Rich scents have been in the air recently – warmth & humidity brings out the best from roses near my back door. Taking a deep breath every time I walk past, it’s glorious. The Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Garden Pinks & now the Sweet Peas combine to create a heady mix of perfumes too as I work.
During lockdown, I delivered bouquets every week & often reminded how scent makes British-grown flowers different from most available. I grow varieties with the best scent, because it’s an important part of the experience. When a Customer (especially a Bride) exclaims ‘wow’ or they’ve never known a bouquet smell like that before, it’s special. I can of course make up unscented bouquets, but it's a rare request. Scent is produced by flowers to attract pollinators & pollination reduces the vase life of a flower. One of the reasons I get up early to cut flowers before the bees find them!
It isn’t a requirement for flowers to be labelled with country of origin – so assume if it doesn’t proclaim ‘British’, it isn’t. The Supermarkets know a ‘British’ label is an asset so always display on products if they can. The British flower industry has been growing in recent years, but it’s still small & the supermarkets stock very few.
You may be surprised to learn nearly 90% of the flowers sold in the UK are grown overseas. They travel long distances - most from growers in Africa & South America to the auction in Holland, before travelling on to the UK. I’ve even seen Japanese-grown Sweet Peas at the New Covent Garden Flower Market! The international growers select varieties tough enough to survive a long journey without crushing, usually out of water. Long stems, large & prolific flowering varieties are prioritised over scent. Scent is often bred out or suppressed by chemicals to enhance vase life further. The result is a bouquet that's different to a British-grown product.
You could accuse me of being weather obsessive, but is it any wonder? It never fails to amaze me how fast we go from dust dry soil & saving every bowl of water from the kitchen for the plants, to sodden mud & emptying plant trays of water. Yes, I needed the rain, very much. But the plants have had some, are growing fast again (especially weeds & grass). Now I would like sunshine again please!
This is a busy month for seed sowing here – biennials (such as Honesty, Foxgloves & Wallflowers) can be started now for an early show next year. Sow as directed on the packet, when germinated prick out the seedlings & grow on in modules to plant into your borders or cutting beds in early Autumn. This way you get to choose the gorgeous colours rarely seen for sale in Garden Centre Packs.It’s a good time to look out for seed to save on your Hardy Annual flowers now – Poppies, Nigella & Calendula are really easy to collect in a paper bag on a dry day. Sow them in September for free flowers next year!
As lockdown eases for most of us, we can at last begin planning ahead. Weddings are back, & we’re prepping flowers for several small gatherings in late July & August. These are going to be really special, intimate events as these couples are determined to celebrate after a rollercoaster few months.
It’s hoped the Kirkcudbright Producers Market will be back in late August & we’re looking forward to it. Social distancing, contactless payments & encouraging pre-orders will feature. It’s always a well organised market so I’m confident all the Producers will rise to the challenge of creating a ‘new normal’ safe for us all.
Over the last few days, I’ve been reading the (considerable) amount of material available on what is necessary to open the Flower Farm safely to visitors. It’s daunting & our absolute priority is the safety of our visitors & family. It’s clear the successful Tour format of last years ‘Flower Farmers Big Weekend’ cannot go ahead here (if you enjoyed the cake & conversation in my little workshop as the heavens opened on the Saturday, you’ll know why!) 2 Metres social distancing remains in Scotland & is a challenge for us if it rains.
So, our current thinking is to open for exclusive, pre-booked visits by a ‘household’ group for ‘Morning Coffee & Cake’ or Afternoon Tea’ in August. If the Virus continues to decline, we may open for a Sunday Afternoon ‘Flower Club’ too. In September, we hope to return to the Garden tours for pre-booked groups, plus the ‘Grow Your own Cut Flowers’ & ‘Autumn Glory’ Workshops.
As details & dates firm up, I’ll send an announcement to Newsletter readers first (as always) & then publicise on social media etc. We look forward to welcoming visitors again & looking for new, nimble ways to do so.
Talking of new ways – it’s astonishing how quickly many of us are learning new technology isn’t it? So many Zoom experts, experienced online shoppers & I’ve finally got around to figuring out how to set up direct debit payments. The Regular Flower Subscriptions have been so popular in recent months that this was the obvious next step.
These Subscriptions are delivered either fortnightly or monthly & make a great gift. Lockdown has increased the number of customers choosing to buy locally grown flowers regularly for themselves too so direct debit is an easy way for them to do it. Let me know if you would like to treat yourself & we can set direct debit up for you quickly & easily.
I’ve been taking bouquets to many of my Farmers Market & Loch Arthur ‘Regulars’ during lockdown, as well as new customers. The round now alternates between 2 routes;
And in other news, the builders returned at last! Our ‘estimated 3 weeks but going on four & a half months’ project is almost complete. How do I describe the joy of being able to fill a kettle from a kitchen tap, to cook in an oven, to have a window rather than a boarded up door? Glamping was wearing a bit thin… And the really exciting news – the Spotted Flycatchers managed to successfully fledge 4 chicks in the main polytunnel.
Sweet Peas are being cut with plenty of buds waiting for sunshine. Bouquets can be ordered online for Friday deliveries. If you wish to order funeral flowers or flowers for collection, telephone 01644 420407 or email. Please leave a message if I don’t pick up – outside working most of the time.
Enjoy the precious freedom of time outdoors, whether in your garden, one of our lovely open spaces or the Hills – I’ve promised my dogs & myself a trip to the beach this week if the weather improves. (Actually I don’t think they care about the rain - they'll just go crazy to be back in the water.) And remember to take time to smell the Roses, the Mint, the Sweet Peas…
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.