A New Flowering Year Begins

“Bare branches of each tree
on this chilly January morn
look so cold so forlorn.
Grey skies dip ever so low
left from yesterday’s dusting of snow.

Yet in the heart of each tree
waiting for each who wait to see
new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,
like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,
buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.”

–  Nelda Hartmann, January Morn 


January can be a funny old month – all the merriment of Christmas has passed and a new year has begun, yet somehow it never really gets going…

The florals of January can also seem a bit ‘lost’, the bountiful greenery of the festive season seems a distant memory and the garden seems somewhat naked. The skeletons are all present, but there appears to be little flesh to offer much interest. With that in mind I have made it my mission this January to hunt out the beauty that there is to be had in the garden and flower fields, if only we take the time to truly look for it.




When we first started flower farming four years ago we were quickly introduced to the social media hashtag #helleboreappreciationsociety and I soon realised that this was a society I very much wanted to belong to! There are few flowers that have the exquisite style and elegance of the Helleborus. From the pure white varieties, speckled with plum, to the deep, dark, almost black varieties; they certainly hold a distinguished place in the garden at this time of year. Notoriously prone to drooping when used as a cut flower we prefer to wait until they have gone to seed before cutting them, this way you can get a good few days of vase life.



From the statuesque Helleborus to the nymph-like snowdrop…pure white heads of Galanthus bring a joy to the heart when they first appear every January. There are few sights to compare to a woodland carpeted in a bounty of white nodding delicate flower heads. When it comes to bringing these frail blooms into the house they seem to show off their best qualities when left unadorned, with little ornamentation in a bud vase.



Looking beyond the florals of the season there is wonder to be found elsewhere. Those so-called ‘skeletons’ I referred to earlier rightly come into their own in January. The fiery stems of Cornus bring shards of interest, whilst pussy willow and emerging catkins also provide shape and texture. This week has seen us start our pussy willow harvest, stems and stems of fluffy silver catkins have been cut. We will keep them out of water and somewhere dark and cool, this way they should last into springtime when we will use them to add interest to bouquets and wedding arrangements.




And with all that being said, I think it is safe to say a new flowering year has truly begun…

For everything there is a season

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.


Winter often has the appearance of peace and stillness, but beneath the frost and snow the earth is at work, preparing for the season ahead. Without the tactile nature of flowers hands often feel idle during wintertime, but patience is a virtue and what is to come holds great promise. Snowdrops are just emerging from the hard ground, their buds popping delicate angel heads, bobbing and heralding the future season.


For a flower farmer January seems an appropriate month to take stock; as Jack Frost and powdery snow have been busying themselves laying a blanket over the flower fields, time can be taken to reflect on the 2017 season and ponder the coming year. New years resolutions can often be made impulsively and hold little chance of making it to Spring, when flowers fully hit their stride again, but a few goals to take into a new season can give one purpose and energy.

As the concept of British grown flowers gathers momentum in the popular consciousness, taking time to place value and credit on your product, appreciating the uniqueness of what the flower fields of Ginger House Garden are producing, is important for the business to grow and flourish. Too much of 2017 was spent in comparing the business to others, the perils of social media playing a significant role in one’s self-doubt – ‘that bouquet is stunning, I could never do that’, ‘they are growing that, why aren’t we growing it?’ – not placing enough recognition upon the work of the last 18 months.

Beautiful and unique … locally grown flowers

The 2018 flower season looms and it is time to do battle with an ingrained perfectionist tendency. Instead let us see the value in the uniqueness of every flower, of every bouquet and of every day on the farm amongst the flowers.

Where did Summer go?!

I have finally done it, I have finally sat down and actually written a blog post! The last few months have been so busy and exhausting that trying to take the time to write a blog just hasn’t happened. The truth is that I have also struggled for inspiration to write, the pressure to write something that someone might deem interesting has meant I have written and deleted many beginnings to posts. I still struggle to believe that anyone would be interested in our story and everyday nonsense of the trials and tribulations of being flower farmers.

