Summer on our English Flower Farm
Our farm and rose paddock are set within the beautiful green Hampshire countryside, close to the elegant Hinton Ampner house and gardens and not far from both Winchester and Petersfield. Let us take you on a journey behind the scenes to discover what’s been happening on the farm this summer.
Too much of a good thing
Despite careful planning and selective pruning in spring, June’s heatwave, with the highest recorded temperatures in four decades, meant all our English scented roses came on quickly and we had an enormous glut. “Nature always has the upper hand,” says our founder and leading horticulturist Rosebie Morton.
Flowers grown as nature intended
“We don’t try to control the temperature within the roses– we just let nature do its thing,” says Rosebie. Our roses are grown semi-outdoors, in open-sided polytunnels that act as umbrellas rather than providing temperature control. Customers who order our bouquets online or from our London flower shop are looking for real flowers that are grown sustainably and locally, with respect for the environment. “I love the fact that the type of season we’re having shows in the colours of the roses. If the weather has been hot and dry, Margaret Merril is a cool, crisp white but if it has been wet and colder, the blooms have an ivory blush,” says Rosebie.
A tale of two flushes
Roses have two flushes. The second flush of our scented English roses is coming through now and we’re expecting the farm will be in full bloom again in early August. The English rose season then continues right through until the first frost and if we are lucky, we might even get a third flush!
We have several hives on the farm. At the start of spring our bees were struggling for a number of reasons, including an attack of Varroa mite, but now our farm manager Rob is thrilled to see the hives thriving, with a constant soft hum of activity. We’ve planted a hectare of red clover this year and moved some of the hives near it to provide a haven for the bees. It promises to be a good year for honey – which is lucky as Rob loves to add honey to both his tea and coffee!
In our wildest dreams
Caring for the natural world is vitally important to us. We are members of the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group and part of the Countryside Stewardship scheme. This spring saw the arrival of baby hedgehogs or hoglets on the farm, which can thrive here as our strong fencing keeps them away from the roads. Mallard ducks nested in the paddock to hatch their ducklings and our farm chickens also hatched their chicks. We introduced lots of helpful insects, including ladybirds, lacewings and wasps, which all work with nature to encourage our beautiful flower harvest. Right now we have huge numbers of swallows. “Swallows are always the sign of a good season because they show there are lots of the right kinds of insects around,” says Rosebie.
A really good year for English flowers
2017 is set to be an excellent year for English flowers. “The combination of a slow spring followed by a warm spell has given us great growing conditions,” says Rosebie. We’ve had the most glorious wild flowers you can imagine to use in our Margaret Merril and Wildflower and Wild Flower Meadow Bunch bouquets. For our Best of British Bouquet, our florists select the very best scented English roses, wildflowers, foliage and herbs freshly picked from our farm that day. You can stop by our flower shop at 13 Cale Street, London SW3, to enjoy our freshly picked English flowers in the heart of London or call the shop on 020 7349 8638 for same-day London or next-day nationwide delivery.
Photography by Paul Debois