Author: Caroline Oden

A flowery school fete


Last weekend I had a lot of fun transforming a practice polo horse into a welcoming flowery installation for our wild west themed school fete.






Hello Summer 2017 – you are a scorcher so far!


Well I think it is fair to say that I’m fairly dreadful at keeping a blog up to date!

The coming weeks are going to be fairly hectic, with flowery horses at school fetes, the Hampton Court Flower Show, lots of bunches of flowers going out, along with buckets of event flowers. This is all keeping me very busy – and I love it!

I am still taking orders for bunches of flowers to be delivered locally. These can be bought through this website or by emailing me at

Right now I’m going to brave the 30 degree heat and get planting more cosmos. I’m not looking forward to it much!

A busy summer!


I knew that I was long overdue a website update, but am horrified to realise that it has been over 2 months since I have written anything on here! And there has been so much to write! I have been very busy all summer with lots of floweriness, not to mention keeping my 3 children entertained throughout the summer holidays.

The Hampton Court Flower Show

In early July, I was lucky enough to be part of the Flowers from the Farm stand at the Hampton Court Flower Show. It was my first time at the show, and I had such a great time. I got there a bit early and was delighted to be able to walk around and look at all the show gardens before the doors were opened to the general public. It was such a privilege, with the highlight being able to walk through the “Border Control” garden all alone. It was very moving, and certainly deserved the “Best Conceptual Garden” award.

Jay Archer put together a wonderful stand that was created entirely using British flowers grown by Flowers from the Farm members, and she was rewarded for her efforts with a Silver award. Well done team!


Buttonholes on the day
Buttonholes on the day
Summer holidays

Shortly after the Hampton Court Flower Show, my children started their summer holidays, so I had lots of fun putting together bunches of flowers for their teachers.

Teacher gifts
Teacher gifts

One of the lovely activities that I did with the girls over the summer holidays, was to take a children’s floristry course with Jay Archer. As you can see from the smiling faces, we all had a really nice day out. I was surprised to find that I really liked helichrysums, so they have now been put on the ‘most wanted’ list for 2017. An added bonus is that they last for ages in the vase!



Preparing for next year

Now, the summer has come to an end, so it is time to start preparing for next year. I am mourning the loss of the long days and lovely warm weather, but I’m also getting excited about next spring already! I am harvesting some seeds from plants that I have grown this year and am very taken with these Scabious Stellata Ping-Pong seeds. They are so beautiful!

Scabious stellata seeds
Scabious stellata seeds

I have started sowing hardy annual seeds in order to get some early flowers next year. I have never been especially lucky with overwintering seedlings before, but I am feeling confident that with the addition of a greenhouse to my garden (next week hopefully), I will keep some of the seedlings away from slugs.

The excitement of germination!
The excitement of germination!

My biennials are already in the ground and I have a few different types of foxgloves growing for next year, so all going well, I will have masses of white, pink & apricot foxgloves from May onwards.

Biennial bed
Biennial bed

And finally, my bulbs have arrived. I may have over-ordered…..

LOTS of bulbs!
LOTS of bulbs!

I am really not looking forward to planting out this lot! I hope everybody likes daffodils and tulips!!






A bit of sunshine

British Flowers

Well happily, the sun has started to shine in Buckinghamshire, and all the flowers have responded by bursting forth!

Some more dahlias have emerged over the last few days. Only one or 2 here and there, but they are absolute beauties and a really encouraging sign of what is to come later in the season. Last year the flower that I fell utterly in love with was the Dahlia Cafe au Lait. I had one in a large pot outside my back door and swooned every time I looked at it. It flowered from early July right through to the first snow in November. I thought that nothing could surpass that beauty….but something has. This year I bought a few Dahlia Labyrinth tubers, and the first flower has just come through. I wish I had bought more. This flower is magnificent! Feast your eyes!

Dahlia Labyrinth - up close
Dahlia Labyrinth – up close

This morning I dropped in a large bunch of flowers to the pre-school my youngest daughter goes to as they have a weekly delivery every Monday morning. I collected the bunch from last week and here it is one week on.

Large bunch - one week later
Large bunch – one week later

I must admit that I snipped off some campanula and foxglove flowers that were going a bit brown, and took the petals off the knautia so the round seed heads are exposed, but have done nothing else at all. I’m so pleased with how it looks after a whole week without a water change. Which has lead me to wonder how much changing the water has an effect on the longevity of the flowers. I never change the water at home (bold!), but I do top it up as some flowers can be really thirsty. This week I am going to put together 2 identical small bunches of flowers and keep them in the same place, change the water in one every second day, but do nothing with the other. It will be interesting to see the difference in the length of time the flowers stay looking good.


Slug invasion


This week I have been up to the plot most evenings trying to stop the slugs and snails from devastating all of my plants.  They are finding the dahlias ridiculously tasty and 1 poor plant had more than 20 slugs feasting on it on Wednesday night.

It has been pretty disheartening to see the damage they have done, but I’m hoping that with all this rain and warm weather, the plants will put on so much growth that they will overcome the slime attack.

