On Tuesday 19th February we were pleased to welcome Rachelle Merrill who stepped in at very short notice when our scheduled speaker was unable to be with us. Rachel and her husband run a family Christmas tree, foliage and flower growing business in Oakley. In 2017 they opened up their farm to allow local florists to buy flowers direct from the farm. In 2018 they started co-hosting workshops with local florists and also introduced “Pick Your Own” tours. On their 70 acre site they have 8 acres of trees (five plots with 5,000 Nordmann fir trees on each plot) and 2 acres of flowers. Since 2017 they have built two polytunnels for flowers which need more protection.
Merri Flowers, as their business is called, is a member of the “Flowers from the Farm” consortium. This is a not for profit association which was founded in 2011 and now has 500 growers across this country, two of whom are in Bedfordshire. This organisation provides British grown wholesale flowers, flowers for events, workshops and tours. They also exhibit at most of the RHS shows, winning a Gold medal at Chelsea in 2018.
There are many reasons to buy British grown flowers. Air miles and the chemicals needed to keep foreign grown flowers alive in transport are eliminated. Wildlife tends to flourish on farms where flowers are grown – food is provided for the pollinators and British grown flowers tend to be more scented.
The flower season at Merri Flowers is between May and October. The Early Spring sees narcissus, then follows ranunculus (grown in polytunnels), scabiosa, peonies, roses in mid June through to the dahlias in the early Autumn. Of particular delight was the view of the sweet pea tunnel – we could only imagine the perfume! Amongst the most requested flowers are antirrhinums, delphiniums, statice, roses, dahlias and sunflowers.
Rachelle and her husband are clearly passionate about what they do. The flowers in her photographs looked stunning and their farm is very local to us. They welcome visitors, but by appointment, as Rachelle’s husband works on his own and therefore needs to arrange his work schedule carefully. We were very grateful to Rachelle for stepping in at such short notice and providing such an interesting and pleasant talk.
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 19th March when Timothy Walker will talk about Plant Hunting in Eastern Anatolia. Please do join us – just come along to the Village hall for a 7.30 pm start – you will be made very welcome.
New members and visitors are always welcome. For more information contact Linda Truscott on 01234 270747