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February/March in the flower patch

Its March, the garden is coming back to life and I have so much for you to see! Here is a whistle stop tour to show you around what has been happening at Cloudberry Flowers.

I can tell spring is just around the corner as the girls have changed from playing with ice and snow in the garden to mud and copious amounts of water, resulting in an increase in daily clothes changes but lots of fun! They are out in the garden after school in the light and the days are stretching. This time of year fills me with excitement as it is the start of a new season. I can start sewing my seeds, weed the beds, watch the bulbs come up and know that in just a few weeks time I will have some beautiful flowers again.

The weather this month has been cold and I didn’t get off to the best start sewing my perennial and hardy annual seeds. I have a heated propagator bed made with heated cables in sand, which worked really well last year. However this year it just would not heat up. I think the temperatures were just so cold in the conservatory that even though the cables were warm any heat was lost to the cold air. What fixed the problem was laying bubble wrap over the seeds trays on the propagator bed. This still allowed light to the seeds to germinate but kept them insulated underneath. The sand heated up and the seeds started to appear. I still get that feeling of excitement in the morning when I look in the conservatory and suddenly overnight the trays have gone from bare soil to showing little specks of green. It is like being a child and peaking round the door to see if santa has been!

Once the seeds have germinated I then have to keep them alive which is proving easier now that the days are lighter and there is some sun warming the conservatory through the day. Damping off problems have slowed down and I think next year I will hold off longer before starting my seed sewing to avoid this problem. There is no point in me sewing seeds in early February just for them to keel over a few days later. I will have to learn some patience in the winter!


Another part of gardening that I find really exciting is when I weed and clear the leaves in the spring and underneath I find new growth from perennials coming through. I was really chuffed this week to unearth eight aquilegias which I had grown from seed last year and now they are coming up with healthy new growth.


March is the time of year that our house steadily starts to get taken over by seeds. So far the dining room has soaker hose, garden tunnels and potted up dahlias all over it, the sitting room has seeds trays in it, the kitchen radiators also have seed  trays on them and the conservatory is full to bursting with my seedlings and overwintered plants. Its a wonder I don’t drive my family mad with gardening things everywhere!


My overwintered hesperis and perennials such as aquilegia have done really well and will be ready to plant out soon when they have been hardened off.

Hesperis                                                                  Aquilegia


The sweet peas are growing well. Last year I had them flowering by July, this year I am hoping for earlier in the season.


Inside my ranunculus are really coming on and outside I was pleased to see the first signs of the ones I have been growing under a tunnel. No signs yet outside or inside of the anemone corns I planted. I am not sure what has happened there but hopefully I have not lost them all in the saturated winter soils.

Inside Ranunculus                                                Outdoors Ranunculus in the tunnel


The stall is in for repair work. It took a fair battering over last season and some bits of wood had come clean off in the wind. Robert has been busy fixing this at weekends and it will be a lot stronger now.


When there has been no frost or snow I have been out weeding the flower patch beds. After a winter as you can see they get in a bit of a mess! After I have weeded them I have been putting down cardboard boxes opened out that I have collected. This helps suppress the weeds and warm the soil ready for planting in a few weeks.

Before                                      After


Outside some of my overwintered hardy annuals have survived and will flower earlier than spring sown plants.

Nigella                          Cornflowers                    Corncockle                    Godetia


The bulbs are coming up and should put on a wonderful show this year.

Tulips                                  Alliums                              Daffodils


The snowdrops were beautiful this year and despite the weather they did not get confused and flowered when they should.


My new flower beds are now completed and ready for planting up. I am going to fill these with perennial plants that are good for cutting. The beds are in a sunny spot in the garden and full of homemade garden compost which should get the plants off to a good start. My only concern is rabbits. They have largely been kept out of the flower patch due to fencing but the new beds won’t be fenced as they are next to the washing line. I might have to put a temporary barrier across at night.


I have also been digging up perennials and moving them in the borders near the house. Last year I made a stab at getting this bit of the garden established but I wasn’t happy with it as some rather large shrubs had outgrown their place at the front of the border. They are now moved to the back and look a lot better, leaving space for my new perennials at the front. All this digging to move plants resulted in quite an exhausted mummy after so I did laugh at my 4 year old Erin on Monday. After we had been swimming she said “mummy why do you spend all your time planting and not doing exercise”! I hadn’t realised gardening didn’t count!

This year I decided to invest in some soaker hose. Last year I spent hours watering the cut flower patch with the hose trying to avoid getting the water on the flowers and just to the roots. It took time away from spending with my family and I thought there must be a better way. Last year was also not a hot summer so I know I could be spending a lot more time watering! I have bought enough soaker hose to cover 6 beds. It is not enough to cover everything but it is a good start. This will run along the beds and be connected to the water supply in the garage. A timer will mean I can program the water to go on and off when I need it to. I am hoping it works and can free me up to water the pots and perennial beds whilst the annual beds are taken care of.


My dahlia tubers arrived in the post and I have been potting these up. They go into 3 litre pots filled with compost. Last years stalk does not need to be covered though, as long as the tubers are. They are watered a little and left to grow on in a frost free place, currently the dining room! This year I have been far more selective about the varieties I have chosen so they will sit well in bouquets and are a little more subtle. No bright yellow dinner plate sized ones this year!

Dahlia Tuber                  Tuber in 3 litre pot      Tuber covered in compost but stalk left out


In the last couple of weeks I have also had a few more wedding enquires. I am really looking forward to growing more flowers this year for weddings. They are spread out at different times over the growing season. This means I can use many different flowers for my brides depending on what is in bloom at the time and each wedding will be unique. I also got a lovely reminder of my first wedding back in September when the bride sent me some photographs last week.


Next month should see the start of the season and the flower stall back up and running. I am really looking forward to another year where I can bring you some beautiful flowers, with lots of favourites from last year alongside lots of new varieties I am growing. If you visited Cloudberry Flowers last year I wonder what your favourite flower was?

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