If my wedding photography is all about the real beauty of each couple then, I would like to think this is the floral equivalent! This was a personal project where I followed the growing year with two rather gifted, rather hard-working women- a flower-grower and florist. Paula and Rachael.
The Grower and the Florist
Paula of Millpond Flower Farm supplies roses that actually smell of something- I wish I could capture that on the camera… but for now you’ll just have to remember that smell- many layered and generous and delicious. Grown in Scotland, just down the coast from us, cut complete with kinks and gorgeous, non-homogeneous beauty, and delivered to Rachael of Hedgerow, and then worked with some kind of aesthetic magic into a bouquet for a real, beautiful bride. Each bouquet that Rachael conjurs is totally individual, reflecting the bride’s quirks and loves.
The Two-Speed Flower Industry
I love that the flower growing industry is booming (blooming?) in Britain - small growers forming a co-operative network across the country. Florists increasingly having the choice to choose local, seasonal flowers and foliage for their work. Hence the upswell in florists like Rachael, who work almost exclusively with British grown produce.
For a long time, the flower growing industry, despite it’s natural image, has increasingly used pesticides/hebicides in an intensive growing system, culminating in flying to automated 4 km huge markets in Holland, where electronic auctions ship the flowers across the globe. The end result are flowers that are largely ‘perfect’ : identical, plastic wrapped and … sterile. Available all year round.
You know some gasp about that asparagus flown in from South America? Often flowers have more frequent flyer points and the pesticides and fungicides seem to be unregulated as the flowers aren’t for human consumption.
Contrast this with the British versions which are largely organic (Paula’s are) and entirely seasonal. Slowly the floristry business is changing back to local growers- but the admin involved at the florists end- vs. the slick Dutch ‘click and collect’ means they still have a way to go before they’re both on an equal footing for a floristry business.
Flower Ideas from my Brides
I’ve worked with brides from across the spectrum- some have grown their own (with planning that the military would be proud of- staggered planting to make sure there would be the right blooms then, no matter what the British weather did) for the cost of the seed packets.
Another bride who was a florist and so made it all herself with a friend/colleague, sending her fiancé out to lop branches off trees the day before,
to the brides with just one significant, striking flower in their hand…
to one who cut (with consent!) the flowers from a neighbours garden and her own… making two big buckets of flowers which she, her bridesmaids and flower girls sat and made their own bouquets on the morning of their wedding.
Wedding flowers should be a beautiful part of your wedding day… joyful and full of expression of who you are as an individual and a couple. They can literally cost the earth or they can be thoughtful and abundant and not literally or metaphorically cost the earth.
If you’re getting married and are in need of a florist- check out Rachael. Or if you’re a florist in need of Scottish blooms… then there’s Paula and further afield you can check out Flowers from the Farm - https://www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk/