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2022 didn't exactly get off to an auspicious start - we got a flat tyre on New Year's Day, then, the very next day, someone backed into our car while they were parking and dented the door.

Cherry blossom
Cherry Blossom in February

By mid January, Covid cases at our daughter's school were soaring and children were dropping like flies. Just when we thought our Rosie was going to be lucky, she tested positive. Just as she was due to go back to school after 8 days, I came down with it and then, nearing the end of my isolation period, my husband succumbed. Luckily we only had cold-like symptoms as we have been triple vaccinated and I'm not sure we would have realised my daughter had the virus if we hadn't been testing every day.

With this latest period of isolation ending tomorrow, I am crossing my fingers that we can make a new start and I've been using this time for planning ahead - not just which annuals I will grow this year but new ways of growing.

June flowers
Home grown  flowers

As I write, my husband is making use of this down time to install some grow lights in the potting shed so that I can start my annuals off earlier. I haven't tried this method before but I've had a lot of bookings for natural flower arranging workshops this spring so I am keen to get sowing as soon as possible so that we can be harvesting flowers as early as possible.

The cutting garden has been freshly dug over and a thick layer of new compost has been incorporated. We didn't have a very thick layer of soil as the beds were sited on top of where some old outbuildings had resided. There was a lot of rubble lurking under the initial depth of soil. In the end, we removed about 30 bags of rubble from just 2 beds measuring about 3m x 1.2 m. I am hoping that this year should be a bumper year for our flowers.

Wedding Bouquet Preservation

Being confined to the house has also spurred me into action - I've been able to use the extra time to plan a new Home Flower Garden service which I have been considering for a while now - pressing wedding bouquets.

Wedding bouquet
Pressed Wedding Flowers

Brides can send their bouquets by post after the big day and I will carefully dismantle it and lovingly prepare each flower for pressing. The flowers will be left for 4-6 weeks to dry naturally. I will then recreate the bouquet.

pressed wedding bouquet
Pressed Wedding Bouquet

So, as the nights draw out and the weather warms up, daffodils and tulips are pushing their noses up through the soil, the snow drops are out in little flurries in the beds, the Iris reticulata are starting to bloom, the hellebores are gearing up for their amazing display. Spring here we come!




Early each year, I like to look back at the flowers that I grew last growing season. The winter months are an ideal time to reflect as there's not a lot to do out there in the bleak, muddy, occasionally snowy, cold, wintery weather - can you tell that I am not a fan of winter?

Cutting Garden July
Cutting garden in July - a reminder of things to come.

It's mid-February and I am itching to get sowing and growing, but regrettably, it's not quite time to start sowing this year's batch of spring-sown annuals. If you wait until early March, when the days are drawing out, the seedlings won't have to strain to find the light. This will stop them getting all leggy and ungainly.

I have taken the time to look back at all the flowers I picked from the cutting garden and allotment last year - from January (snowdrops and cyclamen) all the way through to December (chrysanthemums).

This serves primarily as a way to cheer me up and show me that in a few weeks time I will be picking tulips and early-flowering perennials and then the flowers will just keep on coming. I can also remind myself which flowers I particularly liked, which flowers looked good and lasted well in the vase and which ones were best suited to pressing and drying.

Here is my photo record of the flowers that I grew in 2020 - which is your favourite?



Each January, as a way of mitigating the gloom, I like to look back over the previous year and celebrate the successes, reminding me of all the flowers and joy from the cutting garden to come. At the same time, I can review anything that didn't quite work as planned and make changes for the growing season ahead.

Crocus in pots make lovely spring displays indoors

As always, some years are better than others as a lot depends on the weather throughout the year. The best way to be prepared for the vagaries of the weather is to grow a wide variety of plants and sow successionally throughout spring and early summer. If your spring-sown annuals are suddenly knocked back by an unexpected spell of cold after a spell of hot weather (as happened to me last spring)  you can sow another batch of seed which should quickly catch up and take over from any seedlings that don't recover.

A large haul of dahlias from my allotment

2019 was a fabulous year for dahlias and sweetpeas for me. They thrived up at my new allotment plot where enjoyed the clay soil and full sun. At home in my cutting garden, I had great successs with biennial wild carrot which I will in future choose to grow in preference to annual Ammi majus. They both fulfill the same function as a beautiful lacy white umbellifer that acts a filler flower to set off other more showy blooms, providing a natural look. I find that Ammi needs to be sown regularly as individual plants don't produce for long periods where the wild carrot goes from spring into summer with little bother. I had less success with Cosmos which for some reason didn't want to germinate and then were very slow to get going.

Here are a selection of the flowers that I grew and picked last year, all from my relatively small family garden and a small bed on the allotment. I also include some pressed flower items that I make from the flowers that I grow. Speaking of which, I am contemplating running a craft workshop on pressing and drying flowers and ways to use them such as making pictures, cards and wreaths so if anyone is interested, please do get in touch!