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National Garden Scheme

We've had another wonderful month at Black Shed, the weather's been kind and the flowers are blooming their heads off. Which is just as well, as we've had a great many weddings to provide flowers for. By the time you've read this we'll have done over 30 this year, some full service and some simply providing buckets of flowers for the families to create their own bouquets and wedding decorations. Our brides and grooms come and choose their favourite colours and varieties from the flowers actually growing in the field. Couples really love doing this and it's a very happy part of their weddings, seeing their faces light up with excitement as we walk around the gardens is a joy!

It's been a great year for British Flowers and the flower farmers that grow them. The big floral designers, florists and brides are all demanding fresh British blooms. The word is out, people are looking for a more relaxed, natural look and the flowers that we can grow in this climate fit the bill perfectly. It's difficult to achieve this style with flowers that are grown under glass and shipped across the world, so this is great news for small British growers.

We're proud members of Flowers From The Farm and this group has done a great deal to support this new breed of farmers and farmer florists. Formed by pioneering grower, Gill Hodson, as a means to connect similar small scale growers to each other and to their public, they have succeeded in raising the profile of British flower farmers, through appearances at Chelsea and many of the other RHS and County shows. This year the group have created The Flower Farmer's Big Weekend to celebrate British Flowers and their growers, which will take place on August 16th - 18th. We're going to take part with an Open Day and Black Shed Bouquet Workshop on Sunday 18th.

As I write this, we've just had our very first opening for the National Garden Scheme. We were delighted to be invited to join the scheme, which provides so many wonderful experiences exploring thousands of amazing private gardens across the country. Visitors are always welcome at the flower farm at any time but ever since we appeared in the famous Yellow Book, we've had a great many garden groups and Women's Institutes booking visits. It's a great way to get a guided tour of the gardens and a good opportunity to learn more about locally grown, seasonal cut flowers. Despite visiting countless gardens under the NGS, we had no idea what to expect, would we get ten visitors or a hundred? Would we have enough cake? We rushed around, weeding, mowing, tidying, filling vole holes in the paths, blooming hard work in a very busy week of weddings. The day came and the car park filled very quickly! It was wonderful to see so many people pouring in and enjoying the garden. Most people had never even heard of small scale flower farms, let alone explored one. So there were a lot of questions!

The hours flew by and suddenly we had the garden to ourselves again in the evening sunshine.

We had over 170 visitors and with the huge support of Peter and Amanda Hunt at the farm and an army of wonderful friends, we made over £700 for charity.

One wonderful by product of this, is that we now have a very, very tidy garden. For a while!

All images and text ©Paul Stickland. First published in The Sherborne Times, August 2019


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