Divide and conquer

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Posted on: 11th October, 2016

Category: Home, Garden & Environment

Contributor: Ruby Harte

Ruby Harte (a.k.a Mags Riordan) has been a professional florist for over 12 years. Ruby runs a family owned nursery, Bumble Bee Farm in Castledonovan, Drimoleague and is deeply concerned about the protection and cultivation of nature and its habitats.

What a beautiful end to the month of September. I hope you all had a chance to enjoy the much appreciated autumnal sunshine. It’s been a mad dash around here getting beds cleared and over-wintering crops in like hesperis, honesty and sweet William.

I’ve been avoiding the task of moving perennials that simply don’t earn their keep in our cut flower beds but now that they have finished it’s easier to be ruthless. Astilbes really take up too much room and their individual flowering times are too short to warrant all the bed space allocated to them, so off they are going to the garden along with the agapanthus and Michaelmas daisies. (Looking forward to my garden next year). The extra space for quick growing annuals and our new tunnel will make my winter planning so much easier.

It really is, in my opinion, the best time to be dividing and moving perennials; with the soil still warm it gives everything a chance to get roots down and be well established before the onset of winter. There is little chance of stress due to lack of water and they are ready to romp away in the spring. That said I wouldn’t leave it any later than October because there is the chance of (if you are like me on heavy clay) dying over winter. Spring is too busy for us and there would usually be the extra pressure with watering until they are established.

I swore I wouldn’t get any bulbs this autumn but somehow a few thousand still managed to find their way to us. I know come the spring I’ll be delighted with the extra colour and cut flower stems but now it’s extra workload I could do without. If you haven’t got your bulbs in, there is still time. There is nothing more cheery in the depths of winter than early spring flowers like crocus and daffodils. We have built up a lovely collection and the flowering period is fantastic. We have daffs flowering from mid December right through to early May. The scented one are probably my favourite – there is nothing better than the scents that fill the air on frosty mornings. Bulbs give so much and ask for so little in return – just to allow the foliage the time to photosynthesise and make food to feed next years flowers – six weeks is sufficient. It’s not much really.

A quick update on our bat population. We had the pleasure of watching them all come out to feed a few weeks ago and are thrilled with the numbers, at last count, 18. I must confess to not knowing much about them other than having a love of watching them. However, with our ever-increasing numbers, I think we need to address this; I’d welcome any suggestions.

There have been big changes for us here on the farm. We have been going through the process of rebranding with the help of an amazing lady, Diane. We are now Bumblebee Flower Farm, which is the umbrella for our floral design and our edible flower business.

It was getting a bit confusing with all the different elements. We have a new website on the way, which will feature an online shop for most of our products. We will have information on our edibles including suggested uses, flavours and some recipes. It’s all very exciting.

We are really going for developing food products with our flowers and I’ve just started a speciality food programme in UCC to help with this. After all these years, I never thought I would be back in the academic world, but I am loving it.

So, lots of changes here, but all still focused on horticultural sustainability and organic practices.

Enjoy the seasonal changes and see you next month.

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