Inspired by nature and the changing seasons, I am passionate about growing and designing with flowers in an organic and sustainable method. We grow our own flowers throughout the year in our home garden and on our allotment in Salisbury UK.
The joy that comes with the process of growing cut flowers from seeds that are often sown in the long dark days of winter. To watch the seeds break their coating and send out tiny green shoots, that develop and grow into the most beautiful blooms. To be there when the seedlings germinate, to nurture, support, water and feed until that flower is ready to be cut. Then have the privilege of creating an arrangement that brings a smile to someone’s face. To be a part of the full cycle is truly something very special.
I am an Australian who moved to Britain to be with my now husband David in 2016. In the first few years of my arrival I struggled with the long dark days of winter and yearned for that warm Aussie sunshine. I have since learnt through not just growing flowers, but also photographing natures seasonal changes slowing down and living life more in rhythm with nature, how important it is to embrace and appreciate each season and what it has to offer.
My flower growing journey began with sweet peas however my love of flowers started much earlier. I remember when I was 14 or so I had noticed a little patch of bright orange flowers growing by the side of the road in the town I grew up in (Kinglake, Victoria). I admired them for a few moths every year as I walked by on my way to the bus stop each day. One Sunday morning in the spring I woke to realise it was Fathers Day and without even a card organised for my Dad I snuck out my bedroom window (as I often did in those years). I walked down the hill to cut a bunch of those flowers, that I now believe were possibly Crocosmia. I also snipped some daffodils from a huge paddock that was filled with them and took them home to give to Dad for Fathers Day. That was my first foraging memory and I still remember how much joy it gave me to cut the flowers and gift them.
Gardening has always remined me of my Nan, I lived with her for a year or two in my early 20’s and remember noticing how much time and energy she put into her garden and the joy it gave her. I loved looking at her beautiful flowers and remember her showing me one of her favourite roses, Just Joey, that I now have planted in our garden. I painted her gazebo for her one summer and remember watching all those hours of labour she put in to keep it all looking so beautiful. However it would take me another 15 or so years before I really understood why.
In my mid 30’s I met David, a Welshman who was living in Melbourne for two years on an exchange program through work. I fell hard, we both did and a year and a half later I was packing all my belongings and moving to England to be with him. We married and I gained two wonderful stepchildren that I adore.
While I loved settling in and exploring this beautiful county, I still felt a little lost and not quite sure what to do with my career. I have a background in interior design specialising in colour, and had somehow found myself climbing a corporate ladder in sales within the building industry. I was finally on the path to a successful career that ticked a lot of boxes in what I thought was society’s expectations. I panicked, literally.
I suffered months of crippling panic attacks and anxiety because although I was succeeding, the thought of working in a corporate sales job for the next 30+ years made me ill. I had no idea how I had ended up on this path that felt so wrong. I was full of imposter syndrome and had this all-consuming dread that it was not where I was supposed to be. I was approaching my late 30’s and still had not figured out what I wanted to “be when I grew up”. As is the question we too often ask of children.
To cut a long story short, I resigned and when I had no idea how I’d get through, the flowers saved me. It was not quite that simple. I had a huge amount of support from Dave, that I will be forever grateful for, as well as family and friends and quite a bit of therapy. After a few months I went back to work fulltime for a little local independent business, which also helped my recovery.
I had been here before. I’d suffer the highs and lows through most of my adult life that comes with living with a mental illness. I knew this time I’d do things differently. It was that spring, just before I resigned without having any idea where it would take me, I sowed some seeds. They turned into flowers and they brought me back.
I grew a bumper crop of sweet peas and expanded to cosmos, dahlias and marigolds. I expanded with more varieties each year. I started harvesting and selling our sweet pea seeds, a process I love doing. We then took on an allotment to give us more growing space. Dave has now got more involved in the growing process and in the early summer of 2020 we opened “Flowers at the Gate” a weekly flower stand at our front gate. In a time where the world had stopped and slowed down. It was such uncertain times, people were separated from loved ones. Our flowers were simple jam jars and bouquets that brought joy and happiness.
I am a believer that everything happens for a reason. This little side hustle that we created and are slowly growing together is what fills me with joy. I know that wherever life takes me and the journeys yet to come, the flowers and nature itself will look after me.
I am hugely passionate about organically grown, local, seasonal flowers and sustainable floristry. I hope to inspire others to understand what is involved in that process.
I now understand all these years later why my Nan put all that work into her garden. I believe there is a huge underestimation of the benefit of tuning in to the changing seasons through growing flowers, vegetables or even a small balcony garden. That if you do, you might notice that nature is the biggest healer of all. I hope to give you a little more insight through our “Seasonal Journal” blog posts on what this all means to me, and to both of us as Dave and I share our growing journey.
Thank you for joining us, if you’d like to follow more of our growing journey, seasonal joys and the things we love and are passionate about, you can subscribe to our journal, or join us on Instagram.
If you are new to growing sweet peas, I share lots of hints and tips through our Instagram TV (IGTV) and we’d love to invite you to join in by spreading the joy they bring under our Instagram hashtag #thesweetpeajoy
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