The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Flowers from the garden: May 2009

Photo: flowers from our garden May 2009

Photo: flowers from our garden May 2009

Next month I will be celebrating the challenge of not buying flowers for two and a half years.

Apart from saving approximately £500 a year, this challenge has forced me to overhaul the herbaceous borders and become much more inventive with the flowers that grow in our garden. The arrangements are surprisingly soft compared to those in the shops.

May is the start of the easy flower picking months. Perhaps next year I will grow flowers undercover for the winter months although I do enjoy the move from a tiny glass of snowdrops in January to a vast arrangement of old roses in the summer. And am always surprised how evocative a relaxed posy of garden flowers can be.

Old fashioned yet full of energy and life. No air miles, minimal carbon footprint and best of all they are growing in the same place as us.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Wendy

    My aunt was a superb flower arranger. Those massive displays – but her flowers always looked natural. She was trained and loved flowers – the combination can be dynamite.

    I can’t do those but I’ve two tips.

    1. I inherited her vases. All open out at the top so the flowers naturally settle decoratively. Straight up and down vases are very difficult for arranging flowers.

    2. When I cut flowers I tend to try and trim them to the same length so they naturally make a posy. If you look back at my flower post they are all posies!

    Anything that requires Oasis or skill has me running for cover at the drop of a petal…

    Hi Joanna

    I’d love to see those Latvian flowers.

    Part of me wants to dig up our entire plot for veg but the herbaceous borders give me such joy that they will stay for the time being. We still have lots of fallow ground to fill with fruit and veg.

    In fact this evening I’m thinking of bartering some old sleepers (to make raised beds in the front garden) for decorating. I’d have to buy them so why not swap?

    Hello Rose

    I tried to leave a comment on your blog and failed ?

    It’s good to gather flowers and leaves from your own patch. I reckon that it makes me feel far more grounded. I always find far more than I reckon I will.

    Hi Joolsfw

    The scent is always amazing.

    Yes we spent loads on flowers but it was a time thing and those days were so different from these, possibly for you too.

    When I lived and worked in London and this was a weekend cottage I’d buy all the food pre prepared if friends were coming for the weekend. Generally I had ten minute break between arriving back and the weekend guests rolling up. It was a totally different income and way of life. Lots of cash – no time. Working 18 hours a day. Most socialising was business networking. Often I was unable to be there for a friend.

    I actually prefer the present life. Less exciting but far less stressful. Very busy but far more time to grow. And I can push everything aside if needs be. No longer on auto pilot, I’m flying the plane.

    Hi Helen

    Yes. I’m going to research this and of course I’ll share it with you. With the new (old) heater we have loads of plans for the greenhouse.

    Hello Eleanor the Great

    When I decided to give up buying flowers I concentrated hard on growing my own flowers. It has taken 2 years as I just bought cut priced teeny perennials from wayside stands. Now my garden is full of flowers and I feel so spoilt.

    Hi Mandi

    I totally understand where you are coming from.

    The first few years that I tended this garden I wouldn’t dream of cutting flowers from the garden. If they are left in situ they last for far longer and some self seed as well.

    Sometimes visitors from London would pick vast bunches of flowers and I would be bereft as I knew that the plants were not established enough to grow more blooms.

    However, why not start planning for your floral future? Look at wayside stands selling perennials (far cheaper than the nursery garden) and bung them into your borders. If it’s summer, puddle them in well and water them diligently. In a couple of years time you will bask in the bounty of perennials that you have planted yourselves.

    Hi Sylvie

    Thanks so much for dropping by.

  2. Sylvie

    ‘Fabulous’ is what comes to my mind.

  3. mandi

    Having a ‘new’ garden, it was bare of any plants till we moved here in ’05 everything is only just establishing itself.
    Last year for just one example, we planted normal ( in the garden) and water irishes ( in our pond) but as I expected they only produced leaves. This year we have had 2 beautiful pale lilac and white tatty water ones and a clumps of miniture voilet earth bound ones, I admire them every morning and was mega excited and rushed in to tell my husband the day I spotted the 2 buds in the pond plant. I’d dearly love to pick some, but when I look at them knowing they have taken 2 years for me to feast on their subtle elegance and beauty it sounds daft , but I just want to leave them be, let them live as long as they can, uncut. Maybe next year, like alot of the other plants that are just finding their buds, when more flowers come ( hopefully) and just taking a couple won’t feel like stealing from my garden I’ll beable to look at them inside the house as well.

  4. Eleanor the Great

    I used to pick bouquets when I was young, and got out of the habit when I moved to a city. I lived in a small portion of a one-bedroom apartment with two other people, and didn’t have the money for buying my flowers. Now I live in a smaller town with much more yard space and decorating rights, and I’m still out of the habit of picking flowers, even though I have some. I think today I will go out and see what’s blooming. Thanks for the continued inspiration! 🙂

  5. Helen

    Flowers in the green house what a great idea please do post and we can join in with you.

  6. Joolsfw

    The thing I love most about cutting flowers and greenery from the garden is the scent: bought flowers hardly ever have anything significant in the way of fragrance, do they?

    I hate to think how much I used to spend on flowers ,especially for suppers an dinner parties. Too profligate for words, with a garden of pickables at my disposal.Ah well. Lesson learned……the hard way as usual

  7. When I lived with my parents I used to go out into the garden with a pair of scissors quite a lot. There is something so nice about home grown flowers and foliage.

  8. Joanna

    You would love Latvia, they grow gorgeous flowers and even though there is distinct need to grow vegetables to supplement their incomes they still grow flowers. I shall have to get out and take some photos and post them on my blog.

  9. Wendy

    That is so pretty, you really have an eye for putting together a lovely arrangement. I am still trying to emulate you! x

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