Geo-Fleur plant subscription

In my previous blog, on buying houseplants, I had mentioned plant subscription services. One I mentioned was Geo-Fleur. In this blog, I’m going to look at my experiences with Geo-Fleur.

Geo-Fleur

Geo-Fleur is a Yorkshire based company. It was started in 2014 by Sophie Lee and has been gradually growing. There are several shop based stockists of their plants.

The Hepworth Cafe-Wakefield

North Star coffee shop-Leeds

Laynes espresso-Leeds

Fred Aldous-Leeds and Manchester

As well as the stockist, they offer their plants by subscription or you can choose plants, pots and books through the online shop. Workshops on terrariums and kokedama are currently available to book. Sophie Lee, the owner, has made her contribution to houseplant literature with her book living with plants. In this basic plant care is dealt with, along with a number of DIY projects. I’ve only got the kindle version of the book, but I imagine it’s quite a lavish coffee table book from the reviews.

Plant subscription

Geo-Fleur offer a plant subscription. This seemed like an odd idea to me when I first heard about it and I suppose it is. You subscribe to receive a surprise plant each month. The aim is to send out rare and unusual plants each month. The plant is sent in a pot or other suitable receptacle. They can be purchased in 1, 3, 6 or 12-month subscription packages. It becomes cheaper the longer a period you subscribe for.

They suggest the subscription as a gift, which I think is quite a nice idea. You can pay for someone to have a direct subscription posted to there door. This saves you needing to wrap or sort out postage of a present. It could make a good gift for a plant lover of interior nut.

Along with the plant and pot you receive a plant related accessory and notes on the care of the plant. Within the constraints of posting the subscriptions are currently UK only and limited to small plants. That said, plenty of small to mid-sized fascinating plants that can fit. Have a look through Twitter or Instagram for the #PlantPostClub hashtag to see previous boxes.

Alternatively, there is the post grow club. Instead of a full plant you receive a cutting and instructions on how to grow on. While this will take longer to grow it allows bigger plants to be offered by subscription.

My box

My first box contained a string of hearts (ceropegia woodii). Also known as rosary vine you will see this plant and string of pearls featuring hanging from bookshelves in fashionable photoshoots. A world apart from my child-friendly house. This is an evergreen succulent native to South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. It grows up about 10cm before trailing down up to 4m. The leaves are about 1cm and heart shaped. In good light they go darker. Whereas in the house you will usually see them looking paler. In 2017 it gained the RHS award of garden merit.

Its trailing nature makes it a good choice for hanging pots. Alternatively, it can sit on a bookshelf or high shelf. It likes good light, plenty of sunshine, though not too much direct sun. It doesn’t need too much attention. The soil needs to dry out between watering.

The plant subscription string of hearts I received appears to be in good condition. It was packaged well with the vine coiled well. It came neatly packaged with wrap and cut tissue to keep it safe. It came in an attractive hexagonal pot with a drainage tray. String of hearts doesn’t like sitting in water, so this is a good set up for the plant. After watering the excess water can be drained off.

My surprise for this month was a plant person badge. It’s a nice quality enamel badge. Fit on my bag along with my RSPB goldfinch. Geo-Fleur also sell a plant killer badge. We’ll see whether I need that a few months into owning my string of hearts.

The plant care instructions are presented stylishly on a postcard-sized note. I can see these would build up into a nice collection if you subscribe long term.

Price wise, it costs £25 for a single month subscription. It’s cheaper if you pay for more months. String of hearts cost from about £5 to £20 without a pot. So with a rather nice ceramic pot and postage, it is a reasonable price. Towards the top price end, but it is a well looked after plant of a good size.

Overall, I’m happy with my first experience of plant subscriptions. The plant is a nice little addition to my house. It’s possibly not one I’d have bought for myself. I’ve not really considered buying vines and climbers before. That said it looks good where it is. As I clear my spare room I have a better spot in mind for it. Both better for the light requirements and the look of the vine. I look forward to seeing what I get next month.

