I am a selfish Flower Farmer. I only grow what I love. There, I said it.
When I started growing, I read Georgie Newbury's book, 'The Flower Farmer's Year' , she advised only to grow what you love. And she is so right, I just don't give the same attention to the flowers I don't love(*1). But Ranunculus, oh I adore them! They take quite a bit of effort and attention(*2) but absolutely worth the work.
Each year we supplement our own stock of corms with new varieties. They are all started the same way regardless. From September onwards, we soak them overnight in warm water. In a few hours they turn from shrivelled little corms into plump bunches of potential! They are then 'pre-sprouted', planted inside, quite tightly, into trays of compost or vermiculite. Within a fortnight they will have grown long roots, started sprouting and ready to plant out.
Some are planted in the polytunnel to provide the earliest flowers, protected from the worst of the winter and given warm conditions to thrive on.
Outside corms are planted into prepared beds under mesh tunnels. They have a little thermal protection but we still have to lay fleece over the plants on frosty
The fabric tunnels stop snow and heavy rain damaging the stems and birds such as pigeons and pheasants eating the lush early growth.
Once the plants have bulked up, we start feeding with a seaweed tonic as they begin to flower. The flowers start short and stout but stems lengthen off over the next few weeks.
Ranunculus are one of the best flowers for vase life and if cut at 'marshmallow' stage (slightly open, soft buds) then they will continue to open and bloom for 10 days or more.
The Florists love our varieties - we grow flowers that they just can't get from the wholesaler, imported from Holland or all over the world.
Further, I know from experience, how strong and healthy our stems are. Ranunculus are one of the jewels in our flowering crown of the year.
We successionally plant out from October throughout the Winter and enjoy flowers from March until the beginning of June.
We used our final Ranunculus this year in the Flower Crown Class we held at Kettle's Yard, the Saturday just gone(*3).
As well as being a selfish Flower Farmer, I am also greedy for the next beauty. Over the next few weeks as we begin to clear away and store the spent Ranunculus Corms, we turn our attentions to summer floral jewels, amongst many, our English Roses. Swoon.
If you'd like to learn how to grow Ranunculus, join us on our 'Grow Your Own Cut Flower Course' on Tuesday 8th October 2019 where you will prepare and plant your own corms from our stock, and take home, as part of the day. Or book on to the whole course, 5 day classes over the year.
* 1. The list includes - Cleome, a lot of Scabious, Alliums and Peonies! Alex loves Peonies though, so we are investing this year in plants. Perhaps the love will grow.
* 2. Ranunculus, like most plants we grow are high maintenance and short lived flowers. It is the opposite type of planting that clients will request from me for a 'Year round interest border design' as a plantswoman and garden designer.