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October 2014

The business of selling flowers - Plans for 2015

It's just over 10 years since I handed in my resignation from the Wisley Plant Centre. my son was 7 months old, and i'd returned to my much loved job as Plant Centre Manager, to find that full time retail and motherhood, just didn't match.

By then i'd been selling plants to the public, and managing Plant Centres for 12 years.

Flower sales display (1 of 1)

I was familiar and confident with sales (and no not the type that make me shout at the TV screen when The Apprentice is on!)

I'd been putting together and running training sessions for staff to train them about plants and products.

I was in charge of budgets, large ones actually!- both for the numbers of staff available, but for what sales targets we needed to meet each month. So I was an expert at looking at a spreadsheet and working out what that meant needed to be done on the shop floor for the next week.

When I became Self employed, I thought my biggest problem would be making myself work in the rain, - and not getting paid when I went on Holiday. Actually my largest hurdle, was that I didn't know anything about Marketing. - That had always been the "head office" role.

My first season as Plantpassion was amazing, - friends and family asked my advice, got me to redo their borders, they told their friends and my order book was full for the first 7 months. Then there was a summer lull, but I found a business mentor, who introduced me to Networking, - and I went every month, and learnt from a speaker and met other business women. I got new customers, my order book was full again.

I found out about Writing style / Personal Branding / Advert Campaigns, I set up Networking sessions closer to home, and then I joined Social Networking as well, and this Blog was started.

When I decided to change the direction of Plantpassion and grow cut flowers, - it was so much easier to apply all the lessons i'd learnt.

Ammi border (1 of 1)

Now as I sit here planning for 2015, I’m putting into practice all the things that I’ve learnt.

I now know my strengths - I love propagating, planning and lists. Experimenting with new varieties and talking, - so My field will be a lot fuller next year, as I’m growing about 10 times more than this. My Polytunnel is full of pots of plants that have been successful this season and are being multiplied many times before the spring.

They’ll be more workshops next year, and talks to garden societies, and I’ve already got several groups booked in to come to have a tour, plus I’ll be hosting a full day workshop at Wisley as part of their liaison with the London College of Garden Design, about creating a Cut Flower garden.

Happy workshoppers (1 of 1)

I’ve honed my markets. I’m working with some brilliant Florists, which means I can put together my seasonal bouquets, but not have to worry about more elaborate floristry. This means that my main customers for next year will be Local florist shops, Event Florists, and more of our great DIY brides, - who want a themed box of flowers to make their own arrangements with.

DIY box flower July montage

I’ve done my figures, I know exactly how many of each flower I sold this year, and I’ve got details about how long they took to get to bloom, and which were profitable, and those that were hangers on. I’m revamping my field to fit more in, and make it easier to pick so that I can be more productive. Plus there are lots more rolls of black matting coming, so I will have less weeding to do. (hoorah)

i'm really excited now about my Ideas for 2015, - so it's on with Business Plan. - Are you organised enough to book a workshop for next year yet?

Operation - keep out the wildlife

I'm a great lover of The Natural world. - I don't use chemicals, and i'm a great beleiver in "live and let live" - except that this year the wildlife on my Hill top have been taking the micky, and my kind and sharing nature has been taken advantage of.

So this weekend Team Plantpassion got out there, before the rain, and put up some deer and rabbit fencing.

Fence erecting oct 14 (1 of 1)

I'm hoping that the hard work Hubby, Mum and Dad, Son and I put in this weekend, will pay dividends and that in 2015 I won't get to work to find whole beds of Sweet peas, Ranunculus or Asters blooms eaten overnight. That when I plant Ammi or Dill or Cornflowers, they might not get dug up and strewn around the second I turn my back, and that my Nigella will make it to full height and won't be grazed. Of course i'll still have to worry about the slugs in the Polytunnel, the mice eating my anemones, the squirrels digging up my bulbs, and the earwigs on the Dahlias, - but.......

Blue and White October Flowers

Usually by October, the colours are really autumnal, - lots of Reds, Yellows, Oranges, the occasional pink, or purple, but not a lot of Blue. - However the weather this year has really helped, and my late sowings of Cynoglossum, (25/5) and Scabious (27/3) have been excellent, and are holding up really well.

Here's a Display that Vanessa of Vanessa Birley Florals, did with some of my flowers this week.

Blue and white october flowers (1 of 1)

(Photo Vanessa Birley)

It's got Dahlia Waterlily White, Gladioli Homecoming, Cynoglossum Blue Showers, Scabious Blue Cockade, Statice Electric Blue, Cosmos, Centaurea (reflowering) , Clary Sage, Acidanthera, and the foliage is Brachyglottis


October in the Polytunnel

it's the change of the season.- The field still has Dahlias for the next week or two until the frost ( a couple of weeks please i've got some florists wanting them then) - and the statice, sedums and cosmos are going strong if the rain hasn't battered them today, - but it's at the beginning and the end of the year that the polytunnel really comes into play.

Polytunnel montage-1

still picking from my polytunnel

Nerines, Cynoglossum, Antirrhinums, Lisianthus, Zinnias, Dusty Miller, Alstromerias, Gomphrena, Gerberas, Mint, Oregano Lavender - and still to come, lots of Chrysanthemums.

for overwintering, i've got Anemones, Ranunculus (a lot) Iceland poppies (although they're trying to flower already), Tulips, Hyacinths and Narsissus, plus herbs and Sweet peas.

On a morning like today, - i'm really glad i've got somewhere to retreat to in bad weather. - I guess it will be weed free by the end of the week.