The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Update on the flower farming project


Irises in the pond

Photo: Irises in the pond

Danny is cooking supper and multitasking with the world cup. So I thought that I’d update you on our flower farming venture.

I’m gradually finding homes for the 2,000 plants. There has been a lot of tweaking and stretching of borders. In fact, there is very little lawn left now. Some of the plants are just coming into flower – exciting stuff for me.

Up until now we have been selling perennial flowers, teamed with highly scented varieties of  old roses and leaves from the shrubs that are already established in the garden.

Last year I planned to hoik out a lot of the iris that bloom in the pond at this time of year. Thank goodness that I didn’t find the time as now we have loads to sell on the gate side stand. Beautiful, albeit short lived flowers. I prefer the blue but the yellow ones produce buds all the way up their stems so have a good vase life. Next year I’ll be investing in waders to pick the out of reach blooms – as long as they don’t make my bum look too big. Tamar, I always laugh when I think of waders. Your article made me giggle so much.

This week we started selling flowers at the local village shop. I felt quite nervous when I delivered the first bucketful. This is also a Post Office so has a good passing trade. Danny was standing behind a lady this morning. She had put a few things on the counter and then said.
“Oh I also wanted some flowers. How much are they?”
He was delighted but didn’t say a word as she selected a bunch.

Of course, like the gate side stand, sales have been slow. But it takes time to build up a new clientele. It’s a waiting game at the moment – even if we have to scrap the unsold flowers every few days we will gradually build up a reputation. And that’s what I’m interested in pursuing. Good organic local flowers with no air miles or chemicals.

In a couple of weeks we’ll have pinks, cornflowers, cosmos and ten week stock. The sweet williams are beginning to flower and the garden feels vibrant and full of life.

In her book, Grow Your Own Cut Flowers,  Sarah Raven notes that she sets lots of annual seeds in the Autumn in her greenhouse and cold frames. This means that she starts off the year with small yet strong baby plants. We will definitely be doing this in September as tending so many teeny plants  grown from seed in the Spring has been a bit of a nightmare.

I did buy seeds, a few plants and bulbs from Sarah Raven’s excellent site but I also bought a lot of recommended flower seeds from one of my favourite sites Thompson and Morgan (thank you Magic Cochin and Sarah Raven). Quite a few of the T&M seed packs were more expensive than those from Sarah Raven’s website as they included more seeds. I have always found the germination rate from T&M and Sarah Raven to be excellent.

T&M have a great offer at the moment that ends on June 14th. 50% of all flower and vegetable seeds. So I will spend a happy morning lolling in bed tomorrow choosing flower seeds to sow in the Autumn. A great incentive to actually construct an alternative to those temporary cold frames. I’m thinking of hinged units that can be easily stored when not needed.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Diane

    Thanks for those tips. I love Chinese lanterns and , taking your advice, have ordered some Lunaria seeds. If I sow them now I should have flowers next spring and seed heads later on!

    Thanks as well for the link to the flower growers blog. Lots of inspirational stuff there. Thank you.

    Hello Dantom

    It’s strange but I have the same problem with irises that are not in the pond. When I move them into the pond they flourish.

    Could you set a washing up bowl in the soil and try growing a few in that?

    Hi Bridget

    Yes, I love sweat peas. We are growing a lot of them this year and have just started harvesting them – too small at the moment to sell but in a couple of weeks time they’ll be ready!

    Hi Joanna

    I don’t think that it will be difficult when I set my mind to it. If I do succeed I’ll post the plans on the blog.

    Hi Veronica

    It would be my dream job if it does succeed ?

    Hi Paula

    Thanks for your good wishes!

    Danny adores football and it leaves me totally cold. I do like the occasional beer though!

    I’ve just remembered that your husband brews his own beer – this is something that we must do this year too.

    Hi ElegantSniff

    What a great idea and marketing ploy too! At the moment we are relying on the perennials and shrubs already growing in the garden but in a few weeks time we could be swamped when the new plants start to flower.

  2. ElegentSniff

    Have you thought of donating un-sold flowers to a local church? They’re always grateful for flowers, (my Mum does church flowers) plus there are often a lot of keen flower arrangers among church ladies, so it could work well for letting them know you are selling flowers – they will buy for their own homes 🙂

  3. I hope that your flower business takes off as well- much good luck with that endeavor.

    I am currently a World Cup widow myself. But what do you do?

    Right- bring him a beer….

  4. Veronica

    This is so exciting! I hope your new career as a flower farmer goes well (but I think you have the determination to succeed at anything you put your heart into!).

  5. Joanna

    I am interested in your storable cold frames idea. I was thinking the other day that we really need some cold frames to stop the hare eating our seedlings and also for use in the polytunnel over winter but of course then they would need to be movable.

  6. Bridget

    I’m thinking sweet peas would be a hit. Old fashioned flowers that are not something you see in commercial flower shops.
    Good luck!

  7. dantom

    Hi Fiona,
    we used to have some lovely mauve flag irises that no longer flower :o( do you have any Idea as to how to get them going again,good luck with the cut flower enterprise xx

  8. A former landlady used to sell Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi) and money plant (Lunaria annua) to a local florist in the autumn for dried arrangements. If you can find the room they might be season extenders for you. And these people are always at our local farmer’s market:
    They are a bigger operation but you might get some ideas from their blog. Good luck with your lovely flowers.

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