As many of you will have noticed, British flowers and a talented local florist were chosen to make the finalists’ bouquets at the Great British Bake Off - an inspired decision by the production company and a wonderful boost for our cause!
Earlier today I had a chat to Alicia from The Wessex Flower Company about how she got the job and her thoughts on British flowers. I thought you might like to hear what she had to say…
Jill: How did you land such a great job?
Alicia: Last year I was asked to do some flowers to decorate the local church for a fund raising event. Four florists were asked to make an arrangement for each of the church windows by the owner of Welford Park, Debbie Puxley. I think it must have been Debbie who put my name forward to Love Productions who produce The Bake Off. My arrangement looked very different to the other three and I think she must have liked it.
Jill: Did Love Productions specify British Flowers?
Alicia: They asked me to send them lots of pictures of my hand-tied gift bouquets before they booked me. They didn't specify British - but that is what I sent them pictures of. They loved the idea of British Flowers for the British Bake Off.
Jill: Do you always use British flowers?
Alicia: Obviously, imported flowers have their place and I couldn't be a wedding florist without them. I fully appreciate the year round continuity and standard of produce you get from the market, and I can’t see myself going fully British for a while. However, whereas when I started out, people would ask for specific, imported, unseasonal flowers and I would try to persuade them away from them; now they rarely do. I always try to use and buy British flowers, starting close to home with my own cutting garden and local growers like you, and then the Cornish suppliers like Flowers by Clowance. Only as a last resort do I use imported flowers.
Jill: How would you describe your style of floristry?
Alicia: Natural, just gathered, whimsical. I love things with bendy stems!
Jill: Why do you like using British flowers?
Alicia: I love to use British Flowers mainly for the aesthetics. They stand head and shoulders above the straight, uniform imported varieties. I love the quirky unusual fillers which transform a bouquet from just lovely to WOW!! The foraged foliages on offer in the English countryside provide a larder of beautifully coloured leaves, berries and seed heads which I love to use to add interest to my designs; from Hazel nuts still on the branches, pocket plums, old man’s beard, to swathes of rose hips. I love it all!
Jill: What advice would you give to other British florists and flower growers?
Alicia: Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. Sometimes, it’s that one stem of something weird that absolutely makes a bouquet!
Jill: And I guess that’s where the small British flower growers like me come into it?
Alicia: Yes, because you are prepared to sell me a bit of this and a bit of that instead of me having to buy large quantities of each thing.
Jill: Thank you Alicia, for sharing your thoughts, and congratulations on doing a really great job - you gave a fantastic boost to the cause of promoting British grown flowers. Your bouquets were stunning!