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  • Writer's pictureHorticultural Society

Anna's Country Flowers: A Lecture on Sustainable Flower Growing and Creative Arranging Techniques

On 22nd November 2023, Anna, a fourth-generation farmer in Kent, took us on a captivating journey into sustainable flower growing and innovative arranging methods. Living atop The Downs in Chilham, Canterbury, Anna transformed her family farm's old stable into a workshop, utilising the fields behind her renovated Oast home for flower cultivation. She's evolved from growing seeds in poly tunnels to creating a diverse garden, learning flower arranging through years of cultivation.

"A great creative brief for flower arranging is all about flowers, foliage, and fillers. Remember, foliage is as much the star as anything else. For big arrangements you'll need fillers - and if you can't grow flowers then grow foliage - you can always buy flowers!"

Anna's sustainable practices include no-dig farming, using compost and cardboard to nurture the soil, and exploring soil improvement techniques like biochar and woodchip compost. She strives for seasonal growth and avoids plastic and oasis, always seeking creative solutions such as creating "wetted moss sausages".

Her unique offerings include featuring long-forgotten flowers and more unusual varieties.

"When I get a surplus, I try to dry flowers for arrangements in winter"

Beyond growing, Anna crafts meaningful arrangements for weddings, funerals, and workshops. She values personal stories attached to flowers and adores working with diverse blooms.

"Larkspur and Dark Dahlias make for great confetti - and they store well without fading - much better than your traditional rose petals - just hand them upside down to dry!"

From Anna's lecture, we learned about maximising floral longevity (best time to cut flowers, and keeping peonies out of water for up to 2 months!), useful tools (vine thinning secateurs and florist's wire are must haves), innovative arrangement tips (such as willow strands for wreath rings), and the beauty of symmetry in garlands.

Her advice on addressing air bubbles in flowers with boiling water surprised and enthralled us, and her creative problem-solving techniques left us inspired.

"Always take a different perspective when making an arrangement, for example with a handheld posy, consider holding it in front of a mirror, and for standing arrangements, take a photo and look for the gaps that your eye may not see otherwise. For highlights consider more unusual elements like feathers, succulents or for this Christmas time of year, Crab apples instead of holly berries."

Anna's dedication to sustainable practices and creative flair truly enriches our understanding of flower cultivation and arrangement. Thank you Anna!

For more information about Anna's Country Flowers or to enquire about workshops at her home, check out

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