0New ‘Flowerona for Florists’ Facebook group…for florists everywhere!

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I’ve known for some time now that florists are very special people. And I’ve seen even more evidence of this, this week. On Tuesday afternoon, I set up a ‘Flowerona for Florists’ Facebook group and the response has been absolutely incredible! Over 300 people have already joined, from all over the world. There are members from the UK, America, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Holland, France, India, Japan, Qatar and Panama.

My aim in setting it up is for it to be a floral hub where florists can meet, share ideas & seek advice. And I’m thrilled to say that that’s exactly what’s been happening. I’m not going to go into detail as to what’s being discussed, as it’s a private place for people to interact. But what I will say is that it’s so wonderful to watch such a supportive network in action. And I’d like to thank everyone who’s joined to far, for making it such a success! Florists who work on their own, in particular, have found the group to be really beneficial, as they can reach out to fellow florists. One very kind member has already arranged a meet-up in July, which I’m really looking forward to attending.

So, if you’re a florist and would like to join, simply click on this link Flowerona for Florists and then click on ‘Join Group’. You need to join using your personal Facebook page. I’ll need to approve your membership…then you can benefit from all the knowledge in the group too!  Any questions, please ask away…

P.S. Hope you like the ranunculus image…these are standard ones!

(Image : Rona Wheeldon for Flowerona)

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0Interview with Alan Titchmarsh…featuring his new gardening range with Waitrose, RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden & new ITV series ‘Britain’s Best Gardens’

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I’m thrilled today to feature an interview with well-known gardening expert and TV presenter, Alan Titchmarsh, who I had the pleasure of meeting recently at a Waitrose Press Event.

Alan Titchmarsh and Waitrose is a new gardening range.  Could you tell us about the plants in the Cut Flower Collection?

We have a wonderful range of plants in the Cut Flower Collection. They include Larkspur Kingsize Scarlet ‘Annual Delphinium’, Chrysanthemum carinatum ‘Silver Spoons’, Agrostemma githago ‘Ocean Pearl’, Chrysanthemum carinatum ‘Bright Eye’, Chrysanthemum carinatum ‘Sunset’, Salvia horminum Claryssa Mixed ‘Clary Sage’, Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Double Click’, Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Pied Piper’, Sweet William ‘Summer Sundae’ (Dianthus barbatus), Stock Mixed (Matthiola incana), Stock Aida Mixed (Matthiola incana), Bupleurum rotundifolium Griffithii, Antirrhinum Rocket Mixed (Snapdragon), Larkspur Sublime Mixed ‘Annual Delphinium’ and Helichrysum bracteatum King Sized Mixed (Strawflower).

How did you decide upon which flowers to include in the collection?

I wanted to include a range of flowers that I love and which are rewarding to grow – things which are not excessively tricky, but which repay a moderate amount of care.

What are you top tips on growing your own cut flower patch?

Find a spot in the sun on a well-drained patch of soil and sow the seeds during a mild spell. Do not let them dry out during the germination period, but don’t keep them soggy either – gentle moisture is what they need.

Could you tell us about the Bee and Butterfly Mats? 

The Bee Mat contains annual, biennial and perennial species of flowers that are a great source of pollen and nectar to bees and other pollinators including Common Knapweed, Greater Knapweed, Golden Rod, Chrysanthemum mix, Borage, Anise hyssop, Cornflower, Verbena, Lady Phacelia and Viper’s Bugloss. The Butterfly Mat contains Ragged Robin, Common Yarrow, Corn Chamomile, Knapweeds, Wild Marjoram and Red Campion.

To celebrate the 50th year of the RHS’s Britain in Bloom campaign and your 50th year in horticulture, you’re designing a garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. What can you tell us about it?

It’s called ‘From the Moors to the Sea’ and will include a moorland stream, which wends its way between boulders and moorland plants, birch and pine trees and drystone walls to a seaside cove with a beach house, seaside planting and waves lapping the shore. I began my gardening on the Yorkshire Moors and now garden on the Isle of Wight coast. As well as following my own journey as a professional gardener for 50 years, the garden also celebrates the diversity of plants that have gone into making Britain in Bloom over its own half century.

You’re currently developing a new ITV series, Britain’s Best Gardens, where you’ll be featuring the 30 best private gardens in Britain. Could you tell us more about it and how can people nominate their garden?

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To mark the 50th year of my horticultural career, Spun Gold TV, an independent production company, will be showcasing the best private, domestic gardens in Britain with a series called ‘Britain’s Best Gardens‘. They’re looking for gardens that are owned and maintained by the nation’s horticultural heroes, who’ve turned their backyards into amazing spaces.

