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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since we started on our amazing flower farming journey. We found our rented field after a fairly long search for an suitable site: it’s a sheltered paddock on an arable farm, previously grazed by horses and cows and when we got it was just a grassy space with a tap but we were so excited!

Full of enthusiasm we set to work sowing seeds on our windowsills at home. We sowed mainly annuals that were fast growing, productive and sturdy such as Ammi majus, salvias, cerinthe, calendula, cornflowers and orlaya so that we’d get lots of flowers for cutting in our first season.

Work at our new field started, we marked out our first area and had it ploughed. The soil was amazing and we were so lucky that we could just plant straight into it with little additional preparation. We put up rabbit netting, marked out our square into beds, and once the seedlings were big enough we planted them out. We were off! 

The first season we sold our flowers bunched up at farmers’ markets and through local farm shops. It was a great way to test the market and see what worked, which flowers looked good together, how long they lasted etc. 

The early days of Sussex Cutting Garden when the plot was one step up from a grassy field.

First steps towards a cutting patch. The all important rabbit fencing.

Tractor ploughing in summer at the Sussex Cutting Garden flower field with sunlight glinting off the paths.

Preparing the field.

Getting ready to skin the poly tunnel at Sussex Cutting Garden.

A poly tunnel is a boon to extending your growing season

Eager seedlings stacked up on racks waiting to be planted at Sussex Cutting Garden.

Ready and waiting to be planted out. Eager seedlings.

cutting beautiful British flowers at Sussex Cutting Garden in high summer from the flower field

Cutting from a productive patch of annuals and biennials.

cutting sweet peas in the polytunnel at Sussex Cutting garden

Cutting sweet peas in the polytunnel - smells heavenly!

In our second year we were thrilled to be offered a polytunnel frame and we roped in family to get it assembled and skinned. It made a huge difference to our growing capabilities, extending the season by a month or so at each end of the year. It also offered great protection to more delicate flowers. Furthermore, the polytunnel provided shelter to us as well, giving cover to dash into when it rained! We found a corner to store our buckets and a few tools, and over the years it has been used to host workshops, been a place to hold surprise parties (!) and to dry soggy waterproofs.

Over the next couple of years we continued to increase our growing area to keep pace with growing demand for our flowers until were were eventually using the whole field. We planted roses, hydrangeas, and various foliage shrubs such as pittosporum, eucalyptus, hebe and bay. Herbaceous perennials such as alchemilla, veronicas, phlox, and peonies are always being added and have taken the place of some of the annuals over time.

We take every opportunity to practice our floristry skills with the ever changing selection of fresh stems that we cut from our field. We frequently take home buckets of flowers on weeks when we have a surplus and we love trying out new combinations of colours and textures, perfecting techniques, and photographing our work.

Weddings came our way quite early in our journey and they soon became our main focus as couples love our seasonality, eco credentials, and wild look. In the early days  when the weather was cool enough, we’d prepare weddings in our polytunnel and we occupied Kate’s garage if it was too hot in there. But as we got busier we found we needed a dedicated workspace with all our tools to hand, so we added a portacabin to our field and kitted it out with work surfaces and storage. We absolutely love doing flowers for weddings as each one is totally unique  – every one gets its very own selection of the most beautiful flowers growing on cutting day. This way of working creates its own challenges, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Last year we took on a whole new challenge – the creation of a bigger new growing area on a wonderful plot of land bought by Kate and her husband Robbie. Over the months we have been working hard on our new project, and we are now in the process of moving to our new home, just in time for the 2021 weddings to start.