Updated: Jun 12, 2019
It's British Flowers Week this week. An important opportunity to celebrate and promote British flower growers and to see how the floral industry is adapting to the changing climate and the desperate and urgent need to rectify the mistakes and damage we have done to our planet.
We can all do our part even if it's just having a pot of flowers on an outside windowsill for the bees to enjoy. Or buying from a local flower farm or grower rather than purchasing from a large supermarket that's selling heavily pesticide covered flowers flown from across the globe when they aren't in season in this country. Yes, they may last a bit longer and have really straight uniform stems but at what cost? My cutting garden is one of the many ways I'm trying to do my bit. It's not much and it feels like it will never be enough but it's a start for now. This is how that journey started.
In the Spring of 2017 I planted my first Dahlias. From that moment on the need for a 'proper' cutting bed become some what of an obsession. Starting with 11 dahlia plants in pots on my patio, I've now progressed to 6 dedicated cutting beds in my garden. Well, the lawn wasn't doing anything to earn its keep so why not?
A Learning Journey
I wouldn't say I'm a gardener yet or even particularly knowledgeable. But what I am is enthusiastic and I'm pretty sure that's one of the most important qualities needed for this venture. That and patience, something I don't have a lot of but my cutting beds are teaching me the art of slowing down. My work as a florist means that I am often asked to source flowers that are far from in season in our part of the world and I've always struggled with this aspect of floristry. Yes, I can buy from flower farms, wholesalers flower markets and I do. But whilst running my workshops I realised that a lot of what I was buying in I could actually grow myself. I also, as many other self employed florists will vouch for, know it is incredibly unprofitable to make up single or small numbers of bouquets for customers. In having my own cutting beds I can, during the British flowering season offer individual bouquets to local customers and not have to struggle to make it worth my while. A stroll into the garden early in the morning, as the sun comes up and before its too hot to pick the flowers, in my pj's with a cuppa in my hand and my snips in the other to gather a few precious and lovingly grown blooms for a customer is one of my favourite things to do. I can now offer something that I couldn't before, freshly cut, zero pesticides, zero air miles, zero plastics, zero waste gifts that are grown locally to my customers. What could be better than that?
It's a very steep learning curve and I've made a lot of mistakes (I'll write a separate blog on that so you can learn from mine so you don't have to make the same ones!) but I am growing myself as a lover of the seasons and nature in all its forms. My garden is a haven for bees and butterflies so I'm giving something back too. The dahlia bed has grown from one to two. 750 tulip bulbs were planted last winter and the flowers sold to many happy customers in the Spring. The new rose bed is having its first flush of blooms and the Sweet Peas are about to burst open. The 2 annual beds are still a work in progress and have made a slow start this year mainly due to the severe lack of rain. But as I write this post today the rain has been torrential all day long which I'm sure the garden is loving. The perennials all planted either last Spring or Autumn are really starting to flourish this year and I'm already eyeing up my Autumn purchases and planning what to add in next year.
Below are a just a few of the flowers grown in the ever expanding cutting beds over the last year. I'll post again soon with tips on dahlias or rather what not to do! You can learn from my mistakes. In the meantime, if you live near to Battle in East Sussex, get in touch if you fancy treating yourself or gifting some of these home grown beauties.
Happy growing season everyone!