Blog

Joys

There have been many things to be joyful about this year. The sweet peas have been amazingly prolific and provided fragrant armfuls of flowers every morning for a month. Walking the dahlia beds to see which varieties have started to flower is something I have looked forward to doing every day. Discovering new flowers or new colour combinations is exciting and fills me with enthusiasm and a desire to grow even more next year. But most of all, the pride and joy of seeing the bunched and wrapped flowers, ready to go out at their absolute best, makes all the hard work worthwhile.

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Challenges

Without a doubt the biggest challenge this year has been the weather. We had a cold, wet spring with snow as late as April. This made it near impossible to work the soil, which was mostly flooded, and left the plants pot-bound in the glasshouse or polytunnels. Also left us rushing to get everything planted out in the small window of time we had when we could finally get onto the land. We got a month of decent weather. This was then followed by the hottest, driest summer I have ever known.

What have we learned from these challenges?

  1. You will never have enough space (or time!). Be creative with glasshouse and polytunnel shelving.
  2. Don’t sow tender annuals too early. Big, leggy, pot-bound plants do not transplant well.
  3. Plan for the worst – floods, heatwaves and drought. If you get the worst you will survive. However if you get a trouble free year you will thrive.
  4.  Never give up. In flower farming there is always something to look forward to and always a positive next step you can take.

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Starting out

We set up Hay Lane Flower Farm on a 3 acre site in the middle of a large arable farm in Stagsden, Bedfordshire. My parents ran a flower and plant nursery and florists shop. I worked with them when my children were small. Above all other jobs I loved cutting the flowers in the field, especially the dahlias. When my children were school age I returned to full time work in the city, however I always dreamed of being able to set up my own flower farming business. In 2017 my husband and I decided that the time was right. We rotovated up land that had previously had sheep on it, tentatively planted a few cosmos, cornflower, zinnia and larkspur, and put buckets full of flowers out on the side of the road. And people bought them! I will be forever grateful for the enthusiasm shown for our flowers by our customers that year as it gave me the courage to give up my day job and follow my heart to become a full time flower farmer.

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