I don’t know where the last few months have gone; Summer has flown by in a blur. It doesn’t seem two minutes since we were in the throes of tulips and Spring’s awakening; now Autumn is well and truly beckoning and thoughts have turned to Christmas! Whilst trying to keep up with the sowing, planting out, harvesting, weed control and every other job that needs doing on the farm, we have been busy spreading the British flowers word all over North Northumberland! Our trusty car has done many a trip up and down the A1 – delivering to lovely locals, florists, village shops, delis, art galleries, hairdressers, DIY brides, dried flower enthusiasts and everyone in-between. If I didn’t know the roads of Northumberland before this summer I certainly do now! I shan’t complain though – the fact we have had so many people embracing our seasonal blooms has been so rewarding (and actually a great relief – there was always that niggling feeling as to whether or not anyone would actually buy our flowers!)


Away from the flower growing world the menagerie at the farm also continues to grow. We are now proud owners of 13 sheep, 6 hens and 1, very adorable and very demanding, cockapoo puppy called Polly. The boy has definitely been invaded by women! But all these girlies are all part of the dream of living here in Northumberland, being able to work the land and embrace all of nature’s wonders. The simple things, like finding a freshly laid egg in a morning or seeing Miss Polly Pocket gallop through the flower beds (with absolutely no regard for their well-being), often provide the biggest of joys!

New girls on the block
Best friends!
Time to start all over again – the back pain never gets easier though!

And now we have come full circle, we are back planting bulbs again, lining the little soldiers up ready to rise up next springtime so we can start all over again. One gentleman we delivered to this season quite seriously asked ‘so what do you do the rest of the time?’ We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! The truth is there has been a fair amount of both over the last few months! Constantly playing catch-up, never quite on top of things, but steadily learning that that is the way of the flower farmer, there will always be another job added to an endless list!


Selling Flowers and Weather Watching

Early May as a flower farmer is one of those funny little periods of hesitation and wondering. Spring has begun to relinquish its hold, yet Summer still seems somewhat away in the distance. Odd days tease and tantalise with warm, glowing sunshine on your back, but cool breeze never seems to far away, murmuring about the place. The narcissi and other Spring bulbs have ebbed away and the tulips spectacularly fade; and you are left wondering what on earth is going to fill the gaps left behind by these stunners until the Summer annuals announce their arrival. It is at this time that you appreciate the ensemble cast, rather than the limelight stealing showstoppers – dainty bluebells, nodding aquilegias, early cerinthe and sweet rocket all take their moment to shine.

Harvesting the narcissi!
Looking rather pleased with our hoard!

For well over a month now here at GHG HQ we have been harvesting tulips and this week sees the last of these majestic beauties being cut until next Spring. From the earlies to the lates, and everyone in-between, these royalty of the Spring garden have been fantastic in allowing us to finally start selling some stunning seasonal blooms! Having the colour and scent of homegrown flowers back in my life after what feels like an endless wintertime has been both uplifting and exhausting in equal measures. I feel like we haven’t stopped to take a breath since the end of March – but I guess this in many ways is a blessing, as we are finally starting to see some rewards for all our backbreaking long days over the last year, when we often found ourselves wondering whether we would ever have any blooms to sell!

On a different note – what is with this weather?! A dry and windy Spring does not equal happy flower farmers. As a Lancashire lass I am not used to this dryness, it rains a lot where I come from! Apparently this is not the case over in the East. Although I fear at the moment flower farmers up and down the country are looking skywards waiting to hear the drip, drip, drop of rainfall.

So then, I am off to do a little rain dance. What do you reckon that next time you are hearing from me usual service will have resumed, the typical British weather will have re-emerged, and I am desperately wanting the dampness to disappear and the sun to come out?! That’s the thing – we British never seem satisfied when it comes to the weather! I’m not sure how half this blog turned into a weather report but at least there was plenty of gorgeous seasonal blooms about for you to swoon over.

An Awakening

What does Spring mean to you? The birds are singing, the sun is shining, the lambs are skipping, the blossom is blooming and flowers are emerging. (In practice anyway, there are still some wet and dreary days that drag you back into the dearth of Winter.) But beyond these superficial images we mentally associate so closely with Spring’s arrival,  what does the season truly embody? Whilst I cannot speak for others, as a flower farmer springtime is a true awakening and a new cycle beginning. After what feels like an endless wintertime the cut flower season is about to begin in earnest…

In early February we made the “epic” journey down South to Birmingham for the first Flowers From The Farm national conference – as a side note I wouldn’t recommend a 4 and  a half hour train journey on a Sunday afternoon if you value your sanity! It turns out being ginger and sisters means you stand out a little, our reputation appeared to precede us as we had countless ‘oh, you’re the ginger sisters’ moments. We came away with having somewhat brain fog – Mrs M asked us when we got back if we were all enthused and inspired, our reply was yes, but goodness we have a lot to think about! Most of all it was great to meet so many other people in the same boat as us. Being a flower farmer can feel like a rather lonely, isolated existence at times, so to share time and thoughts with people experiencing the same highs and lows as you was encouraging! All in all the trip was a good boost to kickstart the season and get us in full gear…

The Boy finally let us girls loose on his pride and joy – the trailer is certainly making life somewhat easier – backwards and forwards with a wheelbarrow is not so good for one’s back!

One of the true blessings of Spring for us is to be back working with flowers again. The tactile nature of seasonal flowers is often underestimated I feel, but in working with flowers, engaging with their differing colour, scent, form and texture, you realise how much you have missed these things during the wintertime – how they can enlighten you, inspire you, and ultimately lift you to a better place. You often loose site of this “place” when you are shovelling muck or digging out beds, so to stop and dwell on a mound of  daffodils, a speckled hellebore or a spike of muscari every now and then is worthwhile – if only for one’s own self improvement. Such moments can bring one a sense of peace, place and contentment, as you calmly whisper to yourself ‘this is where I belong’.

Spring is a season of hope and I am clinging to its promises more closely than ever this year as it heralds a great leap of faith for us at Ginger House Garden – don’t say it too loud but, we are beginning to sell our flowers in the next few weeks! It feels like this moment has been a long time in the making! As new shoots appear daily from the ground, forming structure and strength, I hope such sentiments will be reflected in us, as we begin to discover our identity as flower farmers in the coming weeks and months ahead.

Frustrations and Small Victories

I am not going to lie, patience is not my strongest virtue. I like instant results. When I decide upon something I want it all done and dusted to perfection (another of my little quirks – perfectionist through and through) as quickly and efficiently as possible. Now it is becoming very clear to myself that these are traits that don’t lend themselves to being a flower farmer and gardener.

If I’m bluntly honest everything seems relentless at the moment. We tried to have a break over the Christmas season, but inevitably when your work is literally right outside your back door stepping back is hard. Tucking into turkey sandwiches often involved conversations about rabbit fencing, workshop configurations and where the best spot is for the polytunnel. It seemed even the weather was against us having a break, high winds meant even on Christmas Day we were out rescuing plastic tunnelling – the not so glamorous side of flower farming!

2016 was hard – we put so much effort into our little patch in Lancashire, only to walk away mid-July when it was just bursting into its Summer bounty of abundance, colour and texture. The rest of the year consisted of barely no flowers and just sheer hard physical work to get some of our Northumberland land under control and ready to “go” as it were. By the middle of January my patience really was wearing thin!

Someone recently asked me on social media how it was all going and I replied that everyday seems to be full of frustrations and small victories. Yes there is the waking up to find that yes it is indeed still January and therefore cold and dark, or some irksome creature has eaten the top of your anemones off, or your hollyhocks have got rust; but in the midst of the daily struggles there are little glimmers which cause you to have a little smile to yourself, pick your muck-covered wellingtons up and keeping going. It is often the simple little things that make you most content: catching mice tempted by the lure of peanut butter, sweet pea seedlings sprouting through or a giant pile of muck being delivered to go all over your flower beds.

