Earlier this month, you may remember that I wrote about Flowers from the Farm, a nationwide network of British cut flower growers.
I thought it would be a good idea to help promote the members of this group on Flowerona and today I’m starting off with the lady who set it up, Gill Hodgson.
Gill runs a company called Fieldhouse Flowers and she very kindly answered a few questions for me…
When did you start Fieldhouse Flowers and where are you based?
I started Fieldhouse Flowers last year. I’d already been growing cut flowers for market here on our family farm in the East Riding of Yorkshire for two years.
But it was only as the business began to grow that I realised I needed a name, a website, business cards and all the rest.
What types of flowers do you grow on your farm?
Last year I actually made a list of all the varieties I had cut, totted them up and was amazed when it came to eighty-four!
I like to try absolutely anything and am lucky to be surrounded by a traditional landscape with lots of hedgerow material.
I grow bulbs, with Alliums being my mainstay. A sphaerocephalon is a favourite and I’ve planted thousands. Biennials and early perennials come in next together with some hardy annuals that I started in September.
The glorious, overflowing abundance comes with the spring-sown annuals, half-hardies and more perennials taking me right through to the first frosts.
Where do you sell your flowers?
I began simply selling from a stand at the farm gate and still do so. It’s only a quiet road but I’ve built up quite a following over the years.
Orders for bespoke bouquets have started to come in quite regularly and I attend farmer’s markets. Commissions for weddings began slowly but have really taken off and brides now visit the garden and flower field to see the flowers growing.
I’m not a florist but these flowers lend themselves so perfectly to a natural, traditional look and need very little help. I’ve had wonderful feedback from brides and future bookings from their guests.
Could you tell us about the workshops which you run?
After the BBC visited the garden I was inundated by requests from potential growers wanting to visit and, for a time, I tried to accommodate them all. But eventually there were so many I had to refuse.
Instead, I began holding workshops giving an overview of growing for market with advice on varieties to grow and which outlets to target. The days include lunch and round off with a tour of the garden.
I’ve also recently begun offering bespoke ‘flower days’ for groups of five or more..a great day out for a birthday or hen party, simply spent playing with flowers.
What prompted you to set up Flowers from the Farm?
I looked around for a growers’ group to join and found none. I could never have believed how quickly it would grow and attract growers from Cornwall to the north of Scotland.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2012?
The admin for Flowers from the Farm has become too much for one person and I’ve recently divided the country into nine regions, each with its own co-ordinator.
Once we get beyond mid-September and my flowers and my remaining weddings are over, I’m going to spend the rest of the year liaising with the others working out the best ways of working together to promote locally grown seasonal flowers in every area of the country.
What is your favourite flower?
That’s impossible! I like everything I grow and I fall in love with whatever is in bloom that month.
If I must select one, then I’ll go for Scabious. Not the annuals, although they are so good, but the old perennial Scabiousa caucasica.
It has an old-fashioned quiet dignity. Its colours are perfectly balanced and the texture flows so gently from the soft outer petals to the frothy centre with its hints of green. Perfect!
Many thanks to Gill for all her help in putting together today’s blog post. If you’d like to keep up-to-date with her news, she has a new blog.
(Images : Fieldhouse Flowers)