Higgledy Flower School. 2016. #2 Preparing Beds.

Preparing Beds In Your Cut Flower Patch.

...very tidy raised beds looked after by Liz Ackerley...
…very tidy raised beds looked after by Liz Ackerley…

*It’s important not to work your soil too early…generally if it sticks to your tools then it’s too wet. You won’t be wanting to sow anything outside until the middle of April, so stick a fork in the ground in early April and see how easily it breaks up…if it’s all claggy then leave it well alone…you’ll just make a mess and get cross and upset and start throwing things about. The whole process is much more enjoyable when the ground crumbles under your fork like dark chocolate. There’s plenty of time.

*The first thing to consider is the width of your bed…you want to be able to reach the centre of your bed without ever treading on the soil…so I make my beds roughly  three feet wide. Every now and then I made a much bigger bed…and every time I do I come to regret it…I never learn…it’s a nightmare to weed it and I keep stepping on my seedlings (Autumn sown hardy annuals…we’ll be discussing these in a later post.)

Higgledy garden uber beds
Preparing beds in the first Higgledy Garden in Cambridge many years ago…this must have been at the end of the summer…these beds look to be too wide…naughty naughty Mr Higgledy!….keep your beds to three feet wide. Nice straight edges though….extra points for that.

*If you are cutting your beds out of an existing lawn then make the paths the same width as your mower…certainly no smaller. Some folk use chipped bark on top of weed fabric…but it’s not so good, if like me, you like to potter about bare foot in the flower garden during  the summer.

*The way we prep our flower beds at Higgledy is really simple…we just fork them over to the depth of the fork blades (A spit)….no double digging for us. Then we break this soil down to a fine tilth by bashing the clods with the back of a heavy fork and then breaking them down further with a rake.

The Higgledy Seed Shop.

*You will want your patch to have good drainage…so if you have a heavy clay soil you could add a good deal of organic material (3 parts soil to 1 part organic material works well for me) and perhaps some sacks of grit. If you make your own compost try adding a load of torn up  newspaper or straw to it…this will bulk it out and reduce it’s richness which your flowers rarely require. You also may want to consider raised beds. Raised beds make you look professional and people will think you know what you’re doing.

With this patch the ground was so rough and ready and dug the whole lot up and then laid weed fabric down as temporary paths...I will pull up the fabric in April and sow grass seed...but one could leave the fabric...it's a taste thing. Yes...that tilth looks might fine eh! (Trained professional)
With this patch the ground was so rough and ready I dug the whole lot up and then laid weed fabric down as temporary paths…I will pull up the fabric in April and sow grass seed…but one could leave the fabric…it’s a taste thing. Yes…that tilth looks might fine eh! (Trained professional)

*Sun sun sun…generally all of the flowers you will be growing in the cut flower garden like lashings of sun…so don’t put your patch in the shade…at least seven hours of sun in the summer would be a minimum for a bumper crop.

*If possible chose a sheltered spot…flowers don’t get on with gales…but if you haven’t got a sheltered spot, windbreak fabric is inexpensive and will sort your woes. For permanent patches then you should consider planting a hedge around your plot. I’ve always wanting a handsome beech hedge around my plot…one must have dreams. A picket fence will also work well….or move your flower patch into a beautiful walled garden. (Like wot I dun at Port Eliot)

Higgledy Flowers in the walled garden of Port Eliot.
Higgledy Flowers in the walled garden of Port Eliot.

*Keep the edges of your bed, straight and neat, it helps to stop the grass (if you have grass paths) from creeping into your flower space.

*How much bed space you require is impossible to answer…it is dependent on so many variables…if you only have room for a 10ft x 3ft then so be it. I would however suggest you don’t get too carried away…there IS work involved in looking after your beds…if your cut flower patch adventure starts to become a chore, you will lose interest. I have a dozen 3ft x 24 ft beds on my allotment and that’s way more than enough for me…in fact I shall be reducing that next season so I have more time to spend pottering around the shed and more time to flirt with my allotment neighbour.

Books: The Flower Farmer’s Year by Georgie Newbery and The Cut Flower Patch by Louise Curley are both very informative and I suggest trying to get hold of them as inspirational reading for the season ahead.

Tomorrow we will have a look at what flowers we can be growing in our cutting gardens.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy.

PS I have some rather fine Christmas gifts for sale……oh yes yes yes…

If you have any questions then please ask away…you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. Should you wish you can join ‘Club Higgledy’ (see the right hand side bar).

Totally Unrelated Waffle:

I came across this photo of a wonderful looking garden bench I thought you might like. :)







Higgledy Garden Flower School. Year 2016. #1

The Higgledy Flower School Is Run As A Tight Ship.
The Higgledy Flower School Is Run As  A Tight Ship.

