The British flower growing industry used to be fantastic and supplied 90% of the flowers and pot plants used in this country, but in the 1970’s the price of fuel rising and Dutch government subsidies changed things radically and all of a sudden the pendulum swung the other way.
Up to a few years ago, the percentage of flowers sold in this country being British grown was less than 15% of the 2.2 Billion pound market, with 90% of those grown going to the supermarkets. Now however things are starting to change.
There are 2 types of growers in the UK. The commercial growers are often those that have been around for generations. They are based in the traditional farming communities, with the vast majority of them being centred around Spalding in Lincolnshire, and in Cornwall. Commercial growers had to withstand the falling of retail prices, and the rising fuel costs at the end of the 20th Century, so they specialised in just a few varieties and grew them in vast quantities. Most of them grow 1 - 6 species of flower which they sell en masse to the supermarkets or wholesalers with often the majority of their crops being preordered before they are grown. Few species are suited to mass growing, with large amounts of automation, so these commercial growers concentrate on the flowers that sell well at supermarkets. These are very price conscious. The biggest crops are daffodils, Tulips, stocks, alstroemerias, lilies and asters.
Artisan growers, are alternatively usually growing on a lot smaller scale. The numbers growing for florists, instead of just their own use, has risen in number steeply over the last couple of years. The main reason for their rise being that they are able to reach their end user, via the internet, and no longer need to use pack houses and wholesale markets to reach the retail and event florists that prize premium quality, locally grown and scented flowers. Artisan growers grow larger numbers of varieties so that they have flowers, foliage and fillers available to use in bouquets and displays throughout the season. Rather than just large numbers of stems of just a few varieties of the same species.
So how do Florists get hold of the flowers from our homeland growers?
Well it's a question we'll be answering in a lot more details over the coming months....
We'll introduce you to the wholesalers, commercial growers and artisan farmers who want to sell you their produce.
For the moment we're going to start you off with 3 of our favourite places to find British flowers all year round. You probably already know of them, but if you don't, sign up to get their information, check out their websites, follow them on social media, and make sure that they know you found them here.
This wonderful support network for Artisan growers now has almost 350 members, so find out from their map if there is anyone growing for florists near you. @flowersfromthefarm on Instagram, and also on Facebook (where they are currently putting up a daily profile of growers). I'm a proud member of Flowers from the Farm.
James and his team at Flowers by Clowance in Cornwall send out pallets of the best Cornish (and Lincolnshire) flowers all over the country, and will except any size of order. Sign up to find out what's available all year round @flowersbyclowance on Instagram, and also on Facebook
Ben and the team at Crosslands Nurseries are based in Sussex. They sell Alstroemerias in most colours under the sun all year round. You need to text or phone Ben with an order, although if lots of florists follow him on his Instagram account, maybe we can persuade him to post some pictures of their blooms. Here's another one Emma took last summer.