On a happier note, the first dahlias have started blooming and I was able to pick a gorgeous Eveline to put in one of the little bunches of flowers that I prepared for the fete at my children’s school yesterday.





First deliveries!


The last couple of days have passed by with most of by brain space taken up by flower combinations, picking timetables and delivery routes. Yesterday I was up early picking flowers, and I stayed up until midnight putting together bunches of flowers for my Friday deliveries.  I feel very lucky to have been kept so busy my first week selling, and would like to say a bit THANK YOU to my lovely customers!

First Friday deliveries

British flowers week, website launch and sowing biennials

British FlowersUncategorized

Welcome to British Flowers Week! New Covent Garden Flower Market started British Flowers Week 3 years ago in an effort to raise awareness about the wonderful flowers that are grown right here in the UK. There are events taking place all over the UK and to see what’s on near you, have a look at their website. I’m going to go the Green & Gorgeous open day in Oxfordshire tomorrow and am eager to see how such a large flower farm works. On that topic, last Saturday I spent a very flowery morning with Claire Brown from PlantPassion on her farm near Guildford. It was great seeing how her farm has developed after 4 years of growing there, and how many different varieties of flowers she has in bloom this time of the year. We had lots of fun arranging freshly picked flowers from her farm, and I came away with some great tips on both flower arranging and growing. Hopefully I will avoid bud drop on my sweet peas as a result! She also kicked me into biennial sowing mode. I had done a few trays of foxgloves, but that was it. So today I got busy sowing sweet williams, icelandic poppies, aquilegia, more foxgloves and some anthriscus ravenswing. I also did a few trays of craspedia and ping pong scabious for a wedding in October, along with more ammi majus, because I don’t think I can ever have enough of that! I usually use New Horizon peat free compost, but had run out, so I picked up some Sylvagrow compost from Wisley on the way home from Claire’s. It is lovely stuff and it will be really interesting to see if there is much difference between how the New Horizon foxgloves and Sylvagrow foxgloves progress.

Finally, I have officially started taking orders online this week and am delighted to have had a few orders for delivery placed already. Thank you Vicky & Helen! I decided to launch during British Flowers Week and have put flowers and business cards in various businesses locally.  If you are around Holmer Green and surrounding areas this week, keep your eyes open for lonely bouquets, as I will be leaving small bunches of flowers around for people to find and take home.



Chelsea Fringe Henley flower market


Yesterday I had a lovely day at Chelsea Fringe flower market, which was run in association with Greenshoots and the Henley Allotment Association.

Jane and Victoria both do a wonderful job raising the profile of the Chelsea Fringe in Henley and organised the cut flower section of this market. Chelsea Fringe runs until the 12th of June and has lots of garden-related events worldwide –

I packed my car to the gills with flowers and plants, and set off to Henley first thing on Saturday morning.


Jane and I were positioned beside each other, and our tables complemented each other well. Both showed very different styles of British flowers. Jane had some beautiful, pink, blowsy peonies that caught the eye of everybody passing by. She also had irises, alchemilla mollis, viburnum opulus and achillea and was putting together wonderful, structured bouquets to order.  She sold out of the peonies within an hour!

My bunches of flowers had an artisan, wildflower slant and they went down very well with visitors to the market. It was wonderful to meet so many people who appreciate this style of flower arranging and I loved seeing how much joy they brought to people. Cow parsley is such a beautiful plant to give flower arrangements a frothy, light touch. When the cow parsley is finished I will start using the ammi majus that I have planted in the allotment to take its place.


I sold all the potted dahlias, most of my plants and came home with only 3 bunches of flowers. All in all, it was a successful and enjoyable day with the bonus that one of the leftover bunches of flowers is now placed in my bedroom and brings a smile to my face whenever I see it. Even at 4am this morning when my 2 year old daughter decided that it was time to start the day.  I have a feeling that today will be a bit less productive than yesterday!


Chelsea Fringe Flower Market & website construction

British Flowers

Well this week has been all about getting The Hidden Gate Blooms website up and running (currently still very much under construction!) and getting ready for the British Flowers market that is being held in Henley tomorrow as part of the Chelsea Fringe festival.

I will be selling lots of plants and a few beautiful bouquets – some with a British wildflowers twist. I will post some pictures tomorrow morning when it all comes together. It has been great to have the market as a focus to organise all of my plants. I have way more dahlias than I have space for in my allotment & garden, so it has been good to sort through them all and work out which ones I can part with. The dahlias that I will be selling tomorrow are ‘Cafe au Lait’, ‘Fleurel’, ‘Myrtle’s Folly’, ‘Eveline’, ‘Wine Eyed Jill’, ‘Gerrie Hoek’, ‘Peaches’, ‘Preference’ and ‘Blue Bayou’ all in 2-3 litre pots for £4.50 each. I also have some lavender, nicotiana sylvestris, achillea & snapdragons and am hoping to go home with just empty crates. Although if any of the other sellers there have anything interesting I’m sure I could be convinced to take a couple more plants home with me!

All the plants in the allotment are really starting to come on, and I think I will start cutting sweet peas in the next couple of weeks, which will be lovely. I hope to start selling posies online before the end of June, so watch this space!