It's British Flowers Week - PYRUS
Recently I took a trip to the UK to prepare for a guided floral tour we will offer next year (click if you're interested), and whilst I was there, I visited three British growers! I'd love to tell you all about it! We'll start today with PYRUS and we'll share more from Cloudberry & Green and Gorgeous soon. Regretfully (or maybe not regretfully), I did not take a single picture while I was there. I was so enjoying the conversation, just taking it all in — I forgot, but I remember it all so well, perhaps for that reason.
PYRUS, Edinburg Scotland
Natalya and Fiona are both growers and designers. They focus on producing difficult-to-source blooms in their walled cutting garden. When Jesse and I visited they were in the throws of preparing for a large wedding in the city, and British flowers were the centerpiece. As we sat for a little bit, sipping on tea and nibbling cake, I asked how many growers they had to work with to meet their quantity requirements. They struggled to recite the list because there were so many! We discussed the issue of quantities when it comes to local flowers, something I've run into here in the states. Even for small weddings I would drive for two full days leading up to the event collecting flowers from 3, 4, 5 local growers in the region and have to supplement with imports due to quantity constraints. I can't imagine taking on the task these brave souls did — the goal of a 100% British grown, large-scale event. But they did! And they did it so well — victory!
It's becoming easier and easier to find the local growers in Britain thanks to organizations like British Flowers Week, Flowers from the Farm and The British Flowers Collective — they are doing amazing things to promote and support both growers and designers and I'm thankful for their work. Here in the states I frequently call upon the directories from the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers, Slow Flowers, Floret, American Grown Flowers and the Team Flower Member Directory to connect with growers.
I hope that soon, we'll see more groups, perhaps sub-groups of the organizations above, skilled in logistics and efficiency stepping up to the plate to help growers and designers quickly communicate what is needed and where it's located so we can quickly source and receive these beautiful blooms in our design studios. Right now, it takes an immense amount of effort, calling multiple growers, coordinating, guessing and hoping our farmers have the right conditions. We need to begin positioning ourselves, as a flower community, to offer and purchase effeciently if we would like to see this movement sustained. It's so important it's sustained.
The floral industry has changed a great deal with large-scale production, air freight and transportation, and while it's been shocking, this progress is good. It's amazing that in one arrangement I can have a flower from several countries around the world. It's good I have sources that can offer massive quantities of one type of bloom so I can tie an event together for my clients. Most local growers can't offer me this and that is OK. I think local growers bring something to the table that is equally powerful — It's the gift of the moment, the sense of place, the story. It's passion and heart. Local flowers enliven and I don't take an arrangement out of the studio without them. The struggle is, you can't put a price tag on the moment, the sense of place, the story, the passion or the heart. Because at the end of the day, most clients come for a product and they have budgets.
This is why to be sustainable, in addition to efficient communication and ordering systems, the local flower movement must be keen on what is available and what isn't. If the local wholesaler in your area has a steady stream of pretty scabiosa, and your designer needs to order roses from them anyway, don't grow scabiosa — grow white perennial sweet peas with vines dripping off the sides.
Local growers have the power to quickly shift production based on these regional needs and provide colors and varieties that are not readily available to their clients. This ability to shift direction and pivot will only become more and more important as technology advances. A few photos posted of a gorgeous flower by an influential designer shared by a few more — BOOM demand. It can take years for the big market to shift course, but you can do it in a season.
There is a grower here in the states, Gracie from Grace Rose Farm, that has done an excellent job responding to demand for the Distant Drum Garden Rose. She grows in quantity and she did it quickly. She's tuned into demand, she knows her customers, she gathers feedback and she has, to circle back to the first point, used technology to create an efficient communication and ordering system that is fast for her and fast for me. She is always working to improve, and at the end of the day, what I'm interested in as a buyer is that drive to improve and make life easier for all of us. It's this quality that really makes her business shine.
Natalya and Fiona have this same quality. They are big-picture thinkers who understand that we are a part of something larger than ourselves. We are a part of an industry that shifts, changes and effects what our lives look like day to day. We can let the waves roll in and complain about the circumstances, or we can be aware and purposeful — we can actually steer and adjust our course.
You, me and Pyrus, the big market the little ones — we are all a part of a big flower story. We are all interdependent on one another. It's not always obvious, but each time I start thinking about it I get lost in thought. There are so many ways...
And with that I'll sign off for today. See you Wednesday with pictures from our visit with Cloudberry.
Pyrus was featured on the podcast: LISTEN HERE
Does this topic interest you? You'll love what we have planned for the 2017 Team Flower Conference: The Future of our Industry! Learn more.
Interested in traveling to England with Team Flower? Learn more.