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super deluxe wreathJanuary can be a gloomy time for gardeners  but British flower farmers are making the most of some Winter downtime by organising a *bit of a do* in the South West next Monday. it’s an opportunity to share ideas, make connections and raise the profile of flower growing in the South west. And despite the fact that I can’t go because of work commitments I’m really rather excited about the whole thing.

The cut flower industry is huge but I wonder how many of you picking up a bunch of flowers to brighten a gloomy Winter’s day realise that 95% of the flowers sold in Britain are grown overseas? That’s a change from thirty years ago when my dad used to appear at the back door on a Friday afternoon with a bunch he’d grown himself or bought from a local florist. Back then only about 5% of the flowers sold in Britain came from overseas.

The buy local, eat seasonal approach to fruit and veg consumption applies just as much to flowers. Of course that means that you can’t always have what you want but that doesn’t mean that a beautiful bouquet can’t grace your home all year round. It can. And many of the growers attending Monday’s event in Devon are experts at making that happen.

With the decline in habitats for butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects, buying British grown flowers is an easy way to do your bit along with planting wildflower meadows. More of the latter another time. British flowers in your vase have already helped increase the biodiversity of the area in which their grown and provided food all the way up the chain.I have always grown a proportion of flowers for cutting on my allotment for that reason as well as the obvious advantages of having bucketfuls of affordable blooms to arrange around the house.

This year I am hoping to spread the word a little further by making a cutting garden at school and selling the flowers to parents and members of the local community to raise funds for long term school gardening projects.I’m also hoping to spread the word to other schools who are looking to improve the sustainability of their gardens and raise some funds by selling the flowers they grow.

I’ll blog about our progress on the cutting patch during the year. In the meantime why not look at flower farming in action from two of my twittermates – Georgie at Common Farm Flowers who made the Christmas wreath pictured above and Ben at Higgledy Garden who has just moved his operation to Cornwall and supplies many of my seeds.