First blog of 2019.......

Kitty’s beautiful Bouquet from an October Wedding we did at York House, London. Picture by  Lily Sawyer Photography

Kitty’s beautiful Bouquet from an October Wedding we did at York House, London. Picture by Lily Sawyer Photography

Hi Everyone and welcome to (a rather belated) first blog of 2019!  Well, it’s been a while I have to say! 2018 was a fantastic year despite many challenges to the business, like extreme weather here in the UK, juggled with the busiest Wedding season EVER!  But we made it through the year and after what was one of my most restful and chilled Christmas periods ever I am raring to go!  The start of January has been busy!  Lots of enquiries coming through for the 2019 Wedding season and already many dates confirmed right up until November which is fantastic!  If you or anyone you know are getting married please, please, please don’t leave your flowers too late as I already have had to say no to several couple’s because we are booked out for their dates!  We have lots of exciting new venues we will be working with this year and some old familiar ones…..it’s going to be great.

Hand Tied Bouquet from a shoot we did with Samantha Black Photography last year….

Hand Tied Bouquet from a shoot we did with Samantha Black Photography last year….

 

So last year was busy and because of that I basically did virtually no blogging at all!  This year I am setting myself realistic targets and intend to blog a least once a month….it will be things like a featured wedding, a styled photo shoot, updates on what happening at the cutting patch as well as upcoming workshops and even some ‘how to’ blogs hopefully with some video demos included, so please make sure you like our social media platforms and check into the website now and again so you don’t miss out! Click here to follow us on…..Instagram / Facebook / Twitter

 

Picking Tulips at our cutting patch in NW London…..you can read more about our cutting patch  here

Picking Tulips at our cutting patch in NW London…..you can read more about our cutting patch here

One thing that I have been working on over the last few years, but in particular last year, is our green credentials.  It’s a pretty big topic at the moment with the focus being on plastics and the BIG problem this is causing our lovely planet.  So here at Urban Flower Farmer we made a pledge a few years back that by 2020 we would have reduced our plastic waste SIGNIFICANTLY…..so here is what we have done so far…and I have to say I’m pretty proud of what we have been doing…….

 

-      We grow sustainable flowers which are used to supplement our Wedding & Events business.  Our flowers are grown just 5 miles from our studio base, are managed using traditional methods and are all grown organically using no harmful chemicals.  We encourage and work with mother nature/wildlife to form a friendly eco system at our little patch!

-      When we buy in flowers from other suppliers our first stop is other British growers so we are supporting local/British industry and reducing our carbon footprint to boot.  We do import flowers when we need to and this is something we are looking to reduce even further going forward.  We always buy fairtrade flowers from trusted suppliers where we do have to import flowers.

-      In 2018 we went foam free!  This may not sound much but it is MASSIVE!  There are literally tons of floral foam used every day in floristry which is just chucked into landfill where it sits for hundreds and hundreds of years.  It is also a known carcinogen!  It also enters our water system in the form of micro particles which we know is super bad for us, animals and our planet!  We have gone back to using traditional methods of floristry with chicken wire, sustainable moss, and other degradable materials. We have produced some of our biggest and best weddings ever and this method really works!

-      We wrap and pack all our flowers in recycled and recyclable kraft paper.  We have brown paper tags tied with compostable twine and even our sticky tape is biodegradable!  We use re-cycled glass jars to transport flowers in and on the very rare occasion we use cellophane (only a few times in the year) we use recyclable cello.

-      Where we use plastics to base some of our larger arrangements we collect and re-use these time after time.  Nothing goes to landfill, nothing is wasted! Our biggest problem at the moment is finding suppliers who ship things in recyclable packaging…..we are getting there but there is still a way to go.

-      On a personal level our household is making efforts to go even greener – we are buying eco friendly alternatives to every day things (so things in glass or cardboard rather than plastic etc).  We shop at places that sell loose fruit and veg so we can fill our cloth bags with our goodies and I try to shop everyday choosing to walk to my local shops and buying only what I need.  We already are avid composters and grow a few veggies for us and the chickens!  As they say every little helps!

-      The plan for 2019 is to get better at this and continue to promote good working practices that help our planet!

