Winter on the Flower Farm

Winter on the Flower Farm

Winter on the Flower Farm is a special time. We're busy digging and dividing dahlias, pruning roses and laying compost around the perennial shrubs. Our days are full but there's also a sense of calm. We're more grounded, craving home-cooked food and a spot by the fire rather than big external adventures. 

Tucked up inside, I love to dream of the year ahead. Revisiting old gardening books, pouring over back-issues of magazines and spending hours on seed websites searching for interesting new things to grow. When the little packages start arriving a few weeks later, the excitement really starts to build.

  

We started the big job of digging and dividing dahlias this week so the novelty of a new garden task is strong. I really enjoy this physical process, it’s like digging for treasure. 

Last year the clumps were enormous and a back breaking task to get out of the ground. This year I think they're smaller (we've been experimenting with reduced watering so this might be why - more in a future post).

Only once the clumps have been divided, and the viable tubers tucked into boxes of sawdust will we have our tally. Fingers crossed there will be lots of smaller tubers each with a good eye - that's the perfect situation.

Normally this is wet and muddy work but it's been very dry here in South East South Australia. This is bad news for many of our farmers and gardeners but does mean that on the Flower Farm, the sandy soil falls away from the tuber clumps and makes digging a quicker job. All the same, I'd love some more rain.

If you were organised and sowed seed in late summer, you might have some winter flowering plants in your cutting garden: Ornamental Kale, Stocks, Wallflowers and other members of the brassica family flourish in the cooler weather.

I got a little overwhelmed this year and was late sowing seed. As a result we have a leaner time than normal for the next couple of weeks. We're leaning on the Australian and South African natives and have miraculously been graced with a flush of early winter roses due to the warm days. 

 

If you benefit from milder winters like we do on the Flower Farm, cold hardy annuals such as Snapdragons and Sweet William will flower over winter (Spring flowering in cooler places). Normally it's best to plant these in Autumn while the soil is still warm but I planted our Snapdragon seedlings out yesterday. They'll be fine with a bit of extra water and some floating row cover in case the overnight temperatures approach freezing - just until they get established. 

But even if you don’t manage to grow flowers at this time of year, you can still bring nature inside. Grab a pair of secateurs, go foraging and fill a vase with branches. Raid that box of dried flowers that you squirrelled away during the warmer months or fill bowls with pine cones, gum nuts or citrus. 

In recent years, my family (both in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres) have hung a wreath on their doors to celebrate the shortest day of the year, the Winter Equinox. In the Southern Hemisphere, this year it's on Friday 21st June. It's a tradition I intend to keep.

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