Kickstarter

I have mentioned in a previous blog, but Geo-Fleur has started a Kickstarter campaign. So forgive me, but I’m going to repeat myself. For those of you who don’t know Kickstarter, it is a website where people fund money to help projects. It has become a popular format for funding game development and gadgets. People pledge money and if the campaign is successful they gain rewards. The company sets a target of how much money they need for their project. If they get enough pledges they receive the money. If they don’t get pledges up to the target you don’t pay anything and the rewards don’t go ahead.

haworthia and pot up for grabs

Geo-fleur is looking to expand the business. They are looking to invest in a larger greenhouse and develop a collection of rarer plants. In exchange for funding these improvements, you can choose from a number of rewards. There are a number of lovely looking handmade pots up for grabs. There is also a reduced price available for you to get a plant subscription. So if the concept interests you it’s a chance to buy in cheaper. Make your pledge if interested and share on your social media of choice. The campaign is halfway to the target, but the whole amount has to be pledged for it to go ahead, so please add your support if you’re interested.

Check it out on kickstarter

Competition time

To add a little support to Geo-Fleur’s Kickstarter campaign I have a little giveaway competition on Twitter. I found another copy of The Houseplant Guide by Dr Hessayon in my local charity shop. For those unfamiliar with the houseplant expert is generally considered one of the best houseplant books ever published.

To quote the blurb:

Quite simply, the best-selling gardening book in the world. Over a million copies have been sold in the U.S., and nearly 14 million worldwide. According to one reviewer – “after the Bible, the best-selling reference book of all time.”

It tends to be my go-to book for checking care and problems with plants. On the ledge podcast makes regular references to it. If you have any interest in houseplants you should own this.


To enter check my twitter feed and you should find a pinned post. To be in with a chance of winning like and retweet the post. I will run the competition until the end of the Kickstarter campaign when I will pick a winner at random to send the book onto.

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Six on a Saturday: 25.8.18 gardener’s wedding

I have returned from a perfect wedding day. Everything went swimmingly and I think everyone had a nice day. So my six this week is a list of six garden related wedding links.

1. The tables and favours

Any long time readers of the blog will know I garden keeping wildlife in mind. So some of our table decorations and favours (previous blog on favours) were done with this in mind.

For favours we purchased meadow seeds and packed into envelopes we purchased from eBay. We bought the seed from meadow in my garden. Meadow in my garden make seed mixes for every garden condition. I chose an extra short mix that people can grow in pots or in the border. I didn’t want anything that would cause any problem growing bigger than people could control. I also thought it was a nice remainder of the day. If they plant them they could potentially have a remainder of the day for years to go.

The name cards carried on the loose theme with the mini bees.

2. Cake

For the cake, we went for floral icing. Daisies are one of Amy’s favourite flowers and I’ve grown lots of ox eye daisies this year in the garden. On the top, we had two big bees for me and Amy and a little bee for Alice. The bottom was fruit cake, the top lemon drizzle. It was very tasty.

3. Flowers

The flowers came from the flower pot in Whitby and my in-laws garden. They were absolutely stunning. We now want to plant several of the flowers into our garden as remainders of the day. Photos are mainly from my phone and don’t do them justice.

The florist’s centrepiece for the altar was glorious. I chatted briefly with the florist, a nice chatty fellow who wished me luck. Now need to work through identifying flowers to try and plant.

The bouquets carried on the colour scheme. Alice was very happy with her bouquet. It wasn’t until after the service she started to use it as a weapon to hit people with.

The flowers for the table and smaller church displays came from the in-laws garden. Ruth did a lovely job of putting them together. We’ve been collecting small vases from charity shops for a while. They looked excellent and heard many complimentary comments on how good they were.

The bouquet on display.

When we returned home we found two more beautiful bouquets left by my parents.

I’ve now been requested to dry out the bouquets to store, so our airing cupboard has more flowers stored in.

4. Pre-wedding reading

I was kicked out of the house early in the morning and had a good bit of time to spare at the church. Luckily there was some good reading on the churches charity shelf.

5. The gifts

We had said we didn’t want any gifts as we really don’t need anything in our lives. We had houses separately before we coupled up and have built up everything we need. But clearly, people feel guilty not giving gifts. One of my aunties gave a number of lovely presents including a good variety of seeds for next year. Lots recommended for wildlife and some white bulbs suitable for a wedding. The Sarah Raven foxgloves and cosmos look particularly nice.

