The British ornamental horticulture sector is worth £750 million to the UK economy and provides jobs for 15,700 people. We believe shoppers should back British growers by buying British flowers whenever they can. Not only will they be getting great quality, long-lasting flowers, they’ll also be helping to boost the UK economy.
After a long dark winter, nothing quite heralds the coming of spring like bringing home the first vibrant bunch of scented narcissi or glorious full-headed tulips. Despite the wide abundance of flowers at our fingertips (many of which are imports), seasonal springtime flowers continue to be popular - perhaps this is why tulips and daffodils make up over half of the ‘seasonal’ flower market in Britain.
After spring, the British flower story is far from over. There is a wide range of varieties including:
- Sweet Williams
The New Covent Garden flower market has put together a seasonality chart for British Flowers Week (which runs from 10-16 June 2019). This showcases what flowers are in season throughout the year. Support British growers by looking for these seasonal products and asking for them specifically. Click on the image below to download the chart.
Some flowers (and arguably very popular ones, such as long-stem roses) have largely been outcompeted by trade from overseas, whose warmer, lighter and more predictable climates allow them to grow and import flowers at a lower price than it would cost UK growers. However, our cooler climate is perfect for many other flowers and foliage.
With just 10% of flowers sold in the UK being home grown, how do you know that you are buying British?
Look at the label
Unlike many other European countries, the British cut flower market is dominated by supermarkets. There is no legal requirement to label the origin of cut flowers, but many retailers are proactive when it comes to labelling British (although less transparent when it comes to the country of origin for imports).
Next time you buy cut flowers from the supermarket, look for country of origin by checking for a Union Jack sticker or ‘Grown in the UK’ on the label.
Ask your florist
Florists occupy a smaller proportion of the British flower market compared to supermarkets, but to make sure you are backing British growers, ask them if they stock British flowers.
FloraBritain is a collaboration of larger British growers that sell their blooms under one label making it easier for florists to source British flowers.
Visit Flowers from the Farm to find a local flower grower and florists that use seasonal British-grown flowers.
- You will be supporting your local industry
- British flowers tend to last longer
- You will be helping to encourage wildlife & biodiversity
- You will be making the most of what’s in season
- They have a superior scent and will brighten up any room!
- Use a clean vase
- Trim the stem at a 45 degree angle (this increases the surface area for water take-up)
- Remove all leaves that will sit below the water level
- Change the water around every other day and trim the stem slightly
- Keep away from direct heat
DEFRA's most recent report - The economic impact of ornamental horticulture in the UK - published in October 2018 - reported that the British ornamental horticulture sector is worth £750 million to the UK economy and provides jobs for 15,700 people.
Ben Cross, of Crossland Flower Nursery, in Walberton, on the edge of the South Downs National Park says British growers are at risk of going under if they’re not supported by shoppers, the big retailers and government. In the face of foreign imports, the home-grown industry is in “dire straits”, he says.
“We used to sell 500,000 flowers each year to the big supermarkets but that has reduced to 100,000,” adds Ben, who runs the family business – three acres of glasshouses – alongside his father Dave. “We used to send hundreds of English flower boxes to the big wholesale markets – Covent Garden, Western International and Spitalfields – but I’m lucky now if I send a total of ten.
“I’m throwing away tens of thousands of flowers every year because we can’t sell them. The local community supports us well but, if things don’t improve, I’m not sure if it’s sustainable. So many growers have already gone under.”
With approximately 90% of flowers sold in the UK being imported, Ben would love to see the buy British trend extended to flowers.