No pretty flowers to look at, but a busy day in January thanks to very helpful local farmers – grass cut and muck delivered!

As I write this we are into February and Spring is on the horizon, pushing us on with its great promises. The days draw out as the light remains with us a little longer each day. Bulbs poke their heads above the parapet, checking that it is safe to emerge from the slumber. Soon there will be flowers for us to cut and amazing opportunities for us to take hold of as we start our first full season of being flower farmers. Here is to a few less frustrations and a few more small victories!

One of the pure joys of taking on a new garden has to be clumps of bulbs popping up all over the place – when you are in full frustrated mode and your patience is wearing thin they always bring a little cheer to the soul!

Wondrous Winter and Christmas Festivities

You step out, dressed to the nines in an abundance of woollen layers, bundled up, ready to brace the elements. There is a crisp crunch underfoot and a stillness in the atmosphere. You exhale and your breath fills the air before you, lingering for a second, caught in-between the warmth of your body and the freshness of the world you have stepped into. Nature’s forms and shapes are captured in a single moment, frozen and rigid. Angular and skeletal trees dot the horizon, their branches jutting out against a clear blue skyline. Robins, blackbirds and all manner of finches and tits scatter and scurry about on the hunt for food in this frozen scene. All is still and calm as a crisp frost hails a wondrous Winter’s morning.

A frozen landscape at Ginger House Garden:


Winter can be a tough old season for so many, and moving to the countryside has made me appreciate this more than ever. Twelve months ago we would have put the garden to bed long ago and be gathered round a roaring fire by this time in the year’s cycle. Fast forward a year and here we are making raised beds and planting 1000s of bulbs with hands that are numb with cold and toes tucked up in wellingtons with a good few pairs of socks! However, engaging with nature on such a tangible level heightens your understanding of the seasons – you appreciate Winter as a period when nature rests, recharging and reenergising, ready to kickstart again come Spring.


Deck The Halls

Over at Ginger House Garden HQ we have been busy bringing the outside in, in preparation for the Christmas festivities. Even though the landscape may appear barren to the passer-by, if you look and take the time there are many treasures to be discovered. We have adorned wreaths with holly, ivy, conifer, skimmia, viburnum and all manner of evergreens and hedgerow delights foraged and gathered from the garden or local haunts. Dried allium heads, foraged pine cones, lichen encrusted branches, fluffy clematis seed heads, game-bird feathers and plucked berries have all been used to add interest and textural drama.

Traditional wreath of evergreens and seasonal adornment
“The holly and the ivy…”













Traditional wreath with luxury styling details
Steaming hot chocolate is always a good idea to get you through the wreath making!


Simple alternative wreath inspiration – gathered twigs, trailing ivy, rosehips and pinecones
Alternative wreath experiments to showcase nature’s abundance











Conifer, skimmia, pinecones, clematis seed heads and feathers on a honeysuckle vine base

The wealth of foliage that can be foraged at this time of year means there can be more than the circle variety of door adornment to be created for the home. Rustic table centres, hanging globes and swags can all be created with a little seasonal imagination and inspiration – creating an intrinsic link between the outside and the home.

A large rustic table centre in a recycled window box planter
Window ledge arrangement for inside or out
The mantelpiece looking suitably adorned












All that is left is to wish you a Merry Christmas from us all at Ginger House Garden, may it be filled with abundant joy and peace! X

The Arrival of Autumn

I have a confession to make, depending on your views about magic (I happen to believe wholeheartedly in the “magic” Mary Lennox and Colin Craven discover in The Secret Garden) it will probably shape your reaction to my confession, but nonetheless it could be deemed quite a significant one to some…up until this year I had never read any of the Harry Potter novels!

