Flower power

Posted on: 6th July, 2015

Category: Home, Garden & Environment

Contributor: Ruby Harte

Ruby Harte (a.k.a Mags Riordan) has been a professional florist for over 12 years and has completed a course in horticulture and worked in garden centres, wholesale nurseries, and private gardens. 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.

Where oh where does time go? So much has happened in the last month that it feels like three months since my last article.

The end of May saw our blue tits fledge and bless them they put on a stunning show for me. I’ve waited years to see this, what a treat.

Blackbirds, wrens and chaffinches are already on their second brood; I love watching them in the tunnels gathering insects and caterpillars, a healthy eco-system at work.

It always amazes me to think just ten years ago we were a huge four-acre open field devoid of bird life, ‘the silence was deafening’ and in such a short space of time we are ‘buzzing’ now. We have built up an incredible habitat for wildlife and both the visitors and inhabitants are a joy to behold. We are even getting regular visits from house sparrows and their young; beaks outstretched and wings flapping ferociously are some of the wonderful sights that make all the hard work worthwhile.

Our long tailed tits have fledged safely too. It’s all happening here.

Its so easy to get bogged down in the day to day running of the farm that you could easily neglect planning ahead and that means biennials including Foxglove — what’s not to love about this beautiful and graceful flower? They are our fairies’ thimbles, a good laster and reputed to aid other flowers in a vase.

Sweet William, what can I say? The colour choice and reliable blooms from early April (tunnels) for months on end, a true work horse and another of our edibles.

Canterbury Bells — it is easy to see why this old cottage garden favourite is still a must have for any serious grower. They produce huge stems loaded with balloon shaped blooms Plants are quite bulky so netting is a must to keep them upright. Colours include white, pink, lavender and purple.

Sweet Rocket is easy to grow and one of the earliest flowers to bloom in the garden. Blooms are highly scented and look fantastic in bouquets and they are edible too.

Honesty a beautiful flower that is often overlooked; the pretty papery seed heads generally steal the show.

It can be a bit of a drudge now but come next April And May it will all be worthwhile because these beauties are the backbone for late spring and early summer blooms. The earlier they are started the better they bulk up. Our seed is started between May and June and plants are set out in late August to early September. Ideally, plants are given four to six weeks to establish before the onset of cooler temperatures.

Our late summer plants are all performing beautifully and we will have Rudbeckias in too many varieties to name here, Heleniums, Echinacea, Feverfew, Ammis and Daucus carota.

I love the umbellifers for the softness that they bring to a bouquet, and Zinnias, which will be ready by the end of July or early August, but the Dahlia will always be the showstopper for me, so many are in bud and my excitement is palpable in anticipation of the kaleidoscope of colour waiting to unfold.

We would like to thank everybody who joined us for our open day, it was lovely catching up with familiar faces and meeting new ones. We are so pleased you all enjoyed the day with the changes and improvements both to the garden and farm.

The interest in our new range of gourmet edible flowers is almost overwhelming and we are delighted to include Greenes Restaurant on McCurtain St and Murphs Tavern in East Ferry to our list of clients. We have a new facebook page ‘Blooming Delicious edible flowers’ and work is ongoing on our webpage we hope to have an online shop ready in the near future but for the time being you can email of phone in your order; we have a sweet and savoury range, a selection for candying, cocktails and as garnishes. I never realised there were so many edible flowers; it’s opened a whole new world for me with endless possibilities. We are also creating a whole new range of edible wedding flowers so all you ‘foodies’ take note.

Last month we had a visit from Lynn Byczynski and she wrote a lovely article about us for her online magazine Growing for Market, pop over to our website and have a read.

As our new edible flower venture is taking off, and with the extra workload, we have had to cancel all our workshops for this year but we will review this in the spring, there are only so many hours in the day after all.

We have so much to be thankful and grateful for, where we live, our work family and friends and I must say thank you to Linda here; if it wasn’t for her support and faith, I don’t think we would be where we are today. Bless you and thank you.

Our bouquets are available in Bradley’s, North Main St, Mahon farmer’s market with Swanton’s nurseries, the Olive Branch in Clonakilty and Organico Bantry, Schull market on Sundays for the summer.

For more information visit Ruby Harte.com. Face book Ruby Harte Floral Design. Face book Blooming Delicious edible flowers. email rubyharte@eircom.net, Mobile 086-0823318 or 086-8251380.

Enjoy your blooms.

Ruby

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