Updated: Aug 24, 2019
And how we got to grow and cut our own flowers.
We began four years ago, this month from just a plant stall in Audley End, outside Be@One Holistic Therapy Centre. We sold small bunches of cut flowers together with perennial and annual plants from a few tables and an honesty box, all grown from our garden in the village.
We went on to cultivate the Centre's garden to demonstrate cut flower growing.
By September 2015, the Farm had moved up the heady retail ladder and was selling bunches of cut flowers on the Walden Local Foods Stall. Leading to a Saturday Stall, once a month, at the Saffron Walden Market. By early 2016, we were installing event flowers and holding floral classes.
In late 2016, The Audley End Estate, had agreed to lease Lord Braybrookes’ Walled Garden as well as the Old Allotment Land behind the village for us to grow on. Over the winter, we had all the turf lifted, beds dug and mulched to start growing on them in 2017.
By then, the old miniature railway line and bridges had been lifted and filled in. Following an enlightening lecture Anna attended of Charles Dowding, we now use a ‘no dig’ method, preparing beds with cardboard layers straight over the grass and weeds, layering inches of organic matter and planting directly. This creates much less disturbance to the soil structure and micro bacterial activity in the soil, resulting in stronger plants. We apply mulches throughout the year to improve the soil structure, retain moisture and feed the soil and plants.
In 2017, we started selling wholesale flowers to local florists together with installing more weddings and events and on line bouquet sales.
By 2018, the farm needed 3 things to thrive – more help to grow and cut flowers, more space to grow and somewhere to arrange them. Within 2 months, Anna had secured all three elements. Charlotte appeared on Anna’s doorstep at New Year and as a highly experienced horticulturalist, learning quickly how to ‘farm’ flowers and turning over the beds with new plants.
We partnered up with Award Winning ‘Flourish Produce’ in Linton where Calixta grew all our easy Hardy Annuals amongst her vegetables and salads to encourage pollinators to her fields.
This gave us space quickly to grow the vast quantity of material we needed where it was limited. We concentrated on the more demanding cut flowers like ranunculus, sweet peas and dahlias.
Finally, in March this year, Amanda Murray (Lord Braybrookes eldest daughter), generously offered the derelict old Mower Shed, now the Studio and the old orchard (not a single tree remained) which we call the ‘Braybrooke Garden’. The studio had no ceiling, the front window and wall was barely holding the building up and there was an earth floor with big rat holes !
During that summer we sympathetically renovated the studio, filled 3 skips with wood ash, employed a digger to de-compact the garden, Martin rotovated and installed raised growing beds. The Braybrooke Garden is also our class cutting space to demonstrate to our course attendees how to grow cut flowers as well as showing off our planting design and smaller numbers of more unusual cutting plants. We now grow all our own flowers between these three plots, the Walled Garden, Braybrooke Garden and Field Plots.
We supplied cut flowers and arranged wedding and event flowers all summer 2018 whilst carrying out all this development work in preparation for this year. We have installed weekly arrangements into the University Arms Hotel and Parkers Tavern, since July 2018, the hotly anticipated reopening of the hotel and new restaurant after renovations and now supplying Kettles Yard with flowers for the house and exhibition dinners.
Late 2018, we held our first Grow Your Own Cut Flowers Classes in the Gardens, as part of a year long practical course. We now have Bee Hives and a Composting Loo. We are currently renovating the original Chicken Coop and will welcome chickens in the next few weeks.
We have held numerous events and classes over the winter and we are finalising our class and opening dates for this summer to welcome you to our plots.
THANK YOU for all your support so far.