It was a funny week – Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at work in the City, with Wednesday, a joyous interlude spent at Common Farm Flowers in Somerset.
I’ve already blogged about a talk I went to at the Garden Museum by Georgie Newbery here, but this was a whole day, and this time on Georgie’s home turf, Common Farm. The subject was ‘Flower Farming for Beginners’ and although I don’t see myself chucking in the ‘proper’ job any time soon, within the wonderful group on the course with me, were a number clearly determined to do exactly that, and good luck to them!
And we couldn’t have had a better teacher than Georgie, who combines a wonderful warm personality with such generosity sharing her advice and knowledge. She was also quite fierce about not losing sight of the business side of things!
The morning was spent with a general introduction and then a tour of the farm, roughly in the order in which the different areas have been brought into cultivation. The farm covers 20 acres and the beds used for growing flowers have grown in size in line with the business. The most recent ones above are massive – only about a metre wide but they must have been at least 30 metres long. Georgie grows over 250 crops, which of course makes her life much more difficult, but in my view makes her arrangements so much more interesting.
At the moment, out in the beds, there are plenty of bulbs (I have to get some Tulip Queen of the Night next year!)
together with blossom and other tree and shrub branches.
In the polytunnel, her first of four crops of sweet peas, together with many other annuals, were just starting to come in to bud.
Back inside for a delicious lunch, with wine
and then in the afternoon, a slightly more formal run through of a number of prepared sheets we were able to take away with us.
The information (and our questions) came thick and fast, and it was fascinating to hear both Georgie’s experiences and everyone else’s plans. Some people wanted just to grow, to provide flowers for florists wholesale, others wanted to do the floristry too. With a £2.2Bn cut flower market in this country, Georgie is convinced there is room for all of us – the ones that we all want to squeeze out are the imported flowers, which never smell and only have a long vase life because of the chemicals they’re been treated with.
We didn’t cover floristry in any detail, but there are plenty of other workshops scheduled during the year such as ‘Posy tying’ and ‘DIY Wedding Flowers’ which are tempting to sign up for. Perhaps we would get to play with her vase collection:
Finally, after tea, we headed back to our budding flower farms around the country, replete with both knowledge and delicious home made flapjacks.
With enormous thanks to Georgie, and everyone at Common Farm for a delightful day, and also to Rosie, a fellow attendee, who very kindly gave me a lift back to the station.