It’s British Flower Week! What better time could there be, we thought, to introduce you to Jane MacFarlane Duckworth of The Flower Union? Jane has long been a champion of locally grown, British flowers - from those she nurtured in her own garden to building an entire network of likeminded growers. Read on to find out from Jane just what makes British Flowers so special.
Could you please tell us a little about your background and how you came to decide on / make a career for yourself in the world of flowers?
I started the Flower Union because I believe in the power of flowers. Flowers inspire, soothe and bring people together. To give flowers is an act of kindness and to receive them brings joy.
I myself began working with flowers after a difficult period in my life. I didn't have much but I had a garden, so I started to grow flowers to use in my floristry. I soon needed more flowers than I was able to grow so started to look for other local growers. Florists that I was working with then started to ask me if I could get British Flowers for them as they were so different, and so things evolved.
What made you want to focus so heavily on British-grown flowers? What special qualities do you think set them apart?
Working with British Flowers is a conscientious choice. British Flowers have scent, movement and character. To me, this makes an arrangement or bouquet more alive. You can put your face into them and take in their beauty and power with all your senses.
Do you think people's understanding and appreciation of flowers is changing in recent times? Is there more awareness of where their flowers are coming from?
There has been a wonderful shift in interest and awareness around British Flowers in recent times, especially among clients aged under 30. Clients want to make more informed choices about their flowers. They want to know where their flowers come from, how they are grown, how they are cared for once they are cut, how they are transported and how long they will last for.
It's British Flower Week. Why do you think its important to draw attention to the industry in this way?
It is about offering clients a greater choice. Choice around variety of flowers, provenance, chemical use, carbon footprints and sustainability. It is also about supporting a historic industry in which there is a lot of skill and expertise, local and independent businesses.
How are you/ The Flower Union celebrating it?
By hosting British Flowers workshops in Hambleden, where I live and where we grow some of our flowers. We are also offering a 10% discount on all orders and bookings made during #BritishFlowersWeek - sign up at here.
As well as British flowers, The Flower Union places real emphasis on 'unusual flowers'. Do the two go hand in hand? What do you look for in an unusual flower?
It is about offering clients more choice. Unusual flowers can add greater depth and meaning to a bouquet or arrangement.
Do you think the art of flower arranging has opened up to accommodate British and unusual flowers more? What qualities do you love to see in a bouquet?
To me, a bouquet has to stimulate all the senses in one go. A great British Flowers bouquet will be visually beautiful, naturally scented, free falling and tactile (the audio aspect comes from the gasp / sigh / smile / kiss / whatever comes from receiving the bouquet ;)
What are your favourite British flowers?
I am a flower floosie - I like change - so my favourite flowers are constantly changing. British Flowers Week for me will include lots of scented peonies, rambling garden roses, unusual herbs, phlomis, sweet peas, knautia, larkspur, tradescantia, and LOTS of Nigella (love in a mist - if I had to choose, is probably my favourite British Flower).
Have you got your ticket to British Flowers Week?