October

Another few days and we’ll be done for 2016. We’re moving the farm this winter and it’s high time I started digging up plants. It’s sad. And it’s exciting. I’m not good at goodbyes. Our new farm has a lot of really wonderful opportunities. And a polytunnel. I can’t tell you the difference that will make to us and to my morale in general!

Moving also gives me a chance after 3 growing years to get tough and get rid of some plants that just don’t work for us. Colour trends change and my personal tastes have shifted a lot,  some things are not going to be coming with us. I might just have a farm sale and send them off to more appreciative homes.

We’re still quite a way off having a serious frost here. The rivers keep us well insulated. We have one more 2016 wedding so if the cold can JUST hold off until after the 22nd that would be great!

October is busy enough without factoring in a move. It’s really the START of the year for us. Spring flowering bulbs need to be planted and annuals for next year are waiting to get planted for an early crop. The sweetpeas are off and will be planted out in March. And then there’s Christmas. We’re going to be very busy with markets and teaching wreath classes.

But I think I like this month the best of all. The apples and cobwebs. Cold mornings. Seeing the steam on my tea. I’m really annoyed that I’m having a real hiccup loading photos – computer says no. So here’s a favourite of mine from last year. Chrysanthemums are my new crush (don’t tell the dahlias!)

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Kelly

 

Us

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Hello. I’m Kelly. I’m the one who started all this flowery business we call Native. It’s me who chooses the seasonal, sustainable flowers that make our flower farm, who takes the photos and worries about the weather. You’ll find our flower farm on the Bere Peninsula in the Tamar Valley, Devon. I moved here with my family three years ago. A little move, just from Plymouth. Not that far…but such a short distance has brought us a long way.

Moving here, we were chasing that dream of a simpler, more sustainable life. A chance to raise our family in a village and be in the countryside, something I yearned for after 10 years in the city. We wanted the good life. The cliche. Growing vegetables & keeping hens in the garden. To see stars from our beds and let the kids roam a little. But from the first day, the first week, a whole new future fell into place and I can tell you, it might not be the simple life we had in mind but it’s a happy one.

I knew of the flower growing history of the Tamar Valley. Bits and snippets from books, lectures and archives.  A career spent peering at herbaria sheets and notebooks meant villages and names were filed in my head. And as our first winter here rolled into spring, the hedge banks and fields became speckled with daffodils. Yellow everywhere. Never one to ignore a flower – the family are used to my stopping the car and holding up walks to pour over a plant – I’d pad around the lanes, my youngest asleep in the pram, twitching my lips and muttering about varieties. These oddments and stubborn reminders of the past and old flower fields. I was obsessed.

Plants, flowers, trees. I’ve never been able to get enough. My career has meandered but every turn has pivoted on a new plant obsession. Ranger, gardener, natural history curator, flower farmer & florist. Flowers excite and inspire me. That Spring, I felt I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up…

It started with a little scrap of a land to grow a crop of daffodils. All the varieties I’d lusted after the Spring before. But I was naive to think I’d ever be content with just one season, just one species. I had to have more. Greed set in and soon my flower list spanned the seasons and I needed more land. The beautiful and historic Hawcombe Meadows were offered to us and are now home to Native Flower Farm. We grow an acre of annuals and perennial flowers and manage two meadows, apple and cherry orchards and woodland.

I’ve always wanted to manage land “properly”, just as I was taught to way-back-when; “when” being summers building dry stone walls and winters laying hedges. Hawcombe is a gem. Gently managed pasture and benignly neglected banks, it has an abundance of wildlife and native plants. We grow in ways that tread as lightly as possible on this special place. It’s grown flowers and fruit before. Every spade of soil turned earths up fragments of pottery and pipes from the dock dung and street sweeping shipped up the river from Plymouth to fertilise the land in the Tamar Valley’s market garden heyday.

But there’s a lot meadow. Glorious meadow, one that turns white with Pignut and Cuckoo Flower , another that bakes in the summer sun and blazes purple with Knapweed. But it’s meadow that could be more wildflower rich. So come February we’ll be establishing a mixed flock of sheep, goats and pigs to holistically graze them. Animals are a more sustainable and prettier choice than machinery and suit our sloping fields. They’ll each graze differently and improve our pasture giving different wildflowers and grasses a chance to dominate and open spaces for us to seed them.

We’ll be keeping our hedges tall to slow the winds that charge up and down the Tavy and Tamar. We’re already harvesting hazel and ash from our woodland to stake our plants and every winter we’ll plant more native trees and shrubs in pockets around the farm. Every single decision we make from soil, to seed to stems of flowers in your vase is considered for it’s ecological impact. We do this because we believe that growing flowers shouldn’t cost the Earth. We occasionally shout it a bit louder when someone says something about the cut flower industry that’s frankly daft; but day in and day out it’s just how we do it. And it makes for some bloody lovely flowers.

This year we’ll be selling our flowers from independent shops in Tavistock and Plymouth as well the occasional farmers market and pop-up shop. During the Summer season flowers can always be found for sale at the gate. We’ll be opening the farm for occasional PYO afternoons where you can indulge in picking flowers by the bucket full under what feels like endless skies.

We specialise in wedding flowers in our modern, gathered-botanical style. We hold our consultations at the farm. Tell us your plans. We’ll walk the farm and talk it all through and have tea in our vintage caravan. From a single bouquet and buttonhole for a bijou-do, to a full wedding from ceremony to reception, we’re happy supply you with flowers.  For creative couples, we supply flowers to DIY. Native has beautiful, seasonal flowers all year round for your celebration.  All grown at the farm or sourced from other British flower growers who share our values. (DIY florals are available from Mid April to October only.)

Our gentle flowers and sustainable floristry techniques make us a natural choice for woodland burials. Made from willow, moss, hay and Twool with seasonal foliage and flowers they are a touching tribute to friends & family who had a deep fondness and affinity with nature.