Now you may be wondering what on earth this uninteresting anecdote has to do with the seasons changing, and quite honestly it has very little, except the following quote quite nicely reflects the sudden arrival of Autumn on our patch. Now it may be widely out of context, but here goes:

‘Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Crisp…golden…apples…imagery which surely points towards Autumn announcing its presence amongst us. A walk down any lane and one can find falling golden leaves and shining conkers starting to drop. Whilst out in the garden the bright pinks and purples, and zesty oranges and limes of Summer’s flowers give way to the deep rich hues of chocolate and auburn shades.

Apples and plums picked and ready to be stored or enjoyed – inheriting a small orchard has been a real blessing! Just waiting for the pears now!

Delightful dahlias are very much the star of the show in the floral world, but I find the atmospheric shift into a calmer, slower season draws one’s attention to the abundance of foliage and foraged finds waiting to be discovered. A hoard of orchard and hedgerow bounty means pies and crumbles galore, with blackberries waiting to stain and prick through the thorny brambles, and apples and plums weighing branches down, tempting the onlooker with jewel like shimmering glimpses.

Back on the Ginger House patch things are moving on apace as we battle to get as much done as possible before the weather truly does turn against us. I am learning the importance of stopping to take stock and appreciate how far we have come and how much we have accomplished in just a few months. The images below demonstrate how much we have achieved – we now have beds with biennial seeds settling in before Winter’s arrival. The constant promise of flowers next year sustains us; hardy annuals have been sown, sweet pea seeds ordered and cuttings taken. The greenhouse is full and it appears one can never have too many seed trays!


Now don’t ever be fooled into thinking growing flowers is all a bed of roses (excuse the pun!) – some days are just plain arghhh! It turns out a bulb planting day is very much one of those days. There is only one word for back breaking trench digging – tough! Through gritted teeth and a whole lot of family teamwork we got there though; digging out and planting up three 1.2m x 6m beds full of narcissi, daffodils, alliums, muscari and other Spring bulbs. Now we just have the tulips to go!

Bed one of three full of narcissi and Spring bulbs – just the tulips to go now!

As the weather changes embrace the season – put your wellingtons on and go and splash in a puddle. Take a woodland walk and collect conkers and golden leaves. Go and pick blackberries, stain your fingers and make a scrumptious crumble or jam. Light a fire and snuggle round with family and friends. Soon we will shut the potting shed up for the Winter and join you!

Rabbit Wars and Making Progress

Summer ebbs and flows in all its glory, the sun shines and the breeze is gentle, the garden sings and dances with colour and harmony – well in theory anyway! It is rather disheartening when you look out in the middle of August and all you see is green upon green with not a hot pink or fire crackle of orange in site. Leaving our flowers behind in Lancashire and inheriting a garden that seems rather reluctant to bare any colour has been demoralising and hard, yet we persevere!

The distinct lack of colour, form, shape and texture forces you to look beyond the surface and search deeper for the natural beauty in the garden. When you do discover something hiding or lurking under an overgrown shrub or rescue a perennial smothered in bindweed, it forces you to stop in your tracks and take note, truly appreciating its wonder – whether it be giant baubles of the purest white agapanthus bobbing in the breeze, a vast spectrum of pink shades in a mound of Japanese anemones, or fiery firework shoots of crocosmia.

Pretty pinks and hot oranges – buttonholes made up of cuttings from the garden
Last bouquet made up of our homegrown Lancashire flowers
First bouquet made up of blooms from our new garden in Northumberland

Declaring war and making beds…

Rule number 1 of being a flower farmer = rabbits are the enemy! We are learning quickly how little creatures you once thought cute and fluffy are now the definitive enemy! Finding your superbly healthy and bushy looking chrysanthemums devoured in one foul swoop, your David Austin Queen of Sweden rose nibbled away at or your dahlias, which you are desperately trying to nurture through the season, demolished overnight is immensely frustrating and disheartening. Hopefully rabbit fencing isn’t too far away! We are getting desperate as our biennial seedlings are begging for room and space out of their pots and in the ground.

