Full disclosure - I have failed in my mission to get through a whole year using only British Flowers. As I write this I’m waiting for a delivery of ranunculus and poppies grown in Itlay and sold via Holland.
So why did I cave now and so close to the end? According to my instagram posts I switched to buying exclusively locally grown flowers on the 31st March 2021. A couple of weeks and the daffs will be in full force, the muscari will be pushing through and even some early flowering tulips could make an appearance. Like a lot of tough decisions in life it came down to money, a job came in and I couldn’t turn it down. I liked the brief, the location was amazing and it has potential to lead to other work. I had turned down jobs in January to stick to my pledge, I’d been asked to host a series of workshops, things are a little quieter for wedding and event florists so a perfect time to take a few classes before the season kicks in again. I didn’t turn these jobs down immediately, I did my research, there are British Flowers to be had, grown in Cornwall and available right through the winter months. The flowers arrived and as beautiful as they were I couldn’t get the variety of stems I needed to teach the classes in the way I would have wanted. So I turned down the job, not an easy thing to do for any small business, but I had a cutting garden to build, a website in need of an update and workshops to plan for the upcoming season. I accepted that I wouldn’t be making any money in January and instead I’d spend my time getting everything running smoothly in the background ready to relaunch in the Spring.
As February began I started to panic that I had gone for a whole month without making any money and I didn’t have any work scheduled until the growing seaon started again. So that’s how I find myself here waiting for my delivery. I wanted to be honest about where I’m at with my business, I could have easily taken that job and not posted about it and continued to push the narrative that it’s possible for me to run my business on locally grown flowers alone. I didn’t want to do that because first of all it’s not true but secondly I know the pressures that we feel as small floral businesses from social media to be as green and sustainable as possible. I’ve started to realise that no matter how much good you do within your business, there will always be those people online who focus on the things that you haven’t done or the failures that you’ve made. So I guess this is me holding my hands up, admitting that I couldn’t do it and hoping that the trolls go easy on me.
I see how hard other florists work to change their practices and be more sustainable and we are often held accountable when the larger multinational companies just continue without having to constantly explain themselves. Do I wish people would stop spray painting flowers and shoving them into floral foam, of course I do and I try with my platform to champion locally grown flowers and reusable mechanics. I only stopped using floral foam in 2019 bacause up until then I didn’t have the knowledge or the confidence to do it any other way. There is a weird thing with being a florist that people think you just spend your days faffing around with flowers having a lovely time but the reality is it‘s hard, heavy graft and a tough industry to make money in.
I need to get to a place where I’m comfortable knowing that I’m doing what I can when I can. I know that as soon as my growers have flowers to sell that will be me set right through to Christmas with no need for imports. The truth of it is that I’m totally spoiled where I am - I have three growers local to me, the furthest only a ten minute drive away- that is not the same for everyone. Also I love working with flowers grown outside in nature, the way they move, their wonky stems and the little imperfections that come from being battered by the elements. I find the imported flowers with their dead straight stems a little lacking in personality and actually much harder to work with, often the British flowers do a lot of the work for you, they already have so much shape and movement before you even start to arrange them.
I haven’t just gone on a mad shopping spree with my imported flowers, I’ve bought enough to get the job done and will be mixing them with some Cornish parrot tulips and daffodils and I’ve been eyeing up a Autumnalis Rosea tree in the garden that’s already bursting with pale pink blossom. A couple of branches from that will help to soften the straight stemmed ranunculus that should be arriving any minute. I guess to sum it all up, I tried, I failed but I will keep seeking out the best local alternatives in these lean months before heading overseas for my flowers.