One of my other aunties drove up from Shropshire with lots of donations from there garden. There are some good ground cover plants. Geraniums and ladies mantle will help under plant a few areas. Then a few bigger plants. The New England Aster looks to have pretty. Purple flowers. Have to work through looking them all up to work out the right places for them all.

The ring

The ultimate daily remainder of the day was bought with gardening in mind. As both my work and my home life are quite destructive to my hands I needed a robust ring. Buying a wedding ring is an interesting procedure. A bit like a subway sandwich there are hundreds of options. With the ring, we had to choose material, twists, textures, engravings, rocks, etc. But I favoured just a nice texture that won’t look bad as it gets knocked and titanium for hard wear.

It was a fabulous day and we were thankful people could share in our day. I live a charmed life filled with joy. Hope you all enjoy your weekends. I need to contemplate where the new plants will go.

Seeds for bees-wedding favours

So the wedding is over. We had a fabulous day, but we gave out favours with no instructions. This seemed the easiest way to share what to do.

For favours we bought a Meadow in my garden extra short pack. Then packaged them in seed envelopes bought off eBay. Meadow in my garden is a community interest company based down in Wiltshire with a passion for wildflowers and helping nature. Well worth checking their site if you fancy a wild patch. They have seed for a whole range of garden conditions.

The seed mix we bought contains:

Aurinia saxatile, Cerastium tomentosum, Cheiranthus allionii, Chrysanthemum paludosium, Dianthus heddewigii, Dorontheanthus bellidiformis, Eschscholtzia caespitosa, Lobularia maritima, Nemophila discoidalis, Nemophila menziesii and Viola cornuta.

I selected a shorter mix, so I wasn’t giving anyone anything that was going to grow into a beast and take over your gardens. It will grow a nice little pollinator friendly patch. Ideal for a pot or a little patch front of border.

Sowing

The seeds are best down now September to October to flower the following year or wait until March to June next year.

Before sowing lightly dig the soil, breaking to a fine mix. Remove any weeds that may be in the soil.

Scatter the seeds lightly on the surface. They can be pressed gently into the surface so the seeds have contact with the soil.

When shoots appear in Spring water about once a week if rain hasn’t fallen on them. After about six weeks they should be able to cope.

Maintenance

If you want you can leave the flowers to die down and some will grow again the following year. If you want tidiness went until after flowering then cut back below the flowers. Leave the cuttings in location for about a week. This gives flowers a chance to dry and the seeds to drop. You will, hopefully, get a display again next year.

If you enjoy the display I would recommend meadow in my gardens. One box will cover a decent area. I have used them at school and got a good show from it. They have more advice on the website on how to grow their products.

Thank you

Hope people who attended had a good time. Don’t think anyone can complain that they weren’t fed enough. I knew it would be good portions, but didn’t expect the starter to be that size. It was a service to remember with a good performance by Steve and beautiful singing from Suzanne and Mary. We had an absolutely wonderful day and were happy so many people were there to share it with us. To those who we couldn’t invite for space constraints or couldn’t make it thank you for the lovely messages of congratulations. I am a truly lucky man with a wonderful wife and delightful daughter. We look forward to, hopefully, many more years together filled with memories as nice as Tuesday.

Houseplant hour-where to buy plants

Having written about why you should buy houseplants it seems worth looking at a few places you can buy houseplants and some of the advantages and disadvantages of each option. I haven’t tried all the options, some will depend on your geographic location of what you will have access to.

Garden centres and nurseries

Within most garden centres there is almost always a section dedicated to indoor plants. The variety varies massively from garden centre to garden centre. You may only find a handful of succulents, an orchid and a spider plant. These days you will probably find a bit more. If you look around your local garden centres you’ll find one that probably has more choice. Within my locality one has more bonsai, while another has a good orchid range. Generally, garden centres will look after the houseplants well, with the exception of a few specialist plants with more particular needs. The price is usually reasonable for a good quality plant. You can see the plants condition and take it out of the pot to see if it’s pot bound or infested with any pests.

Alternatively you may be fortunate to have a specialist nursery. These may offer you a better range. The advantage of a specialist nursery is that the plants will probably be a passion of the owner and at there best. Most of our plants including houseplants come from Holland, but you may be lucky and have a source closer to hand. Attending local plant fairs can put you in touch with local sources.

