GARDE N How does your GR O W?
ANNA TAYLOR, OWNER OF ANNA’S FLOWER FARM IN AUDLEY END, SHARES WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE GARDEN THIS MONTH
W e are just a few weeks away from blinking into the spring sunshine and by the end of the month, the days will have lengthened by a full two hours, looking towards enjoying milder days and signs of the end of winter. We gardeners hold back from doing too much in the garden while the soil is soggy and can be compacted from too much treading, insects are hibernating and growth is slow to appear. It can be frustrating when March brings an explosion of jobs, but I suggest you sit back, enjoy this month of rest and plan for the year ahead. To bring the outside in, especially while it’s still so cold, we store pruned fruit branches in buckets of water in the dark and bring them inside over the next few weeks to force the blossom open. Then we can enjoy the display together with the first bulbs of Narcissus (daffodils) and snowdrops. I love to use hazel, beech and willow to make bare branch wreaths and wire on pouches of wet moss to hydrate bundles of hellebores and diminutive winter flowers for the front door. It brings so much optimism to enjoy these flowers at head height when they can be often missed in the garden. I have noticed that many February flowers hang their heads coyly, making it hard to appreciate the blooms, so I also like to float clematis cirrhosa and hellebores in shallow bowls of water for the table. We can’t ignore the big date of the month, Valentine’s Day; I love the connotations of sending messages to your loved ones, but abhor the commercialism of sending expensive imported and chemical-ridden flowers. This year, please try to buy British flowers or at least fair-traded flowers. Anna’s Flower Farm is a member of ‘Flowers from the Farm’, a not-for-profit network of British flower growers and florists that promotes wonderful seasonal British-grown flowers. You won’t find roses in Britain in February, but you will get wonderful scented bulbs, branches and foliage.
Instead of flowers, you could give packets of seeds, potted plants or even a rose bush for your loved one to grow and enjoy for much longer this summer. Everyone has a memory of a sentimental flower or plant and this makes a thoughtful gift. And what about Galantine’s Day? This is celebrated on 13 February and is an opportunity to recognise your female friendships. I hold a special lunch or dinner, showing appreciation for the love and support of the women in my life. I dress the table with single bud vases of precious February stems and make little posies for guests. This year, I received a copy of the The Illustrated Language of Flowers and plan on writing out the meanings as notes to make the gifts more personal. For instance, in February, snowdrops are for hope and white hyacinth symbolises ‘unobtrusive loveliness’. Now wouldn’t that have far more meaning than a bunch of imported roses? l
THIS MONTH Anna hosts regular garden open days, events, talks and classes in the studio at her flower farm in Audley End, just outside Saffron Walden. Head to the website for 2019 event listings. annasflowerfarm.com
C A M B S E D I T I O N . C O . U K
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