Surrounded by cottage flowers
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]
Sarah Till, flower farmer and florist, The Flower Cart, Havelock North.