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Behind the scenes with The Real Flower Company

06.19.17

There are a few companies for who, when an email lands in my inbox, I might give a little cheer. The Real Flower Company is one of them. I have always been on the lookout for my favourite kind of flowers out of season and that is how I first came across this lovely company. Garden roses are something I have in abundance at home for their relatively short season, but this is a matter of weeks rather than months at a time.

So last autumn I went on an internet mission to try and find a grower of roses who would perhaps extend the season for me a little – or maybe even a lot! This is when I first discovered The Real Flower Company, who have a paddock full of rose bushes not so very far from me in Hampshire.

Perhaps I digress, though when there is a little bit of a back story, I’m always keen to record it! And if you follow me on Instagram, you will know how much I love a beautiful rose, whether in a vase or a flat-lay. Anyway, back to the lovely email offering to gift me this beautiful bouquet of scented roses. Well, it didn’t take me very long to accept as I already knew their work and had actually ordered a bouquet from them last autumn – you can see it in my Instagram gallery several times…

At first glance you can easily see why I am so fond of The Real Flower Company. Have a look at their website and you will find countless beautiful, hand tied arrangements all of which can be ordered online for delivery across the UK. But it’s not until you peek behind the scenes that you can really understand just how much I love their company ethos.

The Real Flower Company’s founder, Rosebie Morton, originally set out with a mission to bring natural, scented, UK grown flowers back to the floristry and cut flower market. Most roses grown for cut flowers now have – through genetic modification – little to no scent. I can say in all honesty that flowers grown by The Real Flower Company have the most delicious scent, it fills the room in a subtle way. And not only do The Real Flower Company sell to customers of their own in-house florist, they also supply some of their blooms directly to other florists too.

Typically though, UK grown blooms make up only 10-12% of flowers currently used by UK florists… That number actually surprised me, I knew a lot of flowers were imported but hadn’t realised quite how many. Because many of The Real Flower Company’s flowers are grown on their own farms in the south of England, they come with the smallest possible carbon footprint.

But further to this, Rosebie acknowledges the market for beautiful flowers runs all year round and not just when flowers are in season. In answer, she helped to establish a fair trade flower farm, Tambuzi, in Kenya and blooms are grown and shipped over using empty space on scheduled passenger jets rather than cargo flights which in turn reduces carbon emissions by up to 6 times when compared to flowers imported to the UK from Dutch flower auctions, as indeed most commercially available flowers are.

It is a compromise whereby we can buy beautiful, natural blooms all year round while supporting up to 500 local workers at Tambuzi. I would encourage you to read a little more about their work with the farm at Tambuzi over here.

And it doesn’t end there. The Real Flower Company flowers are responsibly grown using sustainable farming techniques and eco-initiatives. They are certified under the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme, we are part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and are members of the Farm Wildlife Advisory Group.

That is a lot of names and fancy terms but think about it, wouldn’t you rather buy with the knowledge that your blooms are being farmed responsibly?

The photographs in this post I took on a visit to The Real Flower Company’s rose paddock earlier this month. It was such an interesting place to visit, to have a proper look behind the scenes and chat with head gardener Rob and florist Rebbie about everything from cultivation to pest control. To learn which blooms are their most popular and why.

The paddock is not only filled with roses – though they are the most numerous by far – but also plants for foliage, herbs, wild flowers and much more besides. Further down the road there is another site where they also grow sweet peas, peonies and dahlias to name but a few more.

This week is British Flowers Week and I really want to encourage you to think a little about where you buy your flowers from. Cut flowers are such a luxury and I do worry that buying without thought is simply putting into decline to our amazing, local produce. Hat’s off to people like Rosebie and The Real Flower Company for bucking the trend and producing a brilliant alternative to scentless blooms with huge carbon footprints. Available both directly to us as consumers and to florists through the trade, these are undeniably my favourite roses when my own garden runs out.

I think you’ll love them too.

J x

a few useful links

The Real Flower Company
British Flowers Week
Reviving the UK’s cut flower industry

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