British Flowers are being celebrated this month with a full week dedicated to them, from Monday 15th to Sunday 21st June, so it seemed apt to explore a grower, just a stones throw from home. It’s been on my to do list for some time, and the experience exceeded my expectations.
I contacted Amber of Howe Farm, asking for an armful of flowers of her own selection; a bunch to take home and have a play with. The farm provides seasonal flower bouquets from April to October as well as pick your own and practical workshops.
Just a short drive from home and I arrived at the cut flower farm. Driving down a narrow track I was first greeted by the waggy tail of a bouncy black labrador. Then the friendly wave of Amber, the owner/grower/florist, directing me down to her workshop. She has a fabulous practical space in a large barn, shared with an equally impressive tractor. There waiting for me was a colourful bucket of flowers, cut and carefully selected just for me the day before; conditioned ready for my collection. I think Amber sensed I was loitering, hoping to see more! She kindly gave me a quick, socially distanced tour of the polytunnel and growing beds. There was an impressive colourful display and Amber explained she has plans to double the size of her plot. Business is going well.
Once home with my bucket of goodies I couldn’t wait to get started and have a play! Amber had given me a classic country garden mix including Sweet William, Larkspur, Lupins, Cornflower and Ammi. I was able to add a few of my own flowers from home; Alchemilla Mollis, Leucanthemum (Daisies) and Clematis and some grasses from the hedgerow. The whole process was very easy and a pleasure from start to finish, as well as giving me plenty of inspiration for my own modest growing patch at home.
The bouquets pictured are just a taster of the designs I had fun making, all from this one bucket of flowers.
TOP TIPS For picking your own flowers:
- Cut flowers early in the morning, or if not, in the evening; avoid cutting in the heat of the day when the plant maybe water stressed.
- Use a clean, sharp pair of scissors or snips (Clean to prevent bacteria entering the stems and sharp to avoid crushing delicate stems.)
- Take a bucket with you so you can place the cut stems straight into water.
- When you get home, remove any foliage from below the water line to prevent it rotting and contaminating the water. Recut the stems at an angle and place into clean, tepid water, ideally using flower food. Leave the flowers in a cool dark room overnight, or for at least a couple of hours. This allows the flowers to have a good drink before displaying in a potentially warmer, brighter room in the home.
With floristry design reflecting society and the consumer conscience, floral arrangements are now preferred wild and free flowing, celebrating flowers and foliage in their natural form. Incorporating flowers from the farm fits this style perfectly. We are all very mindful of helping the environment and trying our best to reduce our carbon footprint. There is increasing demand for locally grown and organic produce, free from chemicals and pesticides, so for florists to use local farms such as Howe Farm when they can it is a ‘no brainer’.
This strange ‘lockdown life’ we have been living these past few months, restricted to staying at home, has given us time to appreciate what is on our doorstep. For many of us it has slowed down our hectic pace of life and long commutes, opening our eyes to the opportunities closer to home.
Flowervision, my regular wholesaler supplier, based in London, provide a wide variety of blooms, both British grown and imported. Their cut flowers come from all over the world, offering a huge selection all year round. As a designer it’s wonderful to have such variety of form, textures and colour at your fingertips. Flowervision consciously support British growers and champion buying seasonal. However, having the farm so close to home provides another exciting opportunity to offer locally grown, freshly cut flowers in my designs. Let the fun begin!