There are encouraging developments though on the Ginger House Garden patch as swathes of grass are being strimmed off, to be replaced by flower beds. We are going for the ‘no dig’ method so the first job has been to mark out beds and cover with cardboard and compost to kill off the grass and weeds underneath; it is a slow process but hopefully will repay us in the long run – and save our backs!

Progress = grass cut and beds marked out!
A rather hot couple of days spent creating some rather large compost beds!
The end result of some rather ingenious engineering work

As the season rolls on before us we are  busy planning ahead for 2017 and hopefully some truly British homegrown flowers coming out of the Ginger House Garden patch! One of the biggest challenges has been trying to work out how much to sow; when you have gone from a tiny square raised bed to thinking commercially on over an acre of land, switching your mindset is challenging to say the least – somehow we don’t think five little seedlings of each flower will cut it! But as we place our bulbs orders and start sowing all our hardy annuals there is a sense of expectation in the air, we finally have the opportunity to grow all things we never had the space to grow and the future is getting very exciting as there is the promise of beautiful blooms to be grown, cut and arranged by our own fair hands here in Northumberland – the wonderful place we now call home!

Flower farmers in the making…

So there we are, sat enjoying a rather pleasant pub lunch on holiday in Northumberland (as we have done for over twenty years),  when Dad pipes up with words to the effect of ‘I think I could retire to Northumberland.’ We all laugh it off as one of Dad’s big, extravagant life-changing statements that more often than not bare no fruition. On the walk back from lunch, along the stretch of stunning coastline between Craster and Howick, Steph and me are chattering away, pondering Dad’s words, when she utters a line, the kind of words the speaker utters without thought, but that the listener hears and a chord is struck – ‘Northumberland is kind of our spiritual home’  – bam! That hit me like a punch to the stomach, penetrating deeply and causing me to force the tears to stay at bay. Please excuse the pun but, the seed had been sown! For the next couple of months me and Steph chatted and discussed the various ins and outs of moving before finally declaring our desire to  move to Northumberland. I had become rather stuck in a rut, finishing university and not knowing what the heck to do next, and Steph had become rather disillusioned with work. We saw an opportunity for a new start opening up before us. At this point flower farming was not even on the radar!

Still finding time for beautiful blooms – all these beauties were gathered from our new back garden!

Months passed and thoughts of becoming fully fledged British flower growers grew, we’d always enjoyed growing and arranging British flowers and through research and courses plans started to formulate. We looked at potential houses with no land except small gardens and houses with odd patches of land which would enable us to grow enough to get us started, but ultimately we knew that if we wanted to do ‘it’ properly then we would need a decent amount of land. This was never just about growing pretty flowers but a whole new start for our whole family, so therefore we wanted land to grow fresh vegetables, land to grow the juiciest fruit, land for hens to scratch themselves silly in and maybe an odd bit of land for some livestock (but that last one is totally Dad’s domain – the current fantasy is goats!)

Family bonding – Ginger House Garden style!

None of us imagined it would happen quite this quickly, but sometimes life has other ideas! So here we are, in a gorgeous house surrounded by open countryside and rolling hills. We’ve taken on just over 2 acres – which to us seems ridiculous and we have no idea where to start…other than find a small corner and get stuck in! There are weeds EVERYWHERE – every nook, every cranny is over run; there is waist high grass in the fields and rabbits hopping all over the place! A sane person would run a mile so we definitely must be completely crazy as to us the prospect is thrilling! Even with the silly irrational panic moments that set in (will Amazon be able to find me?! what if the broadband is rubbish?!) we can see the wondrous potential of it all and hopefully this will pull us through and keep us going when inevitably the novelty wears off and the hard work is overwhelming!

Do not get between a man and his weed slasher!!!!

Hopefully this has given you a small insight into how we got here, its not the whole story but hopefully over the coming months, as we share our journey and Ginger House Garden grows in more ways than one, the narrative will unfold…