My ranunculus have been cooking in the oven of our polytunnel but whilst mourning their demise I have been considering the alternatives for our May weddings and 'ready to launch' mail order service. Fortunately the peonies and poppies are showing a lot of promise.
In fact I am amazed at the number of buds on my peonies which are only two years old, I have four varieties to choose from: Kansas, Festiva Maxima, Duchess de Nemours and Sarah Bernhardt. They have obviously enjoyed the cold winter and warm spring, so fingers crossed. I will pick them at the 'marshmallow stage' and combine them with my sweet peas, hesperis and mint for beautifully scented arrangements and bouquets.
Now the poppies: Icelandic 'Meadow Pastels' …they are dreamy in lemons, apricots and creams. I can't believe how long they last in the vase, their petals look so delicate and tissue-like but even unseared I have had a good five days in this hot weather.
Other flowers making an early apearance this year by a good three weeks include cornflowers, alliums, nigella, iris and delphiniums.
All we need now is some gentle rain for about a week to water in all the recent plantings and encourage nice long stems.