British flowers week is a event created in 2013 by New Covent Garden Market to raise awareness of which British flowers are available when. Its other purpose is to showcase British grown flowers through great British floristry as well as encouraging the public to support and buy local British grown flowers.
As a budding flower farmer/florist and now a Flowers from the Farm member I really wanted to get involved and bring British seasonal flowers to my local community. Last year one of our members did the most beautiful installation decorating a lovely old red phone box in her village which looked stunning and got lots of attention. Sadly I don't have anything similar other than my local post box, which wasn't an option. After contacting the Royal Mail they explained that they don't allow anyone to use their post boxes for promotional purposes. So a plan B was needed. After much brain racking with my best friend she came up with the most wonderful idea of a floral bike! It's perfect! Portable and I can park it anywhere I can lock it up allowing me to put it in pride of place where I know it will get lots of passers-by.
So I started with two beautiful wicker bike baskets which I lined with a bit of spare pond liner I had hanging around in the shed.
Part of the reason I want to grow British Flowers is to do my little bit to help protect our planet and Mother Nature. After reading about floral foam and how long it takes to break down I'm now researching and exploring alternatives for when I might need support for my arrangements. So far I've found chicken wire to be really effective and I have a lot of spare scraps of it hanging around from various bits of fencing projects on the Smallholding. So I folded and shaped some of the chicken wire into a ball type shape giving me a few layers to thread the stems into. Each basket was then topped up with water before adding the greenery.
The day before I spent a few hours hunting around the cut flower patch and the rest of the garden collecting together a range of foliage and flowers ready to condition over night before arranging. Conditioning the flowers means that they will hold up better in an arrangement and are less at risk from flopping while on display.
When I first started arranging flowers I used to just pick flowers and put them into a vase. They were always beautiful but didn't ever look like a bouquet, they just looked like I had wandered around the garden cutting then stuck them in a vase (which to be honest is mostly what I did). On a flower farmer for beginner’s course I did the importance of foliage was finally drilled into me and now I really understand why. It's beautiful in its own right but also give the bouquet body, texture and a backdrop to really show off those stunning roses I've been molly coddling into perfection.
So both baskets were arranged with purely foliage first to give me the shape and loose texture I wanted. I used a mixture of stiff upright foliage like Bay; they will also then help to support the flowers, as well as much softer greenery such as some of my parsley which has started to go to seed.
The second stage is to then introduce what are commonly known as filler flowers. These are normally delicate flowers in a neutral colour normally either a greenery colour such as Alchemilla Mollis or white as I have used with the Ammi Majus. These can be used as a foliage plant essentially but also a lightness to and arrangement. The delicate flowers also and movement as well as more structure to thread stems through. These are beautiful hard working flowers that can be incredibly diverse.
Once I was happy with the feel of each basket then it was time to introduce the colour and the drama. My cut flower patch currently seems to have a bit of a purple theme going on so the front basket was mostly purple geraniums, larkspur and a few sweet peas. One of my favourite dusky pink roses is also looking stunning at the moment so a few of those went in to add a pop of colour. My Snapdragons have been on top form for weeks now and are still going strong so they were added in the boost the white in the arrangement keeping it light and vibrant.
The back basket I decided to theme slightly differently keeping it more to a coral and white colour palette. So here the roses took centre stage with some amazing bright coral sweet peas complimenting them. Lots of the snapdragons also were used to bulk out the white a balance the richness of colour.
Once I was happy I hopped on my bike and cycled the whole thing down to my local shop and post office where I locked it up. It felt amazing and hilarious cycling a fully loaded floral bike down the street and I've had so many lovely comments on the flowers.
They are holding up well in the water though the heat and wind have been tough on the flowers. I have been down every day just to top up water and dead head to make sure it's in tip top condition.
I'm so pleased with the final result and here it is in all its glory.