Author Archive | Rachel Siegfried

Flower Farming – Through the Seasons

Green and Gorgeous celebrated it’s tenth anniversary this year. In 2008 I started growing on about 1/4 acre, squeezed in amongst rows of organic veg, the flowers proved their worth and slowly they crept across the entire site, with further tunnels being installed to protect the more delicate blooms and extend the season. Here we are today on four acres with our home and workshop overlooking the fields….

A series of practical on-farm workshops looking at how to grow, harvest and sell quality cut flowers.

Over the past decade I have seen a huge rise in the number of people throwing in the day job to boldly go into the flower patch, from nurses to accountants, many with no horticultural or floristry experience – just a love of flowers and a need to do something they are interested in and inspired by for a living.

Delphinium picking
Delphinium picking

I decided to become a flower grower after being a gardener for many years and was still unprepared for how much and how quickly I needed to learn so that I did not end up wasting enormous amounts of time and money.

Bucket of Ranunculus
Bucket of Ranunculus

Even with good horticultural skills and plant knowledge I had to find ways of scaling up my gardening practises without completely exhausting myself.

Using a hedge trimmer to cut back perennials

There was also the small matter of learning how to arrange flowers to make them irresistible to my customers, which in turn brought up many other questions. What were the right flowers to grow that would meet their tastes and requirements, how to ensure a continual supply against all the weather would throw at us and how can I organize all of this into the space and time that I have so I can still have a life outside of work?

August Bridal Bouquet

Together with my partner Ash we have been tackling these questions by finding techniques and systems that have allowed us to reduce our acreage and labour but turn over more profit. Over the years we have slowly improved – our site layout, tools and equipment, ways of selling, what we grow, our branding, how much we charge, who does what – to make the business as efficient, profitable and sustainable as possible. It is a work in progress and there is still much to do and learn but I like the challenge and the never ending process of learning which flower farming brings. 

There are many courses out there now on growing cut flowers for business and pleasure with the majority being just for a day. These are worthwhile but can only work as an introduction to the subject, to get people thinking along the right lines. Many of the people that have attended my ‘Flower farming for Beginners’ course over the past five years have been glad to know about pricing and finding the right customers but they need more detailed information on what I call the ‘nuts and bolts’ of growing.

My feeling is that if you are planning to make a career out of floriculture, a series on growing flowers for business would be even better, where you can keep checking in, reinforcing what you are learning in real time. I want to offer a course that runs through the season so that people can learn as they grow.

So this year I am offering ‘Flower Farming through the Seasons’ a series of three timely workshops that will take you step by step through a growing season. This will be a real time experience that is completely practical and business orientated, it is aimed at people who are new to Flower Farming or perhaps have done a season and have even more questions than when they started.

For more information about the course and to book online just visit our shop. If you are interested in staying with us the night before we have two rooms available in our farmhouse on a bed and breakfast basis, please get in touch for more details.

Styling my Brand

It was ten years ago that we dreamed up Green and Gorgeous, after a  long dog walk I finally found the name that had been just beyond my reach for months. A graphic designer and illustrator were employed and soon we had a logo and it was time to start growing some flowers!

I have always been very fond of our name and brand identity, it certainly has set us in good stead but as our business has grown and changed it is no longer the right fit.

A decade on and Green and Gorgeous has grown up and is a very different enterprise to when we started out so I wanted to create a new brand identity that would convey our matured business.

Our rebrand has been a year in the making, it has been a process which has been both fascinating and nerve wracking at times.

Initially I did what I always do when I want to get something done, I bought a book, Fiona Humberstone’s How to Style your Brand. The more I read the more I realised I needed help, I felt too in my business to have any clear perspective.

I approached branding consultants Opal and Co, as soon as I spoke to Clare I was reassured that I was in good hands she helped me with the brand blueprint which is really a branding strategy which gets to the heart of your company’s purpose and who it is for – your target customer. My discussions with Clare really helped to clarify the direction I wanted to take the business in over the next ten years and how I could stand out from my competitors.

Once I had my brand personality document it was time for the visuals and I already had Caz Harrison from Making Waves booked in. She had a waiting list and seems to be rather in demand. After seeing some of her recent commissions including Lucy the Flower Hunter I was pretty excited about what she would create for us.

