As the UK prepares for tomorrow’s funeral of Prince Philip, inside Windsor Castle and Clarence House seasonal cut flowers grown with care and love by Flowers from the Farm growers are lending some comfort to the households in mourning.
Earlier this week, Sarah Diligent of Floribunda Rose, a florist and a dedicated Flowers from the Farm member, headed to London, commissioned by Flowers from the Farm to offer fresh flowers with messages of condolence to HM The Queen and to Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
The seasonal, scented, sustainable British blooms that Sarah had collected from her local flower farmers and arranged so beautifully, were deemed so beautiful and the story behind them so moving that they were conveyed by Windsor Castle warders and Clarence House staff directly to the Royal rooms. Diligent by name and diligent by nature, Sarah would not rest until she saw the flowers safely and personally delivered into the Royal residences.
“It is a massive honour to be able to do something for someone who is so far out of reach,” explained Sarah Diligent. “My heart really went out to Her Majesty on the death of Prince Philip. The people I have my studio from for many years are Edith (aged 88) and her husband George, who died aged 93 last year. I know that my heart went out to Edith, going to bed on her own for the first time in 70 years.”
“Beneath all the pomp and ceremony around Her Majesty is a lady who is now on her own. It is a privilege to bring comfort with our flowers to a lady who has a huge void in her life. It is lovely to think that maybe I could bring a little comfort in difficult times.”
The power of flowers to offer pleasure, joy and comfort is well documented, and Sarah argues that seasonal, local-grown flowers carry particular meaning. “In difficult times where you don’t have the words, you have the flowers,” Sarah says. “The flowers that we use are only of that moment in time. Our flower farmers throw themselves into what they do, heart and soul, and they are experts in what they do. A sympathy arrangement in April of tulips and hellebores is special. Every spring, you will be reminded that some cared and thought of you enough to to bring a bit of lightness in your darkness. Somebody thought of me then. What a huge honour to be able to lighten someone’s day.”
Having recently visited Hortus Poeticus and Plantpassion shortly before the commission, Sarah knew what was available for these special sympathy vases. She chose her flowers according to her special criteria: “I selected flowers that were either beautiful in their own right, incredibly fragrant, typical of the moment or had really good wiggle value! Fritillaria uva-vulpis has just one little bloom at the end of a tall stem, which gives a really good wiggle! The double hellebores give wonderful textures. The tulips were snuggled into the arrangement, knowing that they would grow at least an each or two in the vase and with blossom too, the bouquets will move and change. I like to think that when they see them each day, they will see different different things as the flowers open and change.
Sarah sourced the beautiful blossom and narcissi from Hortus Poeticus, tulips from Bee Haven Flowers, spirea and purple pittosporum from Gilly Floral, and scented sweet peas from The Real Flower Company.
A florist rather than a flower farmer, Sarah Diligent is passionate about British cut flowers and about supporting the work of Flowers from the Farm through her membership, and she sets high ethical standards for her business. “It’s important for me to know how staff on flower farms are treated, and who’s picking the flowers,” explains Sarah. “Sourcing from a local flower farmer is the most responsible way of buying flowers. I need to be comfortable that I know the provenance of every stem, where they’re from and how they’re picked, and I wouldn’t know detail that about imported flowers.”
“And I prefer to buy flowers that have not been bred to be straight or that are more delicate,” Sarah continues. “I like to know that I could buy a 6ft branch of blossom. Imported dahlias, for example, are exhausted by the time they get to you. I like to buy flowers that are absolutely fresh and absolutely beautiful. We want to sell the very best flowers in the best way for people and the product.”