Secrets of a perfect pickery.


Armfuls of flowers, at your whim, to do with as you please….to scent your home (including your bedroom, and your loo) and enough left over with which to play lady bountiful…that’s one of the reasons I got into gardening.

I’ve been growing flowers for cutting since I began this whole gardening malarkey…making my way through trial and error. It’s not a difficult thing to do, but there are ways and means in which you can maximise your yield (and therefore your joy), and so when Georgie Newbery (above, in linen apron) of Common Farm Flowers told me she was holding a course on cut flowers for town gardens, just down the road from me, I jumped at the chance to get the lowdown from an expert.

Many of you will know that Georgie creates wonderful, uniquely special posies, bouquets and occasion flowers from her cutting garden in Somerset. Her arrangements are not only beautiful, but seasonal and chic.


Here’s a very bad picture of what she brought to the workshop, (held back in March when it felt like there was nothing lovely to be picked, let alone tied up and plonked in a vase. You can see more examples here.

And (get ready for hearts to THUMP) Georgie is going to make up a posy for one very lucky reader – see below for details!

But back to the workshop: I got so much more than I ever dreamed.


Georgie is one of these people who (correctly) believe that the more you give, the more you get in this world. There’s no scientific way of explaining it, because we’re talking about feel-good factor here…simple, honest generation of good-will. You’d think a fully comprehensive day learning about how to grow your own flowers for cutting at home might be the one course a flower farmer would think twice about giving…Not so – in fact the opposite is true…and Georgie knows this.

Within moments of sitting down, not only did I have a mouth crammed with delicious home-made cookie love, (see above) but a ream of paper, listing all of Georgie’s best tips…all the little things she’s learned in her experience of working with cut flowers at Common Farm. New information, stuff I’d never heard before started pouring out of her. She gave us a recipe for the perfect posy, very cleverly, in terms of shape and texture, and therefore what to plant in our patch in order to create that, ultimate mix. She told us her secret potting mix (and I mean she showed us exactly what was in it). She imparted two or three great recipes for home-made fertilisers, courtesy of the very brilliant Sara Venn, who teaches courses at Common Farm on composting, amongst other things).


She also told us her particular method for sowing seeds….“SOW THINLY, DARLINGS”…this was a revelation to me, (a person who assumes that half of what I do will come to naught, and therefore always sows far more than I need.) After Georgie’s course, I have come away with an entire cutting patch in one seed tray. She only let me sow five (yes, FIVE) cosmos, five sweet peas, four cerinthe, five molucella and the merest suggestion of a pinch of nicotiana (I’m sure she would have preferred me to tweeze each one of those out of the packet individually, had we had the time, or the eyesight for it). Apart from being obviously money-savey and un-wasteful, this method struck me as being just so fantastically, epically OPTIMISTIC….just to assume that every seed is going to come up. I love it, and will never go back to sowing extra ‘just in case’… unless of course I WANT a jungle.

I scribbled away frantically, asked far too many questions, stuffed myself with a delectable, home-made lunch (even the butter was churned at the farm next door to Georgie’s house) and came away with a head full of dreams and a joyful heart.


Georgie’s courses are here. Be really, really quick booking them, because they fill up FAST.

These few precious seedlings will be planted in my patch, along with the ammi majus and a few other annuals I sowed in the autumn. ‘Excited’ does not *quite* cover it. I’ll keep you up-dated.

To get that gorgeous posy,

….which will not only gladden your heart, but open your mind, simply leave a comment below, and subscribe, if you haven’t already, to my mailing list in the bright pink box below, and then go over here to subscribe to Georgie’s too. This is our way of keeping you up to date on flowery things…Don’t worry we won’t bombard you with stuff and we will NEVER share your details with anyone… not ever.

The winner will be announced in a couple of weeks…good luck!

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  1. Clare
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Hi Laetitia, your posts always cheer me up and renew my enthusiasm for gardening (mind you what a miserable winter!)… and now I’ve found Common Farm flowers too – double the pleasure!

  2. Posted April 11, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    THank you Clare…I think we all need a bit of cheering up don’t we! So glad you’ve found Common Farm. They are just marvellous x

  3. Posted April 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    This sounds like such a lovely way to spend a day, and I adore the optimism of believing that every seed is going to come up, especially after thinning and potting around 35 nicotiana seedlings and leaving the other half to grow wild in the seed tray (I had NO IDEA they were so excitable.)

    Growing a cutting patch is my project in the garden. While my husband busies himself with boring stuff like food and landscaping, I obsess of my trays of sad looking little seedlings, disbelieving that they will ever survive, let alone flower.

  4. Anna
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Sounds (and looks!) very inspiring! Thanks for sharing! Gardeners always seem to be great foodies too!

  5. carol
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Gardening in London has its challenges – last year the slugs, squirrels and foxes ( knocked over my mini greenhouse !) nearly killed all my fledgling plants – I too am an optomist but we need just a couple of extras just in case !

  6. carol
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Gardening in London has its challenges – last year the slugs, squirrels and foxes ( knocked over my mini greenhouse !) nearly killed all my fledgling plants – I too am an optomist but we need just a couple of extras just in case !

  7. Posted April 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m a heavy sower as well so will try this way, and keep my fingers crossed. And I’d love to be in the draw for a beautiful posy. And some sun, please. x

  8. Posted April 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    My daughter and I went to once of Georgie’s workshops on flower arranging and she was truly inspirational! Went away will loads of ideas!

  9. Posted April 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Wish I’d sown my nicotiana langsdorfi thinly – I have so many I’m giving them away to anyone who visits, and I think the garden will be green with blue stamens this year!

  10. Deborah Garretty
    Posted April 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    How lucky you are to have attended one of Georgies courses. Unfortunately I live too far to attend so I’ve had to order bouquets from Common Farm flowers instead!

  11. Barbara Waites
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Am I too old to love your books? I’m 9×7!
    Barbara x

  12. Posted April 13, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Of course not Barbara! x

  13. Caroline
    Posted April 13, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully inspiring. Georgie’s flowers are gorgeous!

  14. Rachel @ RaesGarden
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Georgie certainly sounds like an inspirational woman. I’m off to take a look at those courses now – a lovely read, thank you Laetitia.

  15. Viki
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Posy love! Georgie’s flowers are SO amazing. Someone is going to be very happy with this give away. x

  16. Catherine
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    As a Virgin Gardener myself I am so glad you have found you!Not only have your books helped plan my garden but they also look amazing on my coffee table.
    You are a breath of fresh air and an inspiration to us all.
    The only thing I wish I could now do is wear my best clothes in the garden like you do… but I’m not quite brave enough – I make too much of a mess!
    My partner thinks you are fab too as you keep me quiet for a few hours ;-)

    Cat xxx

  17. Beth
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    thanks for drawing my attention to such inspiration – as I live in Somerset Common Farm flowers are quite close at hand! I’d love one of Georgie’s posies, so here’s hoping I’m lucky.

  18. Caroline
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I am a floristry student and am passionate about using British flowers, I have contacted Georgie about her wonderful courses and your lovely post has confirmed my decision to book a place.

  19. Posted April 25, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Molucella is a definite favourite here in the SR office :)

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