I absolutely love flowers, they inspire my designs and are a constant source of joy. I love the colours, scents and architecture of plants and flowers. I am sure that you, like me, are drawn to people with similar interests. This week, I wanted to celebrate and share the work of Mary and her team at The Moorland Flower Company.
Mary has a wonderful boutique flower farm, growing heritage blooms on the edge of Dartmoor. She specialises in high quality seasonally grown flowers, mainly for delivery locally, with the majority grown from seed on their Devonshire flower farm. Like many of us, she came to her business through a passion for her trade and sustained it through sheer hard work!
So read on for the story of The Moorland Flower Company, from Mary.
"Having a second career is becoming more of the norm now and many choose a creative avenue for the second.
At the age of 50 and having been a GP on Dartmoor for 23 years, I decided to change direction. I had had a really satisfying and enjoyable career but I was hankering for something that would get me into the air and challenging me in a totally different area.
Like many people my contact with flowers had been at the local supermarket as a passing fancy of brightening the table at the weekend. I hadn't considered where they were grown and whether they were scented - just something easy to put in a simple vase.
My horticultural experience was limited to mainly killing houseplants and so the thought of growing seasonal flowers came as a curved ball to me and probably my family.
There was a genetic element as my Grandfather had a sideline at the end of the war of growing flowers in his large garden and sending them by train to London, but I was not to find this out until after my second year of growing!
It was not my thought to make a business out of my interest in gardening – in fact it started with two vegetable beds that, after my first year, got split between sweet peas and runner beans.
The excitement over the sweet peas was greater than my love of runner beans and the passion started, helped by the heavenly scent of the flowers that were cut from the plot to come into the house.
Two beds gradually increased and more areas were cleared to make room for more growing until I was asked by a local florist to grow flowers for weddings.
The whole endeavour fed on itself as I found more varieties that loved our soil and gradually the two original beds have now become over 30 and we grow over 70 varieties of flowers which supply bouquets, funerals and weddings from March to October.
We have the ability to grow things that florists find are impossible to buy from their wholesalers as we can deliver delicate blooms which would otherwise be destroyed in bulk transportation.
The learning curve has been almost vertical, helped by the knowledge base of "Flowers From the Farm" of which I am a member. They believe in collaboration not competition, encouraging local growers across the country to grow and supply their local area with fresh flowers, reducing the need to import flowers from across the world.
In the UK we import over 90% of flowers from all areas of the globe to satisfy the needs and wishes of the population.
This can require not only huge air-miles and plants kept in cold temperatures to make them survive the trip but also the use of pesticides as the consumer requests perfect blooms.
Like in agriculture, we are beginning to learn that this comes with costs that are more than just financial. Flowers bred to perfection can lose their scent as looks are prioritised above scent. It was a real eye-opener for me as the scent of fresh stocks in the house took me back to childhood.
With Covid our ideas over many things have changed and shopping locally with the added benefits that this can bring to community, is one that I hope will remain as we lift restrictions.
Knowing the provenance of what we buy and having a personal connection to local businesses, I think is all important, as we strengthen and enrich our communities."
Mary - thank you so much for such a wonderful insight into your business. Buying local flowers that thrive in our local climate seems to make perfect sense, reducing air miles, and supporting local businesses with a product that has colour, form and delicious scent.
If you live locally, please do get in touch with The Moorland Flower Company who deliver in a five mile radius around Yelverton, Devon. If you are further afield you can contact your local growers through "Flowers From the Farm" >
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