Growing Flowers For Weddings – With Karen Scott of Pancake Hill

Growing Flowers For Weddings – With Karen Scott of Pancake Hill

The idea of growing flowers for your own wedding sounds wonderfully romantic, but is it feasible? To find out, I spoke to professional grower Karen Scott, who owns Pancake Hill Flowers based in Chedworth, Gloucestershire. We chatted about what makes homegrown flowers so special, as she gave us some practical advice and tips when it comes to growing for weddings.

Tell us a little bit about your journey into growing professionally – what you made you want to do it and how did you get started?

I come from a family of Scottish market gardeners and horticulturalists, so I think in a way this was always my calling. I worked as a florist back in the ‘80s and studied floristry for two years, working in local florist shops in the Cotswolds. I enjoyed it but found it all quite restrictive; the styles back then were quite formal and traditional. You had to copy arrangements from pictures and it just wasn’t for me. I also didn’t have the patience for things I didn’t enjoy – like wiring! At the time my husband was working in Amsterdam, so when I would visit him I’d see all the gorgeous florist shops and feel like we were in a time warp back in the UK. Everything was so beautiful and stylish over there. After I had my children I stopped working in floristry, but some years later I decided to train in garden design as I couldn’t just forget my love for flowers. The house we were living in had a big garden space, so I decided to give growing a go as my semi-retirement plan – haha! Pancake Hill Flowers was born in 2017, and it’s been a big leaning curve for me. It’s very different to planting for garden design, and takes a lot of hard work!

A lot of the flowers you grow end up being used for wedding or funeral arrangements – either being sold to florists or to customers directly. Is there something that feels extra special about growing for important life events?
It’s a real honour to grow flowers for special occasions – whether that’s wedding or funerals. Producing something that means something to people is priceless. I think that increasingly people really do appreciate that small-scale British grown flowers are different to what you might get from a high street florist shop or at a wholesale market. My flowers aren’t perfect by any means, but I think that makes them more interesting. Each one is seasonal, scented, and most importantly, individual. Every single stem is completely different. When it comes to weddings, I love that everything I grow is dictated by nature and time of year – showing brides what they can expect to see in their arrangements, whilst also knowing that you have to let nature run its course to a certain extent. It forces you to think outside the box a bit more and encourages florists to use English varieties that their clients might not have seen or heard of before.
What do you feel are the benefits of choosing ‘home grown’ British flowers for events such as weddings?
There are so many benefits! As I’ve already mentioned, I think seasonality, individuality and scent are the big ones for me. But things like the (lack of) carbon footprint is also important, as well as not using pesticides and being as organic as possible. Growing flowers like that gives so much more scope for the design and style of the arrangements, which in turn gives them so much more personality.
What are some of your favourite varieties that you love to grow and see included in floral wedding design?
My all time favourite is scabious. I just love the way it looks and moves. I’m also a big fan of phlox – I tend to plant the crème brulee and blushing bride varieties, which are hard to grow but all the more rewarding. I also love daucus, nigella (especially the rose one) and musk mallow. It is so delicate and yet so full of texture. Speaking of textures, I also really like orlaya, panicum (which is a grass) and lagurus – also known as bunny tails. Sweetpeas for the smell and rudbekia and zinnia for the colour variation. Dahlias always for Autumnal weddings. I could go on and on!
What advice would you give a bride (or groom!) wanting to grow some flowers for their own wedding?

Plan ahead! Think about the time of year you’re getting married and what flowers are in season. You’ll need to count back in weeks and months from there to work out what you should be planting when. If you’re after colour, think about what you can actually grow in that colour – blues for instance can be tricky. Start out with seeds that are traditionally easier to grow – things like nigella, calendula, and cornflower for example. I would also recommend sowing your seeds two weeks apart, so that if one lot flower too quickly then you’re still covered with the other batch.

Talk to your florist or your grower and get them to help you – you want the flowers that you’re growing to complement what they’re planning on using. The idea of growing all your own flowers for your wedding is incredibly romantic, but the practical side of what is involved is very different! A nice idea might be to grow flowers for one part of your bridal flowers – such as your bouquet, or a flower crown. That way you still have a lot of the meaning without any of the risk. If you are looking to buy direct from growers, then just remember to let them know well in advance. We often grow for specific wedding orders, so don’t always have a lot of surplus. Either way one thing’s for sure – no matter if you’re buying British or growing seasonally yourself, you wont regret it.

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