During British Flowers Week, there were lots of parallels drawn between eating seasonally and buying seasonal flowers, and really the same rules apply.
Let’s not kid ourselves; it’s more convenient to go to the supermarket and stock up on everything you need and at the lowest possible cost. Travelling around buying small bits and pieces from different stores, farmers markets and shops takes more time and will cost you more. It definitely requires more commitment.
In a way it's easier to visit Covent Garden Flower Market, where you can get absolutely everything in one hit, or get a delivery from one of the Dutch distributors straight to your door.
But buy once from a local flower farm and there will be no turning back. The experience of weaving along country lanes, arriving at the farm, being greeted with a big smile, a hug, a cup of tea and buckets of the bonniest flowers you’ll ever see, is something that wholesalers just can’t contend with.
I buy from Sussex Flower Farm and Plant Passion and their plant knowledge is just mind blowing. To see the flowers in their natural habitat and understand how they are grown, will give your floristry designs and business depth and integrity.
There is less waste – no packaging and the scent and quality of the flowers is unbelievable. Like tasting a home grown, sun ripened tomatoes for the first time, smelling fresh picked local flowers is a reminder of why we all enjoy flowers in the first place.
I didn't become a florist to sell plastic wrapped scentless flowers. I chose to become a florist so I could slow down and appreciate the seasons, scent and colour and pass that joy on.
The downside to buying from a flower farmer is that sometimes quantity and variety cannot be guaranteed. It also means sometime travelling a distance and limiting your designs to specific flowers and foliage – it forces creativity!
In peak summer we’re spoilt for choice, but during what we call the ‘hungry gap’, there is less to choose from. When you eat with the seasons, come January, you've tried every cabbage and swede recipe going! But, it makes it all the sweeter, when spring rolls around and produce, flowers and fragrance fill our gardens and workshops once again.
Stepping into the growers shoes for a moment, and all of us gardeners know, that working the soil, sowing, weeding, watering and harvesting takes time, and effort – it’s a labour of love. British Flowers Week started months ago for our growers – planning and planting over the winter.
The way I see it, it’s the growers who are taking the risks. If something doesn't flower, or the weather doesn't play ball, us florists know we can buy elsewhere, but it’s a risky livelihood for the flower farmer.
Celebrity chefs have helped redefine what British cuisine is, and so now, it is up to us to reclaim our flower industry – push the boundaries, push ourselves and buy British.
Photo credit: Emma Davies