Region: South East
Location: North London
Wolves Lane Flower Company was started in April 2017 by friends, Camila Klich and Marianne Mogendorff. The two are passionate about flowers, growing and respecting the environment. Although they come from relatively different backgrounds, they were both raised in households where the garden was everything and that’s where their respective love of flowers comes from, as well as their eco approach to horticulture.
The ladies started working with flowers professionally when they started the business but in truth, Marianne has had an allotment for four years and Camila her own garden for six, so they've both been enjoying their own homegrown flowers for much longer.
"We’re quite strict about only working with British flowers," says Camila. "We try not to be the flower police, but we don’t feel comfortable with the carbon emissions generated by the floral industry in this country and neither do our customers. So they tend to be north and east Londoners who want to enjoy beautiful, yet sustainable flowers."
Marianne says: "More than fashions and styles of floristry, I think what we’re both really interested in is reconnecting floristry with nature, so we are developing a specialism in a naturalistic style that celebrates seasonality and everything it offers. Every so often we get quite obsessed by different flower varieties; in the summer it was geums, a few weeks ago it was fritillaries. We’d like to be the preeminent specialist geum and fritillary growers in the UK. Next week it will be roses, but Usk Valley have probably nailed that one."
What’s been good about being a member of the FFTF network?
Where to start? We joined in May 2017, a month after we started WLFC, and the FFTF network is such a wealth of knowledge. The Facebook forum and the support we receive from growers we’ve never even met is really staggering. No question goes unanswered. The FFTF network allowed us to operate in our first half season when access to our site was delayed and we started sowing seeds halfway into the season. It was through FFTF that we connected with other growers and bought in from them, which allowed us to do those first few nerve-racking weddings. (They are still nerve-racking)
What’s been the highlight of your membership so far?
We never expected to win the Market Flowers British Flowers Week competition hosted by the Garden Museum. However, we were awarded joint best in show with Charlotte from Festoon Flowers, who had sourced all her flowers from Carol Siddorn. Everything that we used in our own installation was either grown by us or by Bettina at Gilly Flowers. So really the highlight of our membership so far has been that that competition was really a win for FFTF. We were honoured to meet all the floristry and growing aristocracy at the awards ceremony but were reduced to nothing more than groupies when we met Gill Hodgson, our flower farming hero, at the same event. We tried not to be total dorks when speaking to her.
Is there anything you’d like to see FFTF doing in the future?
Distribution. We don’t expect FFTF to solve the issue of how you get flowers from a to b. However, the combination of changing consumer attitudes towards flowers and higher demand for locally grown, as well as a real zeitgeist for working with seasonal stems means that British flowers are in higher demand than ever. Moreover, with the insecurity that Brexit is generating and the issues that NCG and the Dutch might have getting flowers through customs if we leave the single market, there is an opportunity here for British flower farmers to be the go-to suppliers. For the record we don't want the UK to leave the EU. Regardless of Brexit, where we operate in London, there simply aren’t enough quality, locally grown flowers. We’d like to work with FFTF members towards developing mini regional market hubs, like small versions of NCG/Flowervision, just for flowers from that region/area, making it easier for florists and consumers to buy and work with British flowers.
What are your hopes for your business next year?
We’ve only been going for one and a half seasons and Marianne on maternity leave for half of the 2018 season, so the 2019 season is very exciting for us. We’re incredibly lucky to have a glasshouse which has presented us with the biggest challenges to date in terms of growing successfully and profitably. We’d like to become much better at growing under cover, better at pest control, better at being systematic.
Our site is very ramshackle. We share it with a group of organic veg growers who think we’re bonkers for growing flowers and not food but we all get on well enough. The site we grow on was once open to the community and even though it’s not a hope for our business, we’d like to be part of the process that gets the site back to its former glory and open to the local community on a more regular basis.
You can follow Marianne and Camila's exciting journey @wolveslaneflowercompany