Summer - farewell, until the next time.

It’s the 24th September, the day after summer has officially ended. We start to see the nights drawing in and light darkening. I want to update you on the flowery successes of my allotment this summer. As thoughts of Christmas lights and decorations, are drawing nigh, it is the perfect time to sit back, reflect, and to both realise and enjoy the achievements of summer.

It has been 6 months since I began my major project - growing a cutting patch on my allotment.  As I’ve said before, this joy has turned to a passion which increases every day.  My boyfriend keeps rolling his eyes when he hears that our weekends consist of “digging, planting and watering”, but what moments of peace and relaxation it has provided for both of us!

Dahlia ‘Happy Single Kiss’

Dahlia ‘Happy Single Kiss’

My last allotment update was in June. I showed you images of Nigellas, Ammi Majus, Daisies, Garden Roses and Marigolds. Since then, I have grown a small sea of Dahlias, Foxgloves, Scabious, Fennel, Cosmos and Gladioli.

During the summer I started to take my dear, 88 year old, Nanna May along with me for trips. She suffers from dementia but is a wonder to be around. She moves slowly and steadily amongst the plants and flowers, laughs, smiles and is always making jokes. I feel lucky that her cheeky personality hasn’t been altered and we give thanks for that!  When she sees me with a bunch of stems in my arms it seems to jog some ancient memory and she says “Philipa, she loves flowers”.  So I have taken her to the allotment as much as possible this summer. It lets her rest, but also lets her be in nature, be at peace and breath fresh air. She marvels at the springing buds and exclaims “Oh, how beautiful” in her lovable cockney accent.  Being close to nature, for me, my boyfriend and my Nanna has proved to be both a source of inspiration and great pleasure.

What have I grown in summer 2019?

I decided to try seven very different varieties of Dahlia. This allowed me to see those that took to the soil well and those that struggled. It also meant that I could work with different colours, heights, compositions, textures, weights and foliage. I went with the following:

  • ’Cafe au Lait’

  • ‘Bishop of York’

  • ‘Bishop of Dover’

  • ‘Happy Single Kiss’

  • ‘Diva’

  • ‘Linda’s Baby’

  • ‘Blanc Y Verde’

‘Blanc Y Verde’ was the only variety that floundered, it looked more like a stale mushroom. Gardening, they say, is a game of continual trial and error. At least in my plot, this won’t be a pick for next year! 

From garden to vase.  

I love the certainty and reassurance the allotment has brought to me this summer. As a growing, start-up florist, my biggest goal is to provide a service and product which matches the high quality I pride myself on. The day before a large wedding, event, or even a small job, I have previously worried about what will be available at flower markets. Worrying about finding the right suppliers is one thing but then when a product is unavailable that is a whole different issue. It’s really important as a florist to find produce that you need and desire. Having a cutting garden allows me to follow my instinct with new designs.  I fell in love with floristry through my love of English gardens and wild blossoms.  Therefore, it’s key for me to be able to source homegrown flowers which undoubtedly compliment my market finds.

Not only is the above important to me, but I love how the flowers I cut are as fresh as they can be. I tend to pick very early in the morning before the dew has dried, which leaves time for them to be conditioned for as long as possible. This ensures the flowers have had plenty to drink before I start to arrange them in my designs. I also adore how I can plan for my brides and grooms each year, growing and tending to specific seedlings, making their flower package extra special.

And not to forget sustainability - rather than have all of my produce shipped internationally, I can ensure where possible, that I pick my own home-grown produce by hand. 

Gardening is about constant change and being forever inspired. In 2020, I am growing and putting into practice designs I have thought about this year. I’ll also have the ability to influence my own supply on a larger scale! Not forgetting about my very early market hauls, which I also love.

Buckets of happy Cosmos

I have made moodboards focusing on colour palettes for the allotment beds and flower landscapes that I can’t wait to see come to action in 2020, (fingers crossed). Whilst there is always a little uncertainty because it is so new to me, this summer has given me confidence and renewed faith. Because of the success I have ended up doubling the size of my plot, purchased a greenhouse and have already started sowing seeds for next summer. 

Wish me luck,

I look forward to updating you soon again,

Warm wishes and forever flowers,

Philipa x

Some nice words to think about:

  • “With all these lovely tokens of September days are here, with summers best of weather and the autumns best of cheer.” Helen Hunt Jackson

  • “Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” – William Shakespeare

  • “A fallen leaf is nothing more than a summer’s wave goodbye.” Unknown

Inspirational instagram accounts:

  • @swancottageflowers

  • @milliproust

  • @morgan.allender

Philipa Day