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.
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.