Today on Florist Friday, I’m delighted to feature an interview with Jen Stuart-Smith of Blooming Green.
Could you tell us a bit about your background in horticulture/floristry?
I’ve been flower arranging since the age of 12, when my father bet me £5 that I wouldn’t win a prize in the local garden show’s flower arranging class. I won Best in Show and £5! After that, I was often asked to do wedding, funeral and church flowers in my village and loved spending time in an empty church, getting creative. About 10 years ago, I started plotting a floristry business that would allow me to move back to our family farm in Kent. I roped in my cousin and best friend Bek, who’s eminently practical, and we started forming a plan. Bek has a background in horticulture, having grown up on a fruit farm, but is also very clued up on environmental issues, having done a degree in Environmental Biology. In the beginning, we both did floristry courses at Hadlow College and short courses at Jane Packer. I also did an RHS Certificate in Horticulture, so that I had a fraction of my family’s plant knowledge!
When did you set up Blooming Green and where are you based?
We’re now going into our 8th year in business. We’re based in the middle of our family fruit farm, surrounded by orchards, on what was once a Bramley apple orchard. The farm is at Linton, near Maidstone in Kent.
Who is Blooming Green?
Blooming Green is a partnership between cousins Jen Stuart-Smith and Bek Bibby.
Could you tell us about the range of flowers and foliage that you grow?
We’re entirely seasonal and plant a really broad range of flowers and foliage, so that we have a good choice of colours and forms, whatever the month (between April and October). They’re all field-grown, so we don’t have exotic or tropical flowers. But we major on gorgeous, rustic garden flowers and foliage, as well as experimental materials, such as interesting grasses and seed heads.
What kind of floristry services do you offer?
Our big thing is ‘pick your own wedding flowers’, as well as affordable wedding flowers which combine ‘pick your own’ and essentials, such as bouquets and buttonholes, which can all be ordered online. We also offer a complete bespoke package of wedding flowers, where we do everything for you. You can pick you own flowers, for the table or as a gift, every Friday afternoon, from July to October.
What kind of courses do you run?
We run courses which include Grow Your Own Cut Flowers and Wedding Flowers, as well as shorter courses on how to do a hand-tied bouquet and buttonhole.
When are people able to come and pick their own flowers?
You can pick your own flowers, by appointment (easily booked online) between April and the beginning of October. Our PYO days are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. From July, you can turn up on any Friday, after midday, without an appointment, to pick your own. We also have seasonal open days, which this year are on Sunday 8th June and Saturday 6th September.
Could you tell us about your Open Days?
They’re a really relaxed affair, where you can simply turn up, browse stalls and pick flowers to your heart’s content. We do demonstrations during the day, but otherwise it’s up to you how you spend your time. There is chocolate on sale, made by our neighbour, Linton Chocolates, and top-notch plants from P&K Davis… who you’ll normally only find at fancy garden shows. It’s popular with families, as children can run around safely in the flower plot, and also with couples who may be getting ideas for their wedding flowers. People come for what they think will be ten minutes and end up staying for half a day!
What are your plans for 2014?
We’re majoring on pick your own and budget wedding flowers this year. We’ve updated our website, to make it easy for customers to order online. Friday afternoons in the summer, we hope will be a-buzz with visitors, coming to pick flowers for friends or for their table. Our courses will stick to popular themes and we’ll also be welcoming groups to look around our flowers and learn the tricks of the trade.
Do you have a favourite flower?
I have a different favourite flower each week! Last year, some of my favourites included: Verbascum, Briza media (quaking grass), Agastache and Michaelmas daisies.
Thank you so much to Jen for all her help in compiling today’s blog post. To find out more about her and Bek’s company, do pop over to the Blooming Green website.
To keep up-to-date with news from Blooming Green, here’s where you can find them on social media: