My twins, myself and brother Sam had the pleasure of spending the morning with Emma from Earthenry Farm, wandering and photographing the picturesque flowers and chatting all things harvesting.
Emma and husband Greg, along with their two children have been building, growing and tending their farm and gardens at Lower Snug for 20 years now, and they have many more plans to realise over the coming years. However, 4 years ago Emma decided to try flower farming and started to develop the new cut flower fields in and around the existing large garden and pond. Emma never planned to be a flower farmer, it somehow followed on naturally from an obsession with landscape design and her private public art practice. “After I finished my degree in Fine Arts in 2016… I wanted to find a way I could practice art with something more accessible than competitive public art grants. I was seeking complete artistic freedom if you like, away from client briefs! Already a self-described ‘mad keen gardener’ and heavily into the science of growing, the idea of growing her own beautiful materials and playing every day with seasonal flowers, colour and form seemed like heaven – and it truly is! “Every bouquet I make that leaves the farm is essentially a mini sculpture that I created from scratch! It’s just so rewarding and enjoyable!”.
The other passion of Emma’s is sharing the farm with other people for ‘pick your own flowers’ experiences and educational workshops. “I wanted to design and develop a space where others could come to soak up the beauty of flowers as well as learn practical ways to grow beautiful flowers successfully themselves, so every design decision on our farm has had that approach in mind.” “This season in particular we have really been feeling like this dream has been becoming a reality” after the implementation of their new Twilight flower picking events, complete with food, drinks and music. “They have just been so popular and it’s been so rewarding to see so many happy people leaving the farm with our flowers and huge smiles! ”
Tips for harvesting:
Harvest early in the morning and always away from the main heat of the day. This way the plants will be at their most hydrated. A second best option is to harvest later in the evening. Store your harvesting buckets out of sunlight as the water can heat up quite quickly.
Cut stems on a angle and place into water as soon as possible. A good practice when harvesting flowers is also to recut your stems just as you place them into the bucket of water to minimise the chance of air-bubbles entering stems and interfering with the flowers ability to drink. Some woody or hollow stems also need a ‘hot water’ dip which means to dip for 10-20 secs in an inch of boiling water to force out air bubbles and facilitate drinking again. Thick, woody stems can also benefit from a vertical cut up from the bottom of the stem to further facilitate drinking or harvesting into a bucket of warm water, such as with Hydrangeas, which I always cut later in the evening and allow to hydrate all night before using the following morning.
Cut deep! Don’t be afraid to cut deep into your plants above a leaf node when harvesting as this will stimulate the plant to produce new shoots with more usable long stems for cutting next time. Although some flowers, like single stem Sunflowers and Stock are ‘one and done’ many flowers are classified as ‘cut and come again’ and will keep producing new flowers over a longer harvesting window.
Choose flowers and foliage at the right stage! Cutting a flower past it’s prime will result in a much shorter vase life. Likewise, cutting a flower too early may result in the buds not opening or premature wilting. It’s good to always do a vase trail with new varieties before you need to use them in an event or special occasion. This way you can be confident how the cut flower behaves and lasts and you won’t have wilted arrangements or lots of petals dropping off your floral designs!
Allow cut flowers to properly hydrate after cutting before arranging. This is generally 1-2 hours and is essential. Apart from a few exceptions, most freshly harvested flowers need adequate time to hydrate and should not be out of water too long directly after being cut.
Emma's Favourite Flowers
Anemones as they are just so beautiful and some of the first flowers in Spring, Peonies because they are so big and gorgeous but also very tough and pretty easy to grow.
Marigolds as they smell so good- almost fresh and citrusy and remind me of being in my grandmothers garden.
And lastly Dahlias because of all the huge range of different colours and forms! And you get so many tubers from a plant in one season! Perfect for sharing with friends and getting them addicted to Dahlias too!