Posts tagged #flower farm

British Flowers Week

If one takes pride in one’s craft, you won’t let a good thing die. Risking it through not pushing hard enough is not humility
— Paul Keating
british flowers locally grown.jpg

It's British Flowers Week. It's also National Picnic Week and today is National Sewing Machine Day!! So why do we need a week dedicated to British Flowers? 


We live in a world where we are all interested in the provenance of our food, our clothes, our politicians   - so why not our cut flowers? The UK fresh cut flower and indoor plant market is worth £2.2 billion a year. (The UK music business is worth £2 billion so you can see that it is big business) The average spend per year on cut flowers is £28 per person, which has also risen considerably since 1984 when it was just £8 a head. But compare it to our European neighbours - they spend a whopping £60 - £100 per person per year!


A majority of our flowers are imported from all around the world where warmer climes and cheaper labour make it economic to grow on large scales. Columbia, Kenya and Israel being the top growing countries. 
In fact just 15% of the £2.2 billion is grown in this country. But this equates to £300 million so I'm happy to be a teeny weeny part of that. 


Before moving to Devon around 8 years ago, I had a florist business on the Kings Road in Chelsea. I used to visit the Covent Garden flower market two to three times a week where I could buy any flower all year round. I felt I was spoilt. 
I had one particular customer who only ever wanted white tulips, every week they bought white tulips. 
I could buy these tulips in June and sell them to her for £5 a bunch. Of course I was making a profit on that, I had overheads but still made a profit. The seller at the market made a profit selling them to me. They had been shipped from Holland where the auction house had made a profit on them. They had been flown from New Zealand where the grower had made a profit on them - and paid their workers a wage. All for a final retail value of £5? Where is the ethical value in that? And how exhausted must those tulips be to have travelled that far through numerous handling and different climatic zones.


Now I love tulips, they are one of my favourite flowers. But not in June! Why buy tulips when you could have sweetpeas, cornflowers, godetia and many many other beautiful English flowers. All grown in the UK, ethically grown, fresh and providing demand for the growing army of independent growers across the country. I'm proud to be part of this network and work hard not just at growing the flowers but I work hard at growing demand for British Grown flowers  


There is a lot of focus in the media at the moment to be proud to be British - and I agree. There is also a lot of focus to be more like our European neighbours - and I agree with that too (spend more on cut flowers!) When shopping at the supermarket do you check where your strawberries for National Picnic Week are from? Do you look for British meat? I'm sure many of you do. Well next time you spend part of your £28 per head on flowers - make sure they are British!

(I'm hosting the Twitter feed for SmallholdersUK this week to help rise awareness of British Flowers - come join in!)

Posted on June 13, 2016 and filed under Flower Farm.

The Friday Photograph - the Good Friday

I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that.
— Gillian Anderson

So today is Good Friday, the day we gorge on hot cross buns knowing there is only another 48 hours until lent is over and we can go back to chocolate, gin, crisps - and all those other things that make us happy! It represents new beginnings and awakenings.  

Without getting too religious on you I did do a quick Google to find out why it was called 'Good' Friday when it's actual biblical roots are rather sorrowful. One school of thought is that it was actually a typo! Previously called 'Gods Friday' (Godos Fruday) a couple of letters got switched and howzat - Good Friday it was! Following this same school of thought maybe in several thousand years Church Park Flowers will become 'Chalk Perch Furrows' or 'Sprawl Chock Fuhrer'! (Visit wordsmith.org for an hilarious anagram generator)

But today is a very Good Friday for me for one key exciting reason. Church Park Flowers are now available to buy at Johns of Instow and Appledore! Two amazing, award winning delis who face each other across the Torridge estuary are now stocking posies and bouquets of locally grown British flowers. This week's selections are true Easter and Springtime tidings of scented narcissi, tulips, ranunculus and sprigs of contorted willow and birch. And as the seasons change then so will the selection of flowers. 

I'm pursuing the opportunity of a new beginning. Get yourself to a Johns deli, buy some flowers and join me in a Good Friday, Great Saturday, Amazing Sunday, Fab Monday........

Apes Therapy! 

(or Happy Easter!)

Weeding, Watering and Worrying - the www in www.churchparkflowers.co.uk!

So this is the key sowing and growing season for my annual flowers crop. The greenhouse has been chock a block with trays and trays of seeds all waiting their time for germination. It's not a place for the impatient because whilst some little babies seem to pop up over night (corn cockle) others can take up to 100 days (lace flower) before they show any sign of life. So you sow the seeds, keep them moist then make sure they don't get too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry and then keep peering at the blank compost willing for some signs of life! Eureka moments always seem to happen when you turn you back for a couple of days so I've decided most of them are just shy!

Before long the seedlings get their 'true leaves' and it time for them to leave the greenhouse kindergarten and settle into their cutting beds in the polytunnel. (Frost still a risk to use the outside beds yet) so more 'www' takes place but now there are different perils lurking. Blinking* rabbits got in a couple of nights ago and munched their way through my crop of antirrhinum and China Aster - heartbroken. Not to mention a particular 2year old munchkin who was 'helping' and managed to rake straight through the direct sown cornflowers and nigella. Only time will tell if they survived that little game!

Space is already tight in the polytunnel and the outside beds look a little on the small side with all the trays still full in the greenhouse and a plant sale to attend this weekend! Methinks a smile at Mr E for more cutting beds may be in order..... 

Posted on May 18, 2015 .