Posts tagged #locally grown

Tell me why we don't like (blue) Mondays?

When I have a bad day, I dream about opening up a gelato stand on the streets of Sydney. Doesn’t everyone have a random escape fantasy?
— Nancy Lublin

Blue Monday: the day (allegedly) that we are supposed to feel at our lowest in the year. Lack of pay check, grim weather, festive adrenaline died out, diets and resolutions boring, the list goes on. But if this is the worst day then let's get it out of the way and enjoy the rest of the year!

Nancy Lublin says that her dream was the ice cream booth in Australia. Mine was that I always wanted to be that sho sho florist in the south of France. Painted in shabby chic Farrow and Ball colours with vintage pails full of frothy flowers in the never ending sunshine. Chic people buying armfuls of flowers and putting them in their wicker bike baskets as they pedal away. A pipe dream? Or an aspiration?

Okay so there may not be wall to wall sunshine (especially today) or fancy paint effects. The pails are black plastic and not all my customers are necessarily 'chic' but I'm still living the dream. Maybe the parameters just needed to be moved a little. 

There is nothing wrong in dreaming big, many a time in a soulless office I would daydream where I would rather be and how I would tell my boss exactly what I thought of them. It helps you get through the bad days and then other days would be 'wow' days. Everyone has bad days, some more than others, but if we can dream our way through them then all the better. 

Now this pipe dream of mine is not all a bed of roses (excuse the pun). There have been plenty of compromises and sacrifices along the way. January is not a good month for a flower grower or florist. My to do list is all about admin and accounts. Income is minimal. Motivation is scarce. But I know in the coming months the flowers will start to grow, the weddings will continue to build. There will be sunshine. And maybe I could paint the door of my very shabby but not necessary chic workshop a hue of Farrow and Ball. 

So what will you aspire to this 'Blue Monday' ?

oh and some lovely pictures of 'blue' flowers to lift the mood...... 

blue monday.jpeg

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!)

...........autumn sowings

Every sucessful person I have heard of has done the best he could with the conditions as he found them, and not waited until next year for better
— E W Howe

E W Howe is apparently an American Author – no I don’t know what they wrote, nor have I managed to look it up. Feel free to educate me in the comments below if you want!

You would have seen by now that I love a quote to set the scene of a situation. It’s quite interesting to look them up and find one that is relevant to my musings at the time. As I am about to talk about autumn sowings then I felt the above was pretty apt as you do have to take advantage of what the weather is doing at the time and not worry too much if it the right thing to do. Yes, we may get severe frosts this year, we may get a cold wet spring but also the weather is set good at the moment so hopefully my new seeds will get off to a good start.

So as my previous blog outlined, this year’s annuals have all but gone. But actually this is not strictly true, I still have a good row of daucus (My little favourite!) Some cleome (Nasty thorns – but actually I will save seed! – give it a chance). Sunflowers still to flower (fingers crossed) and cosmos taking over the polytunnel! Considering its October in a couple of days I am still impressed with the return from a few annual seeds. 

Of course I want the flower patch to work even harder next year so I am kicking off my autumn sowings. By direct sowing half hardy annuals you can hope to get seeds germinating and putting down a good root system ahead of the winter. This will pull them through the hard months and mean they are a bit stronger and ahead of the game come next spring. The result: earlier, stronger blooms available from April and May.

                                               Seeds from the fabulous  Higgledy Garden

                                               Seeds from the fabulous Higgledy Garden

These last couple of weeks have rewarded us with beautiful weather for late September (thank you!) so have managed to clear, dig and rake over the beds all dedicated for autumn sowing and of course spring bulbs. But what I hadn't realised at the time – so therefore not planned that way – was the current moon phrases. Do you know about lunar gardening? Well Google it as I'm not going into the nitty gritty here but basically Ute York, in her book "Living by the Moon" says

“The old-time gardeners say, "With the waxing of the moon, the earth exhales.” When the sap in the plants rise, the force first goes into the growth above ground. Thus, you should do all activities with plants that bear fruit above ground during a waxing moon. With the waning of the moon, the earth inhales. Then, the sap primarily goes down toward the roots. Thus, the waning moon is a good time for pruning, multiplying, fertilizing, watering, harvesting, and controlling parasites and weeds” 

These same forces affect the water content of the soil, creating more moisture in the soil at the time of the new and full moon. This increased moisture encourages the seeds to sprout and grow. So hopefully I was spot on in my sowing last weekend.

This weekend I also managed to make good headway in the planting of 250 bulbs I had ordered! As the ‘Synodic period of the full moon’ (!) is a good time to sow bulbs (The gravitational pull drives the sap and goodness down through the bulbs) I am very hopeful of an impressive display of anemones du Caen, muscari and paperwhites come next spring.

But in the words of Margaret Mitchell, another American author…..

“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect”
— Margaret Mitchell

 


Posted on September 29, 2015 and filed under Flower Farm.