A Flower Farmer’s Library
Mai from Bellhouse Blooms makes a different type of floral arrangement this season: a bouquet of books.
As the evenings stretch and the hours of daylight fade, flower farmers are busy indoors: researching, planning and reading. In addition to the copious notes and spreadsheets that allow us to make decisions for next year with a clear eye on what worked and what didn’t this season, it’s a good time to seek inspiration and advice from books. From step-by-step guides and plant-specific manuals, to artistic, colourful sparks for your imagination – books offer more than one way to help you grow. Flower farming is practical work and a creative act: you need to feed your soul, as well as the soil, to make it sustainable. Here are a few trusted favourites from the shelves at Bellhouse Blooms.
– In Bloom: Growing, harvesting and arranging flowers all year round, Clare Nolan
This was my first book when we took on an overgrown cutting garden, and although designed for at home, smaller-scale growing, the clear and encouraging advice is equally applicable on a larger plot, and gives a calm start to those wondering where to begin.
– The Flower Farmer’s Year: How to grow cut flowers for pleasure and profit, Georgie Newbery
Common Farm Flower’s Georgie Newbery came to flower farming from a completely different background (fashion) which I found incredibly helpful coming from a professional life in the art world. Written in a helpfully direct tone, this is packed with useful information: comprehensive and comprehendible.
– The British Flowers Book, Claire Brown
No flower farmer should be without a copy of this. A colour-coordinated bible of the seasons, it will see you through all stages of planning and gives a clear visual reference if you offer services for weddings and events.
– Cut Flowers, Celestina Robertson
Cel’s research on the environmental impact of the cut flower industry has made her a leading light in British flower farming – sharing her invaluable knowledge through her Forever Green Flower Company and this handy-sized reference book.
– The Cut Flower Sourcebook, Rachel Siegfried
Focussing on perennials and based on years of horticultural and cut flower growing experience from the founder of Green and Gorgeous, this book is a fantastic resource for those wishing to expand the sustainability of their plot.
– How to Grow the Flowers, Camila Romain & Marianne Mogendorff
Formerly working together as Wolves Lane from their plot in London, their book has great current, relevant advice, and plenty of inspiration for growers urban and rural.
– Cut Flower Garden, Erin Benzakein with Julie Chai
Erin’s Floret Farm is the superstar of American flower farms: her guide has a clear style and is packed with tricks and tips for growing and cutting.
– From Seed to Bloom, Milli Proust
Much awareness of locally-grown, seasonal flowers has been raised by Milli’s instagram account, and her beautifully packaged seed collections, and now her book shares a further glimpse into a beautifully-styled world of blooms.
– Everlastings, Bex Partridge
Projects with dried flowers, perfect for extending your season and ideas for getting creative with your dried harvest.
– How to Create a Wildlife Pond, Kate Bradbury
The sustainability of our site would not be possible without the pest-control predators who live in the ponds – and this book has everything you need to ensure you are welcoming helpers into your plot.
– Fantastic Foliage and how to Farm It, Hilary Collins
If you grow eucalyptus for cutting, you need this book. Every question you might have, answered. Simple and essential.
– A Guide to Floral Mechanics, Sarah Diligent & William Mazuch
The complete textbook for sustainable floristry techniques, with concise descriptions and diagrams to ensure robust structures that can underpin a range of floristry styles. My copy is thoroughly tea-stained, a hallmark of its daily usefulness.
– Flower Colour Guide, Darroch & Michael Putnam
Although geared to American market availability, this visual reference guide will help with colour schemes and combinations and includes removable cards which you can use to create moodboards.
– How to do the Flowers, Constance Spry
One of my favourite charity shop finds, an absolute classic of flower arranging. Scouring the shelves of charity shops and local libraries can be a great way to come across unexpected inspiration, and advice. I have a very outdated Reader’s Digest Complete Gardening that is a great source of information on perennials, and a treasure trove of currently overlooked plants for cutting.
– Constance Spry and the Fashion for Flowers, Shane Connolly
The catalogue from the insightful exhibition at the Garden Museum, full of images to inspire.
– The Gardener’s Palette: Creating Colour Harmony in the Garden, Jo Thompson
Colours to inspire bouquets, or growing patterns, or simply to refresh your palette.
– Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture, Justine Picardie
The history of the resistance fighter who became a rose grower, told with elegance and integrity.
– Luxembourg – Land of Roses, Heidi Howcroft & Marianne Majerus
A personal love, because I used to live in Luxembourg, but the images by Majerus conjure a world of beauty to inspire any rose-grower.
– The Well Gardened Mind, Sue Stuart-Smith
A thoughtfully written and meticulously researched survey of the mental health benefits of growing, I’ve bought multiple copies of this because mine is constantly borrowed.
– The Ivington Diaries, Monty Don
My most soothing recommendation, as the diaries celebrate the small successes of the growing year, but don’t shy away from the overwhelming failures that we all experience. Comfort and Joy.
On my reading list
– Uprooting, Marchelle Farrell
What Makes a Garden: A Considered Approach to Garden Design, Jinny Blom
– England’s Gardens: A Modern History, Stephen Parker
The Garden Against Time, Olivia Laing (May 2024)
Outside the box
“Footfalls echo in the memory. Down the passage which we did not take. Towards the door we never opened. Into the rose-garden.” Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot
Inspiration for your flower growing journey can come from less direct sources, a few to set you on your way into the fields…
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
Tom’s Midnight Garden, Philippa Pearce
House of Light, Mary Oliver
The Hill We Climb, Amanda Gorman
More Than Weeds, L. Kiew
The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry