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The Lavender Farm Blog

The lavender farm is not only a working farm but a well established Isle of Wight attraction. Within the farm team, there is an overwhelming desire is to share and bring to the attention of the public the many interesting ecological and educational aspects that we see on a daily basis.

Our primary goal is to operate a successful business, however,  we also see ourselves as an educational and informative centre. To this end we will be publishing various articles based around our nursery experiences as well as what we call good sense ecological propositions, that need to be shared, discussed and understood.


Reuben's Rose Quest

Reuben’s Rose Quest

Reuben has always been a keen lover of roses as well as lavender. One of his new horticultural quests is that of the Isle of Wight Rose, and he is already three years into the development cycle of around ten years to cultivate a really special new and very “smelly” rose.

The real driving element here is Jill, Reuben's wife and business partner, who has the misfortune to suffer from a poor sense of smell. When Jill can smell the fragrance Rueben knows he has created a really “smelly” rose.

What actually goes into breeding the Isle of Wight Rose?

In a word, patience. The process can take up to ten years and so it’s an ambitious long-term goal for anyone to embark on. To start, you need to decide how many crosses to make. The definition of a cross is where two rose cultivars are brought together to create a new one, with attributes of both parents being found in the new creation.

Crossing is carried out in the same general way as Mother Nature does it, collecting pollen from the pollen parent and transferring to the seed parent. Every time this is done it is called a cross. Rather than rely on insects, birds or the wind, Rueben has to carry out this process by hand, carefully transferring the really fine pollen from parent to parent, and then accurately recording exactly what he has done. It’s vitally important to Reuben to understand the history of each cross so characteristics of petal count, fragrance, and disease resistance can be bred in or out.

A few months later, in the autumn, the seed parent’s blooms produce hips. These are berry-like in shape and bright orange to red in colour. Once ripened they can be slit open and the rose seeds carefully extracted and, again, notes taken of their details.

These seeds are then refrigerated until February, when they are sown in seed trays to await the germination process; details of each batch are marked and recorded. Eventually the new rose seedlings will develop, and as this occurs the strongest seedlings will be chosen to mature into full blown plants.

Reuben is looking for Grade One plants (Bare root roses are classified as grade 1, 1 1/2 and 2.  Grade 1 roses have at least 3 large canes (branches) and the lesser grades have fewer and/or smaller canes.)  At all times the possible grade ones are the final choices that will hopefully become commercially viable.

The above process can take years of crossing and analysing and re-crossing, not forgetting that the actual growth periods are seasonal so you only really see one good cross and development annually.   Once Rueben has what he considers to be The Rose it has to be trialled by other rose growers to verify its viability as a commercial rose. Only after this rigorous testing will the rose go into production to be sold to the general public.

On completion Rueben can announce The Rose and give it a name connected with the Isle of Wight. However, this will only happen if it passes the final test; if Jill can smell the fragrance from a distance.

Only then will he know it’s a really smelly rose!

Read more..

How to water your new rose

No water no rose; all you end up with is a dry stick!  As with all things living the humble rose needs water to survive...

Here are some common ground rules:

  • When first planting, roses need more water, and regularly, especially in hot conditions
  • Examine the soil; if its sandy and loamy then water more often than if it’s a mainly clay base.
  • Even if it rains note that it’s best to water often to ensure they don’t dry out
  • Cover the entire root area well when watering; a slight sprinkle is just not effective 
  • Check the soil and dig down a little, say 3 inches, to see if the soil is moist. If not, water more
  • To help avoid disease water the soil, not the leaves except see below
  • In very hot and sunny conditions watering early in the morning from overhead is beneficial for the entire plant. Only do this if your rose is free of black spot and make certain it’s early enough so the plant has time to dry completely during the day.

Rose Black Spot

Mulch time!
Theoretically, you can’t overwater a rose. Of course, if you have no sun and steady rain for ten days, your roses won’t be thrilled, but if drainage is good, the extra water usually won’t hurt them, either

Having said that, err on the side of caution. For example, don’t water if you have had rain for several days in a row, but again, if the drainage is very good then feel free to water well, often it is recommended to use some mulch around the newly laid root. It looks good, retains water and keeps the weeds at bay.

Create a watering schedule and stick to it. Watering once every five or six days is adequate in most conditions, but obviously if very dry change that to every two or three days.

Be sure to examine the plant and the soil regularly; check three inches down to examine the moisture content, and if bone dry water immediately

Watch the foliage. If it’s dropping, this is not good as the plant is already suffering and watering may revive, but make sure it’s done quickly .  
Depth is also a consideration.  You must water so that the entire root zone will receive coverage which in reality could mean to a depth of eighteen inches. Getting to this depth will depend on the soil type but that’s what will need to be achieved.

Useful Tools

The soil probe is a hollow tube approximately three foot long and an inch wide. It allows you to take a soil sample for examination to the depth of at least eighteen inches.

Another tool for your armoury is the rain gauge. This tells you how much rain has fallen in a particular area, allowing you to accurately assess the amount of watering required. 

Watering methods
There are several methods to effectively water your roses. Remember the objective here is to water the roots at a continuous and steady pace

Create a basin of soil around the plant and fill on a regular basis, making certain the basin is large enough to cater for the plant’s needs. It should be at least twenty inches wide for new plants and at least thirty six inches for a large, mature rose.

Simply review the many types in your local garden centre to what suits your needs in terms of cost and the area to cover.

Drip irrigation
Ideal for dry summers. This is a feed system that drips or sprays water on to the soil at a slow speed so that the soil can absorb it effectively. They are designed to water a specific targeted area, thus weed growth is minimised.

Read more..

Warm up in the tea room

The days are shorter, weather colder, skies often darker.  But then the walks are more refreshing, the air feels cleaner, we get bright, crisp days, and the countryside shows a stark beauty.

Warm Winter Fire
Our warm winter log fire
Once you’ve got the benefit of your winter walk, need a warm bolt-hole or just fancy good food in a calming, rural location, why not drop in and try our winter fare?

Welsh Rabbit - cheese on toast
Welsh rarebit
Based on a farm we keep our food wholesome.  Our Welsh Rarebit has two crusty thick slices of farmhouse loaf, liberally topped with cheddar cheese with a choice of either mustard/ Worcestershire sauce/pepper/paprika as well as a side dish of pickle.  

French Onion Soup
French onion soup

Farmhouse soup of the day, every day we have a wonderful winter warmer, from our range of chunky vegetable, tomato, French onion, all served with a chunky slice  of farmhouse loaf.
In between meals?  Then our gorgeous cream teas and range of cakes from award-winning local bakers, our sponge classics are available at any time.

Jam Sponge Cake
Jam sponge cake

Or maybe it’s liquid refreshment you need?  A warming and relaxing cup of lavender tea could hit the spot, or maybe one of our fruit infusions with a bit of bite to heat you through such as lemon and ginger?

teas at lavender
A large selection of Pukka teas
Just pop in and relax when passing for a soothing cup of tea or maybe something a little more tempting.

Read more..
Reuben's Craft