You may also have small greenhouse businesses. Near my in laws is a sign outside a driveway that takes you to a specialist cacti greenhouse. The money raised goes to help children in the third world. Plant sources like this often don’t advertise. You just need to keep your eyes peeled as walking and driving through areas.

Supermarkets and high street shops

It has become the norm now that supermarkets stock a number of houseplants as gifts. The variety is often limited to succulents and orchids, but it gives a cheap source of windowsill plants. The little Tesco succulents currently sell for £1.50, but they quickly establish and grow giving you a decent plant. The supermarkets vary in quality. Many of the plants will be left to die slow painful deaths with no one assigned to look after them. So it’s worth keeping an eye on supermarkets for when new deliveries come in. Alternatively, watch for when the plants have been taken to the point of death and have been reduced. I’m a sucker for a rescue project. Much of the lavender in the garden started as bargain rescue plants. Succulents will usually recover with a small amount of care. Even if they don’t you’ve got a spare pot for dividing plants.

As said supermarket plants are often over or under cared for leaving them in bad states. They are also often filled too heavily with the particular plant. Calla lilies and sansevierias are prime candidates for this in the supermarket. They can then be divided to give you multiple plants. Supermarket plants tend to be potted in coconut coir, whether it’s appropriate or not, so often good to re-pot in the correct compost.

In my experience Morrison’s seems to look after their plants the best. They appear to have people assigned to look after and give them the occasional water. Tesco and Asda offer about the same level of care. The plants are delivered and put on a trolley. If you get them on delivery day the plant will be in a good condition. If it’s been a week or more into its stay it will be looking the worse for it. The succulents often suffer from being picked over by customers and losing leaves. Aldi and Lidl offer quite reasonable plants, particularly ferns, but suffer from just being labelled foliage plant. Waitrose and Marks and Spencer’s have the highest price tags, as expected, but are, ultimately, the same plants in a nicer pot.

A serviceable £4 sanseviria from Tesco

High street shops such as Next and homeware shops such as IKEA have also got on the houseplant wagon and are currently stocking quite good varieties. The last trip to Next saw a better range than many of the local garden centres. However, many of these did come with high price tags. That said, the plants did look healthy. But, if you’re paying top money for a lifestyle accessory it should look good to start with. I imagine many will not look as good after a few weeks in their wannabe designer homes when people realise they need care.

Internet shopping

The internet opens up more range to plant buyers. While people can be stung by buying online there are a lot of reputable sellers. But even the best seller will occasionally have delivery issues with plants getting delayed fatally in the mail. However, for the range of choice, the risk seems worth taking. Be careful when buying to check postage. While the plant may be a reasonable price, with a pot the weight goes up and the price of postage goes up.

A cheaper option online is to buy cuttings. eBay has many cuttings available. Buying on ebay has risks, but you can leave negative reviews if and paypal offers some protection if you get poor service. Many houseplants grow well from cuttings giving you a cheaper option for postage. I’ve only grown succulents bought this way, but it is rewarding. The care you put in initially means the plant means more to you and is more likely to be looked after than the quick easy store option.

Cutting swaps

Following on from buying cuttings there are a number of options for obtaining cuttings through swaps. House plant swap group on facebook and houseplantswap.com offer online options.

Organised events to physically swap plants do also take place. Obviously, certain plants that are readily available will turn up in abundance, while rarer plants will be snapped up fast. In my local area plant and cuttings, swaps do take place as part of a number of the plant fairs, but it’s mainly garden plants rather than indoor plants. The Instagram indoor plant trend not having had any major impact on sleepy North East seaside towns. But if you are in bigger cities I imagine these may be an option for you.

I have however ended up with cuttings through open gardens. Open gardens are good events in general for seeing what will work in your area in your gardens. But they also put me in touch with a number of local gardeners with wonderful knowledge. From the front of their houses, I wouldn’t have known the wonders existing behind.

Friends and family are also options for taking cuttings. My mum donates lots of cuttings and seedlings for my garden. In return, I have given her a few seedlings and chicks off my sempervivums. Always ask first though before cutting or they may not remain friends with you.

