With cases of Covid-19 continuing the rise, we are again on lockdown on the Wirral. I hope you are all keeping safe and well. We’d like to welcome our recent newsletter subscribers and offer an update on our plans for the coming months as well as an in depth look at one of our favourite flowers for cutting, the spectacular dahlia.
Wreaths and workshops.
The current rules and guidelines mean that it’s just not possible for us to continue with our Christmas workshops as we had planned so it is with great regret that we have decided not to host any autumn and winter classes at Fieldcrest this year. We will miss seeing familiar faces of our repeat visitors and welcoming new guests for some Christmas cheer.
Do not despair though! We’ve come up with a way for you to create your own wreath at home using our materials and guidance.
From late November we will have make-your-own wreath kits available to collect made up of all of the materials that we use in our workshops. Each pack will contain a 14 “ foam based ring, foliage, seedheads, cones from the garden, hessian ribbon plus easy to follow instructions on how to put it all together. All you have to supply are the mince pies and mulled wine!!
Each kit costs £20, to be collected from Fieldcrest, and full details will be in our next newsletter and on our website.
As the season draws to a close, we are also winding down out cut flower deliveries. We’ve taken down our online wondering system until the spring, but may have a mix of flowers and foliage available for a few weeks more – do contact me directly to enquire.
There’s still lots of work to be done in the garden, and we are getting on with planning and preparing for next year. I’ve gone crazy for scented Salvias, Pinks and Roses, so we are extending our cutting garden to include some specialized beds for these.
Now it’s October, there is a definite chill in the air. I’ll be particularly sad to see the Dahlia flowers reduced to mush by the first heavy frosts. They were quite late getting started this year but have been fabulous in the last two months. So to add some colour and cheer in what has been quite a difficult year, I’m pleased to focus on Dahlias; how and where to grow them, which varieties to choose, and how to use and arrange them.
Dahlias originate from Mexico, at altitudes of over 3.000ft, with high summer rainfall and dry winters. They grow in a sunny position, and in slightly acid, sandy but fertile soil. Dahlias are happy in most parts of Britain, but the foliage and flowers will die at the first heavy frost.
One big question is whether to leave the Dahlias in the ground from year to year. The biggest problem is our wet winter weather which can rot the tubers, plus the issue of the tubers being eaten overwinter by our slug and snail friends.
Here at Fieldcrest we have some clay in our soil and parts of the garden are quite poorly drained, so that has to be considered in the dig up/leave in debate.
I always dig up my Dahlias from the ornamental garden beds as I will replace them with Aquilegias, but this winter I will hedge my bets in the cutting garden and dig up some tubers of each variety, leaving some in the ground.
If you’re in the dig camp, dig tubers up after the first frost, remove the foliage, turn them upside down in a covered area to dry off and then store them in compost, vermiculite or wood shavings and store in a frost free place until next spring.
I may experiment with wrapping the tubers in cling film this year and storing in a frost free place – at the moment I am researching biodegradable film.
The tubers will start to regrow in about March, but keep them protected indoors until the last frost, or the lovely new growth will be killed off.
There are thousands of Dahlia cultivars of different sizes, shapes and growth. I tend to grow mine for cut flowers, with Waterlily, Decorative and Ball Dahlias being my main choices. To help with selection, Dahlias have been divided into different classifications.
Some of the main classifications are:
- Single dahlias
- Cactus dahlias
- Pompon dahlias
- Ball dahlias
- Waterlily dahlias
- Anemone dahlias
- Decorative dahlias.
Dahlias are very popular for a country garden look and this year have been real showstoppers. It is still unusual to see them sold in supermarkets because the heads can be easily snapped off in transporting and also the blooms are not terrifically long lasting in the wrong conditions.
As local flower farmers, we are able to supply dahlias as freshly cut flowers because the time from cutting to delivery is so short and once in water they can last up to a week.
Cut Dahlias in the early morning, preferably, or after sundown, and immerse in water immediately, about halfway up the stems, into warm water. Use a sharp knife or secateurs or you will damage the water transporting vessels and the Dahlia flower will wilt. Keep in a cool place for at least five hours, preferably overnight, to make sure the stems are hydrated before taking into the house. Use flower food if you have it, and change the water every two or three days.
I often use a few Dahlias in my bouquets as they are such beautiful focal flowers, which come in such a wide range of colours, form and sizes. They mix beautifully with roses, Ammi Majus, zinnias, gladioli, asters, sedum, chrysanthemums and berries. Dahlias also make a wonderful display on their own using the wide range of shapes, colours and sizes.
There are lots of dahlia suppliers in the UK. Some that I can recommend are:
J Parker’s, Peter Thyssen, Rose Cottage Nurseries, Halls of Heddon, Eurodahlia (now I think called Dee Dahlias in Burton).
You can usually buy dahlias as either tubers or cuttings. Cuttings may be cheaper and are favoured by those exhibiting dahlias, but I much prefer tubers myself.