Sur­rounded by cot­tage flow­ers

Hastings Leader - - News - BY LINDA HALL

Sarah Till has gone from fi­nance to flow­ers and is lov­ing ev­ery bit of her flour­ish­ing busi­ness My Flower Cart.

From south-east Eng­land, Sarah worked in fi­nance where she met her Kiwi hus­band. Eight years ago they de­cided they wanted to raise their two chil­dren in New Zealand and chose Hawke’s Bay to set­tle.

To­day the flower farmer florist works full­time in her cut­ting gar­den grow­ing and sell­ing a range of fresh, sea­sonal flow­ers from Septem­ber to April.

“I have been grow­ing flow­ers for­ever,” Sarah said. “About three years ago I read a book by Sarah Raven and started to recre­ate her plan. We are com­pletely or­ganic and lease part of our 8ha to Bo­s­tock who are of course also or­ganic. We also have a fig block, sell­ing the fruit to Te Mata Figs.”

Sarah started sell­ing her flow­ers in a cart out­side the gate — hence the name. How­ever, she had a lot of theft and de­cided to ap­proach a florist.

“I love cot­tage flow­ers and wild flow­ers.

“They are flow­ers with per­son­al­ity and the ma­jor­ity of them are per­fect cut­ting flow­ers. They used to be popular in the 70s and have made a huge come­back in re­cent time. Some of the florists I deal with say they can’t keep up with de­mand.

“They last well in a vase if they are cut at the right time.

“My flow­ers are cut one day and sold the next, so they are re­ally fresh.

“I am re­ally keen on sus­tain­able flow­ers. I save seeds, and feed my flow­ers with com­frey tea and blood and bone. We are lucky here with good loamy soil.”

She says peo­ple tend to think of buy­ing flow­ers as a treat.

“But it’s so nice to go along to the mar­ket, get your veges, fruit, cof­fee and some af­ford­able flow­ers. Grow­ing flow­ers has also be­come more popular just as grow­ing your own veg­eta­bles has. Easy flow­ers to grow that are great for pick­ing are zin­nia, sweet wil­liam, snap dragon and you can’t go past nigella. Or throw a packet of wild­flower seeds into your gar­den — there is al­ways some­thing in­ter­est­ing in them. Plant blue flow­ers to at­tract the bees.”

Ev­ery­thing she sells is grown in her field and Sarah likes to make her posies and ar­range­ments in­ter­est­ing by adding pods and seeds.

Her lat­est pro­ject has been a plant­ing a wood­land.

“Ev­ery­thing in it has a use, whether it be beau­ti­ful au­tumn colour, nuts or fruit and there is a beau­ti­ful view of Te Mata Peak.”

The dahlia walk is Sarah’s favourite spot in the gar­den.

“I love dahlias — they are just stun­ning.”

She es­ti­mates she spends three hours a day in the gar­den and the rest of the day mak­ing up and de­liv­er­ing her flow­ers with some time spent on ad­min­is­tra­tion.

She says there’s a sci­ence to pick­ing flow­ers and each flower is dif­fer­ent, but her top tip would be to pick first thing in the morn­ing or last thing at night.

“Don’t pick in the heat of the day. Put your flow­ers into a big bucket of wa­ter and let them drink be­fore you ar­range them.

“My flow­ers do come with flower food for your vase but I think the best way to make flow­ers last is to change the wa­ter ev­ery day and cut a lit­tle bit off the stem. Bac­te­ria in the wa­ter clogs up the stem and then they can’t drink. If they can drink they can sur­vive.”

Be­cause Sarah can’t bear to waste any flow­ers they in­vari­ably end up around her home.

“My hus­band jokes that it’s like liv­ing in El­ton John’s house! I ac­tu­ally couldn’t do this busi­ness with­out him and his mus­cles and his sense of hu­mour.”

Sarah sells posies out­side Maina Cafe in Have­lock North and will be sell­ing flow­ers at the Black Barn mar­ket, which starts on De­cem­ber 1.

She is tak­ing or­ders now for Christ­mas wreaths.

■ You can also or­der on­line from myflow­er­cart.co.nz or email Sarah at myflow­er­[email protected]

PHOTO: WARREN BUCK­LAND

Sarah Till, flower farmer and florist, The Flower Cart, Have­lock North.

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