Taking the Plunge
by Abigail Beszant, Ivydene Flower Farm
I didn’t know it at the time, but the death of my dad in January 2018 was the beginning of my career change. Whilst arranging his funeral I realised how strange and impersonal the whole funeral process was. When a few short months later my partner’s dad also died it was like deja vu! This time I had my wits about me a little more and took the decision to have a go at the casket flowers myself – I watched a lot of YouTube videos for inspiration and was amazed at how much I loved making them.
It was Christmas soon after and my mum and I had a ‘wreath off’ – we both loved it and she, noticing how much I had got out of the whole thing, generously gifted me a career change course at Tallulah Rose Flower School. It changed my life. When I started the course I was a self-employed gardener and thought I’d already found my dream job. But after taking the a month off work to play with beautiful flowers and meet wonderful friends, I realised my perfect job was actually to grow flowers. My mind was blown!
At this point I was living on my own with my three children in an ordinary house in Oxfordshire and my partner was living in his house nearby. We decided it was time to pool our resources and see what we could find. Instantly we found ‘the one!’ a beautiful (somewhat dilapidated) Victorian cottage ‘Ivydene’ with a couple of acres near Burford. We needed to act quickly to secure our dream house, but luck was definitely on our side as I instantly got a cash buyer. It felt like it was just meant to be. We moved in just 4 months after the Tallulah course. I could not believe my luck and still can’t now!
During the rest of 2019 we worked on selling my partner’s house and planned what was needed to get the flower farm started. I was growing like crazy in the old greenhouse without actually having anywhere to put the baby plants I raised. All the time I was still working for my gardening customers, but I was in my element. I watched every video I could, followed any flower farmer who was sharing their ways of growing on Instagram and, of course, joined Flowers from the Farm.
In February 2020 a local farmer came to rabbit-proof a useful but manageable part of the paddock to be used as my first cutting patch, and once the fence was up we got to work on the beds and frames.
My expectations for my first year were very low, not really knowing if anyone would actually buy any flowers. I thought I would just grow to see what worked. Amazingly, everything worked and every stem sold!!
For so many people 2020 was an awful year but for me it was a triumph, my partner Chris was furloughed so was able to build everything we needed while I carried on with my gardening clients. My fabulous local florists supported me wholeheartedly and I now also have a stall at the end of the garden path.
I’ve listened to as much advice as possible from flower farmers, have kept my beds uniform to make it easier, and I’ve planted more shrubs that I can count! I have picked in the early mornings and watered at night and I’ve loved every single minute. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me, especially my late mum who set me off down this flowery path.