October 25, 2010

October Frost and Sun: part 1

We are getting some amazing cold, clear days at the moment which means night frosts which, in turn, usually heralds instant collapse of my dahlias, zinnias, cosmos and other tender beauties. The zinnias are looking fairly terminal but to my surprise the cosmos and some of the dahlias are putting up a brave fight. See here,

and here,

and it appears that the flowers still at semi-bud stage, with no old outside petals  - like these,

are slightly less vulnerable than those older ladies, who crinkle at the edges in the freezing temperatures (just visible at the top edges).

Luckily for me, the half-open stage flowers have a tight, fresh beauty of their own in bouquets and last  longer in the vase than fully open ones. Finding enough undamaged flowers is more challenging now and arrangements are beginning to involve lots of evergreen foliage and hardy grasses and shrub fruits and hips. I do love a bit of foraging though, and am more than happy to tap into my easily-found inner Saxon peasant. Scratched fingers, cold nose and pink cheeks all add to the feeling! The resulting arrangements look natural and rather lovely but I don't yet have the confidence to offer them for sale. Below, are two bouquets I scraped together from some of the last of the garden flowers, more from the hedgerows in a later post.


  1. I tried....and dismally failed....to grow dahlias. They were fine the first year but I foolishly tried to keep them in the ground last winter with all the snow and it completely obliterated them.

    Yours look beautiful.


  2. Dear Belinda, I love the idea of supplementing the few remaining seasonal flowers with all manner of other 'greenery'. I think that you should have the confidence to offer such bouquets for sale since I am quite sure that many people would prefer to have a seasonal collection in all its variety than some stiff, rather gaudy hot house blooms which have probably travelled a million air miles to reach the shop!!

  3. Sarah, I lost nearly all my dahlias last winter too, if the weather is really severe, it is normal, not your fault. I just can't lift them, I don't have enough storage room, and when I have, some of them have rotted anyway. I just treat them as expensive annuals if they die, but this year I'll be piling on inchres if not feet of mulch in a hope to get them through because they are so gorgeous and glam!

    Edith, thank you so much for your encouragement to go where my heart is leading! The whole idea of Wild Acre is to provide local, seasonal, original bouquets, so maybe I should be bolder once the garden fades and raid the hedgerows with confidence! x

  4. They are totally fabulous bouquets AND I should know I am a designer after all. People would be thrilled to buy them truly.

    Thanks for the bulb tip, if only I had some to plant. I will remedy that ASAP. Or as APAS as my life is capale of these days.

    xo Jane

  5. Now I would l buy those flowers, especially the second bunch which to me, is just so naturalistic and gorgeous. Shame you live so far away... though my purse says thank heavens for small mercies!

  6. Jane, that comment has made my day - coming from a pro and all!! BTW I realise I was commenting in full-throttle bossy cow mode about the bulbs - I just know you would be so chuffed in Spring to see all that glamour in your garden!!;)

    Thank you so much, Maggie, I feel very encouraged today!xx

  7. I would definitely buy these bouquets Belinda, I always prefer seasonal arrangements and the use of grasses and rosehips. I'm sure they would do really well in the shop.

    Bit late with this but good luck with your silversmithing - something I've always wanted to try ...

    So glad I stopped by today, your post on 'Jumper weather' is joyful!


  8. They're on my shopping list! Makes me want to plant some dahlias next year. Maybe I will!

  9. Jeanne, thanks for the kind comments about the flowers and earlier post. Have a try at silversmithing - it is a lot harder than it looks but incredibly absorbing and rewarding.

    Hi Webb! Get those dahlias next year - if you like the dark ones, I can vouch for 'Rip City' and 'Chat Noir' for the spikey ones and 'Dark Desire' and'Downham Royal' - all gorgeous in my opinion.x

  10. Your dahlias are really beautiful, and it's so nice to hear that you're getting some sunshine at least.

  11. Lovely dahlias, Belinda! What varieties are the top two crimson ones? Unfortunately I can't get the ones I really love, the huge-headed cactus varieties, to last that well unless you cut them really short - lovely in a table arrangement but no good for bouquets. Jan

  12. Hi Jan, thanks for visiting! The top dahlia is 'chat noir' still at bud stage, and the one below is 'Sam Hopkins'. Both do pretty well in the vase - about 5 or 6 days if picked when the petals are still young and slightly reflexed at the centre. They were reliable survivors and I used them loads - photos of some of the bouquets are on the blog. They are beautifully dark (as in header shot) but the light drained the colour a bit in these photos. I also grew the fabulously shaggy cactus dahlia 'Rip City' but couldn't get more that 3 or 4 days from them sadly. All from Sarah Raven - not cheap but really chunky. Haven't lifted, just mulched - eeek, hope they survive!!