This year the theme of the Chelsea Flower Show was Grow British Flowers.
Fellow gardener and friend Sarah Raven’s campaign to Buy British flowers is as successful as the boys’ (Hugh, Jamie and Gordon)campaign to grow and buy British chickens.
BBC’s Gardener’s World and Country File are behind us every step of the way. We took part in programmes for both last year (see website’s ‘News’ section).
If you buy home grown roses you are helping the home economy, keeping it green – no carbon footprint or airmiles – as well as boosting the economy.
Economic downturn may herald tighter belts, slimmer waists and shorter pockets but for all those cutting back on their Jimmy Choos, roses and chocolates are THE THING to keep you happy this summer!
Cheap chic is more fun than fat wallets with strings attached and roses will give you that, and a magical fragrance every time.
We took a quick trip to the mountains last week, by car, no bookings, no horrible queuing up at Stansted, just jumped in the car, stuck it on the channel train and found ourselves on the slopes next day. First thing in the morning CNN did an entire piece on how Swiss banks were collapsing but Swiss chocolate had never sold it so good.
Immediately, since it was Valentines, I thought of the roses. A far less expensive high than all those other material indulgences for those who know that a little of what you fancy does you good.
Last year brought an inordinate amount of rain, but still we managed to send roses to Northumberland, Scotland and the furthest reaches of Ireland. The summer before we took them in the hold with us to Ibiza for make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury’s island wedding and they withstood the heat. In November last year she had them in her home for a photo-shoot for Grazia.
In May last year I talked about roses at Covent Garden to hundreds of people, Jamie Aston did a perfect fountain of white lupins to work with a coronet of our white roses and a group of horticulture students from Writtle College were so impressed that one of them, the gifted and innovative Tim Harper, came to work for us and now deftly weaves his own magic on our corsages and button holes and fabulous bridal bouquets.
A carnival in Regent’s Park for the Innocent Drinks Company, a wedding and dance at Chipchase Castle, elaborate and intimate Royal events, deliriously happy weddings which somehow caught the rays of sunshine as they intermittently appeared – even though last two years were the wettest in recorded history, Country Roses survived the rain for long enough to make people happy. And, please note bridegrooms, Dads and fiancées, roses much less extravagant than diamonds and bring almost as much joy in the moment.
New this year is that with Tim’s help we will be preparing more of the bridal bouquets and button holes ourselves, and we hope to join forces with a local candle maker to produce Country Roses scented candles with our very own fragrance in rose-coloured glasses.
My design friend Trisha Edwards, who was nominated for an Oscar for Finding Neverland, which featured our roses and of course Kate Winslet playing opposite Johnny Depp – starts Cranford Chronicles again this year, so we will be looking out our best old fashioned pinks like Mary Rose and Gertrude Jekyll. She and I are already filling our diaries with requests for rose arrangements.
Leonie Bear at Mathew Dickinson is hoping to fill the windows of Jo Malone’s shop in Sloane Street with our roses again for the special displays they make during Chelsea Flower Show week, and we are considering a partnership which may allow us to produce flowers through the off-seasons months as well.
At the moment we are pruning hard and feeding roses.
Shoots are beginning to show in the greenhouses. By late April and early May we will have roses in flower.
So there is much to look forward to, the dark days will lift, and the smell of Spring is already on the wind.