Gilding the Lily – Amy Stewart (Part Four)

This is the fourth part in our series about the fabulous book Amy Stewart wrote on the cut flower industry, ‘Gilding the Lily’.

You can read previous blogs here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

It is a fascinating book that tries to describe what life is like for cut flower growers (and sellers) around the world. Do you buy this ‘luxury’ item from a country where people depend on growing flowers for an income, or does it not really help them in the long run? These are tough decisions to make, as any action you take affects a long chain of people.

We personally had a ball when we grew cut flowers for florists, and quickly discovered the amazing quality flowers from your own garden have. They last longer, they smell better, they aren’t grown with chemicals and the choice is far far better – because you decide what to grow, and each month something new will thrust its way forward to be seen. You will also start looking everywhere for that elusive cut flower – hedges become a place to discover treasures you have never thought of using, banks of earth grow flowering diamonds you can’t wait to take home, and climbers that have grown too large, too vigorously, become new material for your next vase.

Even vases become a tough choice as you hone your floristry eye…

Vase 'Vivien'

It also challenges the mind – you look at the flower you want to cut, and you have to work out how best to treat it to make it last as long as possible. Your technical ability gets stretched. It is great for you to grow cut flowers.

But here is what Amy Stewart has to say about the cut flower industry, especially growers from abroad… this quote is from an organic flower farm…

Amy Stewart on working conditions for organic flower growers…

“In the production room I had to ask why the workers wore so little protective gear – just a rubber apron and gloves…

‘When you use less chemicals, you don’t need all the protection.’

That’s when I realised that what I couldn’t see made all the difference. What they weren’t doing was every bit as important as what they were doing…”

In one company in Ecuador the women who harvested the flower would write their name on a label – this bouquet is handmade by… – it is a way to add soul to a product, but also remind people of the work that went into these flowers, that their is a craft and a provenance to what you buy.

We hope you will look through our other blog posts about Amy Stewart, as well as looking at her book Gilding the Lily.

But more than anything, we hope you will try and grow you own flowers at home – it really is a wonderful way to get out into the garden.

(Try our cut flower kit below, to make sure you have everything you need!)

Cut Flower Kit


Save Ryton Organic Gardens!

There seems to be some underhand shenanigans going on here. Bob Flowerdew is threatening to resign. We face losing the UK’s cornerstone organic garden. So please take a look at what is going on via the Facebook group…. go on! Go Now! Save Ryton Organic Gardens!


Garden Design Trends 2018

shed garden trend

Today we will be looking at Garden Design Trends in 2018. Just so you are in the know about what is cool and what is not cool in the 12 months ahead…. For the past like, million years I have shared my thoughts on what the gardening industry tell us the latest trends are going to be. If you are interested, you can see here the garden design trends for 2017. Or take a peek at my favourite of all the posts I have written – Alternative Garden Design Trends. This is my individual take on what the latest garden design …



Northern Forest – UK Plans For 50 Million New Trees

Well now, this is interesting…. UK Plans 50 Million New Trees in Northern Forest Likely? See the pitfalls? We love the idea and wholeheartedly support as much tree planting as possible. But are seriously doubtful that this is more than a sticking plaster solution to England being so vastly ‘under-treed’…. or should that be ‘overfelled?’ Yet whether this idea happens or not, all we ask is that you please make sure you plant as many trees as you can in your garden!