Valentine's Day: Win a heart with local, British flowers

Posted in 10 February 2014

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As Valentine's Day approaches, Naomi Slade visits a florist who bypasses imported roses and woos the nation's sweethearts with local, seasonal blooms.

Valentine's Day is a bit of an odd business, florally speaking. For Christmas we have wreaths of seasonal evergreens and winter berries; by Easter, spring is making an effort and the daffodils are forming the obligatory golden hosts. But Valentine's Day, positioned neatly at the bleakest, coldest, most grey-and-brown time of year, is linked with the most implausible and unseasonal floral icon imaginable. As the commercial juggernaut rolls into town with its tick-box romance, love is hijacked by profit and a nation of dutiful swains, driven by social expectation and some heavy-duty marketing, present their objects of desire with lavishly impersonal bunches of scarlet roses.

But times are changing. Perfume-free identikit blooms are no longer the gift of choice for discerning lovers. It is British-grown flowers that are the on-trend and environmentally friendly option. As a result, the spare, stylish floristry room at Common Farm Flowers, Somerset, is a hive of activity even in February. Vases of willow and catkins are crowded onto windowsills, filtering the sunlight that illuminates bundles of blooms; the air is full of narcissus and coffee.

The phone is ringing off the hook, while grower and florist Georgie Newbery and her assistant Emily Morriss are both elbow-deep in blooms and ribbons. They are focussed on a discussion about the perfect combination for this client or that.

"Who says there are no British flowers at this time of year? Look at this table-full!" exclaims Georgie, tying a bouquet with raffia and a flourish.

"I am single-handedly rehabilitating alstroemerias. They have been given a bad name by garage forecourts, but look at the deep reds and the gorgeous green tips. And they last and last!" she adds, cheerfully. (The Telegraph)