Well, I suggest you get a cup of tea, a fistful of biscuits and settle down to read about the British flower revolution. A beautifully written article by The Garden Gate Flower Company, with fantastic floral images to accompany. You will learn about why you should use British flowers at your wedding (and at other times of course), where you can find growers, and what types of flowers are available. I really hope you take something from it. I have started my own little cut patch that I will blog about shortly too.
Choosing British Flowers for your wedding almost guarantees their individuality. Reliant upon the British weather, what will be in bloom when is not consistent from one year to the next or between places. Flowers self-seeded, or grown from seed collected year after year, circulated between friends, propagated with knowledge passed on over generations, embodies friendships and kinship, as well as slight genetic variations specific to certain places and of course people.
There is a small revolution happening in gardens, small holdings and neglected corners of farms across the country. Over the last few years people have started to grow their own cut flowers and use the shrubs and perennials already growing in their gardens and hedgerows. Renting walled gardens or using allotments, search hard enough, ask about at your local farmers market, and you will probably find a dedicated gardener and flower lover, who can provide you with a really personal service. They will grow a plant, (with enough warning) from seed to cut with great care the day before your wedding. They will listen to your ideas and let you walk through their gardens and see exactly how beautiful British grown flowers can be. They will have old fashioned roses, which smell divine, and have a shape far removed from those you will find on the high street. They will have annuals, which will last a week at least in vase, but will not grow well in intensive, African, Asian, or South American flower farms, let alone survive the freight, in cold storage, to a shop near you.
Plants with names like ‘love-in-a-mist’, ‘sweet pea’ or ‘kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate’ look as beautiful as they sound, and the huge variety of flowers grown locally cannot be matched. These flowers have a different aesthetic and embody different values than those common at weddings in recent years. They look more natural, they are, more often than not chemical-free, they are native or cultivars of native species and will attract a diversity of bees, butterflies and other insects. In turn the number of birds and small mammals like hedgehogs increases and the impact on the environment close to where they grow is a positive one.
And the desire for something other than the conventional florist-on-the-high-street type bouquet has confirmed a demand for their flowers. Brides are looking for seasonal, local and beautiful bouquets for their wedding for a range of reasons. Because they want ethically produced or organically grown flowers, because their wedding has a vintage feel, and the dress is made of antique lace, or the ribbons belonged to their great-grandmother, and the flowers need to reflect the look. A bride might want daisies because that is what their grandparents have in that faded photograph and they just couldn’t find them anywhere else, because they are huge foodies and want an edible bouquet to complement the values they hold regarding seasonal and local produce. People getting married, (and it is not just the brides but their husbands too who care), want flowers to reflect the surrounding countryside, to fit in with the beachy, carefree feel of their day, or the amiable autumn sunlight which filters through the church windows on their special day. They want flowers which remind them of wildflower meadows or English Country Gardens with fabulous herbaceous borders, or single species arrangements in stoneware pots or tins, jam-jars or vintage glassware they have found themselves. They want the flowers to be unique to the place, the time of year, the setting, but most importantly to their own personalities. Flowers can be part of what it is a wedding is celebrating, the distinctiveness of their relationship, a sense of tradition, nostalgia, and a connection between families and individuals.
The flowers we nurture grow naturally at that time of year and for this reason they just look right. Seed heads in autumn reflect the richness of colour in the countryside and the warmth of the sun at that time of year, the coolness of late winter light, where the sun is low in the sky, makes brightly coloured, imported flowers look almost unreal. This is not to say that the range of colours and flowers is restricting because if you look hard enough there are so many fabulous flowers to use. Scented winter flowering viburnum, the purity of paperwhite narcissi, witch hazel in warm spicy tones, blue hyacinths, the berries on hardy jasmines, ivy, rosehips, and hellebores with their perfect discs of white, speckled pinks or rich wine colours are just an example of how, with a little imagination, a small-scale, local grower can provide stunning bouquet which is so personal, so unique to that day and that place that it could probably not be replicated even if you wanted it to be (which we don’t of course). The British Flower Collective and Flowers from the Farm are a good place to start, made up of like-minded growers they can let you know all about what is in flower when (within a range!), where your local growers might be and how to contact them. Twitter, Facebook and a Google search might equally come up with options in your area, although we do mail order too.
At The Garden Gate Flower Company we grow organically certified seasonal flowers which are ‘made to measure’. We really care about the conditions our flowers grow in and getting it just right for your day. We grow heritage variety seeds, bulbs, scented foliage and flowering shrubs alongside our ever expanding range of perennials, perennial grasses and edibles. This year we are experimenting with letting our vegetables flower. I have done this accidently to great effect in previous years, and actually cabbage flowers smell quite nice and not at all of cabbage, and the number of familiar garden plants which have a history of being used medicinally is quite surprising, and I have taken to planting leeks and asparagus in my borders just because they look nice. We pride ourselves on attention to detail and hope our creative approach to selecting unusual plants to use alongside firm favourites, in consultation with the bride and groom, will result in stunningly unique flowers every time. We can do poetic, single species arrangements or quirky, theatrical bouquets, for weddings in Cathedrals, caravans or tipis. We invite customers to come and walk around our cutting garden, and whether they have a really clear idea about what they want, or want to be inspired, we will do our best to make the whole bespoke experience enjoyable and supportive. We offer a styling service in Cornwall and parts of Devon, from providing all your flowers and vessels or just buckets full for you to arrange yourselves. In other parts of the country we can send flowers by next-day courier and carry out detailed consultations over the phone and via internet. So wherever you are and whatever sort of wedding you want we can provide flowers as unique as you are!