British seasonal flowers from Timperley
Wandering around Altrincham’s flower market earlier in the summer I was attracted by the sight – and scent - of a stall laden with bouquets of cottage garden flowers. I was delighted to discover that the stallholder, Andrea, grows flowers in her own garden in Timperley. I visited her there to find out more about her passion for British flowers and her new business, The Nectar Bar.
Andrea on her stall at Altrincham flower market
Andrea’s garden is a glorious abundance of British flowers - cornflowers, wild carrots, sunflowers, larkspur, zinnia, snapdragons and verbena to name but a few. This mix of annuals and perennials can provide colour for most of the year. There are a few fallow months in the winter, of course, but traditional holly, ivy, other evergreens and berries make a triumphant return at Christmas. The name of the business reflects Andrea’s passion for bees and all pollinators. Andrea’s tries to choose plants that provide nectar or habitats for wildlife. Her flowers are grown without chemicals even if it means spending a lot of time dealing with pests in a gentler way!
Andrea is new to floristry but has been developing her growing skills on her allotment for eleven years. A couple of years ago she attended a talk by a flower grower at the Tatton Show and a new career beckoned! An important step was joining Flowers from the Farm, a society of growers and florists who are committed to using British flowers in season and who can provide invaluable advice and support.
The movement promoting seasonal British flowers follows on from that of seasonal British vegetables and is a reaction to the industrialisation of flower growing. We are now used to having roses all year around as they are flown in from across the globe just as we are used to having strawberries at Christmas. Andrea is keen to give customers the opportunity to reduce those air miles and enjoy the rich variety of locally produced flowers. She enjoys the challenge of creating bouquets in innovative colour palettes using seasonal ‘ingredients’!
Andrea can provide a rich variety of colours and British flower species
So how should we keep our British flowers fresh for as long as possible before we need to compost them? Andrea’s top tips start with getting the flowers into water as soon as possible. Scrupulously clean vases are vital and Andrea suggests cleaning your vases regularly with a drop of bleach. Bacteria can quickly develop which reduces the life span of the flowers. Water should be changed every two days. Of course, different varieties have the potential to last for differing lengths of time. Don’t expect cornflowers to look gorgeous for longer than five days but Malope could stay fresh for up to two weeks with care.
Some supermarkets are starting to champion British flowers including the Co-Op, Marks and Spencer’s and Booths. Booths in Hale Barns take ten of Andrea’s bouquets every Friday – they were prominently displayed right at the front door when we looked!
Photo courtesy of Booths, Hale Barns
Andrea can be found at the flower market in Altrincham every month and takes orders with 24 hours’ notice for gift bouquets. She also provides bouquets and floral displays for weddings and other events. Future plans include helping others to develop a nectar bar in their own garden so watch this space! Find Andrea on Instagram and twitter @thenectarbar and on Facebook here