We’ve had the first frosts, the dahlias have been lifted and put to bed for the winter, and it’s time to reflect on a fantastic growing season and take a look ahead.
Every year we think we’ve had the best season ever, but this year has been particularly special. Achieving Soil Association organic certification back in February was a start-of-season boost and it’s been great to get ever more involved with the organic world. We supported Organic Health and Beauty Week back in May and we were thrilled to be a finalist in the Soil Association BOOM Awards, for which we also supplied jam jar arrangements and a giant BOOM backdrop made from our flowers. We also supplied 50 centrepieces for the Soil Association’s 70th birthday celebration. We’ve been enjoying making connections with other organic producers and retailers – working together is key to improving consumer knowledge and strengthening organic market presence.
We’re learning and looking for ways to improve our organic practices all the time, so no-dig market gardener Charles Dowding’s visit in October was an inspiring way for us to end our season. We’re already putting into practice what we learned from Charles by improving our composting areas, retiring the rotavator and introducing no-dig practices. It’s a steep learning curve but our trainees have been cardboarding and mulching our beds with gusto.
This year we’ve been honoured to create bouquets, buttonholes and arrangements for 22 weddings – we’ve loved meeting all our very lovely brides and grooms and enhancing your special days with our flowers. We’ve sent out 67 plug plant boxes this season and with online bouquet sales filling the weekdays in between weddings, Wendy and her floristry team are likely to pass the long winter nights by making bouquets in their sleep.
We may be a flower-based enterprise, but Organic Blooms is all about people. We love meeting our customers and our open days in June and September were an opportunity not only for visitors to enjoy our cutting gardens, buy plants and bouquets, cut their own buckets of flowers and enjoy scrummy cake, but also for us to tell them about the social side of our business.
All our trainees have learning disabilities or mental health support needs and through growing flowers we support them to develop confidence and workplace skills in preparation for employment. We are thrilled that two trainees have become Organic Blooms employees this year but it is equally rewarding when trainees achieve employment elsewhere and a further five have secured work locally – a testament to the skills, knowledge and work ethic they have worked hard to develop.
To round off a great season, director Jo Wright was named winner of the Day Services Front Line Worker award in the Care and Support West Care Awards 2017. At Organic Blooms we see the great work that Jo does first hand and it’s fantastic to see her get recognition.
So, now that the final blooms have been cut and the jam jars washed, what now? Well, one season flows into the next and Christmas has been in our thoughts for some time already. Our Christmas wreath, table decoration and garland-making courses are fully booked – if you’re super-quick you might get one of the very limited number of extra places we’ve just added – and last week we supplied festive table arrangements and place settings for the Soil Association’s organic Christmas showcase for the press at Carousel London – a great way for us to get into to the festive spirit.
Our log burner has been lit and we’ve got weeks of festive preparations ahead, starting with mossing piles of wreath bases and wiring oranges and cinnamon sticks. We may not have flowers at this time of year but our online shop is still stocked up – we’re taking orders now for our gorgeous wreaths and table decorations. Our flower subscription, four seasons of flowers and year of flowers packages make great gifts that keep on giving and keep an eye out for our brand new organic gift hamper, coming soon. We’ve been testing all kinds of samples to put together the perfect hamper, including consuming our own weight in organic chocolate. Sometimes selfless sacrifices just have to be made…