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Flowers from my cut flower patch

Flowers from my cut flower patch

Well I couldn’t let British Flowers Week pass by without a post. This is the second year of the celebration of British grown flowers, an idea devised by the New Covent Garden Flower Market, the main hub of flower trading in the UK. The idea is to raise awareness about the choice and availability of home-grown blooms and foliage in a market dominated by imports.

My own cut flower patch is burgeoning at the moment. There’s love-in-a-mist, linaria, alchemilla, achillea, candytuft, ammi and pinks. I picked so many sweet Williams the other night that I gave bunches of them away to passers-by on the way home from the allotment, and at home there aren’t many surfaces left which don’t have vases on them. Even so my scale of production, a few beds on my allotment, is tiny compared to the new breed of artisan flower farmers springing up across the country. Certainly there seems to be a renewed interest in locally grown flowers, particularly with couples planning their wedding but there’s still a lot to be done to change the attitudes of the flower buying public, florists and supermarkets if we’re to reduce the amount of flowers brought to these shores from abroad. My local supermarket has a selection of British flowers for sale at the moment but it’s still only a few buckets in amongst the ubiquitous roses, lilies and carnations. It’s such a pity when I know what they could offer.

So here are a few ways you too could support British Flowers Week:

Look for British Flowers at the supermarket, there should be stocks, sweet William and sweet peas for sale at the moment. If they don’t have any ask the customer services desk why not.

When buying from a florist ask them about where their flowers come from. It’s surprising how many don’t know as most are shipped across from the flower auctions in Holland. I asked a florist in April if they could source British flowers, she seemed a bit stumped and then said she couldn’t because the weather in Britain isn’t good enough to grow flowers at that time of year. But what about the tulips, daffodils, scented narcissi, ranunculus and irises which were all being grown in April by small-scale British flower growers? If more of us ask for British flowers it will encourage florists to source them.

Search for a local grower. There are two fantastic websites The British Flower Collective and Flowers from the Farm which list flower growers across the country from Scotland to Cornwall.

Encourage your local school to start growing flowers. There’s a renewed desire amongst parents and those involved in education to get children outdoors and to get them to connect with nature. Our Flower Patch is a fantastic education resource aimed at primary schools and youth groups. It combines growing cut flowers with teaching elements from the National Curriculum and gives schools the chance to earn some much-needed money too from the sales of any flowers.

If you’re going to a wedding this summer buy British grown flower confetti or make your own – it’s surprising simple.

Picked fresh this morning from my allotment

Picked fresh this morning from my allotment

And finally, try growing your own flowers for cutting. Incorporate them into your garden or devote a special patch to cut flowers. It’s a rewarding experience which is fantastic for wildlife – providing pollen and nectar for insects, and it will go some way to reducing your carbon footprint. You’ll have a much greater choice of flowers available to you rather than the limited selection at your local supermarket and they’ll be super fresh. Whilst it might be a bit late to start a cut flower patch from scratch for this year, now is the perfect time to start planning for next year by sowing biennials and perennials.

To celebrate British Flowers Week a copy of my book The Cut Flower Patch is up for grabs. I know Christmas is a long way off, I’m sorry I even mentioned the word, but here’s a chance to cross a present off your list, even before summer is out!!

You need to live in the UK or Ireland to enter. If you’d like to be in with a chance of wining a copy then leave a comment stating that you’d like to be included in the draw. The competition will close at midnight on Friday 20th June. Wellyman will draw a name from a hat (he has a bit of a hat addiction so he’s got plenty to choose from) on Saturday 21st June. Please make sure I have an email contact for you so I can let you know if you’re the lucky winner.  Good Luck!