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British Flowers, Locally Grown in Hertfordshire
Planning and Colour
When planning what to grow in the year ahead there are lots of things as a flower farmer you have take into consideration, who will be buying your flowers, are they for a bride or will they be given as a gift to a special friend. We look at our specific growing conditions and will that plant thrive in our soil? As well as trends and fashions from around the world. But most importantly for me, it’s more about whether I like the flower in question. In the time I’ve been flower farming the more I like something the better I’m able to grow it.
 
There’s lots of help and inspiration out there when choosing what to plant, but one of the things I look forward to hearing about most is what will be the new “Pantone colour of the Year”. Pantone is the world-renowned authority on colour, using their unique standardised colour matching system. By standardising the colours, different manufacturers and industries can all reference a Pantone numbered colour, making sure colours match without direct contact with one another.
 
Annually, Pantone declares a particular "Colour of the Year". To select the colour of the year, Pantone looks at what hues are making waves in the entertainment, film industry, art collections and product design, as well as popular travel destinations.  The colour chosen is becoming more influential each year. Colour forecasters, manufacturers and fashion buyers all put stock in its selection.
 
So back in December, the 2016 colour of the year was announced. This year was a little different because for the first time Pantone introduce two shades, Rose Quartz and Serenity. Both quite lovely and just the kind of colour I like. Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure while Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.
 
Its great fun choosing flower varieties that match these colours and it also enables us to be current and up to date. These two colours work so well together offering so many great flower options to choose from. Here are just a few I’ve picked to grow this year, some have earnt their place and are returning from last year while others will be new additions.
 
What do you think?  



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Christmas Workshops
Christmas Workshops
 
During the hustle and bustle of pre-Christmas December, I love to spend a day with my daughters making our wreaths and table decorations.  Over the years this has become an antidote to the stresses of Christmas Day preparations and one that I always look forward to.  Jo decided to hold her Christmas wreath-making workshop at Baldock Arts & Heritage Centre, the perfect location for a warm and relaxed afternoon.  We were very lucky to be joined by Bella, Jo’s young daughter and enthusiastic assistant who very quickly helped to provide us all with a welcoming tea/coffee.  There was some extraordinarily delicious and potent mulled wine being passed along the table also and in no time at all we were relaxed and ready to go!

Jo started by demonstrating how to make a traditional moss base covered with a selection of fresh foliage and we set to creating our own unique versions, at the same time filling the air with a nostalgic Christmassy fragrance.  Once these were prepared it was time to choose our colours, textures and patterns and Jo had an outstanding array of adornments.


 
There were all manner of dried flowers and seed pods from the farm, cones of varying sizes, dried fruits and spices, ribbons galore, baubles and sparkle.   With Jo’s help we were able to make our choices, hand tie our bows and decorate the wreaths in a style of our choosing.  I am surprised that given the same materials, a group of people can create very individual works of art and this workshop was no exception.
 
We were all pleased as punch with our wreaths as you can see from the photo and I for one could not wait until December 1st before proudly displaying it on my front door!


Cara x 
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Polytunnel Tasks

There are routines within flower farming that should always be adhered to and one which Jo and I have no trouble sticking to, is the coffee routine!  We wander around with our steaming mugs accompanied by Bertie and Frank (the resident dogs) down to the field, discussing as we go our plan of action.  On passing the greenhouse I am amazed how quickly the plug trays full of ranunculus have grown. Preparing the poly tunnel to plant these healthy little plugs out has to be our priority for today.

Weeding was our first step, gently forking over the earth and removing the roots.  As any gardener knows, often a little green shoot on top reveals an enormous amount of stubborn growth underneath, making it very labour intensive.  A task that is vital is to ensure the little ranunculus has unencumbered space to grow.

Next step is to feed the earth with a healthy dose of compost and fish blood & bone, sounds absolutely delightful, especially when Jo reveals something has been living in the compost heap!  We decided to call on our canine companions as defence whilst we tackled this nutrient rich pile and it did the trick, nothing jumped out or scurried off!

With the earth prepared, it was time to check the irrigation, a big bonus to any large scale growing.  The t-tape was relayed and tested, unfortunatly one or two had been punctured and needed replacing from the large reel outside.  It never ceases to amaze me the excitement one feels from a job well done and the successful testing of our handywork was one of these occasions.

Our final job of the day was to lay a covering of straw over the top of the beds to help keep moisture in.  Frank thought this was laid especially for him and he was in his element as you can see from the photo below.  

Cara 
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Blog of a senior flower farm intern!
I can’t quite believe it’s been 9 months since I last wrote a blog post. This year has flown by and I can honestly say my feet have not touched the ground. Starting a business with 2 young children and a husband that works away has its challenges, but at the same time I have loved every minute of my flower field adventure.
I’m going to leave looking back over the year for another day, but I wanted to introduce someone that has helped me enormously over the year and will be joining me in blogging about blooms.
 
How our friendship began..
When I first started growing flowers, I delivered some samples to local businesses along with business cards to get The Baldock Flower Farm name out there. A few days later I received a phone call from a very nice lady called Cara, wanting to order sweet peas. That was the day our friendship began.

Johanna x 
 

Blog of a senior flower farm intern: Cara Richardson, age 52

 
Why I decided to try an internship at my age.... 

Here I am married and the mother of 3 adult children, the last of which has just flown the nest, deciding I would love to try something new.  Something creative, rewarding and unlike anything I have done before.

I love flowers, the joy of colour and scent, of a gift given or received and time spent lost in arranging.  In fact it was time to educate myself in the life cycle of growing and so began my new love of seeds, bulbs and self- propagation!

The Baldock Flower Farm is truly a home grown enterprise and owner Jo is passionate about her business.  I couldn’t help but be excited by the opportunity of working alongside Jo, her knowledge and enthusiasm rub off easily on anyone who is interested in flowers.
And so begins my new venture – we are coming towards the end of the cutting season, but that doesn’t mean things are slowing down here at The Baldock Flower Farm….

3 November 2015
I have never been greeted so enthusiastically in the workplace, all be it by the two gorgeous canines Bertie and Frank – it’s great to see you guys too!  Coffee made, it’s time to take a look at what’s been going on since my last visit.

The green house is full of trays filled with seeds and corms all bursting into life, in fact most of the anemones already have little root systems ready for planting out into the poly tunnel.  This makes clearing the poly tunnel a priority for today.

Prize dahlia tubers need to be dug up, washed, trimmed and set out to dry ready for dividing before storing over winter.  Remember I am a complete novice as far as cultivation is concerned, I had no idea that underground dahlias look like parsnips! Not the uniform ones in the supermarket, more like the interesting shapes my Grandad grew! 



Wash dahlia tubers set out to dry


 Jo was over the moon to discover that out of the 6 much treasured café au lait dahlia tubers purchased one had finally bloomed right at the end of the season. It’s a little late this year but it was a good solid tuber ready to do its magic for next year, fingers crossed, it really was a beauty.

Cara x


A beautiful Cafe au lait dahlia 


 
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