Many hands make light work

Posted on: 7th April, 2015

Category: Farming

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 does time go? I can’t believe we are at the end of March already; this is the frantic time when everything collides — seeding, weeding, potting on seedlings, weeding, harvesting, planting out, weeding, workshops and demonstrations, as well as weddings to plan and create — yes it is exciting, but can be a little overwhelming at times. No other time of the year is quite as busy as spring time; wishing I had six pairs of hands 48 hours in the day and 14 days in the week, but at least the clocks go forward and the extra light is graciously appreciated. Deep breaths, plough on and in a few short months it will all be worth it.

March was an incredibly busy month with Mother’s Day in the middle; we hope you all enjoyed your flowers as much as we did creating them.

Work continues on the top of the garden and I can’t wait for summer to see it in its full glory but for the time being it’s a riot of daffodils. The poor hydrangeas and agapanthus were hammered by the cold and frost but they will bounce back and flower their socks off in July and August.

Our Bullfinches have deserted us for the time being after they striped our Almalanchiers — not one flower got past them but there isn’t an ill wind that doesn’t blow some good. I have huge Lilies ‘Casablaccia’ planted near the base of them and they were shredded last year by the lower braches, I didn’t know if I could move them with out damaging the roots, so now I’m going to pollard them and be content with their foliage and give my lilies room.

The Blue Tits are very busy now noisily getting their nest box ready. I’ll know if they are successful because all will go quiet with the silent to-ing and fro-ing of caterpillars in beaks. The best of all so far has been a pair of Long Tailed Tit visitors who are building a nest with us this year, it has been pure joy to watch they busily gathering downy chicken feathers and moss to build their nest, the highlight of my year so far, they are the most exquisite little birds in my opinion, my all time favourite passerine. Summer wont be long now with the impending arrival of the Sand Martin, the first of our African swallow family visitors, followed by the Swallows themselves and House Martins and lastly the noisy but unrelated Swifts.

Aly’s garden (our youngest, at 17), which had become an unloved, unused area but is being revamped and will now be our new veg garden; we had a machine in to do the heavy shifting and clearing and much appreciated help from neighbours to move the poor dilapidated shed. It will be fantastic to have a dedicated food area again having lost ours to flowers over the years.

Full moon work entailed bulb planting including summer flowering Anemonies, Fressias, Ranunculus and Ixia, to be ready for July and August weddings. The biggest job in the last quarter was and will be weeding and general maintenance — the best time for it. We never got around to Dahlias, so they will have to wait for the next full moon, being in the bulb category. The last of the lilies will be planted and potted up then to. Tom pouce and X Factor are our new ones for this year, looking forward to seeing them.

New moon work continues with potting on of February seedlings including Bells of Ireland, Cosmos, Cornflower, Marigolds, Statice, and Achillia’s. Autumn Antirrhinums and Ammi’s are planted outside now under cloches.

Seeds sown were Sunflowers, Daucus Carota Dara, Didiscus, Craspedia, Ammobium, and the late summer Zinnia’s, Rudbeckia’s, and Helicrhysum. Foliage fillers like Bupleurum, Frosted Explosion, and a new tall Alchimilla Mollis Robusta.

Hyacinth are all but finished but tulips are singing now with Allium Cowanni and the sweetly scented multi-headed Narcissus. Its all happening now with the first Sweet Pea flowers, roses are budding (although it will be another month before we will be cutting from them) early lilies and a new Allium Purple Rain — it’s a dark purple Christophii.

Endings and new beginnings, while we are no longer at Mahon Farmers market ourselves our flowers will still be available at Swanton’s Nurseries stall and they will also be with them at Clonakilty Farmer’s Market and Midleton Farmer’s market — we are delighted to have the extra time here on the farm while gaining extra outlets, win, win I’d say. Our flowers are also available in Bradley’s of North Main Street in Cork City and Organico in Bantry.

We are very excited about the expansion of our edible flower range and to be supplying restaurants in the city and its environs while we always grew a limited amount for weddings especially for the very little flowers girls and page boys who like to put things in their mouths, (better safe than sorry). Our extended range will be available from May onwards.

We have also had our first demonstration evening over in Rathbarry with a lovely bunch of ladies and gentleman, a most enjoyable evening. Thank you all for having us and we hope to see some of you at our Open Day here on the farm on May 31, from 2pm — the proceeds are for the much deserved Drimoleague Walkways. More on that next month.

While we run a series of events here on the farm, we are equally happy to travel to your venue for workshops and demonstrations. Contact us directly to book.

June 14 sees the first of our workshop days with an introduction to flower Farming, a guided tour of the cutting garden, tunnels and demonstration of a seasonal bouquet, which will be raffled afterwards Starts at 2pm and takes approximately two hours and costs €10. No booking necessary.

As dates for further workshops are finalised we will post on Facebook Ruby Harte Floral Design and our Web Page Ruby Harte.Com. Phone 028 32892 but mobiles are safer (as we spend most of our time outside) 086-8251380 and 086-0823318.

Easter sees our return to Bantry Market on Friday, April 3 and Schull Market on Sunday, April 5.

Looking forward to seeing you at some of our events over the summer. Enjoy your flowers and garden.


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