We were delighted to welcome a group from Haugh of Urr Rural on Wednesday 19th June. This was the Annual 'Mystery Tour' destination so the Ladies had no idea they were going - especially as their journey took them from Haugh of Urr via Kirkpatrick Durham & Corsock to reach us. Certainly very scenic on a June evening!
I showed the group where we grow our cut flowers here o the Hidden Road, Balmaclellan, the variety available & how short the journey is from cutting to the Customer. (Err, a few steps really...)
The group went on after to the visit to the Smithy in New Galloway for a meal, making for an enjoyable evening out.
If you would like to arrange a group visit or a talk by Rosie for your group, do get in touch. It's always a pleasure to share our enthusiasm for locally grown, seasonal flowers.
British Flowers Week is from 10th - 16th June and is an opportunity for British Flower growers to showcase the fabulous flowers available. Over 90% of the cut flowers sold in the UK are imported - grown in Africa, South America, Israel, India. I even saw Sweet Peas imported from Japan earlier in the year at New Covent Garden Market!
Not very green, is it?
Well, I want to show you there's a choice!
We're becoming aware of the excellent quality fresh food grown in the UK & many now seek out locally grown vegetables, fruit, eggs & meat, concerned about 'food miles'. Top Chefs are proud to tell the story of the produce they use, it's provenance.
But fewer people consider the 'Flower Miles' travelled by that bunch of flowers grabbed in the supermarket! Yet why not?
Britain used to have a thriving flower industry - I remember this as a child growing up in the Fens. We were surrounded by a farm growing Peonies.
Gradually the British flower growers gave up, finding it impossible to compete with imports, an industry heavily subsidised by governments, poor transport links. The British Horticultural sector receives no government support. It's hard physical work too.
Yet we can grow fabulous flowers in this country & a growing band of enthusiastic Flower Farmers are proving it. Many are members of an organisation 'Flowers From The Farm' (including ourselves) sharing knowledge & experience. Most are working on relatively small acreage, planting very intensively to maximise the space.
And that's how we work too. Although we have 4 acres in total, at present only about an acre is used to grow flowers. That's manageable without heavy machinery & our focus is on growing a wide variety of cut flowers, often in small quantities. This means we can make up interesting bouquets & arrangements using flowers rarely available, except from a small grower. The flowers available changes through the seasons.
These cut flowers are an important part of our cultural heritage - selected over many years to be the best they can be. Selected for colour, flower form, stem length & strength, for longevity. This diversity of cut flowers is interesting for those who love flowers in their vases & at those life events when flowers are a part of the celebration - weddings, birthdays, parties & of course, when it's time to say farewell to a loved one at their funeral.
It's positive too for our environment - we've seen an increase in pollinators & birds since we began growing the flowers here at the Flower Farm near Castle Douglas. We grow with respect for the special environment of the UNESCO recognised Galloway & South Ayrshire Biosphere.
The Lupins pictured are a great example of a classic British cut flower- tall, bold stems with character. They twist to form beautiful curves after arranging, perfect for large churns or an urn, or perhaps simply placed in a large jug on their own. Lovely from Late May to early June, & another burst in late summer if I'm lucky. Once they're gone, they're gone for another year. You'll never find these classics in a supermarket!
So I invite you to discover the wonderful world of British cut flowers! Ask questions whenever you see flowers for sale - where did these flowers come from? Who grew them? How many 'flower miles' have they travelled?
At the Farmers Markets I attend, a 'Provenance Board' proudly displays the county every stem we sell comes from, all year round. Most are grown here in Galloway, others come from the Scilly Isles, Cornwall, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Lincolnshire. I know many of the growers personally & appreciate the care they take to grow top quality flowers.
Above all, enjoy the wealth of blooms available when you seek it out.
Peonies are so huge, so luxurious it's easy to see why they're such a popular choice for early Summer weddings. To be honest, these Lincolnshire grown stunners don't need 'arranging' - just an oversized vase, fresh, clean water & space to stand back & admire them.
