Sunday 17th November
Usually Sunday is a day when I take my time about life. This has not been the case today as I began the coppicing of our first willow crop. After only 10 months of growing it is not the largest willow crop in the world but it is the start of a very exciting wing of the smallholding so excitement was there in abundance. Regular readers will know that we planted almost 200 willow cuttings back in February and then rather crossed our fingers. The farmer who owns the fields above Hazelbank does not maintain his drainage ditches and, historically, this has been a problem for us. Last year we had the idea that we might grow some willow as we could be assured of a constant flow of water meandering its way through our fields. The idea was to grow willow to make natural wreath bases and so Whimsical Wreaths was born....
Today, we have our first batch of willow wreaths made and there was a fair amount of jigging that went with it. I have made this batch but the plan is that next year the boys will be involved in making them as well. In February we will be able to take cuttings and to plant another couple of hundred trees and so the planned is rolled out. We have grown over a dozen different varieties to ensure we can bring colour to our wreaths and the red is absolutely stunning. In 2014 we will be launching our mail order wreath business and that will form the focus on this part of the business. As with all things from Hazelbank the islanders get first pickings. With our cut flower business opening its order book for weddings in 2014 the willow is a lovely addition. I once had a bride who used willow as her primary 'bloom' and it remains my favourite wedding.
The plan this year with the modest harvest is to sell some decorated wreaths as well as a small number of bases for people to decorate themselves. With Santa Sparkle in less than two weeks it will be wreath making and more wreath making... It keeps me out of trouble. I can get into the most awful trouble if I have too much time on my hands.
It was not all good news from the smallholding as my tunnel has a great hole in the side of it. We have been patching for years and I am thinking it will need new plastic next year. There are still plenty of jobs at the this time of year and we are struggling to find the time. I am guessing that my bulb planting will shift into December and then the repair work and next season preparation will shift into January. With Love from Arran sells so well at this time of year that we need to concentrate on that and the introduction of Whimsical Wreaths.
I have also been busy on One soul many hearts uploading the next part in Kathy's inspiring story and also adding new photographs in the Keeping in Real gallery. We have a pleasing number of page views on the site and it is growing week by week. In January I will be announcing our three new one soul many hearts ambassadors who will help to promote the site.
It has suddenly got much colder on the island so I have been out topping up the hay in the bug hotel. I was just putting some dry hay in a plant pot and there was a deep buzzing noise. I obviously disturbed a solitary bee - how fabulous is that? I am feeling that it is time to make last minute checks across the smallholding before winter takes grip of it. Some of us will see snow in the coming week but I am not going to moan again if we don't get it on the island. Many will remember what happened last time I kept moaning....we got the heaviest snowfall in living memory and lost power for a week. Scottish island mum needs to stay very quiet on the subject of snow.
Shhhh....until tomorrow. xx