British Flowers Week 2016 - grower and florist Sara Willman

To celebrate British Flowers Week 2016, Gardens Illustrated will be posting a series of interviews with some of the amazing cut-flower growers and florists supporting the British-grown revolution. Here we talk to Sara Willman who started My Flower Patch in Wiltshire. 

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Sara Willman

My Flower Patch

 

Sara started her flower business, My Flower Patch a little by accident having grown too many flowers in her village allotment. She gave flowers to friends, who then wanted to buy her flowers to give to other friends, sparking the idea that her flower patch could become more than just a hobby. But it was the support of other British flower growers on social media that encouraged her to turn her small idea into a proper business, "It’s lovely to know I’m not the only loony doing it!"

Sara grows on a small scale, on a quarter of an acre in Wiltshire, "It’s not like a pretty garden, it’s all grown in rows and it is a very productive area. We don’t waste space". Her patch isn’t organically certified but they try and keep things natural and use as few chemicals as possible – preferring for the birds and helpful insects to deal with those problems that are usually dealt with by pesticides.

Each year she tries growing different flowers to keep up to date with trends on Pinterest and in Bridal magazines but nothing is sold until it’s been tested, "I want to make sure it has a good enough vase life and that it will perform well for other people".

There has been a significant increase in people looking to buy British-grown flowers over the last few years and when I ask Sara why she thinks that is, she draws a link to the emotions that flowers bring out in people and the natural look of the flowers themselves. "People just love our flowers, they’re different; they have more vitality and they’re more natural, they’re not the same as every other high-street florist and they’re definitely not the same as the ones you buy in the supermarket. People are drawn to the nostalgia and the memories that the flowers trigger for them." She also thinks that people are more aware of where their produce comes from and her customers love the fact that the flowers they buy are grown just two miles away, "I can walk the flowers from my patch to my house and then deliver them to my village shop ready to be sold".

Sara only selects the flowers that are looking their absolute best at the time of picking so that for her customers a delivery from My Flower Patch is always a surprise and a very personal selection of flowers. Sara says, "My patch is anything but automated – the most automated is probably the wheelbarrow. It’s very much how gardening used to be but we grow with a modern twist. Foristry is like a lot of things, it goes in circles, and the older style of floristry is very much in vogue at the moment."

The advice Sara would give to anyone thinking of starting their own business is to grow the flowers you love because she says, "if you don’t love them, you won’t look after them and you won’t talk enthusiastically about them. People find me because they like my flowers and they recommend me to other people. It’s been a natural process and I’m very lucky".

Useful information

You can ask for help and advice from other British flower growers during British Flower Hour on Twitter using #britishflowers. The event takes place most Monday evenings, 8-9pm. 

My Flower Patch
2 Alexander Fields
Upavon, Pewsey
Wiltshire
SN9 6NB

by appointment only.

Call Sara on 07894 792162
Email: sara@myflowerpatch.co.uk

 

 

 

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British Flowers Week 2016
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