Charlotte Tombs, an experienced Dorset flower farmer at Northcombe Flowers in Sturminster Marshall, shares her growing year and seasonal thoughts with us.
Imported flowers, as we should all be aware by now, are not only costing the Earth they are also breaking the bank; the demand for cut flowers this year has never been so high.
There are a number of factors that have caused this price rise: the first of which, believe it or not, is snow storms in Ecuador. This is where all the pretty garden roses are imported from (do people not realise that England is the home of the English garden rose?). But also Brexit and yes our new
but powerful enemy, Covid-19 have had an effect. All these coupled with fact that it is becoming increasingly harder to employ people to pick and harvest flowers. Some roses in the fashionable antique muted tones at the moment are selling for £5 to £6 a stem – and that’s wholesale. Crazy prices, crazy time; with double the amount of weddings taking place post-covid high demand will surely further inflate the prices. It’s not the individual growers, wholesalers or florists making huge amounts of money, either – everything has just got more expensive. You’ll notice even your regular groceries bill is increasing, almost weekly, it feels.
Flower auctions work very differently to a normal auction.
Where you would usually expect prices to start low and the bidding to move them slowly higher, the opposite is true for flower auctions. When that perfect coloured rose comes up for auction, and you have a customer, perhaps a bride who has stated that this particular shade will make or break her wedding, then the florist will quickly bid whatever it takes, for fear of missing out. Thus pushing prices up.
There are of course British flower and foliage growers (why would I otherwise be writing this?). But the British flower industry needs to be supported, by the government and by the British public. Smaller growers need to join forces so we are able to supply the wedding industry from within. Many are now hell bent on demanding to know where their food comes from, and yet never think about the source of their flowers?
We can all make a start for ourselves.
Sow your hardy annuals such as cornflowers, calendula, ammi majus and poppies now, and you’ll be rewarded with earlier, stronger and healthier blooms. What is not to love? Plus the hungry pollinating insects will thank you next year after a long grey winter.