The Higgledy Flower School 2016 will rather confusingly start in 2015…tomorrow in fact…I had intended to start my warblings in the new year as I normally do but I’m itching to get started. Seed sales are low at this time of year so I’ve got some time on my paws to get stuck into some writing.

The premise of the flower school is not  a series of modules and tests (shudder) but instead a it will take the form of a collection of articles that will appear daily from Monday to Friday from December until April.

These articles will be made up of ‘How to’ tutorials and also of flower profiles. I stock a selection of close to 100 varieties of cut flower seeds and we shall be taking a look at all these varieties…how best to grow them and to show them.

From April we will get stuck into the practical side of the flower growing caper. This year saw the online Higgledy community grow…and it was nothing short of a joy to see so many folk sharing their photos on Twitter and Facebook. I would like to push this a little more next year and encourage some more guest posts too…I’m not demanding of great prose from anyone or even great spelling for that matter…and grammar is something that I have always felt should be a free style event. Guest posts from domestic growers on their first cut flower patch adventures tend to have a wealth information in them and a wonderful resource for other newbies. Many of the Higgledy community have been growing for decades and know far more on the subject than myself, (being that I am only a slip of a lad and never been kissed)…posts from this end of the knowledge pool will be most helpful too of course.

Noble Furface wearing his combat harness, ever vigilant for Russian horticulturalists.
Noble Furface (Teaching Assistant)

I will be giving regular updates from my allotment (and my bucket garden) of successes and failures. If new growers wish to be taken by the hand through the flower patch year then I would be delighted to be of assistance.

The 2016 Flower School will have more of an emphasis on floristry skills than previous years when I have devoted perhaps too much time to the growing side of things and not enough to the craft of arranging and hand bouquets and hair crowns and all that shizzle. To be honest…I am rubbish at that side of things and so will be begging the likes of Garden Gate Flowers, Common Farm Flowers and the good people of Organic Blooms to share their skills with us.

Once the mad spring rush to get everyone’s seeds shipped out has finished….and my own allotment has been set straight on its trajectory of excellence, it will be time for some travels. I shall be interviewing the good and the great and will be visiting a host of flower farmers and domestic growers down here in the South West in the spring and summer.

Sweet William 'Auricula Eyed' amongst other beauties...these grown by Celia Hart...thx Celia.
Sweet William ‘Auricula Eyed’ amongst other beauties…these grown by Celia Hart…thx Celia.

It will be delightful to have you along for the year as part of the community…Higgledy Flower School is completely free…you don’t have to sign up to anything or give me your email address….just simply tune into the website when you have time and if you have anything to contribute then please post up onto the Higgledy pages on either Twitter or Facebook.

I will of course be doing my best to gently nudge you into buying my flower seeds rather than those from the major seed houses but it is not a prerequisite.

So…sharpen you pencils and polish your shoes…first day of school tomorrow….we shall be looking at the design and preparation of your cut flower beds…don’t be late otherwise there will be detention.

I will aim to have the posts up and live by teatime each day.

If the Higgledy Flower School may be of interest to your chums would you please share by clicking one of the boxes below. Many thanks.

Kindest regards

Benjamin Higgledy.

Higgledy Christmas Gifts.



Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers. Georgie Newbery.


Common FarmGeorgie from Common Farm Flowers has been at it again…author of ‘The Flower Farmer’s Year’ has returned with another belter…this time aimed at those poor, lost souls intent on getting wed. The average cost for wedding flowers runs at between £1500 and £2000. Georgie’s book encourages folk to bring a more personal element to their ‘special day’ (shudder) by growing their own wedding flowers….whilst saving a few bob at the same time.

common Farm 2

Right…first off the bat…this book isn’t aimed at me. I am terrified of brides and point blank refuse to produce flowers for weddings. I’ll do funeral flowers until they’re coming out of my ears…I LOVE a good funeral but weddings…no…not for me thanks. This of course means Georgie’s book comes as a Godsend as I can now simply send wedding punters in its direction via my seedy emporium.

Inside, readers will find information on:


  • Planning, growing, cutting and conditioning your flowers
  • Spring, summer, autumn and winter weddings
  • Flower craft for special occasions, including buttonholes, bouquets, centrepieces, garlands and flower crowns.

Common Farm 3

Georgie’s previous book ‘The Flower Farmer’s Year’, certainly has more information on how to go about the business of growing flowers for cutting. Whereas ‘Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers’ has a good deal carefully set aside to demonstrate how to go about the floristry aspect of the caper.

