Archive | Anemones

Making the Cut….in House and Garden


It was this time last year whilst pruning the roses that I got a call from Clare Foster, garden editor for House and Garden. She asked if I was interested in working with her on a 6 month series about growing flowers for cutting – each issue would be filled with information about what to grow for a continual supply of flowers for the house from April through to September, which are the best varieties for cutting, when and how to complete tasks and ideas for how to arrange what you have produced .

The garden photographer Eva Nemeth had been commissioned to work on the images and over the next few months she paid regular visits to the farm to capture the rapid succession of horticultural tasks, flowers, floral designs and created some gorgeous flat lays to illustrate my favourite seasonal pickings. Eva took so many beautiful images that I thought it was a shame not to show more of them in a blog to run alongside each monthly installment. It also seemed like a good opportunity to talk a bit more about what we get up to throughout the season.

April is often considered the start of the cut flower growing season but I find March a more realistic month to get started. There is plenty of cutting back and pruning to do if you are growing perennials, shrubs and roses for cutting. These will all need a good mulch afterwards with well rotted manure or compost. It is important to get this job done earlier before buds start to break into leaf and new growth starts to sprout from the ground.

I tend to do most of my perennial and shrub planting in March. There is plenty of moisture around for the roots to get established before the warmer months.

I always earmark my older more congested perennials for lifting and dividing at this time, this year the focus is on my large collection of phlox, I am saving this job for the attendees on the Propagation Masterclass who will be taking some healthy clumps home with them.

March is also when things start to get busy in the greenhouse. If you are lucky enough to have one it is a good time to sow a whole host of annuals (both hardy and half hardy) plus perennials which you would like to see flowering in their first year. I grow many of my favourite perennials from seed including scabious, Eryngium, delphiniums and Achillea, it saves a lot of money and is many germinate varieties germinate very easily. Sowing will continue into April with some of the hardy annuals that dislike root disturbance being sown directly outside.

Just as things start to get busy with growing tasks it is time to start picking all the flowering bulbs that were planted between September and November.

The Anemones are in flower first and once they start they come thick and fast, producing stem after stem from each corm. To find out more about how to grow them have a look at my post here.

The tulips follow close behind, I pull them  and lift bulbs and all, clearing the bed as I go for the next crop – more about growing tulips in my cultivated palette series here.

Narcissus are flowering in our field and in my pots, I love showing off the more delicate varieties this way and I find they last longer in a pot than tulips.

To accompany all these spring beauties April is an ideal time to go foraging, I cut from our surrounding native hedge and orchard, carefully selecting the branches that will create the shape I want in my arrangements. The emerging leaves of hazel and hawthorn accompanied by blossoming branches are my favourites.

No April arrangement would be complete without a hellebore or two, by now they are setting seed and this ripening gives them a much longer vase life.

The Cultivated Palette Series – Anemones


I have been picking Anemones in our tunnels today, they have started flowering a month earlier than expected this year, which to be honest is a bit of a pain as I am not in the full swing of weddings, farm gate sales or deliveries. So that means I get to have them in the house – great, generous vasefuls…what decadence.


Looking back at my blogs I discover that I have written about them before in ‘Anemone Crush‘, I class them as one of my best sellers and a welcome bit of colour and cash flow after a long winter.


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They are good little moneymakers with each corm producing up to twenty stems over a prolonged period of at least two months.

I am always intrigued at what makes a flower popular and I think in the case of the Anemone it has a multitude of assets to persuade people to buy, including it’s jewel-bright colours to jolt us out of our winter hibernation, a surprisingly long vase life and an irresistible sense of nostalgia.

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I source my corms from France and as they are cut flower grade they are expensive, more than Ranunculus claws so this is important to bear in mind when/if you are selling the cut flowers. They are bred in Israel (hence the biblical names), I have tried all the varieties and prefer Galilee, particularly the pastel range, which has stonking stems and good resistance to Botrytis which is an issue when growing in tunnels over winter.

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If you are not blessed with a tunnel or greenhouse I would recommend the Jerusalem strain for outdoors with a generous mulch, or opt for a Spring planting instead.

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I try to get the corms tucked up in the polytunnel by late September/early October, as I find later plantings are never as productive. The growing area must be well prepared, we till in plenty of organic matter and give the bed a good soaking a few days before planting. Good, even moisture is essential particularly in the first couple of weeks, so we irrigate regularly during this period with 3-4 lines of t -tape across metre wide beds.


I soak the corms for about 24 hours before planting which helps to get them shooting quickly, but also makes it easier to see which way is up! They are dibbed in at about 20cm apart.

You may find voles are an issue, they love feasting on Anemone corms and can devastate a crop if not deterred. We use a combination of cats, garlic, chilli, traps, mole repellents and physical barriers. I know it sounds a bit over the top but this arsenal does seem to work.

Depending on temperature they normally start to flower in late February and then all you should have to do is keep picking.

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Anemones are one of the flowers I tend to pick myself as I have found people struggle to see when they are at the right stage. Too tight (or as I call it unripe) and they never reach their full potential.

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When they first emerge their heads are bowed down, wait until till they are pointing upwards and slightly open with the eye peeking at you.

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I condition mine for 24 hours in bunches of ten with a band at the top and bottom of the stems, this helps to set them straight.

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Once the crop has finished we clear and compost the corms. Anemones are prone to virus spread by aphids and I find they are never as good the following year, plus I need the precious covered space for the next indoor crop.

Next month I will be looking at tulips, my favourite varieties for cutting and the tricks to getting a quality cut stem which would make the Dutch blush!


All pictures by Clare West Photography

‘All of the Garden’ Bouquet

Clare West (photographer and lover of flowers – great combo) was with us again last month, you can see her blog post about what we are up to in the garden here.

I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to record the picking and making of our new All of the Gardenbouquets. They are exactly what they describe – everything that is in flower that week gathered into a gorgeous garden bouquet.

We started in the field by picking my favourite Narcissi variety ‘Geranium’ – wonderful scent and a good stem length for hand tied bouquets.


 Next it was in to the polytunnel to pull a few tulips, this one is a lily-flowered variety called ‘Purple Dream’. People are always alarmed to see me pulling the whole tulip out of the ground and snipping off the bulb. We treat them as annuals so that harvesting and clearing the ground for the next crop is done in one go. The bulbs are composted and I get to choose new varieties for the following year.


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Once everything is picked, it is off to the flower studio to assemble my bounty.




All the flowers and foliage are stripped of lower leaves and laid out in piles on the table. The more variety of materials the more textured and natural it will look, ideally I like to use about twelve. Here I am using (from left clockwise) Anthriscus ‘Ravenswing’, Eucalyptus parvifolia, Rosemary, Pussy Willow, Tulips ‘Blue Diamond’ and ‘Apricot Beauty’, Hellebore ‘Harvington Double Yellow’, Pieris, Anemones ‘Galilee Pastel Mix’, Arum italicum and Narcissi ‘Geranium’.




Now I flex my hand muscles and get to work, I will keep going until everything on the table is used.



The bouquet is tied off with raffia and will be aquapacked and placed into one of our specially designed transit boxes. Off for next day delivery to one lucky recipient! You can order one of our mail order bouquets here.