Jen Stuart-Smith – Blooming Green

This week on WHITEBALLOON INSIGHTS Jen and Bek tell us how a shared passion for flowers and the environment helped their company bloom.

Q: You and your cousin Bek founded Blooming Green in 2007. Had you been in the floristry business before that or did it grow out of a hobby or a passion for plants?

My dad challenged me to enter a local flower show, aged 12, and I was lucky enough to win Best in Show. From then on I would get asked to do the church flowers in our village, for weddings, funerals and special occasions. That is where my passion for flowers started. Bek has long had an interest in growing – focusing on organic growing and the environment. She worked in conservation, designed school gardens and worked on her family farm as a child. We have plant lovers and horticulturists / farmers on both sides of the family!

Q: As well as chemical-free flowers, your ethos is to provide flowers to people in as eco-conscious a way as possible. What does this involve?

Firstly, Blooming Green flowers are grown using a ‘no-dig’ system which is closely aligned with being organic – and we compost almost all of our flower waste. We don’t use floral foam and never have done and when we wrap our bouquets, it is without plastic. The whole bouquet is therefore compostable / biodegradeable. We grow pretty much all of our flowers ourselves (with occasional help in early spring from friends in Cornwall), outdoors on our flower plot, without heated greenhouses.

Blooming Green Flowers

Q: You organise courses and workshops at your farm in Kent. I’m sure that these are incredibly popular. What sort of activities do they include?

Hand-tied bouquet making, sustainable floristry, DIY wedding flowers… and Christmas wreaths, which are probably our most popular workshops. They start getting booked-up more than a year in advance!

Blooming Green Workshops

Q: We love the idea of the Pick Your Own service your offer. How wonderful to wander through the plot and pick your favourite blooms and colours. How does this work?

We offer PYO every Saturday, from late June, for members of the public who want a smaller amount of flowers for their kitchen table or for a gift – though the experience of picking is also a huge part of the attraction. For larger buckets of flowers, for weddings and events, you can book to pick Monday-Friday, from April.

Blooming Green Pick Your Own Flowers

Q: Are you having to adapt and alter the range of flowers you grow over time as the climate or consumer preferences change?

All we have tried to do is offer a wider and wider range of flowers and foliage and kept our ‘ear to the ground’ with regards to trends and preferences. But, by offering a huge choice, we hope to cover all tastes. The climate is ever more challenging but, again, by growing a wide range of flowers and foliage, we hope to cover all options in terms of weather!

Q: You offer a floristry service for weddings, funerals and other events and people can also buy bouquets and vouchers online. Has the type of displays you create for funerals changed over the years and do you see any other changes in the forseeable future?

All of our arrangements are very personal to each family… but are nearly always for someone who loved gardening, wildlife and / or the natural environment. This very much influences what we use. The personality of the family member can also offer a lead in terms of style; were they outgoing and brightly coloured? Or did they prefer more subtle hues? Many churches and crematoriums now have a policy with regards to biodegradability, so from that point of view, we are a little ‘ahead of the curve’!

Q: It may be a difficult question to answer because all your flowers are beautiful for different reasons – colour, scent, logevity, etc – but which is your favourite bloom?

We have a different favourite every week and every month! Current favourites in late May  / June are sweet peas and ‘Love-in-a-mist’. People will pretty much fight over delphiniums and peonies!

Q: And finally, is there a person or book that has inspired you in your work or in other areas of your life?

‘Gilding the Lily: inside the cut flower industry’ by Amy Stewart (Jen) and ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson (Bek). Both are a little sad. On a brighter note we love Charles Dowding (the no-dig guru) and Constance Spry!

Thank you Jen and Bek for sharing these insights

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