Last week we joined Kate on her flower farm @cliftonblooms
, a 40min drive south of Hobart, close to the beach.
Kate and I have been longterm 'insta friends', so it was good to finally meet in person, to see her beautiful farm and have our kids play (mine especially loved the sausage dog puppy 'Tiny').
Kate uses some of our seeds to grow commercially cut flowers.
Kate's Grow Your Own Cut Flowers Workshop
Kate will be holding a very special workshop on her farm in March, on how to grow cut flowers. Details are here
When did you start growing flowers and what made you start a flower farm?
My family and I moved from the Inner West, Sydney to Tasmania at the end of 2015. Shortly after moving, I had grand plans to start a flower farm, but I hadn’t grown a single thing in my life. I’d also just finished my Yoga Teacher Training and felt like I “should” give that a go. I spent the next twelve months growing (and killing) a lot of vegetables as well as teaching yoga.
By the end of 2016, I knew teaching wasn’t for me and I had a small plot fenced with the intention to start growing blooms. As it tends to do, life happened, and the flower farm didn’t start. I fell pregnant with our third child (the nine-year gap should speak for itself!) and my husband required open heart surgery. 2017 was a BIG year, one of immense highs and lows.
In 2019, we moved to Singapore. During this time, I did a health coaching course and coached a little, but it wasn’t lighting me up. We returned from Singapore in the middle of the pandemic and like a lot of people, I felt quite lost and rudderless. I just had no idea what I wanted to do.
I faffed about in the vege patch, kept staring at the fenced plot while
continually asking myself 'Will I , or Won't I'
I had a strong sense, call it an intuition, that I needed to give the flowers a red-hot go. I enrolled in a Horticulture course, got a part time job at my local garden center and put some plants and seeds in the ground. And here we are, second season is underway and while there has been challenging moments, I have experienced an incredible ease and flow to all things Clifton Blooms.
That was a really long way of saying I started growing flowers in Summer 2020 and commercially in 2021!
What's your favourite flowers to grow on the farm?
Ohhh that's a tricky one! My two favourites are Kangaroo Paw
. I love their sculptural vibes, the pollinators love them and they are both incredibly hard working. In terms of cottage garden blooms, I'm quite partial to alliums
but honestly, I kind of love everything! I'd love to grow it all but there's only so much space. I try to grow things that can tolerate dryer conditions and that suit my customer.
What are your top tips on growing flowers from seed?
What mistakes have you learnt from along the way?
I've made so many mistakes and continue to do so. Gardening is all about trial and error. Every session in the garden provides an opportunity to learn and every season is different. Don't take any of the failures personally. Sometimes things don't work and there is an obvious reason why and a lot of the time, there isn't. Just move on and try again. I can't stress enough how important it is to talk to other gardeners and share what you learn along the way. So much of gardening, in particular variety specific knowledge can only be learned through personal experience. We all have a responsibility to keep varieties diverse and thriving for future gardeners. I feel very fortunate to have some generous and knowledgeable mentors guiding me and I hope to be able to do this for others.
What do you love most about having a flower farm?
There are a couple of things, I love being outside and connected to the seasons. Although growing commercially is a hard slog, I do find many parts of it weirdly relaxing. I also get an immense amount of joy in playing a small part of bringing beauty into the world. The flower field, in Summer is knock your socks off amazing.