The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Flowers from the garden: November

november flowers from a UK gardenWhen I saw the clever fireworks post on Purple Podded Peas I felt inspired to rush out and see what was flowering in our garden. I must admit I wasn’t dazzled by our display but I managed pick this little old fashioned posy. The sort of bijou arrangement that I imagine would sit on a side table in a Dicken’s novel. An incidental backdrop to the plot.

The Flowers from the garden posts report on my progress since I decided not to buy flowers for the house in January 2007. I have managed to avoid buying cut flowers from supermarkets, markets, wayside stands or even from a friend for eleven months now. At first it was really hard. I love flowers and used to spend around 10 pounds a week on them. My rule, back then, was not to pick flowers from the garden. They were part of the garden and to be enjoyed in situ. Also uncut, flowers last so much longer.

So when I step out with my secateurs alarm bells still ring and I feel a bit of a devil picking anything.

This is a two part exercise. Saving money and discovering the bounty lurking in the herbaceous borders and garden pots. Over the past year, I have splashed out on perennials for the garden. I haven’t hoovered the credit card, hired a pantechnicon and headed out to the nearest nursery garden. Although there have been moments when I would have loved this foray. The outlay has been a maximum of a fiver a month but generally just couple of quid. This meant keeping my eyes peeled everywhere I travelled. In February, I found a plant stand in Debden and invested in pots of snowdrops for the front of the cottage. We have small patches. In the future I’d love to have drifts.

Once a month Jalopy and I rumble off on a 12 mile trip to buy a sack of chicken food. I always stop at the stand outside the secret garden and buy 6 plants for two quid. On Sunday I bought a little rose, an aquilegia (hopefully not pink, like all our other aquilegias – the other colours have died out over the last ten years), three digitalis grandiflora and a tiny yew which I plan to plant in a focal point and eventually cut into a good topiary shape. Plants from this stand that I bought last Autumn have already given us pleasure throughout the summer. They are good, strong plants with minimalist labels. I love the mystery and, having seen the secret garden, the plants from this stand have the green light for me.

This November posy contains a very pretty china rose that flowers, even in a cold winter, right up until Christmas. The little yellow rose behind is Canary Bird, which shouldn’t be flowering now and was a bit of a surprise. There is a pretty pink Chrysanthemum (bought from the Debden stand) and a rougher burgundy coloured Chrysanthemum (from the secret garden stand). The last pink cosmos (seed pack 19p from Netto). Some nemisia from the summer barrels at the front of the cottage and a few of the white geranium retreads from my mother’s Cambridge window boxes (2006). Anna’s present of astrantia major is still going strong, and you can see it nestled behind the Debden Chrysanthemum. Beside the astrantia I have added red verbena from the barrels at the front, just for fun. I like the pink/purple/red offset of colours. The final star is a very pretty, delicate pink fuschia – a present from our friends Jocelyn and Miles. It has loved the wet summer and is now a giant amongst shrub fuschias. It may have to be moved.

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  1. What a delightful and inspiring blog today! And a beautiful photo.
    I was like Fi, thinking it was best to leave the flowers outside in the garden where they surely belong. When we had a prolonged spell of wet weather a few summers ago though, I thought it was a shame the roses were doing such a good job of flowering and we were stuck indoors unable to enjoy them! I now have a small jug on the kitchen table with a few flowers and green bits in almost all the time. They really brighten our day!

  2. anne waller

    hi kathyann,
    my blog is ‘palnurse’ on

  3. Kate(uk)

    Lovely- You have inspired me to do some chrysanths next year instead of the ludicrously mildewey michaelmas daisies I grew this year. I’ve still got various hardy fuschias,nerines and one shocking pink dahlia that is in a very sheltered spot-quite a colour combination!

  4. Lovely flowers, beautiful arrangement. Lovely to see so many roses – and it’s better to pick them at this time of year, because you don’t see them much when it’s cold and the evenings draw in. Liveheading, not deadheading.

    My kitchen table is covered in the last of the dahlias … they are wonderful for autumn, because the more you pick the more you get (like sweet peas), and you can get them in every size shape and colour. I’ve brought a couple in to see if they’ll flower in December – I think they may need more light, as well as to be frost free, but we’ll see.

  5. kathyann

    Well done Mary and Anne welcome to blogging its great ! please let us know what you are going to call yours then we can drop in with a cuppa and a chat .Kathyann ( www.meg’s mum’s muffins blogspot,com )

  6. anne waller

    i am all out of garden flowers now – but i have some excellent greenery that looks great alongside the dried alium heads and corn on the cob ‘feathers’.
    mary, i too have been inspired by this (and the links) to start my own blog – i am finding it very cathartic and don’t care if no-one else ever reads it……. living alone, it can be tedious not to have anyone to ‘share’ thoughts with and i can feel that it is going to become addictive.

  7. you have inspired me to go hunting in the garden for flowers and I now have a lovely vase with 7 roses on the kitchen table. in fact you have inspired me so much I have now started my own blog 🙂

  8. Lovely flowers!!! Well done for growing your own. I think they are much prettier than the ones you can get at the store.

  9. kathyann

    How beautiful,i love to see a mixed arrangement especially from the garden .I look at it as a pruning exercise and the plants will be better for it .I much prefer to see a home grown posy than shop bought ,that is if you are lucky enough to have a garden ,but there are always tubs and pots.If you want a bargain B Q usually have reduced plants on a Monday morning ,well they do in our area ,worth a look ,I’m all for a bargain. take care Kathyann (meg’s mum’s muffins )

  10. Hi Fiona – thank you! I thrilled that you enjoyed my Firework Display – the colours have been glorious this year. I enjoyed taking the photos.

    The beautiful arrangements of flowers you’ve made each month are so unique and imaginative. You’ve found combinations and colours that even the most creative florist could not have thought of. The ‘Flowers from the Garden’ photos would make a lovely calendar.

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