
What’s the best thing about working in the Not So Secret Garden? – Working outside, especially when the sun shines; noticing the plants grow and flourish; meeting lovely people. I’m always happiest in the garden knowing I’m contributing to bringing happiness to others.
The flowers in the garden are still going strong. What would you put in the perfect Autumn bouquet? – Lots of bronze foliage and copper beech, bronze sunflowers, peach and orange dahlias, berries, rust-coloured chrysanths and dark sedum.
If you had half an hour in the garden, what would be the perfect way to spend it? – Wandering around the garden noticing what’s grown and flowering since I last gardened. Listening to the birds, watching the robins peck around the freshly-dug soil and enjoying the sunset after a day’s work.
What is your earliest garden memory? – Helping my dad in the garden, pulling up plants I thought were weeds; going with mum to the botanical gardens in Bath in Springtime when the cherry blossom was in bloom.
From whom do you get your gardening inspiration? -My father who was a very knowledgeable gardener with an eye for structure and colour. Like me, he loved the garden and regularly visited gardens for inspiration and enjoyment. I also like this piece of inspiration, taken from my calendar last month
” Flowers always make people happier…..They are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul.” Luther Burbank 1849-1926.
Don’t forget that although the best of the garden blooms are over for a while, you can still enjoy the season with Young Blooms florists, learning to craft a beautiful and unique festive wreath that will be the envy of all your friends and neighbours!
Fresh Wreath Workshop, 9th December 11am-1.30pm
Dry Wreath Workshop, 13th Dec 11am-1.30pm
Tickets are available in the farm shop, or call 01225 864 948 to book your place.