The varieties here are Top Brass, Gardenia & Festiva Maxima.
Perfectly over the top in my kitchen!
On Thursday 27th June we're hosting our first Art day at the Flower Farm!
Kirkcudbright artist Margaret Milligan will be tutoring a sketching workshop ‘For The Love of Flowers’ from 2-4pm here.
All experience levels are welcome, including complete beginners, so if you fancy trying something new, why not join us?
To book your place contact Margaret on 07845306818 or Rosie by email
June hasn’t exactly started off ‘flaming’ here in Galloway – it’s probably best described as ‘good growing weather’ today. And to be honest, I’m happy with that. It’s a big month for weddings & I’m counting on our plants for plenty of strong, gorgeous stems for our couples. I would just like it sunny every Saturday for those weddings please!
The Chelsea Flower Show is a treat to visit, always full of inspiration & I’m guaranteed to return with a long plant wish list every time. This year wasn't an exception with the trend for a natural look, with wild, green foliage dominating the show gardens. Geums, Heuchera, Lupins, Cow Parsley & Ragged Robin were runaway favourite plants with the designers & reflected in floral design trends too. I admit to a splurge on a dozen new Lupin plants, all different varieties & brought them back on the train! This time next year I’ll know which make the grade as good cut flowers. And there are a few more items on the wish list...
As well as our own Galloway-grown flowers, we’re enjoying fabulous Peonies & Stocks from the Lincolnshire growers now. These have appeared in many of our recent bouquets & popular at the Farmers Markets. Although we grow Peonies, our plants are only 3 years old so producing small numbers of stems still. Stocks take a lot of space & this year I’m using my precious polytunnel beds for more early Sweet Peas. These delicate flowers don’t travel well & locally grown Sweet Peas retain the true scent for which they’re famous. Our first were cut on the 23rd May, & the outdoor crop should start later this month.
British Flowers Week is from 10th - 15th June so look out for press coverage of British Flowers. Over 90% of the cut flowers sold in the UK are imported from overseas (especially Africa & South America) so this week reminds people that top quality flowers are grown in this country too, By buying locally grown, seasonal British flowers you'll fill your vases with the freshest blooms, grown to high environmental & ethical standards.
Here at the Flower Farm, the beds are full of promise now – Rose buds are swelling, Alliums & Sweet Williams coming into flower & Dahlias shooting up too. I seem to whirl from one task to the next as there‘s much to keep on top of. Long days encourage growth so a key job here this week is staking to keep stems straight. A windy gust can snap stems in an instant so it’s worth spending time on this before necessary.
It’s a good time to plant Gladioli – yes, I know they conjure up images of Dame Edna, may seem a bit old fashioned, gaudy or even brash … maybe all those things. But I’ve a soft spot for them as they’re great for plugging the late August/September gap in the border & vase. They’re easy to grow, tolerate close planting & relatively inexpensive – what not to like? There are new hybrids in fabulous shades including dwarf types. My favourites are Murielae (formerly called Acidanthera, small & deliciously scented), ‘Green Star’ (green), ‘Chocolate’ (very tall, deep maroon flowers) & ‘Halley’ (small flowers, cream). The bulb catalogues often suggest planting early in Spring for June & July flowers. I find them more useful later to mix with bold late summer Dahlias, Rudbeckia & Asters so always hold some back to plant now.
We’ll be at the Producers Market in Castle Douglas again on Sunday 16th June & at Kirkcudbright Farmers Market on Sunday 23rd June. If you need a flowery fix before then, I'll be making up bouquets & wreaths to order as usual for collection or local delivery. Also flowers to arrange yourself by the informal bunch or bucket (pre-order & collection only) are available on Fridays & Saturdays this month.
Your Flowery Inspiration;
Here are a couple of links for you;
Until next time,
Rosie Gray of Galloway Flowers. Artisan Florist & Cut Flower Farmer near Castle Douglas, in South West Scotland. Using 100% Flowers & Foliage grown in British Isles, all year round.