The appeal of growing a cutting garden is multifaceted. Who would not wish to gaze at beautiful blooms in the morning light and create a scented floral work of art from your own uniquely chosen palette, cut right from your very own garden. I am under no illusion though. My experience last year taught me cultivating even a few flowers for cutting took hard physical work as well as artistry. This combination of the practical outdoors and the skilled artisan is like no role I have ever encountered. I would wish to make growing my own flowers for floristry as efficient and effective as possible.
Help is available from numerous flower growing books. Of course, ahem, I have a few recommendations. Whilst this is not an exhaustive reading list of the entire range of flower growing books, the books below highlight a few favourites with my thoughts on why they are worth considering for purchase (at this point my darlings I must say I have received no inducement to promote any of these books).
Each floral book below provides solid advice on how to make growing your own flowers for floristry a reality:
- Cut Flower Growers Handbook – Arjen Huese – You may be a bit disappointed when you first receive this book as it appears far from weighty. However, what it lacks in its size, it more than makes up for in the quality of its content. There are lists of recommended flower crops and optimum harvesting stages and yields as you would expect. It is worth purchasing the book for the rather brilliant crop scheduling table alone. However, the most valuable information in my view is the insight into the business side of flower farming. This includes actual figures on market assessments, sales, and those very important margins. A very helpful “terms and conditions for contracts” is the icing on the cake.
- Grow Your Own Cut Flowers – Sarah Raven has always been a favourite of mine with her glorious eye for colour. Her seeds, plants, bulbs and tubers are an inspiration to grow your own and she always includes instructions. I have been lucky enough to attend one of her cutting and flower arranging classes. I loved it and learnt a great deal.
- RHS Pruning and Training – Vital for me to avoid chopping off the best bits at a time that I’m not meant to
- The Flower Farmer’s Year – Georgie Newbery – Another very practical and useful book from a British flower farmer flying the flag for British flower The Flower Farmer’s Year. I like its seasonal slant and monthly top tips on things to look out for – like the ever present British slug.
- The Flower Farmer – Lynn Byczynski – Now 10 years old and revised and expanded, I hesitated to purchase this as it was written by a US flower farmer and I was unsure how relevant it would be. What I know now though is that this is a brilliant reference on the essentials of growing your own flowers and an insight into best practise for flower farmer/florists whereever you are in the world.
- Vintage Wedding Flowers – Vic Brotherson – The floral designs in this very vintage book typify Scarlet and Violets romantic and nostalgic florals. The book includes many beautiful designs that feel quintessionally British. Included are useful recipes for bouquets that typify that wild garden style “just picked from the garden” look. An excellent book to inspire floral designs using cut flowers grown from your own or another’s flower farm.
- The Flower Workshop – Ariella Chezar – I had seen mixed reviews on this but in all honesty curiosity got the better of me as I was desperate to see the design receipts. The designs are engaging and beautiful in my favourite wild garden style. The only wish I would have is that the updated book – for sure it will continue to be in demand – includes the specific variety names.
- The Complete Book of Herbs – Lesley Bremness – I have had this book since it was first published in 1990. It remains a brilliant in depth reference on the cultivation and uses of a myriad of wonderfully scented herbs, including herbal trees. Asa scent is so important, this book provides excellent inspiration for the inclusion of some unusual herbs to grow for floristry
- Daffodil – Noel Kingsbury & Jo Whitworth – A wonderful publication about Daffodil varieties and their place in British floral history and culture. A particular delight for those with Welsh and Cornish origins.
- Wild Flowers – W. R. Phillpson – Printed in 1951, this is a beautiful insight, a reminder if you will, of the flowers that made up the wild meadows of another era.
- The Secret Language of Flowers – Samantha Grey – Bought for me by a rather lovely friend, with some surprising meanings. I will take more note of what I might be saying when giving certain flowers.
- Poetical works of Keats – John Keats – Language that describes life and living in a way that is both beautiful and piercing just like nature, florals and life.
Flowers are every bit as necessary as your weekly food shop.
Any sort of farming is about rootedness, about families, about local independent and seasonal produce where the buyer is able to absolutely identify provenance. I promise you that each and every title in this compilation of flower growing books for floristry will provide both valuable shared experience and key advice.
In a time when the environment feels under increasing threat, growing cut flowers gives a helping hand to nature, a boost to our wildlife and diversity that without thought will disappear before our very eyes. But growing flowers is perhaps viewed as a hedonistic pastime. After all, who really needs flowers? Naturally, I am going to argue that flowers are every bit as necessary as your weekly food shop.
I see flowers having a pivotal role in all our lives, for they are food for our very souls. All of us have looked upon flowers at pivotal moments in our lives – at times of great joy and great sadness. It feels like they connect us to the essence of life in these times. They possess some magical ability to keep us sane, and rooted when we most need them. They bring scent and memories, connection and relief, distraction and apologies, and even forgiveness, all in one beautiful fleeting moment. But isn’t that the point of flowers? Here to remind us that all is fleeting and to just live each and every precious moment.
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