Florists and boutiques

As well as your high street shops selling houseplants florists and boutique shops often stock a limited range of houseplants. I’ve found this to be one of the most expensive routes. The florists usually stock a limited number of houseplants ready as gifts. The boutiques usually stock for gifts and for the designer houses. The plants I’ve bought in this way have usually been good quality, but amongst the most expensive I’ve bought for what they were. Annoyingly, many will have no labels either of exactly what they are. For cacti or succulents this is an irritation, but for other plants, this may prevent you from looking up the proper care they need. This is a common issue with the supermarket purchases as well. My local florists do normally have them nicely displayed though, so you get an idea how they may look at home.

Curse of the unlabelled houseplant, merely cactus

Seeds

As with garden plants, there is the option to grow your houseplants from seed. Growing the window box of herbs from seed has been a popular choice for a long time. Aldi has recently offered a cacti seed mix as a project for children. Although I can’t say I’m convinced by the combination of children and spikes. Growing fruit from pips is a nice windowsill project. Avocado’s seem to be a popular choice at the moment (RHS podcast). Many seed companies offer seed mixes for a number of house plants. Sutton has a good range of indoor seeds, although many are flowering and like foliage for indoors more than flowers.

Subscription services

While it might seem an odd concept buying plants by subscriptions, but there are quite a few companies offering just this. My Facebook and twitter adverts clearly feel I need these in my life as they come up regularly. Geo-Fleur offer a plant subscription service where you relieve a plant and pot and details of the care the plant need. They also offer a subscription to receive cuttings of larger plants. Bloombox offer the option to have a plant every 3 months so you can slowly build a collection. Or replace plants as they die, which might be the case for many people. They also offer a cheaper subscription for plants with no pots, but their pot choices do look good. I’d be tempted with the more expensive option. Sprout London offer an interesting option to have coffee and a plant delivered. However, as a coffee hater, I’m glad to see there is an option to subscribe for the plants without coffee.

While some people will like the surprise of getting a plant with no choice for some people this will just be impractical. All of the three I’ve listed do sell the plants separately giving you the freedom to choose exactly what you want.

Kickstarter

It seems a good time to do a shout out for geo-fleur. Geo-fleur is a subscription company mentioned above. They have started a kickstarter campaign. For those of you who don’t know kickstarter, it is a website where people fund money to help projects. It has become a popular format for funding game development and gadgets. People pledge money and if the campaign is successful they gain rewards. The company sets a target of how much money they need for their project. If they get enough pledges they receive the money. If they don’t get pledges up to the target you don’t pay anything and the rewards don’t go ahead.

haworthia and pot up for grabs

Geo-fleur are looking to expand the business. They are looking in invest in a larger greenhouse and develop a collection of rarer plants. In exchange for funding these improvements, you can choose from a number of rewards. There are a number of lovely looking handmade pots up for grabs. There is also a reduced price available for you to get a plant subscription. So if the concept interests you it’s a chance to buy in cheaper. Make your pledge if interested and share on your social media of choice.

Check it out on kickstarter

Brexit

While not one for scaremongering, it seems worth noting we have no idea how Brexit will run its course. But seeing as the majority of our houseplants come from Holland it seems a good time to buy that plant you’ve been pondering or become more familiar with UK sellers who may be able to put their prices up.

Hope you’ve found this weeks blog useful. While writing this blog I found Jane Perrone’s blog on the same subject. She’s covered almost exactly the same material I had planned. Worth a read here for some extra links. Also, keep an eye out for Gardener’s World magazine feature on houseplants next month.

Leave a comment if there is anywhere you’ve found useful for houseplants.

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Six on Saturday: 18.8.18

With the wedding next week my gardening has been limited to just maintaining the status quo. Pulling out the grass in the border and keeping things watered. The main Summer flowers are fading away and heading back to foliage.

1. Osteospermum

I planted these in a pot a few weeks back and they been looking miserable. Despite watering and trying to care for them they’ve not been happy. They’ve been baked and eaten, but I have finally had a reward of some flowers.

2. Poppy

One poppy has managed to self-seed in the front garden’s brick wall. An impressive survivor.

