Flowers From The Farm: Locally Grown and Eco-Friendly

Roses, mallows, sweet peas, and antirrhinums with foliage

The topic of flower miles is one of the secrets in the closet of the cut flower industry. I travel a good few miles myself so can’t be too judgemental. It’s easier to grow big blousy roses in cool mountains, near to the equator where the days and nights don’t vary in length that much during the year – places like Kenya and Colombia. The supply chains that bring the roses from overseas farms to our homes are longer and more complicated than most people would think.

I remember watching a flower auction in Japan – most flowers we buy in Europe come through a similar auction hub in Holland. If you know how much care, thought and anxiety go into producing flowers in any part of the world, it’s chastening to see them reduced to commodities.

Boxed up flowers are opened briefly on stage and shown to assembled buyers in a room laid out like a lecture theatre. Models trying not to wilt after a long distance flight without water would seem a good analogy, but the flowers had better not be wilting at this point as they have many more miles to travel. Buyers hold their nerves as the price ticks down like a clock. The quicker they press, the more they’ll pay per box. If someone else snaps them up first, it’s game over.

White mallow flowers

You might have noticed by now that some of the flowers illustrated simply can’t be transported that way. They have been grown by Flowers From The Farm’s members for their display at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. The society promotes British grown flowers that don’t accrue air miles, being sold as locally as possible.  Continue reading

Four Floral Designs From Flower Shows

A floral design with wool, twigs, small leaves and yellow pom poms

Variegated geranium leaves, yellow pompons, wool swizzles and twigs make up one of my favourite designs I’ve seen at a flower show. Yes, it’s tiny and the florist hasn’t spent a fortune on flowers, but it wows me with its colours, poise and confidence.

The judges’ card noted some fault or other – from memory, it lacked flowers or content. I could quote a poem that is equally brief and perfect, but I’ll forbear. The brief might have been ‘Pack ‘Em In’, for all I know, in which case, this would have been highly commended:

Dish of flower buds and orchids for a wedding

Ivory, pink and hints of green lift a white floral centrepiece that would be perfect for a traditional summer wedding. Orchids, rosebuds, peony buds, chrysanthemums and lisianthus feature, with tiny sprigs of gypsophila and hebe, at a guess. I think the clusters of flowers and tiny green buds are Kalanchoe ‘Calandiva White’. Silver-grey mohair yarn trails delicately over. I enjoy the expertise shown here: the ability to create such an even height and the tapestry effect that prevents open ‘black holes’ that can appear when floral designs are photographed.  Continue reading

Happiness In A Vase: Zinnias

Bunch of zinnias

This sweet little posy of zinnias was all the nicer for being a gift from Jim Rosenblatt. His official title may be Dean Emeritus of The Mississippi College School of Law, but he wears the unofficial title of Plant Enthusiast with the same self-depreciation and benevolent good nature.

Several years ago, he created a cutting / kitchen garden in an unused corner of the faculty’s parking lot. The soil is rich and crumbly now, after years of being tended, making the plot very productive. These zinnias were freshly gathered from there.

I wonder how many other people have benefitted from gifts of peppers, tomatoes, herbs and flowers from his car park plot? Many more will have their day brightened by spotting this city centre garden as they passed.  Continue reading

Two Orange Lilies: Double Tiger Lily and Lilium ‘Orange Art’

Bright orange lily with darker markings

Cee Neuner is sharing a flower with something orange in it every day in October, so I thought I’d join her by sharing these lilies. The first ones are an Asiatic lily, Lilium ‘Orange Art’, displayed as cut flowers at a flower show. Pictured on the last day, they seem the perfect choice for the rigours of a show – resplendent, perfect, and sturdy. The lights in the marquee gave the markings a pronounced purple glow.  Continue reading

September flower posy

Small posy

Looking through my photo library, I stumbled upon one of my favourite September flower posy pictures. It’s small and as simple as they come. I was going to add that it’s unstructured, but I’ve just noticed a bit of a colour block effect going on.

The rose is Rosa ‘Wildeve’, one of my favourite garden roses. Its companions are tiny sprigs of achillea, aster, and veronica bonariensis with centaurea buds. They look just as pretty in a vase as they looked growing together in the garden.

It’s for anyone who would like a floral pick me up.  Continue reading

Kniphofia Lion King

Lion made from flowers, ferns and grasses

This beautifully crafted King of the Jungle (or more accurately, of the RHS Hampton Court Floristry Marquee) was part of Capel Manor College’s offering for 2016.

He was placed quite high on the stand so I had to tiptoe to capture him. I loved the ruffled textures of his mane and the tawny colour palette. He’s made from those small kniphofias that are so fashionable these days, with a backdrop of ferny foliage, and details picked out in moss, bark, grasses and seeds.   Continue reading