Tuesday, 1 July 2014

From seed to stall.

Gardening for one of my clients yesterday, we got chatting about jobs and the bits of them that we don't see.  Her husband is a retired gemologist and used to choose the raw stones to be cut and set by one of Birmingham's fine jewellery companies.  It's a long journey from a lump of rock to a finely cut sapphire and we were musing on how little we think about what goes into the various end products that we use or wear everyday - and its the same with a bunch of flowers.

When my stall is set up for markets, people constantly murmur and exclaim about how pretty it all looks (and smells, if I'm not set up next to a generator or sausage stall!!) and that, I guess, is combined result the loveliness of flowers, and the art of presenting them.  But behind that visual appeal, what makes them different from other flower stalls?

Firstly, they are all locally grown - cut the night before market and kept in the cool and dark to be fully hydrated before being arranged early the next day.  Secondly, they are different because I can offer varieties which aren't currently commercially grown on a huge scale because they're more delicate and don't travel brilliantly well - cornflowers have flown out of my buckets in the past few markets.  And thirdly, I love them!  I know their names, and in many cases I've watched them grow from seedlings, picked them, arranged them  and I'm sending them forth into the world to spread the word about British flowers.

I had a huge smile on my face at the last market when a gentleman, who'd bought a bunch of cornflowers and tansy daisies as  one of my first customers of the day, came rushing back half an hour later saying that they'd looked so gorgeous in his house that he come back for more flowers for his kitchen!    The two florists who've used them for wedding photo shoots recently have both said that my flowers had also stolen the show from their commercial counterparts, attracting universal oohs and aahs about their natural charms.

But it makes me smile, somewhat wryly, when people call them 'wild flowers' - having them on the stall (and in the garden) involves a bit more than a happy accident!  I know they mean that the flowers look natural, relaxed and just gorgeous in themselves, with that freshly picked feel (that's because they are).

So I thought I'd share the market day of some Tuckshop Flowers:

The evening before market, as the day fades and cools, the best blooms are picked and inspected, then left to fully hydrate in  water overnight.

Very early next morning- arranging and bunching begins - with a fortifying cup of tea.

 8.30am - the welcoming sights and smells of Tuckshop Flowers are ready for market opening time.

Come rain, come shine, the market bustles and there's lots of chat to be had about flowers with interested customers.

Any leftovers get labelled up with my details on lovely new cards (from Moo) and are sent out to work to do some marketing for me. They're delivered to hand-picked local cafes to spread the word about British flowers so when the last delivery of the day is done, finally it's time for sit down with a well-earned cup of tea!   And I wouldn't have things any other way…..

I've just ordered a copy of 'Gilding the Lily' - a book about the journey of imported cut flowers to market, and I think it is going to be a very different kind of read from the one above.

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