The club was treated to a different but very interesting talk in September by two ladies who grow only English garden flowers.
Jess Roberts and Katie Stone are the proud owners of a new venture called The Featherstone English Flower Company which is based near Wallop. Originally, they had a field at Grateley but they wanted to expand and develop the business. The opportunity came along to acquire a three-acre field just off Church Hill near Wallop, which included a magnificent 15th century tithe barn.
Katie started by introducing themselves. Jess’s background is in horticulture and she has previously worked for the RHS and managed a micro flower farm. Katie who had worked for the NHS, changed career and went into floristry. Together with their husbands and family members, they have set themselves up as one of the biggest companies in the UK growing English flowers to sell to florists or the public.
They can provide gift bouquets, buckets of blooms, subscription flowers and funeral and wedding flowers. On occasions, you can pick your own flowers from the field. Interestingly, wreaths for funerals are described as ‘living wreaths’ as they include live plants set in moss which can either rot down or be planted.
Clearly the girls are both passionate and proud of their achievements so far, but there is still a lot of work to do to establish themselves. Last year was spent preparing the field, clearing hedges and planning the various beds and areas for planting. The soil is silty loam but with some clay which makes it perfect for growing flowers. They grow just about everything including annuals, biennials, perennials, shrubs and trees. Most of the foliage comes from foraging in the local area until their plants and trees are established. They suggested that to extend the season of greenery you can try growing herbs such as mint, lemon balm (Mrs Burns’ Lemon is a favourite) or scented pelargoniums.
They have done an amazing job with great success. Of course, the drought we have had added extra pressure and some of the peat free compost they used didn’t produce the results they were hoping for. However, since then they have found a better compost called Fertile Fibre (which you can buy online or from them).
They have a ‘no dig’ policy and grow organically as far as they can. Veolia provide them with mulch and they grow plants quite close together to supress weeds and it also helps with straight growth.
If you are interested, take a look at their website for more information. They run workshops, have open days and you can join their flower club. I think we’ll all agree that buying flowers locally not only reduces the carbon footprint of our flowers but also provides us with the beautiful perfume which has long been bred out of imported flowers.
The club is having a Christmas lunch at The Abbot’s Mitre in December and we will meet again in January with a new programme.