Everyone loves flowers, but most bought in England are imported from countries where the blooms are sprayed with toxic chemicals (grown by farmers with poor welfare standards), air-freighted (arriving feeling the same way you would after a long-haul flight), wrapped in plastic and then sold in supermarkets, florists and petrol stations. It’s perfectly possible to grow beautiful heirloom flowers in England, which last longer and have unique scents.
See flowers, plants & trees to avoid near pets (avoid sending plantable cards to homes with pets, as most have toxic wildflowers). Many flowers (including foxgloves and buttercups) are toxic to horses.
The cut flower industry is huge, many people buy flowers each week to brighten their home, then there are birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day. Most cut flowers in the world are grown in the same few countries ((The Netherlands, Kenya, Ecuador) and there are Fair Trade and eco issues.
The flowers are often sprayed in chemicals that are banned in modern western countries, then shipped (often refrigerated), then driven to supermarkets, sold to you in plastic packaging. They die, you compost them and bin the plastic wrap.
Just like the local food movement, there is no a ‘slow local flower’ movement, promoting growing organic heirloom varieties in season. Most people are prepared to pay a little more for nice local flowers that have more scent, and stop varieties from going extinct.
The Flower Hunter takes us on an inspirational journey through a year in artist Lucy Hunter’s studio among the mountains of North Wales. With glorious photographs and exquisite floral arrangements, she encourages readers to marvel at the natural world. Simple projects include drying garden flowers for an autumnal wreath to making your own journals and natural dyes and assembling lavish arrangements to showcase the beauty of garden roses.
- Growing Flowers is by Niki Irving, who runs a boutique flower farm that grows mountain-fresh flowers in North Carolina using sustainable practices. This beautifully photographed book features simple and engaging know-how to help you arrange your own cutting garden.
- Growing Heirloom Flowers explains how to grow the fullest, richest and most aromatic blooms, famed for their beauty, scent and hardiness. These flowers have experience, now enjoy the experience of growing more than 40 of them. Chris McLaughlin offers a wealth of information and stunning photos.
- The Land Gardeners Cut Flowers is the story of how some folks turned a neglected area of land into a thriving community flower garden, selling to local people. Based in an original walled garden, a learner’s journey became about old soil, new soil, planting and potting hundreds of different flowers.
- Slow Flowers is a book of 52 beautiful bouquets using local seasonal flowers (and in winter, the bouquets include grasses & twigs). All 4 seasons have their own botanical character. Includes design tips & bouquet recipes.
- Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden shows how to grow, harvest & arrange organic blooms year round. Written by flower farmer Erin Banzakein, read Floret Farm’s A Year in Flowers which contains 25 arrangements including posies, bridal bouquets & festive wreaths.
Arranging Your Cut Flowers
- Don’t put flowers near windows by the garden. This helps to stop birds flying into windows.
- You don’t need to use commercial flower food, nor bleach to make flowers last longer. Just mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and sugar (say a couple of spoons) in a vase. Cut stalks on a diagonal.
- For florists, Eco Fresh Bouquet offers patented Eco-Wrap™, which is compostable and foam-free. Stems stay hydrated and flowers remain fresh for days, even when transported vertically or horizontally, leak-free. If you use rubber bands to secure stems, dispose of responsibly (littered bands often get caught around legs of wildlife, and ducks often think they are worms, and eat them).
Donate Flowers to Help Others
- If you live in London, Floral Angels & The Flower Bank recycle donated bouquets from weddings & other events, and turn them into beautiful free bouquets, to cheer up people in need.
- Allergic to flowers? Social enterprise Page & Bloom employs domestic abuse victims to train them in producing beautiful paper flowers, made from old books & maps (they are looking for vegan craft glue, get in touch if you can help).
Grow Organic Flowers to Sell
The Flower Farmer’s Year is a lovely book by Georgie Newbury, who gave up a career in fashion to run an organic flower farm in Somerset with her husband. This book can show how to earn income, from flowers that you grow. Her other book Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers includes posies, buttonholes & flower crowns.
Where to Buy Sustainable Flowers
- Flowers From The Farm is a beautiful site. Just enter your postcode and find local florists who sell organic flowers.
- Organic Blooms (Gloucestershire) is a social enterprise that employs people with learning difficulties to grow flowers for sale.
- Blooming Green (Kent) grows organic flowers, in the middle of a fruit farm. Available from April to October, these rustic bouquets include native wild species, and meadow flowers. They are only picked a few days before sending.
- Tregothnan Flowers (Cornwall) is from an estate that grows its own tea. Not always organic but local. Note many flowers that grow longer on Isles of Scilly (like daffodils) are toxic to pets.