These gardens will represent what gardening means in the country. They are our gardens that say as much about us and who we really are as they do about the blooms, lawns and fragrant borders. The final 30 selected gardens will be revealed in three primetime, hour long shows, to air on ITV in 2015.

Spun Gold TV are seeking applications from the length and breadth of Britain with an array of horticultural wonders from the outrageous to the draw-droopingly beautiful, the grand and opulent to the small and perfectly formed. This is the series that opens the gates to gardens that are works of art, labours of love, flights of fantasy and even feats of engineering. All private, domestic gardens are eligible for entry.

Applying to the programme is easy – just email Alan@spungoldtv.com with some information about the garden (please include its location, size and contact details for yourself – phone and email) along with a few photos of the nominated garden. Or write to Britain’s Best Gardens, PO Box 64382, London, EC2P 2GJ. The closing date for applications is July 20th 2014.

Thank you so much to Alan for all his help in compiling today’s blog post. Do look out the Alan Titchmarsh and Waitrose new Cut Flower Collection, the next time you’re in Waitrose.

P.S. You can follow Britain’s Best Gardens on Twitter and Facebook.

(Image : 1. Jonathan Buckley, 2. Spun Gold TV)

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2There are ranunculus….and then there are CLONI ranunculus!

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Now…there are ranunculus and then there are CLONI ranunculus! And today’s post features the astonishingly beautiful Cloni variety. They were very kindly given to me by David at D G Wholesale Flowers at New Covent Garden Flower Market in London. As fellow flower lovers, I’m sure you’ll understand why I had such a spring in my step, when I walked back to Vauxhall station that morning, carefully holding my prize blooms. These were the very first Clonis that I’d ever taken home…a special day! I wasn’t the only one who was admiring them either…the barista in the coffee shop, plus a girl on the train who thought they were roses.  I LOVE their layers upon layers of beautifully structured, delicate petals…like ballerinas’ tutus!

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If you’ve not come across this variety of ranunculus before, here’s a little bit about them. Cloni (pronounced Clone-y) have much larger flower heads than standard ranunculus. Hanoi is the name of this particular pale pink one.  And they’re also available in orange, cerise, red and cream. When their petals fully open up, the flowers are reminiscent of garden roses or peonies, which makes them very popular for wedding work…especially bridal bouquets.

Whilst my Cloni ranunculus were at home, we had people to stay for the weekend and they were completely blown away by this magnificent blooms. What I really love about them is the way that they look even more beautiful, the older they get. In the Northern Hemisphere, now is the time to buy them…but they’re not around for long. So do look out for them the next time you’re in a florist shop or flower wholesaler. I promise…you won’t be disappointed!

P.S. If you’d like to know more about ranunculus in general, do pop over to the New Covent Garden Flower Market website, where you can read a special report I wrote about them last year.

(Images : Rona Wheeldon for Flowerona)

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2Covent Garden Academy of Flowers at Brides The Show – March 2014

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This week on Wedding Wednesday, I’m delighted to share with you images of the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers stand at the recent Brides The Show in London. In particular, I loved the arrangements above featuring a combination of different types and colours of roses, complemented with pink blossom…breath-taking! Here are some more photos of their lovely stand.

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Many congratulations to Gillian and her team for creating such a wonderful display of wedding flower designs…using blooms such as ranunculus, anemones, Mimi Eden spray roses, waxflower, hydrangeas plus guelder rose and Alchemilla mollis. If you’d like to see more of the Academy’s work, simply pop over to their website.

(Images : Rona Wheeldon for Flowerona)

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3The Sweet Smell of Decay with Rebecca Louise Law & Rachel Warne

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Floral installation artist Rebecca Louise Law and garden & plant freelance photographer Rachel Warne are two very talented ladies, who I’ve featured on Flowerona in the past. Next Tuesday, 15th April, they’re taking part in an event at The Garden Museum in London, called ‘The Sweet Smell of Decay’. Under Rebecca’s installation, ’The Flower Garden Display’d’ (which is featured in the photos immediately below), she will discuss with Rachel, the beauty of decay, dying flowers and the afterlife of gardens.

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This installation was initially put up in February and will be in situ until May 17th.  I’m intrigued to see how it has changed, since I last saw it at the Private View for the Fashion & Garden Exhibition. Below are a few of Rachel’s mesmerising photographs, which I thought you may like to see…

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If you’d like to attend ‘The Sweet Smell of Decay’, tickets can be booked online via The Garden Museum website. The price is £10 for Non-Friends and £8 for Friends. And it’s taking place from 6.30-8.30pm.

(Images : Rebecca Louise Law & Rachel Warne)

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