9 of the best Sussex flower growers
PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 May 2015 | UPDATED: 13:00 06 May 2015
Although the UK imports most of its cut flowers, there is a trend towards locally grown blooms, especially for weddings . Hazel Sillver presents some of the best Sussex flower growers
In times gone by, the UK grew all of its cut flowers, with some areas such as Cornwall cultivating the majority of blooms. Sussex too had many market gardens and farms, where flowers such as lily of the valley, violets, daffodils, Canterbury bells, cornflowers and sweet peas were grown to be sold at markets and on street corners. Thankfully, there is a move back to this love of traditional English blooms, grown in season on local land. As well as being more ecologically-sound, there is a romance about this approach, which avoids the uniformity of many imported flowers and focuses on blooms that exude charm, a natural informality and deliciously heady scent.
Home Grown Flower Company, Five Ashes
Zelie Billins grows flowers in her eco-friendly cutting garden, which she whips into gorgeous bouquets. Over the next few months her colourful plot will be abloom with forget-me-nots, wallflowers, anemones, peonies and alliums, followed by cornflowers, zinnias, stocks, delphiniums and scented foliage, such as sage and mint. She offers a full floristry service for weddings; as well as offering brides a DIY option of purchasing buckets of flowers.
01825 830194; thehomegrownflowercompany.co.uk
Fletching Flowers, near Lewes
Fletching Glasshouses, who grow organic vegetables, have branched out into cut flowers. Buckets of blooms for DIY weddings, funerals and events are filled with seasonal blooms, such as Canterbury bells, asters, ox-eye daisies, lavender, fennel, rosemary, cornflowers and sweet peas. Flowers can be bought direct by appointment or at Lewes Farmers’ Market.
01825 721162; fletchingglasshouses.co.uk/fletchingflowers
The Sussex Flower Farm, Steyning
This new flower farm, operated by Shelley Marks-Thomson and Debbie Chalmers, cultivates over 100 varieties of flowers and aromatic foliage. Brides can buy buckets of blooms for DIY wedding arrangements, having visited the farm to select the sort of flowers they would like. The company also supplies local florists and shops, such as The Little Sweet Shop in Steyning.
07770 695193; sussexflowerfarm.co.uk
A Very British Bunch, Bognor Regis
Florist Debbie Lamb’s new small-scale business offers elegant, natural bouquets and arrangements for weddings and events. Currently growing flowers in her garden, Debbie cultivates around 1,500 sweet peas, alongside other seasonal flowers such as deliciously scented peonies in May and cornflowers and ammi in June.
You can find Debbie on Facebook at A Very British Bunch; 01243 261863
The Real Flower Company, near Chichester
Sick of scentless mass-produced roses, Rosebie Morton began growing scented roses on her farm in 1995. Today her Real Flower Company farm in West Sussex provides deliciously perfumed cut roses that exude old world charm. The company sells bouquets online and offers a wedding service, providing bouquets, corsages, buttonholes and arrangements.
01730 818300; realflowers.co.uk
Sussex Prairies, near Henfield
This gorgeous (and relatively new) prairie-style garden is well worth a visit, especially since its owners, Paul and Pauline McBride, now offer cut flowers. From 1 June, Sussex Prairies and its cutting garden will be open to visitors, who can stop by to purchase a bouquet. Paul and Pauline also supply natural prairie-style flowers for weddings, parties and events, and hold workshops in cut flowers.
01273 495902; sussexprairies.co.uk
Fysie Flowers, near Hurst Green
Grower Yvonne Hufton will be selling cut flowers for the first time in 2015. The armfuls of cornflowers, calendulas, snapdragons, cosmos, dahlias and other flowers that she harvests will be sold at farmers’ markets and farm shops. She will also be creating hand-tied bouquets and offering brides a DIY wedding service, supplying buckets of flowers, as well as providing bridal bouquets, buttonholes and floral crowns.
You can find Yvonne on Facebook at Fysie Flowers; or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sussex Flower School, East Hoathly
Top florist Georgia Miles offers a variety of courses and workshops in floristry and cut flower cultivation. Brides can learn how to create beautiful arrangements on her Weddings Bouquets and Intensive Introduction to Wedding Flowers courses from 28 April and 7 July; she also offers a range of workshops in floristry basics, as well as specialised and bespoke teaching.
07564 411475; thesussexflowerschool.co.uk
Sarah Raven, near Heathfield
Horticulturist and writer Sarah Raven is an expert in cut flower cultivation and offers courses at her school and garden, including Flower Arranging for Beginners (28 April and 10 June), The Cutting Garden (22 April and 6 May), Growing and Arranging Cut Flowers (30 April, 7 May and 9 June) and Wedding and Party Flowers (29 April). If you fancy a stroll around her cutting garden at Perch Hill, she is holding open days on 25 April, 30 May and 20 June.
0845 092 0283; sarahraven.com/courses_events