Caz visited us here on the farm to get a sense of what we are about. We had a good look at my mood board on pinterest…finally it was my turn to get the pinterest out! Caz stated that G&G was definitely an Autumn personality with a touch of Winter. At this point I will direct to you Fiona’s book or website to explain the importance of knowing which season your business falls into if you are to use colour psychology to its full potential.

A few weeks later the Brand Snapshot file arrived in my inbox, it was a nerve wracking moment what if I hated it? Thankfully I didn’t in fact it felt very comfortable, almost familiar.

Caz started with an overview “The new Green and Gorgeous brand identity celebrates the gentle colours and textures of nature and honest British heritage”

This is followed by a mood board which included some of my favourite brands, fonts, colours and artists. I think putting this together begins to set the tone and gets Caz in the right mind set to start sketching and pulling out pantone colours.

Next up our new colour palette, based on some of the keywords that came out of my brand blueprint. Caz has moved away from the obvious greens and seems to have miraculously chosen similar colours to the ones I am using to decorate our new home.

So it goes without saying that I really like them, particularly Beetle which is the colour she has taken through into our signage and printed material.

I wanted something timeless with the font, with a heritage feel. I like the fact it isn’t too defined and has a letterpress, handmade feel, I also thought it was high time we had an ampersand.

I was keen to have an abbreviated form as our name is a bit of mouth full and does not always fit on printed material. This is where Caz really worked her magic and came up with our mirror image icon.

She added in some mock ups so that I could visualise how the new brand would look on stationary, signage even on a tote bag, which would be great for course goodies.

So here it is just in time for Spring 2018 and hopefully it will stand us in good stead for the next ten years of ‘artfully cultivating flowers’.

 

 

 

 

It’s All in the Vase

Last year was our busiest so far for workshops with almost thirty dates fully booked ranging from career courses, collaborations, growing cut flowers at home and floral design.

Pot by Harriet Coleridge

This year I am planning to add to our course repertoire with some new subjects including flower painting, a ‘perennials and woodies’ masterclass and a residential flower farming course in October – more about those in my next blog.

I am also keen to bring back a few tried and tested favorites.

One of the most popular newbie’s of 2017 was ‘It’s All in the Vase’, I came up with the idea for this full day of floristry after working on my book in which I focused on natural style floral designs in about thirty different vessels.

Over the past ten years of working with garden flowers I have come to the conclusion that the choice of the container is equally as important as the selection of flowers and foliage to go in them. I strive to enhance the seasonality, form and colour of the composition with the shape and texture of the vase/pot/jug – it doesn’t matter what you use as long as it is watertight.

This full day of floristry focuses on this principle with three vase arrangements in a range of shapes and sizes aimed for different places in the house.

Harriet Coleridge throwing a footed bowl.

I loved preparing for this course as it meant shopping for vases and even more fun designing custom made pots which meant indulging in one my favorite crafts – pottery. I am just a beginner who can make a pot but not one with any intentional design.

For this I needed to call on the professionals – Harriet Coleridge and Joanna Oliver. Both are local potters who like to work on the wheel using stoneware but their throwing style, glazes and firing methods are very different. Together we designed a series of ‘pots’ which I felt would enhance the colour and form of the materials for each season.

Bowl by Joanna Oliver

Vases, bowls and jugs are already being planned for 2018 and each season will include a hand thrown pot from Harriet and Joanna which is very much a collaboration of their signature style and my input to make sure it works as a vessel for the seasonal gatherings of flowers and foliage. For Spring, Harriet will be making a bowl inspired by a trip to Japan, the perfect shape for holding noodles or in this case flowers with a turned foot in a beautiful, warm, creamy shino glaze.

I am also mindful of how these vases will work in people’s homes, I want then to become a go to favorite for the kitchen table or mantlepiece for years to come.

I had some lovely feedback from people who attended last year’s workshops including a blog by visual storyteller Cristina Colli who attended the Spring class and recorded the day with beautiful photographs of everyone’s work.

As much as I love ceramics we do include other materials include glass and metallics to reflect the different seasons and play with various sizes and shapes – here are a few of my tried and trusted favourites.

There are three dates available this year, one for each season with the first spring date of April 22nd now live on the website. So, if you fancy a day of full floral immersion with lots of ideas on what to grow in your own gardens for cutting, techniques for arranging in a natural style without using florists foam and three beautiful, bespoke vase arrangements to take home, have a look!