I have been thinking about my little business lately and how I take it forward. What it all comes down to really, is how I make my bouquets. If I am buying in from other growers, I contact them at the weekend to see what they might have for the next week. Then I might collect things from local growers or take delivery from those further away. As the walled garden develops I will pick from there. I think about colours and focal flowers initially...Roses, Peonies at this time of year....Lupins, Alliums, Dahlias, Tulips, Amaryllis. Some of these I grow, some I collect from other growers but they are the centerpieces....Then when it comes to making the bouquet I walk around the garden and pick; focal flowers, special pieces of foliage and look through the borders for other flowers that I want to use. At this stage I am considering colour, texture and shape. I like to use flowering shrubs, grasses, seed heads and blossoms which signify the season. Ideally I like to make my bouquets in the morning... I like to walk in the garden, all is quiet and contemplate who I am making the bouquet for and look at what materials I might use, how I want it to look. This is why I say "slow flowers". I don't want to be in the position to be making hundreds of bouquets as this would prevent me from working in this way. Each bouquet I make is a unique creation, a gathering of nature on that particular day in that particular year, for that person. Each bouquet is made as if I was making it for a friend, everyone is special. It is very difficult to work in this way if you don't grow ...you have to grow somethings as they aren't available commercially but also because you need to have access to materials which aren't straight...aren't commercially perfect...like fruit which is grown in a garden and not for a supermarket. Beautifully blemished. Also I have the pick of a whole range of materials so you can consider subtle colourations, tinges and tones which work together to make a whole. Outdoor grown plants are better for this as those grown undercover tend to be more uniform. I do buy in from growers that grow under glass and this is a great help as the focal wow factor flowers are usually of excellent quality, can be brought on early or late extending the season a little and prevents damage caused by extreme weather. However I like to use garden elements as well because it changes the overall aesthetic.
The flowers in these pictures have all been assembled this week....late June 2016 and when I look back through my gallery I can see how the season and my garden have changed from year to year. The wet season and cold spring nights have damped somethings and brought on others.
Japanese Ikebana is a contemplative system/style of floral art which majors on shape and space and encourages quiet contemplation and focus during the selection and assembly of materials. Colour is important to me but the creative flow is deeply enhanced by reflection and inspiration from nature. I can build whole bouquets around an individual stem of significance! And so that is how I like to work, with flowers grown slowly and with love, assembled with thought and care, then enjoyed with joy and to the full, in the spirit of their giving.
These are pictures of my Pop Up stall at WoW in Southwold. This week has been incredibly busy with promotions for British Flowers Week. The focus has been on British grown flowers which make up only 12% of the market for cut flowers in Britain. Most people buy flowers at supermarkets but my flowers are so different from this. Obviously I can't compete on price with these huge giants who buy in great volume but my flowers are a totally different product...lots are grown by me, others are sourced from British growers many of whom I know personally. The varieties are different and where they really win is with scent...which changes the whole experience of buying flowers. I put together mixed bunches which are completely different from the supermarket equivalents. The funniest comment this weekend was "are they real?"....but mostly these days I do flowers for weddings and parties.
There has been some coverage on Countryfile this week with The Real Flower Company featured. This is where I buy my gorgeous scented wedding Roses. They are more expensive than the imported Roses but I have to say they are a completely different product.
I buy in Ranunculus, Stocks, Roses and Peonies inparticular from fabulous British growers and this week I had gorgeous Delphiniums from Cornwall. I grow some Roses and Peonies but not enough for all my weddings....I do grow great Tulips, Lupins and Dahlias ...going forward I am intending to specialise in growing more of the things which make my bouquets special....Peachy Daffodils, Aquilegia, Geums, grasses, herbs, flowering shrubs etc. I grow lots of Sweet Peas which are very delayed this year due to the cold spring nights. Talking to one of the other growers today..we think 2 weeks behind last year and three weeks behind the year before. I am not sure what this means, usually it doesn't just move back the flowering season for any particular plant it often shortens the flowering period which is very annoying. However this working with the weather makes every year and every bouquet different.
Other challenges this year due to the mild winter and subsequent wet weather have been slugs and snails...I do use organic slug pellets otherwise this year there would be nothing left of my Dahlias.
Each year I try to grow something different this year I have grown, different grasses, I am also growing a new Penstemon ( white for weddings), more Lupins, some different Mints, and some Asters. not everything works! I am gradually increasing more stock of shrubs, Peonies and Roses.
The increased interest in British grown flowers will hopefully translate into support for local growers. Not only is this good for the local economy and the environment ( fewer air miles but also supporting bees with much needed nectar) in addition it also ensures better working conditions which can be less than ideal elsewhere in the world. From my point of view it also produces a more beautiful product with different, scented blooms often delicate and ethereal adding much needed diversity and difference to an industry which had become too standardised and divorced from nature.
Thank You so much for your ongoing support.
This week is British Flowers ....a week to celebrate British Flowers....I have a few things planned....
A pop up shop outside WOW Vintage in the Market Place Southwold on Saturday Morning 18/6 ....9.30-1 pm when I will have mixed bunches of flowers for £10. This is a great opportunity to come and talk to me about British Flowers.
All week my "free to a good home" jars of flowers will be hidden around Southwold and Reydon....and may be further afield....look out for them and let me know if you find one!
I will also be blogging about my week as a British Flower Grower Florist.
Last week along with other members of Flowers from the Farm we created a gold winning display at The Suffolk Show...Moat Farm Flowers, Forever Green Flowers, The Flower Orchard, English Peonies and Hillcrest Flower Garden. It was terrifically hard work with everyone pitching in....otherwise it just wouldn't have been possible. All the gorgeous flowers used were grown in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. people were blown away by this and they loved the old fashioned blooms particularly Lupins which stole the show.
It came just after the recent airing of a programme on BBC television about the highly mechanised flower production systems elsewhere in the world and the huge number of air miles involved. My little artisan business where flowers are lovingly grown or sourced from other growers is so different to all this. We were utterly thrilled to have our flowers and designs awarded a Gold medal.
My story in flowers started as a child growing a tiny patch of London Pride Saxifraga...also known as Whimsey or Look Up and Kiss Me! Fast forward to 8 years ago when I started a City and Guilds training in floristry. I qualified as a florist and then to deepen my growing knowledge and skills I trained in horticulture as well. I trained under a WRAGS scheme at Darsham Nurseries and at Somerleyton Hall. Developing a passion for both growing and designing/arranging British garden flowers, I planted a cutting garden. Having become increasingly concerned about where and how flowers are grown, coupled with a love of British grown flowers. and natural styling, I now specialise in growing and using beautiful British grown flowers to make romantic natural designs. for weddings, events, gifts and much more.