The Flower Farmer’s Year with Georgie Newbery of Common Farm Flowers UK (Episode 186)
March 24th, 2015
In the past year, in addition to this podcast’s primary focus on American flowers, farmers and designers, I’ve interviewed a handful of slow-flowers-minded farmers and designers based in the U.K. and Australia.
There are obvious parallels between these folks and our own renaissance and return to domestic flowers. Sadly, as we’ve experienced in our own native land, the floral industry in many industrialized nations has been outsourced and hurt by competition from countries with low labor costs and less stringent environmental practices.
I’m inspired by the creativity and kindred spirit of all flower farmers who want to rekindle the interest in homegrown flowers and the mindful florists who want to differentiate themselves in the marketplace by sourcing local, seasonal and domestic flowers. Today’s guest is a perfect voice to invite into this conversation.
Please meet Georgie Newbery, a British farmer-florist who owns Common Farm Flowers with her husband Fabrizio Boccha.
This husband-and-wife team grow British cut flowers on a beautiful plot between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset, a few hours west of London.
The occasion for our interview is the February 15th U.S. publication of Georgie’s brand new book, “The Flower Farmer’s Year, how to grow cut flowers for pleasure and profit,” published by Green Books UK and available online at Powell’s Books and Amazon, among other places.
Common Farm Flowers is an artisan florist company, which means Georgie and Fabrizio grow nearly everything used in their floristry, expressing floral design as “a craft in which artistic flair is combined with imaginative use of the material at hand to make arrangements which are full of life and air, which dance.”
Launched in 2010, Common Farm Flowers has taken off in the past five years, despite its rural locale. As Georgie writes on the Common Flowers Farm web site: “There’s clearly a market for British grown/eco cut flowers and we’re delighted by the reception we’ve had for the flowers we grow here and the floristry we do.”
Common Farm Flowers sends British flower bouquets by post twelve months a year; it supplies and arranges lush wedding flowers throughout Somerset, the South West, in London and beyond and runs workshops on subjects ranging from Flower Farming for Beginners to Do Your Own Wedding Flowers.
The farm has taken its flowers to RHS Chelsea, RHS Chelsea in Bloom, and has been featured in British Country Living, The English Garden, The Telegraph and more. Georgie frequently gives talks to horticulture societies and gardening clubs on growing cut flowers for the home, planting a cut flower border, and seminars on dahlias and sweet pea cultivation.
The Flower Farmer’s Year covers how to grow your own cut flowers to fill your house with the gorgeous colors and heavenly scents of your favorite blooms, knowing that they haven’t travelled thousands of miles. Georgie combines boundless passion with down-to-earth guidance and practical advice, drawing on her own experiences as an artisan flower farmer and florist as she takes readers through:
- how to start a cut-flower patch
- what to grow: including annuals, biennials, perennials, bulbs & corms, shrubs, roses, dahlias, sweet peas, herbs & wildflowers
- cutting, conditioning and presenting cut flowers
- starting a cut flower business
- where to sell
- marketing and social media
- an annual planner
Whether you want to grow for your own pleasure or start your own business, The Flower Farmer’s Year is the perfect guide to add to your library.
Here’s how to find Georgie at her social places:
I’ve been in San Francisco this past week, to speak at the SF Flower & Garden Show, attend the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers meeting in San Jose and to scout gardens and flower farms in the Santa Cruz region for future stories. In the coming weeks you’ll hear from some of the people I’ve met on this trip — and I know you’ll find their stories a source of inspiration for your own endeavors.
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The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at shellandtree.com