July 2013 Newsletter

Hello and welcome to the July edition of The British Flower Collective newsletter. I hope everyone has been enjoying the amazing sunshine we have been having. I am sure many of you growers have also been happily listening to the recent rain fall with the reassuring knowledge that it is filling up those water butts and quenching the thirst of our precious plants. I admit to being rather relived now the temperature has cooled off (for the time being) . The beginning of the month saw many sleepless nights worrying how my cut flowers were going to last for some very hot weddings, and some very early mornings picking before the heat of the sun. How have you all been dealing with the recent conditions? Any hints and tips?

Let us kick off with some gorgeous descriptive writing from our featured Member of the month; Victoria Martin from The Flower Garden at Stokesay Court. I asked Victoria to tell us a little bit about her set up and what she is up to at the moment......

The Flower Garden at Stokesay Court 

 Our small flower business is based in the walled kitchen garden of a Victorian country house in Shropshire.  It is built onto a gentle slope, with the house behind and the Clee hills rolling away in the distance below.  The clever Victorians thought of everything, so we have great drains, fine rich soil, and lovely high brick walls to keep out the rabbits.  The old bothy, potting shed and stores remain, along with the boiler house for heating the range of greenhouses, but sadly these have fallen in, and now we use the old greenhouse beds, plums against the high south-facing wall, to grow sun-hungry things like dahlias and tomatoes.
We are in our second season.  As the planting is still very young we are relying mostly on annuals to supply our regular weekly market in nearby Ludlow, deliveries and parties.  I especially love snapdragons this year, and cannot choose a favourite from among the frilly 'Mme Butterfly' blend, splashed and striped 'Bizarre Hybrids', and long straight pure white 'Royal Bride'.  Also glorious just now are the blue and white larkspurs, including the dainty 'snowcloud' - like a more refined gypsophila - and the curving, twisting, sea creature-like spikes of weld, which we manage to use with almost everything.  Best lessons learnt so far: to grow fewer things better (no more scattering packets of seed willy nilly and hoping expectantly for good things to come); thinning and staking absolutely imperative if we are not to see all our good work go to waste.  This year's sweet peas are ten times as lovely as last year's, thanks to the big deep trench which my husband dug for them and filled with grass clippings and bonemeal before planting.  Growing the flowers, and planning each next season, is the part I really love about this work, but experimenting with new combinations of colours and textures in our hand-tied bunches is fun too.  Busying away in my cool dark flower den (an old dairy-cum apple store), making up bunches and being reminded by Radio 4 that there is a world outside, is a pretty great way to spend a morning. - Victoria Martin (The Flower Garden at Stokesay Court) 

Above: The Flower Garden at Stokesay Court.

Last month I became aware of a lovely little project called 'The Lonely Bouquet' which was the idea of the equally lovely Emily from Fleuropean. I noticed that a few of our members took part in the special Lonely Bouquet day so I asked our members to send me their images and/or feedback from the project to share here. 

Images - clockwise starting at top left : Blooms and BeesBareBloomsBareBloomsBareBlooms (little helper)

I was curious to find out what had sparked this charitable idea , when it was first put into action and if Emily had envisaged it being taken up so quickly, worldwide. So I got in contact with Emily and fired the questions to her.....

"I basically came up with the idea after watching my cutting garden expanding over the years, and knowing that I had too many flowers to give away to friends and family. As winter (2011) lingered around, I toyed with a few ideas as to how I could use the flowers from the garden in a productive manner. I wanted to do something genuinely good, something to give back to the local community. Eventually I came up with the idea of leaving jarfuls of flowers (what I called Lonely Bouquets) around the local villages with "take me!" tags attached. My first attempt was a total failure... I left the flowers in a bus stop on Sunday only to drive by several hours later to find them still sitting in the same place. Talk about a lonely bouquet! Over the past year I've developed a better technique (downtown hotspots and picnic benches in well-traveled places). A man from a local town who found one of my bouquets encouraged me to make a national day based on the Lonely Bouquet concept. What a great way to include so many others in a quest to make strangers smile. It sounded like a lot of fun to me, so I decided to launch the first International Lonely Bouquet Day!

I decided to call it "international" since, technically, I live in Belgium, my in-laws are in the Netherlands and my family is back in California. International enough, right? I never could have imagined that the movement would take on such a truly international character! Thanks toBotanical Brouhaha, an online flower forum (Floral Art Forum), Fusion Flowers, and The Floristmagazine, so many florists (especially in the UK) became involved. I was so amazed at how enthusiastically the idea was embraced! Woo-hoo! :)"  - Emily at Fleuropean 

I became aware of the actual Lonely Bouquet day on Facebook. I wondered where Emily saw it going from here and if it was something she took part in throughout the year or just on the specific day......

"Where do I see it going from here, hmmm... I can only hope that it will continue to grow and that the Lonely Bouquet Day on June 29th, 2014 (FaceBook event page) will be even more packed full of flower power! I'm planning a little website around the concept that will give people a chance to easily track, find, and share their 'lost and 'found' bouquets. I continue to distribute Lonely Bouquets throughout the year. Everyone is welcome to join in, but the International Lonely Bouquet is the one day dedicated to coming together to make the whole world a more happy, flower-y place : )" - Emily at Fleuropean 

I'd like to thank Emily for taking the time to answer my questions and for sending me the below images of some happy International Lonely Bouquet recepients. I hope everyone will be inspired to spread some flower joy and make next years day even bigger.

above images clockwise from top left:
Flowers by Fleuropean, pictured here with June. Found in Gulpen (Netherlands)
Flowers by Watch the Flowers Grow, pictured here with Doreen
Flowers by  Blooming Gifted
Flowers by Dominique Houle, Creations Florales
Flowers by Roots, Fruits and Flowers

Flowers were also put to a very good cause this month by The Garden Gate Flower Company . Becca and Maz opened their flower paddock up to the public and in doing so raised £628 for hereditary breast cancer. Well done ladies. 

Open Day at The Garden Gate Flower Company 

Last but not least let us welcome our newest Member; Claire from Plant Passion . You can follow Claire on Twitter here 

Chloe at BareBlooms 

You can contact The British Flower Collective via the following email address: flowers@the britishflowercollective.com

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