A Flower Shop
There’s so much good stuff to write about the farm at the moment. We are reaping the rewards of autumn sowing, so there are actual green shoots in the ground, which is mad good news!
This time last year, there was the daily battle with bramblegeddon and the small tunnel wasn’t covered yet. We also had just entered the national lockdown… remember? HA! So, I’m going to say we’re making progress.
I’ve been slightly more organised than the year before with planting bulbs. For the last 3 weeks, we have had a steady drip of armfuls of hyacinths, narcissi and fancy daffs (their names have washed off the labels in the past 3 months of daily rain, so I can’t give much in depth info about them) apart from the nice apricot one that everyone is messaging me about which is Apricot Whirl. It’s been a gentle and grounding reminder that plants just crack on with their life cycle.
I’ve started the seed sowing marathon for the summer annuals, maybe less intensively than some others growers, because I don’t have a glasshouse and the weather hasn’t been on my side and the tunnel is ripped (thanks wind) … but I’m in this game for the late night Autumn cutting in the sweet sweet September light. So, if I’m a bit behind everyone else, it’s ok (famous last words).
Underneath all of this though, there has been the looming knowledge that we are coming out of lockdown and the acknowledgment that we are so far from what we were in February 2020. The thought of even returning to half of that life makes me feel nauseous.
A long cry led us to 62 Chatsworth Road
Moving to Chatsworth Road was completely unplanned. A week before we ended up there, we were making plans to move into my flat as a temporary solution. Imagine 3 shops worth of stuff in a flat on the 10th floor. I had even cleared out cupboards to make way for vases. I should point out that this was before the extension to furlough was announced at the beginning of November and I was trying to do everything in my power to make sure we had enough work to keep the girls in a job.
A late night Whatsapp after a very long cry in the shower led us to 62 Chatsworth Road, which was painted entirely navy blue inside and its previous occupiers having been a Thai takeaway. My feet stuck to the floor with every step I took, but it was a ground floor temporary answer to store the 3 shops worth of stuff I had accumulated.
The weekend went like this: We left the Ace Hotel after a day of trading on Saturday and moved everything to Chatsworth Road on Saturday night. We went back in to lockdown on Sunday and Monday morning I started making bunches for the online orders using some old legs and a shelf from the Ace shop as a table.
We didn’t stop trading, not because I didn’t want to, but because I felt a responsibility to keep dragging my business out of the mud. Kind of like the boat that’s stuck in the Suez Canal. In this metaphorical scenario, I’m the tiny digger, which by the way in the real life scenario the digger is completely out of proportion to the size of the boat. I’m no expert, but I reckon they need a bigger digger.
The calmness that came from being in one place just making bunches behind a shutter in a dark navy blue room with the lowest wattage of light bulbs I have ever known accompanied by the odour of grease was unfathomable.
The girls were furloughed again and I worked there silently for weeks desperate for nobody to know I was there. The indulgence of this peace was mind blowing. I swear I made some of the best bunches of my life in those weeks.
In between all of this, we painted away the navy with the help of our lovely driver John, and I’m not sure how, but I was talked into to opening a pop up for Christmas, which we did for two weeks and then went back into lockdown. The irony.
What’s next for us
Since then, I’ve been in a push pull state of mind of what happens next. The kindness and genuine interest of all the people we’ve met on Chatsworth Road has been overwhelming, humbling and enlightening. The thought of having a flower shop again terrifies me. I dedicated years of my life to shops that disappeared over night and showed me all the worst traits of my personality.
We also have a new arm to what we do. We love growing flowers. I love my anti commute to Kent every day and I love that I get the time these days to watch the sun rise in London and watch it set through fir tree windbreaks across the farm. This though is a much slower way of being in the industry and it is inconceivable that we could sustain a 6 or 7 day week whilst also honouring the slowness of this working method. I also feel like that would take from us all that we have gained in the past year.
To honour all that we have learnt for the time being, here is our loose plan. From April 12th, it will go a little something like this:
- Deliveries will be available on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
- 62 Chatsworth Road will open Thursday to Sunday only.
- We need the extra time at the beginning of week to tend to the farm and do ad hoc flower and life admin.
If you live locally and need to order flowers for collection on a day the shop is not open, you can do that any day. Just send us an email and we will have something ready for you.
One final thing to note is that in light all that has changed – the serious downsizing and relocating – our new shop will be called ‘A Flower Shop.’ After all, that is just what it is.