Monday, October 09, 2017

Flowers from the allotment

Nicandra physalodes Shoo Fly Plant 
A neighbour in Surrey once gave me a seed head of the Shoo Fly Plant . She told me that the plant , which would grow really easily ,should always be in ones greenhouse as it repelled White fly. Nearly 40 years later its progeny arrive wherever I'm growing something thanks to my careless cultivation methods . I noticed that one had sneaked into the artichoke bed, and 5 weeks later its flowering and promising seedheads. I am letting it grow and grow as it's the most useful addition to Christmas Flower arrangements  when its dried .
The Shoo Fly plant  a member of the Tomato family and similar in flowers and fruit to the Chinese lantern . Ive had 3attempts to grow Chinese Lanterns . They are brilliant for Flower Arranging , especially for Harvest . This year my pathetic plants , which germinated easily but then marked time for 6 months, are struggling to thrive . 
So I had to buy them from Daisy Dot this year to accompany all my offerings from the allotment for my Harvest Pedestal at St Oswalds . I hope Bernard realises just why I collected all his Leek  Seed heads from his part of our plot. I also gleaned Achillea Heads, Nigella  seedpods, Globe Artichokes , Fennel and Sedums. The red apples were windfalls from the plot next door and the Teasels from the roadside. 
I have discovered a delightful cultivated variety of the Wild Carrot Ammi visnaga. I sowed the seeds last autumn , but they are only just coming into flower. Next year they will be perfect . Ive always been fond of all the Umbellifers, and Queen Annes lace in the Yorkshire road sides in April  (this year very early ) has always heralded roadside bounty before NYCC sends the cutters in . 

Next year I'm going to grow more flowers to be used in St Oswalds. I've been up to our wonderful Reighton Nursery and bought 6 Delphinium plants , only 90p each to start me off . Blue is often the most difficult colour for Wedding arrangements  in church and this will help us as long as I stake them well enough against the very strong winds on Filey Allotments as they flower. Ive now got Scabious Plants doing well, and they flower all summer and are  still going now.

In Filey I know some serious Chrysanthemum growers. Peter used to grow them for Shows and he provides huge Blooms for Church in the autumn . He says that he's not doing so much now and a couple of years ago gave me a few stock plants. I have taken Chrysanths more seriously this year . I've been waiting for Peter to ask me how mine are doing and hoped he wouldn't last year as I didn't follow his instructions and de bud them . This year I'm feeling pleased as I got spouse to debud them and tie them up and so have grown my first blooms. Now they are nowhere near as big as they could be, but we have cracked the cultivation . They were not ready for Harvest but will be ready for the Brass vases on the Altar at St Os this week . 
My first attempt at Blooms 
Flower arrangers need to use flowers which will last and not drop bits over furniture. Beloved is always pointing to beautiful flowers in the gardens of Stately homes like our nearest Burton Agnes, and telling me we should get one for the allotment to grow for church , but I have to tactfully decline his open wallet at the plant stall unless I know its a doer. Its the same with foliage as not every bit of greenery is right for lasting power . 
I don't have to grow foliage as both our churches in Filey have plenty growing around them , and St Johns has an award winning garden around it from which we the Flower Team may cut when we need.

One of Peters Blooms
I use Chiltern Seeds mostly. Their Seed catalogue is my Christmas reading , and I just have to look for the scissor logo which announces good cut flowers. Ive plenty of space on the allotment , and Dave the previous tenant put down plastic on large areas which I just bare when I need. He and I between us have virtually eradicated  the Mares Tail which covered half the plot  . I have pulled out every little piece as it appeared and burnt it, and using the no dig mulch cultivation it is weakened. Bernard got rid of it on our shared plot by using wire wool and weedkiller, but I am trying not to use chemicals . I do worry that my 'Meadow strip' might welcome Mares tail but I'm going to be vigilant. Dandelions and Plantains I do not mind as they have benefits according to my Companion Gardening Books.

My wish list for Flowers for Cutting is growing, but I have to keep the balance with Food for Eating . This year I got it just right with the amount of beans I grew, and likewise with Courgettes, Potatoes and Tomatoes. I'm still picking Sweet Peas and the Sunflowers are just over. Its all a learning curve, its only a Plot , it doesn't matter when things go wrong as long as I keep the plot tidyish and stick to allotment rules . I am thankful for Green manure , the best way to keep down weeds in a dormant bed, but what am I saying , I don't really have any dormant beds for long.