2018 marks 10 years since I had the slightly mad idea of growing cut flowers in Scotland to add bit of natural abundance to the usual cut flower offerings from abroad. It certainly was a mad idea – I had only heard of one other person doing it in Scotland and two in England! We could have a growing site that is less wet, less windy, less acidic, and a longer growing season, but we don’t and we build our plans, plantings and layouts around these restrictions. I am not sure how much I want to share of the first years as there were mistakes for sure and deadends which with hindsight could have been avoided – but strangely enough you never see that kind of thing on the internet… Remember, in the beginning, those were the days before You Tube videos of everything you imagined to really see other people’s techniques. I had to buy stacks of books, most of which were American based and needed adjusting in terms of climate, sourcing materials, different jargon and converting inches and feet into centimetres and metres every single time I wanted to check something!
The last five or six years have seen an explosion in the number of growers with the setting up of the organisation Flowers from the Farm to support and network this increasing group of small scale growers. Now I can check information from a phone in the middle of the flower field (phone reception willing) and the public perception of the importance of flower miles, plastic waste and sustainability is once again more in people’s consciousness. Here’s to the sustainable local flower revolution!
Starting at the very beginning I made sure every plant in my previous tiny (11mx6m) garden was able to be used for cutting. I soon realised that this was never going to be enough as although an individual plant might be productive you have to be able to pick over an extended period or have a huge variety of crops to just get enough to make a few bouquets a week. So, I took over a neighbour’s garden via a gate in the hedge (with permission of course, this wasn’t a nightly trespass with snips in hand) and another down the road with a patch in a third. I got to plant what I wanted in return for maintaining the gardens, and in one for making a garden. We invented our wee Green Flower Box from recycled cartons which were great for wee gifts and sweet peas and even used as chair ends at one of the first weddings we did. But you need a lot of flowers for weddings and me turning up with snips and buckets to raid friends’ gardens was beginning to get embarrassing. Also with two young children and two of the gardens needing to drive to with tools, compost, seeds and everything, it was never going to be enough… To be continued.