3. Korean dwarf lilac

This shrub I believe is a dwarf lilac. It forms a bush rather than the normal lilac tree. It flowers in Spring and again in Summer. It hasn’t got a massive number of blooms, but the smell is superb. Once these blooms have died it will be a time for a prune to keep it in order and give it a bit of time to put on growth for its Spring flowers. The flowers are quite similar to verbena, but with the lilac scent.

4. Propagating honeysuckle

My mum has an unknown variety of honeysuckle that has smaller flowers than the native variety I currently grow. I’ve taken a few cuttings, placed in a gritty soil mix. I’m keeping one outside and two in the propagator on the windowsill. This is part of my continuing efforts to cover the fences to make use of every inch of the garden. The climbing roses and clematis planted this year are collonising well. So hopefully these will take. Then they can be added to the mix.

5. Calla lily

I had this calla lily growing inside, but it was looking a bit miserable. I’ve brought it outside and it seems to have perked up a bit.

6. Entertaining Alice

As I’m on holiday one of the main focuses in the garden is entertaining Alice. While I garden to create something that looks nice and provides for wildlife it is primarily a space for people to use and enjoy. Alice has been interested in all the beach tents at the seafront. So I picked up a cheap tent. She has been loving playing in this in the garden. She’s been using it as a castle, a house and a bird hide. Although as she shouts hello to all the birds they don’t stay long.

The other favourite toy is the bubble machine. Much fun is had trying to catch the bubbles.

On a side note I found the label to an unknown perennial a few weeks back. Lythrum-robin is the name. Thank you to the people who tried to identify. More commonly known as loosestrife.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my six. If you fancy taking part check the guide here. Lots of really good blogs out there and gives great ideas of what else you can plant for full seasonal interest.

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Wildlife sightings

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen some wonderful wildlife. With the heat I’ve not taken the camera out on every trip, but have captured a few delights of the British Summer.

Up at Robin Hoods Bay Amy’s dads new refurbished pond is bringing in the wildlife. I love seeing the dragonflies. There is something nice about seeing a primeval insect that roamed around at the time of the dinosaurs.

In the compost a slow worm has taken up residence. These legless lizards are protected by law as the number has dropped. A pleasure to see one.

While out and about around the bay I spotted this large white. Over the month I’ve taken part in the #bigbutterflycount These have been high on all my counts. Might be common, but lovely on the thistle.

A soggy blackbird on one of the few wet days this Summer.

Out on a walk Alice settled in and refused to move from watching the cows.

The cows were equally interested in her.

In my parent’s garden they have done well keeping this giant sunflower going. The bees have loves it.

Again, in my parent’s garden a pair of robins have been in and out. They are quite friendly and will come quite close.

Down at the mere the water has been spectacular with the bright sunshine of this Summer. We’ve had a few trips down for Alice to shout at the poor ducks.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my sightings. Need to get out in the garden as getting a good variety at the moment. Enjoy your Monday morning’s.

Mossarium

Following on from the open bottle terrarium and blogs looking at houseplants I’ve had a go at another mini-project. A mossarium works much the same as the open bottle of terrarium. For a how-to guide read here. People make really fun mossariums using items like toy dinosaurs and fairies. I am just aiming for a fairly closed system that keeps the moss alive.

Moss is an amazing plant. It acts as a wonderful sponge for carbon and it has been suggested it may hold the key to lowering the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to combat climate change. At the Chelsea Flower Show moss featured in a number of gardens for this reason. A section of moss being more effective at absorbing carbon than an oak tree of a much larger size. So, I quite a fancy a little desktop reminder of the power of moss. I would also like a Japanese style moss garden, but I don’t have the time to build or maintain one. A mini moss patch will suffice for now. Alice helped put the layers in, so the distribution is a bit higgledy-piggledy. But she likes to help and I like to encourage an interest.

I’ve used a medium sized mason jar. The smaller ones don’t give space for the layers. The first layer is a layer of grit or pebbles for drainage.

Activated charcoal stops fungi growing.

A layer of soil.

Then the moss on the top. I’ve added to varieties of moss scraped from rocks under the hebes in the front garden. Then a spray with the mister.

The end result is quite nice. I may try a larger one with a few features in if I keep this going. I quite fancy a stuppa surrounded my moss or an ewok home.

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