Poly Tunnel Pottering

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I wanted to update you on my journey into the growing side of things @ElaineGrows – a grower florist or small scale flower farmer. As a non-gardener to date, this is all very new to me, but I’m passionate about seasonal cut flowers and I wanted to experiment with growing my own.
So, last year after a lot of googling and twitter following, I bought my first seeds from Benjamin Ranyard @HiggledgyGarden (the best cut flower seeds ever!).

My @HiggledyGarden seedlings are presently running rampant in my poly tunnel, maybe we’ve had a mild winter to date or maybe they are just supposed to be this big – I’m unsure but its all part of the learning journey! I sowed in Autumn (in October as it was in the tunnel, but if you are sowing outside in Northern Ireland you probably want to sow earlier, perhaps at the end of August). Sowing in Autumn should give me super strong plants that are more productive and flower earlier that if sown in Spring and if all goes well they will be flowering by May.

The Higgledy Garden Mix included Ammi Majus, Calendula ‘Indian Prince’, Cornflowers ‘Blue Ball’, Corncockle, Bupleurum, Gypsophila ‘Covent Garden’, Nigella ‘Persian Jewels’, Godetia ‘Crown Mix’, Larkspur‘Giant Imperials’, Candytuft, Eschscholzia Californian Poppy ‘Orange King’ and Scabiosa‘Crown’ – See more at: http://higgledygarden.com/products-page/seed-collections/#sthash.bcSbFSWq.dpuf

I’m really looking forward to the Ammi flowering it’s a tall, white, willowy hardy annual that has been likened to Gypsophlia on red bull. Nigella ‘Persian Jewel’ is an old school favourite, better known as ‘Love In The Mist’ and is reminiscent of old cottage gardens. Cornflower ‘Blue Ball’ is also a favourite, a sky blue ball of loveliness and easy to grow! I’ve also planted some Spring bulbs from Sarah Raven, Ranunculus, Anemones and Tulips.

I’m very excited to watch the growth of these seedlings each week, they are like little babies that need to be nurtured and I’ll probably burst with pride when they start to flower!! #excitedgrowerflorist #niflowers #britishflowers

The (Home Grown Floral) Revolution

wedding2The British flower twitterati have been buzzing and it’s all due to the Great British Garden Revival on BBC 2, 7pm all this week 6-10 Jan.  Monday’s episode featured the growing movement surrounding British cut flowers – a hot trend for 2014!  Search #britishflowers.  Just watching the enthusiasm of Rachel de Thame (presenter), the growers and more importantly the florists has fired me up that this mildly romantic, whimsical business idea of growing and arranging my own cut flowers is going to work!

Bursting with ideas and inspiration on Tuesday, I attended my first meeting of the Northern Ireland Flower and Foliage Association NIFFA, a group of passionate growers and flower farmers steadfastly committed to seasonal home grown flowers.  The discussion was lively and enjoyable but more importantly this group is my network for sourcing locally grown blooms for my wedding work and I hope to learn and develop horticultural skills from them.  Northern Ireland grown flowers (#niflowers) are fresher by days than those imported from Holland and beyond.  They are also more cost effective – imported flowers cost the earth, in air miles, refrigeration, preservatives and that’s not even taking into account the whack the wholesalers take!

It was last August when I successfully pulled off my first wedding using only Northern Ireland grown cut flowers and foliage, supplied mainly by Valerie Orr Trainview Farm (@TrainviewFarm) and raids on my own garden for Dahlias and foliage. Whilst the summer is clearly the best time for seasonal home grown flowers this experience proved to me that you can deliver beautiful, seasonal blooms, without importing from abroad.


This week has inspired me and solidified the fact that I am a grower florist wholeheartedly committed to the Northern Ireland and British cut flower industry.  I can’t wait for the first of my home grown blooms to burst open in my polytunnel and I hope you too will support ‘Local’ and what could be a floral revolution!