Tag Archives: Port Eliot Festival

Penny’s gardening blog….

Hello Everyone

Oops, it’s been over a month since I wrote my last blog so I apologize for this lapse and all I can say is that I have been far too busy working and also having a jolly good time too. So before I launch into gardening tips, photos etc, a little bit about ….

My jolly good time

I went to the most amazing festival, just inside Cornwall called The Port Eliot Festival or the Lit fest. It is held on the most beautiful estate and has a rare mix of literary guests, fashion designers, brilliant bands and DJ’s, fantastic food, drinks, a flower show and lots, lots more.  Take a look at the gallery of photos on their website : http://www.porteliotfestival.com/

The highlights for me were:

  • Coming across an acoustic band of young men called Maia the Band performing along the estuary skirting the estate, http://www.youtube.com/user/maiatheband
  • Watching another quite new band called Toy – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcQ2nXDvWDY  who were amazing and am sure are going to be really big
  • Meeting a charming man with a v, v, gsoh from Ottery st Mary, called Sebastian, who took me on a midnight walk and showed me the maze on the estate. Unfortunately I lost him on the dance floor later on (or maybe he suddenly got the fear and did a runner, poor thing!!). Anyway, whatever hey! So thank you Sebastian from Ottery, your tour has made me think about mazes in a completely new light and maybe sometime I will write a blog dedicated to them alone. So much fun has been had. Now back to work….

Cut Flowers


Monarch mixed cut flowers (in our Riverford Boxes to Grow) 

As you know I am an organic flower grower (as well as a gardener, a gardening blogger and a Riverford  Farm Tour guide). The terrible weather we have had this season has made life very difficult for anyone attempting to grow anything. I can’t remember worse conditions for all the years I have been a grower.

Over the last couple of months my flowers have finally started producing beautiful blooms which need regular cutting, conditioning, bunching and delivering to Riverford’s Field Kitchen restaurant, Riverford Farm Shop and to various parties and weddings that have booked me. So, my life is quite hectic as you can imagine.


 Snapdragon, Antirrhinum ‘bizarre hybrid’ –

this variety has unusual speckled markings on the blooms

Tips on cropping your flowers from your cutting garden

Some of you have had our cutting garden ‘grow your own’ kit this year so here are some tips on cropping your flowers and how to care for them:-

Cutting your flowers:-

  • It is best to crop your flowers either first thing in the morning, before it gets too hot, or later in the evening when its cooling down. If you cut them in the midday sun they will wilt before you get a chance to put them in water.
  • Always cut your flowers at an angle, allowing a bigger surface area to take up water. The first flowers such as Cosmos, Rudbeckia or sundflowers for instance, may be fairly short. Cut the central flower to some lower side shoot. These will lengthen and so your next stems should be longer.
  • Put them in a bucket of water in the shade and give them a drink.
  • Some flowers will wilt unless you condition them.  Euphorbias are a classic example. The milky sap that is produced when you cut them blocks the stems and stops the water from being taken up. It is also highly allergic. The answer is to sear the stem ends in hot boiled water for twenty seconds, then refresh them in cold water again. This method is useful and worth a try with any wilting flowers.
  • All the leaves that are going to be below the water line of your vase must be stripped off. If you don’t do this the leaves start to rot in the water, the water becomes rather a smelly bacterial soup and will shorten the life of your flowers.
  • Refreshing the water every day or two will also help you get a longer life out of your flowers.
  • Regular picking is essential if you want your flowers to carry on producing. If you leave them to go to seed the plant will think that this is what you want and put all its energy into producing seeds rather than flowers.



A few gardening tips:-

  • Dead head flowering plants such as Dahlias and Cosmos to encourage more flower production.
  • Cut back any perennials and annuals that are over and looking messy, being mindful about leaving those seed heads that are strong enough to withstand the wet rain and wind. These can look fabulous in winter when Jack Frost visits and covers them in a layer of sparkly, diamonté like crystals.
  • Feed any container grown plants. I have a patio full of pots, tanks and old metal baths. I plant these up in May with pelargoniums, scented geraniums, morning glory, salvia and all sorts. Any thing grown in pots will need a good feed every couple of weeks to keep them healthy and looking good through out the season.

In the next few weeks I will be writing about –

Riverford Farm Tours – I will show you in photo form some of our hot house crops growing in our relatively new 3 acre polytunnel.  With the kind permission of his mum and dad, here is a picture of one of my recent Riverford Farm Tour customers, Benji:


Benji was clearly not that interested in the statistics I was giving them on the tomato crops and yields etc and was just champing at the bit to get back to the tractor, which is so obviously his passion at the mo. I love the fact that he really does look like a proper grumpy Devon farmer who is really hacked off with the awful weather we’ve been subjected to this season.

I’ll also be writing about the Herb Garden in front of the Riverford Field Kitchen which I designed and planted up over seven years ago. It’s worth a whole blog on it’s own too.


Riverford Field Kitchen herb garden

I also have more stunning photos of plants and planting combinations in my own garden and some gardens I tend and look after, to share with you and inspire you.  Here’s are a couple of pics below, keep following my blogs for more.

Late summer flowering plants:-


In the foreground we have Rudbeckia goldsturm, crocosmia in the

middle and cotinus in the background


Photo Verbena bonariensis with Stipa gigantea behind