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Fieldnotes, Winter into Spring into Summer 2023

I see that according to the date I created this blog entry (12 February 2023), I have been writing this for around 4 months! Time moves really fast here and we have been so busy this year. Winter as it was back then, Spring came and went, and here we are on 26 June, with Summer all around us and the solstice just passed. Flowers carry us forth. In addition to my sluggish blog writing, I haven't written up any fieldnotes since December 2022! It's definitely time to rectify that. I refer back to my scribbled notebooks to help.

Winter into Spring

The greens of the landscape have become deeper and the fruit trees exhibit their pale and delicate flowers. One tiny flower into fruit, a miraculous process that is as random as it is deliberate. Each resulting fruit housing the seeds for the next generation. My thoughts are interrupted by a kestral floating through the air with the lightness of a paper bag as it changes shape for every movement. It calls out in the distance like the cry of a newborn baby. In this moment of pondering how clever the reproduction of plants is, I think it truly is a story about the birds, and the bees.

Inside the polytunnels in March and April, there are rows and rows of tiny plants, each held safely in a series of soil modules, sorted into categories according to their variety. They rest on a bed of towelling, with strips of the fabric cut and laid into ramekins of water to keep the towelling bed, and therefore the soil, constantly wet. All of these tiny plants were once seeds. Seeds; these minuscule little particles, casings, flakes, pods, grains, which take on a life of their own, aided along the way with constant care and vigilance. Seeds want to grow and thus a devotional hold they have over us to help them to do so. The soil, the light, the temperature, the moisture, and the seed itself creates a collective, vital materiality which is alive. This vitality is expressed in the influence they have had on one another and the conditions we have created for them, they have grown and are growing. It's beautiful and exciting to see. Plants are just like humans, they grow and develop, and they manifest all of the same energetic properties that govern life. Seeds are a fresh start, most of us at some point in our lives have needed a fresh start. It can be as big as moving to a new country or changing your career or starting a new project. Or it can be as small and immense as growing a seed.

Spring into Summer

The bulbs this year were a delight, as always, cutting through the grey and desolate winter, first with Iris Reticulata and muscari, a cerulean display as cool and refreshing as a clear Spring sky. We were particularly excited about a new pink variety of muscari we added to our field this year called "Baby's Breath", yes, just like the gypsophila. The narcissi came in an exquisite array of trumpets and frills in white, lemon, orange, yellow, and cream and their scent being everything but flower-like from fresh and citrus, to sweet like vanilla, to earthy and musky. The tulips came next, making us work hard to keep up with their onslaught, lifting the whole flower on the bulb before loading into wheelbarrows and amassing buckets of rainbow colours. Their flowers as tight as little eggs and then unfurling into incredible sculptural forms that lasted for weeks in the vase - there is nothing like the energy and pizzazz of a tulip. With all the digging and lifting and being a one-bulb-one-flower output, they are more expensive and more labour intensive than any other flower but so worth it. It wouldn't be Spring without them. Spring unfolded much cooler and slower than recent years, but then late May and June entered under the high pressure of near 30C temperatures and burning dry earth. We didn't have rain for nearly 30 days. I don't remember a dry spell so long or so hot in all the time we have been growing. There were some triumphs and some losses but the miracle and resilience of plant growth never disappoints. With no rain whatsoever in sight, the roses bloomed sweetly and generously into June.

Fluffy phlox seeds.

Seeds sown, we wait.

Sifting the soil to make it as fine as possible for germinating seeds.

Lush new growth.

Young ammi majus plants, now big enough to handle.

Sweet peas ready for the polytunnel ground in late March.

A nasturtium sprouts from seed collected in 2022.

Ammi majus getting planted in the polytunnel.

Freshly cut muscari with white to blue ombre!

The palest baby blue.

Assorted muscari including a new and rare pink variety "Baby's Breath".

Growing in the polytunnel.

The foliage on this variety being more sturdy and more akin to a tulip.

Welcoming all the blues.

Continuing the blue theme with Iris Reticultata

Iris Reticulata on the bulb.

Narcissi glowing.

Redefining the humble daffodil.

Tied together with our botanically dyed silks.

Paired with tumbling tulips.

Handfuls of narcissi, tulips and muscari ready for arranging.

Pink and red tulips, a favourite colour combination.

Tulips starting to show colour and ready for lifting.

The exquisite, peony-like tulip "Uncle Tom".

Becoming even more bonnie, the older they get.

Parrot tulips.

Ready for conditioning in the studio.

Crisp whites.

Roses arriving in late May.

The most beautiful and vibrant pink with red centre.

Nothing sweeter.


Thank you for reading flower friends!

Lauren and Louisina x

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