Last month saw the final growing cut flower day for the spring season. So I thought it was a good time for a sum up. The dates ran through March and April, on either a Wednesday or a Sunday and we were very lucky to have gorgeous weather for all five of them. I have had about seventy people, sixty eight women and two men. Come on guys where are you all? People came from all over the country to attend, which was both flattering and slightly pressurising. But I have had some really flattering feedback so I am now taking bookings for September dates (posted on the courses page).
It has been really interesting to hear about everyone's burgeoning cutting gardens from a raised bed in the city to a few acres in a walled garden on a country estate. Experience has ranged from complete beginners to people with allotments already growing their own veg to professional gardeners sent by the boss. There have also been a surprising number of people (mainly florists) wanting to set up something similar to us, no one too nearby thankfully.
Everyone seemed genuinely in awe at the area we tend with two full time people (myself and my partner Ashley) plus our wonderful part-time volunteers Irene and Sally. It is partly down to hard graft and no social life but I do try to demonstrate techniques to make the growing and harvesting of flowers less labour intensive. Another aim of the course is to show people how to plan for a continual supply of flowers throughout the season without any wasteful gluts or flowerless gaps…always a challenge, especially with the extreme weather we've been having. My shiny new projector and screen has done a great job in showing the highlights of the year, favourite flowers selected for their productivity, low maintenance, colour, scent and what I call nostalgic value. Lastly I try to demonstrate the cultural difference between flowers picked from a border and those destined to be a cut flower to rival anything bought in the shops.
Of course the main objective is to have fun and go away feeling inspired with a few seedlings to make a start and a hand tied bouquet to spur you on. One of the highlights of the day was our home cooked lunch made with produce from the garden. A few people have asked for the Spinach Pie recipe which comes from my neighbour Vicky's book 'The Kitchen Manual'. If any of you are planning to come to our open day Vicky will be serving up her marvellous cakes, scones and ice cream. I will ask her to have a few copies of her book available too.
I use Nigel Slater's recipe for the pastry (180g plain flour to 100g butter and a splash of cold water), this is baked for about 15 mins and cooled.
The filling ingredients are combined in a blender:
1 onion peeled and quartered
500g spinach chopped
½ tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup cottage cheese
100g feta cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 – 5 eggs
a small amount freshly grated nutmeg
Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake for 40 – 45mins at 180 C. It is good eaten hot or cold.
Here are a few pics of from one of the days
Pricking out half hardy annuals to take home.
Putting together a hand tied bouquet in the flower studio.
A beautiful combination of ranunculus and honesty.