British Flowers Week & The Bold & Blooming Beautiful
Just like with food, people are increasingly demanding to know where their flowers and foliage are sourced, preferring the opportunity to choose locally grown flowers and to support British growers.
British Flowers Week (19 -25 June) is the annual celebration of these wonderful blooms and the UK cut flower industry; from the passionate growers to the independent florists working with them.
Often scented, British flowers have a natural beauty and a just-picked freshness that make them exquisite to work with. They are also experiencing a bit of a resurgence as they suit the trend for vintage, seasonality, fragrance and more naturalistic design.
As part of our role in the floral industry, it is important to us that we showcase the beauty of these native blooms and raise awareness with our customers when British flowers are in season. Check out this handy guide from New Covent Garden Market so you know what varieties of flowers are available when.
Where we can (and where Mother Nature allows us!) we buy from local flowers farms and cottage growers through online flower market, Florismart. And last week, we were given the wonderful opportunity to visit some of these farms and see amazing British blooms at their source.
Best of British Flower Farms
First up was Sue Lamb at Lamb Flowers Ltd, a family-run business based in Pinchbeck, Spalding in Lincolnshire. Employing 30 people, their nursery grows 20 million tulips, 4 million stocks, 50000 lissianthus, 50000 antirrhinums and 50000 brassica every year! I cannot begin to describe the sensational fragrance when we walked in to the glasshouse to see the stocks – line upon line of perfect flowers. As consumers, we have got so used to bland or non-existent scent, buying flowers for their colour, variety or shape, but one hit of this scented flower and you’d be converted; it really is nature’s air freshener!
Next, we met with Simon from Redford Flowers. They are third generation growers, specialising in oriental lilies, iris and tulips. What really stood out for me was the use of cutting-edge technology and techniques, putting Redford at the forefront of British production. They are the only hydroponic growers of iris in the world, a method which keeps the bulb in water rather than soil, improving aeration and ultimately enhanced vase life. They also have a specialist machine that grades the flowers and checks the quality, length of stems, buds and the weight of the flower. If you’ve ever wondered why florists rave about the quality of their stock it’s because florists receive the best grades and supermarkets take the lower grades – just sayin’ ;-)
Our third stop was to view something wild and wonderful: Carol’s Garden in Tarporley. Here we found all manner of garden flowers, growing happily in the Cheshire countryside. Carol’s passion for her trade is obvious and we simply love the mixed bucket of cottage garden flowers we receive from her. She brings us the absolute freshest and most seasonal produce for brides who are looking for that wonderful country-meadow feel for their wedding.
Then it was on to see Jo, Mark and Stephen from Smith and Munson…not forgetting Sam the dog, who accompanied our tour and stole the show! These guys know their flowers! As fifth generation growers, they cultivate 8 million tulips per year and 1.5 million lilies. We even got to see some of the new varieties they were testing called ‘red rock’ and ‘white brush’ (the speckled variety – see pics). They’d even gone the extra mile and created a flower wall of flawless lilies – a great backdrop for an event or wedding.
Our final stop was to Crosslands Flower Nursery in West Sussex, who grow over 40 different varieties of alstroemeria. Ben took us on the grand tour explaining how each variety was like growing a completely different type of flower as they all had different habits. Seeing the time, effort and patience that goes into each and every one of them reaffirmed to me how often the industry is undervalued. Ben is a fourth-generation grower and one of the last nurseries in the country growing a cut flower in a full colour range all year round.
We definitely don’t want this great British flower to go extinct, so you’ll find Ben’s alstroemeria at the Flower Lounge. You’ll also find stocks and peonies from Lambs and lilies from Redford’s currently in stock, looking and smelling divine.
There’s so much happening for British Flowers Week – from show-stopping images of the sensational designs by top florists, to British flowers events, demonstrations and talks happening across the country. Visit British Flowers Week website to find out more.
For our part, if you live local to The Flower Lounge, then you might want to wander past or do a drive by (or two!) this week. We’re planning a few surprises for unsuspecting members of the public to spread a little cheer and happiness. If you’re one of the lucky ones so tag us on a photo on Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtag #BritishFlowersWeek!