There’s a revolution starting – admittedly it’s a gentle, fragrant revolution, but a change is coming nonetheless. Every Monday evening, a group of revolutionaries are gathering on Twitter, swapping ideas and bringing new followers to their movement. The #britishflowers hour is a new a way of promoting British grown flowers, and the flower farmers who are working hard sell their produce in the face of stiff competition from imported blooms. But the hour is much more than just an advert for homegrown flowers – it’s a chance for anyone with an interest in the provenance of the flowers we see in the shops to get together. Growers are sharing tips and advice, florists are joining in with suggestions for the types of flowers they’d like to buy, and customers are finding local growers who can provide beautiful flowers for their weddings.
The idea for a British flowers hour came from Rosie of Bespoke Confetti, a flower farmer growing cornflowers and larkspur to make natural confetti from their petals. The hour is ably managed by Georgie from Common Farm Flowers – you can catch up on what’s been happening over the weeks of #britishflowers on Georgie’s blog.
So, why aren’t shoppers buying more British-grown flowers? Cost and convenience seems to be an issue, it’s very easy to pick up a bunch of tulips while you’re doing the weekly shop. But does a cellophane wrapped bunch of flowers from the supermarket (or even worse, the garage forecourt), really say ‘I love you’ on Valentine’s day? Seasonality is another theme that comes up regularly – some brides are just determined to have peonies for an autumn wedding…
With the help of farmers markets and TV chefs, the idea of seasonality and provenance in food has become well established. But this has yet to trickle through to the flower market. The general consensus seems to be that more needs to be done to promote the benefits of UK grown flowers. There are obvious environmental benefits in not flying or trucking flowers in from overseas, and many of the growers joining in with the #britishflowers hour are producing flowers without using chemicals, and taking steps to encourage biodiversity on their plot. But there are benefits for the customers too – because the distance from field to market is much shorter, British growers can offer a range of flowers not usually stocked by florists. Dahlias and cosmos make beautiful cut flowers, but don’t travel well. And if you need only one argument for the benefits of buying locally produced flowers – sweet peas, ‘proper’ sweet peas filled with fragrance and well suited to grow in our climate. A bunch of these lovely flowers can scent a room for days.
So why not join this revolution? Ask your florist if they stock British grown flowers (and if not, why not!), or go direct and buy from your local flower farmer (you can find a local grower on the Flowers From The Farm website). And if you have a small patch of space at home why not sow some cornflowers, cosmos and love-in-a-mist – they’ll make a beautiful display all through the summer, you’ll be able to cut bunches of your own flowers, and you’ll be providing a rich source of nectar for the bees too!