On 29th February 2020 I signed the paperwork to move onto my new 1/2 acre flower patch. As I can’t celebrate my anniversary on the day every year, I dedicate 1st March as the day instead. For me it’s a time to reflect on how far both me and Nature’s Posy have come over the past 12 months.
This year I’m reflecting on some firsts. I have just completed my first Valentine’s flower offering, sourcing 100% British grown flowers to add to foliage grown at the field and in my garden. The past 12 months has seen the first Field to Vase workshops and the first in person wreath workshops. I’ve loved running the workshops in particular. There is something very special about seeing people who have limited experience of flower arranging or wreath making come away with a very beautiful arrangement, and love every minute of their experience.
I also opened the field to visitors for the first time during the Flowers from the Farm Big Weekend in August. Over the two days I had around 70 people come and have a wander around and a cup of tea. It was amazing to see so many people enjoying the flowers and being really interested in what I’m doing.
The past twelve months also saw the arrival of a new small polytunnel. I’m using this to keep the weather of my chrysanthemum flowers and it will hopefully offer my sweet peas some protection this year, as well as being an extra frost-free space to start my dahlia tubers off.
I have continued to invest heavily in plants. I’ve added new perennials including more roses and hypericum, as well as eryngium and phlox. Perennial flowers are a really useful addition to the cut flower repertoire so I’m always on the lookout for new varieties to test out. I’m getting short on space though, so things really need to earn their keep. This year I will be ruthlessly taking out anything that is not growing well or not flowering enough to be cost effective.
One of the key lessons I’ve learnt is that on a limited space and with high demand, you have to be very efficient. This means taking out anything that isn’t working, getting rid of anything that has finished flowering quickly and doing more succession sowing of annuals in order to have a constant supply of new plants to fill gaps.
I’ve also been expanding my capacity at home where I sow my annual seedlings. The field is a harsh environment as it’s a windy site, and has far more ‘pests’ in the form of bugs and mice than my garden. I can’t successfully direct sow seeds on the field so I sow at home in my potting shed. The trouble I had last year was where to put the pots of newly pricked out seedlings. I was having to use my lawn at one point as I had so much, but a family of blackbirds caused chaos by pulling up the seedlings to get the fresh compost out of the pots which they use to line their nest with. This happened many times and as a result I lost a lot of seedlings! I have now made a netted fruit cage area in which to house these little plants until they’re strong enough to plant at the field.
Finally I have taken on a new volunteer job. I am now the Flowers from the Farm regional coordinator for East Anglia. This means being a facilitator for all of the flower farmers in the region to get together, learn and find morale support. It’s a tough gig being a flower farmer so a network of support is invaluable, particularly in the first few years.
There’s been a lot going on and reflecting on it all makes me feel positive and enthusiastic about the future. Nature’s Posy is still a fledging business with a long way to go, but it’s definitely going in the right direction and that can only be good news.