Hello dahlialings!

Hello dahlialings!

Can you believe it? It seems like only yesterday that our gardens were graced with the divine floral being that is the peony, and now, in the blink of a robin’s eye, were already in dahlia season.  There’s something going on the space time continuum, again.

All you crazy people suffering from dahlia mania will recognise the season’s symptoms – comparing the size of your flower heads with the neighbours, spending hours looking at the catalogues obsessing over what forms to grow next year (water lily, peony, orchid, chrysanthemum, anemone, decorative, cactus, semi-cactus, pompon etc.etc.) and in what colours, debating whether you can increase your bank loan to pay for them and mulling over that old perennial teaser, to lift or not to lift? You know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t just head over to the National Dahlia Society ?

Cactus dahlia in Brent Mencap garden

Of course, it’s been another month full of excitement and drama in the magical world of Flower Friends!

Whilst visiting the Hampton Court Flower Show we hatched a plot to take over a new cut flower space in Chiswick, in partnership with Flowers from the Farm growers Bryarrose and Ecoblooms, hopefully supported by volunteers from Strength and Stem and Capel Manor horticultural students (they don’t know this yet:)))

We recruited and have begun training new volunteers from across NW, in Cricklewood, Kilburn, Mapesbury and Queens Park. A warm welcome to the lovely Amanda, Clare, Cynthia, Helen and Jeanne-Lyse and thank you to NW London Women’s Institute for your interest – we look forward to working with you next spring!

We held a demo on making flower buttonholes (just for fun!) at a health and wellbeing session at Lonsdale Medical Centre, Queens Park.  What a blast and such talented participants, including senior partner Dr Simon Read, who won my ‘note to self’ prize for best man flowers. ?

Buttonholes made by participants in Lonsdale Road Medical Centre health and wellbeing session

We’ve been developing our partnership with Salusbury School Greenspace, with the possibility of starting a Flower Friends Floral Craft after school club next term. Exciting but scary!

With much sadness we said au voir to KTs Care Angels and have begun searching for new partners through which to give our flowers, including a local women’s refuge, care home and hospice. Thank you to the lovely Inez at KTs. It was a pleasurel to work with you!  

And how, I hear you ask, with all this going on, have we had time to grow, cut, and deliver cosmos, amaranthus, peony, fern, jasmine, spiraea, fennel, tanacetum, smoke bush, beech, buddleja, yarrow, verbena, roses, hydrangea, clematis, salvia, pittosporum, privet, geranium, echinops, abutilon, veronica, poppy, lavender, briza, daucus, sweet pea, marigold, mint, heuchera, bay, persicaria, eucalyptus, lavatera, nigella, euonymus, cornflowers  etc.etc. and those delectable dahlias to the isolated, disabled and vulnerable in our communities?  

With the love and dedication of our wonderful volunteers, of course. So all you gardeners, flower arrangers and drivers, come join us! We can’t do this without you.  

Sleeping with the flowers
Painted lady butterfly on verbena in Harlesden Town Garden

On a personal note, I’ve spent my ‘me time’ sleeping with the flowers, nurturing the fast growing numbers of stow away spiders now guarding every room in my flat, getting caught up in more drama on the 266 on the way home from Harlesden Town Garden  (involving a wrong turn down Church Road on market day, followed by a sharpish 360 degrees reverse turn and a near punch-up between a passenger and a bus staff!!) and more mindfully, roaming the Chiltern hills, guided by the excellent wild flower expert Charlie Jackson (thank you Charlie!) to search for the beautiful rare helleborines and gentians that grace its gentle slopes.

Chiltern gentian

And if that wasn’t thrilling enough, I got my monthly soul fix at the launch of the Brent Mencap  exhibition at the Kiln Theatre, which featured fabulous works by the talented members of the art group, inspired by flowers in the garden, naturally.

Flower inspired tiles exhibited by Brent Mencap art group

I leave you with a little verse I (hugely) paraphrased from the song ‘Flowers’ by Raye (apologies Raye).

Can’t get flowers for myself,

so I love when I get them from you,

as flowers always work on me,
and all these flowers that you bring,
you’d better believe that

I care if they’re in or out of season,
although there is never any reason

for you not to try to win my heart with flowers.

 My search for flower poetry continues….

Amaranths in the Mencap garden wall bed