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Blooming marvellous

From fashionista at American Vogue to a muddy field in Somerset – no wonder Georgie Newbery's flowers are cut above gorgeous

Georgie Newbery of Somerset’s Common Farm Flowers had a career in fashion, working at American Vogue and with John Galliano in Paris, before heading south-westwards and setting up her super successful flower farm – so it’s no wonder her flowers are cut above gorgeous. One of the experts at Toby’s Harvest Festival at Forde Abbey in Chard Sat 15 & Sun 16 September,  she found a few minutes to share some flower tips with Muddy…

1. Five must-have flowers

You won’t go wrong with dahlia, sweet pea, ammi (also called bullwort), moluccella (bells of Ireland) or phacelia in the vase.

2. Grow your own

Sow different seeds,  three or four times through the summer,  to have a variety of flowers flowering from May right through to the first frosts.

3. Use wild flowers

Cut wild flowers from your own garden – not from woods or by the side of the road or fields which don’t belong to you (it’s illegal).

4. When to cut

Never cut flowers in the heat of the day.  We cut flowers early in the morning and put them straight into a bucket filled right up with water, and then arrange them after lunch.

5. Keep the water fresh

Take the flowers out of their vase each morning, give the vase a quick rinse out, snip a centimetre off the flower stems to keep the cellulose drinking cells open, and pop them back in water –  they’ll last much longer.

6. Save your own seed (and money)

When seed heads develop and begin to look nice and dry, collect them in paper bags.  Label the bags with name and date and hang somewhere cool, airy and out of direct sunlight until you’re ready to sow the seeds.

Georgie sends bouquets by post all year round, supplies flowers for up to 60 weddings a year and teaches masses of workshops at Common Farm Flowers between Wincanton and Bruton – but you can see her in action in the Demo Tipi at Toby’s Harvest Festival at Forde Abbey in Chard on Sat 15 and Sun 16 September.

This is the second year that TV gardener and presenter Toby Buckland has come to celebrate the harvest at Forde Abbey, with its kitchen garden, meadow, lakes and herbaceous borders full to busting with dahlias and late-summer flowers.

There will be celebrity talks by Guardian writer and presenter Alys Fowler, BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time Matt Biggs, Only Fools and Horses actor John Challis (who knew Boycie was a gardener?) and Blue Peter gardener Lee Connolly, as well as loads of craft, cooking and gardening workshops and demos by experts, gardeners, chefs, artists, craftspeople – even circus folk.  Live music, live scything (that’s you), vintage tractors, parrots, local food and drink – bring your own windfalls for the apple presses.   See what’s on when, here.

Advance adult tickets £10, VIP £50, family and children tickets available. Dogs on leads welcome, free parking

Toby’s Harvest Festival, 15-16 September, Forde Abbey, Chard Somerset TA20 4LU. tobygardenfest.co.uk

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