Danish Trolleys – I think we’re gonna need some

I’ve been wondering how on earth I am going to to get my cosmos plants to Hampton Court, and have been constantly thinking I may need some of these Danish (I’ve seen some call them Dutch) plant trolleys.

As mine will be in big terracotta pits there won’t be need for shelving, but I think using them and tying them into a van would stop them being slung all over the place.

So I bit the bullet and have just bought 6 second hand ones that will hopefully make their way to me from Scotland. 🤞🏻🤞🏻

When to sow my cosmos?

I often get asked when should I sow my cosmos, as come the new year everyone is of course keen to get sowing things as they want to look forward to doing something garden related.

The following is just my experience – this isn’t to say that this is the only right view. As has been often said, ‘there is more than one way to skin a cat’. Weird saying – but you get the gist.

Firstly when you see someone sowing something remember it isn’t a race. Just because they are sowing doesn’t mean you should be – there can be many variables. Maybe they are in a different part of the country or globe. Remember, your seed packet has guidance on sowing times – but even then there are things to consider.

Lets to a random pack of Cosmos (pictured above). It says sow indoors from Feb. OK – yes I could absolutely do that. But my understand is that sowing dates can be based on the most favourable location. So I have to think – if I sow at the start of February, and I can have a frost at the start of May (it happens for us) do I have the capability of keeping lots of cosmos alive in pots and frost free under cover, and do I actually want to?

Well yes – I do have the capability – I have a polytunnel – so thats another thing to consider. Not every scenario is equal. You may see some people sowing as they have heated propagation beds and polytunnel. If you just have a windowsill maybe you aren’t comparing like with like, so in that case, don’t feel obliged to sow when others do.

And then I think my next point would be the extra effort. If you can time your sowing so that just about the time you would need to be potting on the plants can go outside, then maybe thats a good time for YOU to sow. Work backwards from that. You will know your own plot better than anyone, but even then you can get surprised. I’ve lost over 100 cosmos plants before to a May frost – but the plants had to go out as they had been sowed that early they were suffering in their pots.

So yes you can sow early. But it can be extra work keeping your plants alive. Don’t always follow what others are doing unless you think you have the same growing resources. Also consider if you live in a similar location in terms of the weather. South West will be different from North East for eg. And when you get the itch to sow but you kind of think it might be a bit early in terms of it being cold and not enough light, just tell yourself wait… wait… wait… as patience can often be the best course of action.

Plant labels from 70 year old tiles off the house

You will remember the article about my flowers led to the daughter of the family who had our house built getting in touch, and that we learned her mum loved growing Cosmos here.

Fast forward to me hopefully going to Hampton Court, with half an eye on looking at issue with regards sustainability in gardening, as well as obviously growing some nice cosmos, and my mind turned to what would I use as labels for the plants

When we had a new roof we kept all the tiles. Some were sold, some used for other projects and the remainder used as the base for a few paths, with some left near the one for wildlife to take over.

As I want to use terracotta pots for my cosmos, ideally I’d also like plant labels that at least look similar in appearance, so after some work with a diamond cutting blade, I think they could really be a possibility.

Old rosemary tiles
Cutting into plant labels
Possible labels marked for drilling

197 days to go….

OK, I know it seems ages to go but when you haven’t done it before the phrase ‘you don’t know what you don’t know ‘ is pretty accurate. There will just be some things I don’t know I need to plan or even think about.

So where am I? Well the acceptance went it – so I’m kind of assuming I have secured my little area in the Floral Marquee. Then we managed to rectify the link that let me provide my BACS details. I’ve made my introduction to the team who build the staging – as I know I have so so many questions as to what they do and what I’m expected to do.

Other things I’ve been cracking on with is ordering things that I know I will need as some things have quite long lead times. I want to exhibit using Yorkshire pots – they are based around an hour away and their pots really are built to last. In terms of trying to be more sustainable I have always thought the move away from a throw away society is one of the biggest things we can do. So yes, while I know terracotta has a bigger impact in terms of CO2 when you think of its production, I think the fact that the product I will use will be around for years and years to come and not be thrown away is the right choice for me. More on the cost and what they look like closer to the time.

Then I’ve been considering what I want to sell along with my exhibit. I am minded to not sell plants, as I think it may just be a step too far for a first time exhibitor, but we will see. I do want to sell some seeds from the national collection, so know I need to get the text on the seed envelope approved by the RHS. One thing that maybe could be done sooner rather than later, as I can crack with that while things are less hectic.

Then I’ve put an order in for some tote bags with an image of one of my favourite cosmos. Don’t ask how much they have cost 😱.. needless to say I may need to sell more than a few. Limited run of 100 – so you could say they are a collectors item.

I look at the wonderful displays such as this one I photographed this year and still have so many thoughts about what I could or should do next year.

I’m sure there is plenty of time to make my choices… and that’s not even thinking about the work that will need to go into growing some amazing cosmos. I better crack on.

Acceptance of Site contract in

Not sure why I took this photo last year. I must have had it in the back of my mind that I might just throw my hat into the ring and see if my rabble army of cosmos might possibly be worthy of a coming to the show.

I have always said that the place I love to be at a flower show is the Floral Marquee just open mouthed at some of the amazing plants and people who grow them. Still totally amazed that someone like me has been accepted to show some of the Cosmos I will grow. But as of yesterday I have submitted my acceptance of contract and have accepted my little display area.

So many other things to start thinking of even if the show still seems an age away. All very exciting!

202 days to go until build time at RHS Hampton Court

I think I’ve gone on record before saying that showing flowers really wasn’t my think. For me it was all about the pure joy of growing them. If other people liked them – that was lovely, but if they didn’t, not to worry, as we don’t all have to like the same thing.

Then all of a sudden I start a couple of national collections of plants I have a soft spot for (Alceas and Cosmos) and then have the cheek to apply to the worlds biggest flower show. Surely an amateur newcomer such as me has no place there.

Well, it appears that I better get my skates on, as today I received the paper work to say I am exhibiting some of my cosmos (which will currently just be little seeds in my individual tins).

Hugely exciting; loads of work to do; lots of things I have no idea how I will sort out, but I think one of the most important things is that write about the journey that will take me from now until then – so the next 200 plus days.

This will involve what I am doing, what its costing, how I am trying to be sustainable, knowing that not everything will be, but being prepared to be honest about that so that maybe all of us gardeners can improve. It will also maybe try to inspire a little bit, as a success for me won’t be any sort of medal (wonderful as that would be) but would be for others to embrace trying to be a tad more suitable, to think, maybe they could have a go, and to maybe think about taking on a national plant collection.

Raised bed area nearly half finished

Tomorrow the last delivery of 3.5 tonnes of limestone will be delivered before I start what seemed like an endless task of shovelling and barrowing

My way of working involves filling each of the five barrows, and then barrowing and emptying each one and then repeat.

In my head I’ve split it into five sections – so the first two were finished, had a whacked plate on them and then raised beds put in place

After tomorrow that will be 17.5 tonnes delivered and shifted (which may be done over the weekend) and then the remaining beds go on place.

Then it will be just a case of filling the beds with some growing medium and a top covering of pea gravel. Thankfully this is a once in a lifetime job, which I will be pleased to see finished.

Visit to RHS HQ

Friday had me off to London for a trip to RHS HQ at Vincent Square. Had a fascinating chat with a few people which I can’t say too much about, but really got me thinking about various things in terms of what a charity representing gardening and gardeners could achieve in the months and years ahead.

Then of course it really shouldn’t be too long before I hear if my cosmos may be heading to Hampton court in 2022.