I love this shot from Sarah & Johnny's summer wedding in Hertfordshire....such a great mix of colour for this beautiful boho wedding using seasonal British Flowers.....Photography by  Martin Phelps Photography

I love this shot from Sarah & Johnny's summer wedding in Hertfordshire....such a great mix of colour for this beautiful boho wedding using seasonal British Flowers.....Photography by Martin Phelps Photography

 

So enough of the eco stuff. A brief update on the cutting patch.  I planted lots of perennials last year and in light of last years heatwave, these were the by far the best performers so I have expanded the perennial beds – over the next couple of years these will really establish and make a great addition the cutting patch!  I have extended the rose bed as they were just so lovely last year, and I have bought in more Dahlia tubers as these are by far our best performing flower year in year out….my plan is to propagate from the mother plants this year to expand our stock further with minimal cost (apart from my time of course!).  We decide to do no dig last year and its worked out really well. The soil is healthy and it keeps weeding to a minimum. I am hoping these small steps will cut down (a little) the work I do at the cutting patch as although the annuals I grow are super easy to they do take a lot of work with successional sowing and tending them before they even go into the ground, so by cutting down on this area and really focusing on a few key flowers like the dahlias it should really help the workload.  It’s all about honouring our eco credentials but not killing ourselves in the process – last year I was working 7 days a week every daylight hour there was (and when we are in full wedding mode quite a few hours in the darkness too) – watering, cutting, arranging, as well as all the weddings and admin to keep on top off.  I generally do most of the work on my own and last year it was exhausting to say the least,  so on my list of resolutions this year,  one is to maintain better my most valuable tool that I have in my business and that’s ME!  I have, after 34 years being a vegetarian gone Vegan or plant based (for my conscious, for the planet and for health reasons) – I am, although fairly fit, trying to exercise daily just for 5 or 10 minutes and then do a 5k run once a week – its amazing how quickly my body has adapted and strengthened just by doing these little things and even though I already dance twice a week (I’m not great but I love it!) and walk my three rescue dogs daily I am loving the newer fitter me!  I am hoping that it will keep me going through the busy season when it all gets crazy and I am dead on my feet! 

From an August shoot with  Caroline Opacic Photography  using British Flowers. Ring by  The London Victorian Ring Company

From an August shoot with Caroline Opacic Photography using British Flowers. Ring by The London Victorian Ring Company

 

I will over the next few weeks start posting workshop dates.  These will be super limited because they take lots of time and energy and as a business we are focusing on Weddings & Events so workshops, although I will run them throughout the year will be limited!  We have decided over the last year to really cut down on our ‘other’ work and this year the plan is to go even further so we will focus on the big events and start to cut out the little one off orders…we will no longer guarantee the supply of one off hand tied orders unless it fits in with our busy work schedule.  It’s worth asking if you need flowers sent to someone but generally we will be Wedding Florist only with a few workshops tucked in between.  It’s a decision I have been slowly making over the past couple of years and it means my Weddings get 100% of my attention and I can focus on the things that I do best – and that’s create beautiful wedding flowers.

 

So don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the latest news, blogs and workshops and please feel free to leave comments below of things you would like to see on the blog, any brilliant planet saving ideas or just say Hi!  We would love to hear from you…..

 

Some of you may know that I write for an online food magazine called CIBARE.  I am their garden/allotment advisor…..I am sadly giving up my lovely allotment this year because I don’t have the time to dedicate to it but we have turned the studio garden into a little veg patch with some raised beds and eventually a greenhouse, so I will continue to grow vegetables but hopefully because its right outside my flower studio it will be easier to look after/water/pick.   It also sits next to my chicken house so they will have fresh greens on tap all day everyday!

Me and one of our resident rescue chickens at our studio space in North London/Herts……picture by  Emma Davies Photography …

Me and one of our resident rescue chickens at our studio space in North London/Herts……picture by Emma Davies Photography

 

Anyway, thanks for tuning into the blog, please stay in touch and I look forward to blogging over the next year with you all on board for the ride!  Have a great January and see you in Feb!  Emma x

Emma SousaComment