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Grow sustainably with the Devon Cottage Gardener - February

We are delighted to have the wonderful Hilary - aka, the Devon Cottage Gardener - on board with us here at Launceston Life as a guest writer for our blog.

Over the next few months, Hilary will be sharing her tips and advice on growing flowers at home, as well as the importance of sustainable flower farming.


Hi Launceston! This is my first blog as I start the preparation for the cut flower growing season for 2022. I am so pleased to work with Launceston Life and share my experiences of sustainably growing flowers on the beautiful Devon/Cornwall border.


Over the coming months I look forward to…

  • Describing my entry into the world of growing cut flowers for homes, weddings, events and businesses;

  • Talking about the burgeoning British grown flower movement and why people should buy British flowers;

  • Introducing how to grow sustainably and increase biodiversity in gardens;

  • Giving a month-by-month diary of what is growing on the farm;

  • Sharing hints and tips about how you can grow your own cut flowers, whether you have a small garden or a large plot. I intend to share the disasters and rest assured there are always some that hit me!


How it all started


In 2017, I moved with my partner to our current house in Allerford. The house needed renovation and was surrounded by two acres of overgrown land. The house was formerly thatched but was supporting an asbestos roof. As I looked at the amazing countryside surrounding it, I imagined the house with its thatch reinstated and a beautiful cottage garden.

I had never been a gardener. I had inherited some lovely gardens in previous properties and certainly appreciated a pretty garden, but I had no idea how to start one. The other factor was there was no budget for designing and planting a garden.


Fast forward to 2020. I have been on an enormous learning curve, and still am. When I moved to Devon, I had no understanding of the word ‘shilit’, knew nothing of plants for a cottage garden or even how to sow seeds. Conditions for sowing, landscape design and so on were a new language for me - the list is endless.


Now, I am a sustainably grown cottage garden plant addict.


The circumstances of the pandemic were horrible, but at the same time gave me the chance to have some time to think and imagine a life growing flowers, as my work as an independent human resource consultant had hit a wall until we all started to work remotely.


The cottage garden borders were established, and I had started to supply a few flower bouquets to family and friends. People started to ask me if I could supply flowers for weddings and events - so I decided to go for it, and set up ‘ The Devon Cottage Gardener’. My aim is to supply sustainably grown cottage garden flowers to bring the delight of the cottage garden to homes, weddings, events and businesses.


I have long been a fan of buying locally grown produce. Having been brought up in a Welsh farming community, we got our milk fresh each morning and our vegetables and meat from the local farm.

As part of my research, I came across ‘Flowers from the Farm’, a community of sustainable flower growers, and decided to become a member based on their aims and growing philosophies.


Flowers from the Farm


Flowers from the Farm’s principal aims are to encourage more people to grow cut flowers for market in Britain, promote British flowers and foster friendship and sharing through meetings, activities and communication. According to Flowers from the Farm, today more than 85% of the flowers sold through florists, supermarkets and wholesalers are imported from as far as Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Flowers from the Farm aims to address this issue and develop a network of British cut flower growers across the country. Do look them up at https://www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk/


What am I doing on the flower farm during February?

  • Sowing annuals such as Larkspur, Snapdragons, Scabious, Ammi Visnaga and Majus, Cerinthe and nurturing autumn planted Ranunculus, Anemone and Ornithogolum;

  • I am excitedly awaiting the arrival of the first Narcissi;

  • Bed preparation is full on - more next month on how to set up no dig beds;

  • Erecting a second polytunnel for growing more wedding flowers;

  • Mulching perennial beds - more on this next month;

  • Second sowing autumn sown annuals and planting out autumn sown ones;

  • Planning the major seed sowing - more on this next month;

  • Preparing the ground for wildflower sowing.

I am very excited to share my flower growing journey and look forward to the flower growing season.


Hilary


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