I have heard on the flowery grapevine that Common Farm Flowers do fifty weddings a year…yes fifty…so I expect she knows what she’s on about. It certainly seems so…and the book is written in Georgie’s clear, concise and witty style which is as informative as it is entertaining.

common Farm 4

Interestingly there is a forward written by a lady called Sarah Raven…I’m sure that you, much like myself aren’t familiar with this name….so…to get you up to speed I did some Googling and discovered that Mrs Raven grows some flowers behind the old closed down Pound Shop on the Littlehampton ringroad.

Should you buy this book? Well of course you should. There are only a handful of books worth buying on the subject of growing and cutting flowers  and this is one of them…AND I get a mention in at as being  the best flower seed provider in the whole wide world…(perhaps not word for word.)

‘Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers’ is out today…you can get yourself a slice of the floral action by clicking over to ‘Green Books’.

Georgie Newbery is a very approachable lady…you can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Kindest regards




‘Seeds To Sow In Early Spring.’ Collection.

NB Until the December 21st this collection will be sent out Christmas wrapped (for no extra charge), it has a 20% discount on the collective price of the seeds and also comes free of shipping costs. The total for the ten packets, sent to your home is £15.60p

I wanted to make a simple collection of seeds that are straight forward to grow by direct sowing in early spring. By early spring I mean the beginning of April in the far south west, mid April for most of the UK and the end of April for those north of the border. Wait until you can see your native weeds start to germinate, this is the best indicator that the soil is warming up.

View ‘Seeds To Sow In Early Spring’ in the seed shop.

If you haven’t sown up a cutting patch before its best to keep things simple. I sow in three straight lines a foot apart. Learn more: Top 10 Tips When Starting A Cutting Patch.

All of the seeds in this collection should be visible in two or three weeks…a month tops, if its a chilly start to the year.


*Salvia ‘Blue Monday’

calendula-flowers1 (1)

*Calendula ‘Art Shades’


*Cornflower ‘Blue Ball’

phacelia-tanacetifolia-heritage-farm (1)


‘Ivory Castle & Orange King’

*California Poppy ‘Ivory Castle’


*Dill ‘Mammoth’


*Borage Officinalis

Corncockles are super easy to grow and are very handsome indeed.


Candytuft 'Crown'

*Candytuft ‘Crown’

briza seeds

*Briza Maxima (This is an ornamental grass that is wonderful for cutting.)

If you have any questions about this collection or just want some flowery banter…then please come and say hello on either Facebook or Twitter.

View ‘Seeds To Sow In Early Spring’ in the seed shop.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy

PS I have two other Christmas wrapped collections:

*’Bee Friendly’

*’Sweet Pea Selection’

Ding Dong!
Ding Dong!

Christmas Wrapped Seed Collections. Free Shipping. 20% Off Collective Price.

Ding Dong!
Ding Dong!

Hello there one and all! Now that the bangs and whistles of Guy Fawkes Night have died off and the dog has finally come out from under the bed, it is  time I start my Christmas promotions. In an ideal world I would leave this until December but the truth of the matter is that being a  small mail order company I just couldn’t get all the Christmas orders sent out in the three weeks of December that I would have available to do so.

This year I am offering three seed collections that are Christmas wrapped (At no extra charge of course). They are wrapped in super eco chic, hand stamped brown paper with accompanying luggage labels…these labels are all the rage in all the right places and any recipient of such a gift would surely love and admire you for at least twelve months.

Fantastic mix of hardy annuals grown by @rosemckerrell of Twitter...all these can be spring sown.
Fantastic mix of hardy annuals grown by @rosemckerrell of Twitter…all these can be spring sown.

*I have reduced the collective price of buying all the seed packets individually by 20%.

*All three seed collections come with free shipping.

*The Higgledy Elves will be adding an extra packet of seeds to every Christmas order.

*As ever, every customer receives a hand written letter.

..OK...it's not the most in depth article...BUT the 'Bee Friendly' collection has been recommended as a Christmas gift by the good folk of Homes & Gardens Magazine.
..OK…it’s not the most in depth article ever written on the subject…BUT the ‘Bee Friendly’ collection has been recommended as a Christmas gift by the good folk of Homes & Gardens Magazine.

The website is full of growing guides and I will be growing all of these seeds from April and demonstrating my silky skills in this regard on the blog both in the written word and with videos…yes indeed….the silver screen beckons for Furface and myself.

Here are links to these delightful collections in the Higgledy Garden Shop:

‘Bee Friendly’ (as recommended in the December issue of Homes & Gardens Magazine…just in case I haven’t mentioned it.)

‘Sweet Pea Collection’

‘Seeds To Sow In Early Spring’

Thank you for tuning in.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy

PS If you have any questions you can find me loitering  on Facebook, Twitter or email me at benranyard@yahoo.ca