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Heritage open day, Florists in history and buttonholes

Earlier in the year, I had a request (via Flowers from the Farm) to be open for the Guildford and surrounds Heritage open days. It was very conveniently on a weekend i'd been planning to have an open day anyway, so i said yes please, and we set too finding all about the heritage of cut flower growing in this area.

Heritage open days board

My current field has only been pasture according to parish records and maps, almost certainly because we're on the North slope of the downs, and the water flows away. However down in the valley in Ripley and Send and the surrounding areas, we found information about crops that had been grown in the late 19th and 20th Century.

Cornflowers were a main crop grown to be shipped up to London for gentleman's buttonholes. Thanks to Clare Mccann at the Ripley History Society, she found us details of accounts from Local residents who remembered which fields the Cornflowers were grown on.

Overwintered cornflowers

We were also told that the flowers went up to town from Clandon Station, on a passenger train, so they had to be loaded very quickly.

We heard from several older residents that they thought that Dianthus and Carnations had been grown locally as well. Certainly there are Glasshouse remains around that could have been used for those purposes, but the nursery that we were told about in Bookham grew Auriculas.

It was while I was researching this that I found out about the historical meaning of the word "Florist"

1620s, formed on analogy of French fleuriste, from Latin floris, genitive of flos "flower"
a person who grows or deals in flowers
Originally, florists were plantsmen, specialising in five species only for the beauty of their flowers: carnations, tulips, anemones, ranunculus and auriculae; then, from 1750, hyacinths and polyanthus and, later, pinks. But from the early 19th century, the list of florists’ flowers expanded.
I feel a lot happier calling myself a florist now, as I grow all of them apart from the auriculae.
Anyway on Sunday afternoon, the Heritage guests started arriving while we were still eating lunch, and kept coming all afternoon. Lots of them were doing a tour of local buildings, churches and events, and included us in their visits.Very few of them had heard of us before. They were all interested and friendly, and i spent most of the afternoon doing tours of the field, and explaining how we intend to take flower farming in the area forward.
My backup team as usual did sterling work. Tea and cakes were polished off to the extent that we ran out of milk. Many thanks to the lady who rescued us by going off to get some. as our cars were blocked in the very full carpark.
I had planned to make buttonholes for everyone, but in the end it was Just team Plantpassion that got them, so i'll leave you with some i made earlier.
Plate of buttonholes
(image Emma Davies)


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Sushma Windsor

Such lovely ideas you have shown here, I am just sorry to have missed it all.

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