Debra Prinzing

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Episode 310: Gill Hodgson and Flowers From the Farm — an update on the British-Grown Floral Community

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

I’m smiling along with today’s guest, Gill Hodgson (L) of Fieldhouse Flowers and Flowers from the Farm, a UK-based association of flower farmers and florists who promote British-grown botanicals.

Flowers from the Farm, the UK’s nationwide network of cut flower growers

In 2014, when this podcast was in its first year of existence, I met Gillian Hodgson “virtually,” as is the case for so many of us who value the positive attributes of social media.

On February 18, 2014, appearing on what was only the 30th episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast, I introduced you to Gillian and called her the Mother of the British Flowers movement.

A Yorkshore-based flower farmer and owner of  Fieldhouse Flowers, Gill founded Flowers from the Farm in in 2011.

The not-for-profit network run and administered solely by volunteers has grown to more than 500 members.

Most members are sole traders running small or micro businesses: farmers, smallholders and gardeners, who are using their knowledge of horticulture and floristry to grow and present a different range of flowers from those available in the supermarkets and the wholesale markets.

From Cornwall up to Scotland, and every region in between, these artisan flower farmers are growing old favourites: Sweet Peas, Bells of Ireland, Dahlias and Aquilegia, as well as trying out lots of new varieties.

Flowers from The Farm’s members grow for wholesale, sell to retail and event florists, as well as to the public at farmers’ markets and craft fairs. Some have farm gate sales or have teamed up with local shops to sell their bunches and bouquets.  There are also have online retail florists, and utterly brilliant wedding and event florists among the membership. Sound familiar? It’s a lot like, of course.

Love the beautiful new website for Flowers from the Farm (and PS, this image shown was one that Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement and several other Yorkshire members created for the 2015 British Flowers Week campaign)

Flowers from the Farm’s map of flower farmers and florists in the UK!

On the beautiful, new, 2.0 version of Flowers From the Farm’s website, relaunched recently, we learn this: Although the majority of British flowers are sold during the summer months, flowers can be grown in Britain all year round.  Scented Narcissi start to come out of Cornwall and the Scillies in October; tulips from Lincolnshire are in the shops for Christmas. Many members are skilled at forming gorgeous winter foliage, scented shrubs and the winter flowers into amazing displays during the shortest days.

Flowers from the Farm brings together all these growers and florists and provides local meetings and events, encouraging members to come together to build displays at all the big flower shows, holding workshops to improve members’ skills and – equally importantly – provide the place where you’ll make friends with like-minded people who will become your new work colleagues. Again, sounds a lot like our Slow Flowers community, right?

It was lovely to meet Gill Hodgson face-to-face after our long-distance friendship! She is as committed to putting British flowers on the map as I am about doing the same with American grown flowers.

Just over a year after Gill and I recorded our long-distance Podcast interview via Skype, I met her in person! Along with many other Flowers from the Farm colleagues, farmers and florists in the Yorkshire region, we gathered at a very special high tea hedl at RHS Harlow Carr, a beautiful botanical garden.

On that same trip, I met and interviewed Helen Evans of London’s New Covent Garden Flower Market who encouraged me to emulate British Flowers Week and launch American Flowers Week. I also met Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement, who hosted me in Hebden Bridge, a village in Yorkshire, and showed me (and my mother, Anita) the most magnificent, unforgettable time.

Here are links to those conversations, captured for past episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast:

Learn About British Flowers Week with Helen Evans of London’s New Covent Garden Flower Market (Episode 197)

A Perfect Recipe: Floral Design Workshops and Delicious Local Food, with Sarah Statham of UK’s Simply by Arrangement (Episode 198)

Why am I going on and on about these wonderful British friends and their homegrown flowers?

Well, today, I have a lovely update for you — a new conversation with Gill Hodgson. To my complete surprise, and delight, I reunited with Gill in person last week at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers’ regional meeting in Ontario, Canada.

I attended the fabulous and well-attended 2-day conference, hosted by many ASCFG Canadian members, after spending a few days at the Garden Writers Association symposium in Buffalo, NY. Once I realized that I could add a few days to my travels and spend time with ASCFG members, many of whom are involved in the Slow Flowers Community, I jumped at the chance.

And there, walking alongside me during a tour at Green Park Nurseries was my friend, Gill! On a whim, she decided to fly over to Canada to attend the conference and have a fun vacation with her husband.

Of course, with my digital recorder in my backpack, Gill had little choice but to sit down with me for a 30-minute interview. I asked her to update the Slow Flowers Community on news about the British-grown flower community and you’ll love hearing about what’s happening in a very dynamic hub for local, British-grown flowers ~seasonal, local and sustainable, much like the Slow Flowers narrative.

Here’s how you can follow Flowers from the Farm:

Flowers from the Farm on Facebook

Flowers from the Farm on Instagram

Flowers from the Farm on Twitter

The Slow Flowers Podcast has been downloaded more than 222,000 times by listeners like you. Thank you to each one of you for downloading, listening, commenting and sharing. It means so much.

If you value the content you receive each week, I invite you to show your thanks and support the Slow Flowers Podcast with a donation — the button can be found on our home page in the right column. Your contributions will help make it possible to transcribe future episodes of the Podcast.

Thank you to family of sponsors

Certified American Grown Flowers. The Certified American-Grown program and label provide a guarantee for designers and consumers on the source of their flowers. Take pride in your flowers and buy with confidence, ask for Certified American Grown Flowers.  To learn more visit

Arctic Alaska Peonies, a cooperative of 50 family farms in the heart of Alaska providing high quality, American Grown peony flowers during the months of July and August. Visit them today at

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a farmer-owned cooperative committed to providing the very best the Pacific Northwest has to offer in cut flowers, foliage and plants. The Growers Market’s mission is to foster a vibrant marketplace that sustains local flower farms and provides top-quality products and service to the local floral industry. Find them at

Longfield Gardens provides home gardeners with high quality flower bulbs and perennials. Their online store offers plants for every region and every season, from tulips and daffodils to dahlias, caladiums and amaryllis. Visit them at
Syndicate Sales, an American manufacturer of vases and accessories for the professional florist. Look for the American Flag Icon to find Syndicate’s USA-made products and join the Syndicate Stars loyalty program at

Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company that provides our industry the best flower, herb and vegetable seeds — supplied to farms large and small and even backyard cutting gardens like mine. Check them out at

Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Formed in 1988, ASCFG was created to educate, unite, and support commercial cut flower growers. It mission is to help growers produce high-quality floral material, and to foster and promote the local availability of that product. Learn more at

I’m Debra Prinzing, host and producer of the Slow Flowers Podcast. Next week, you’re invited to join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. And If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

The content and opinions expressed here are either mine alone or those of my guests alone, independent of any podcast sponsor or other person, company or organization.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Brenlan. Learn more about his work at

Our music today:

Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine
by Shake That Little Foot

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Reclaiming our Floral Heritage . . . Lessons from #Britishflowers (Episode 129)

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
How do you like that? English Grown SLOW FLOWERS, by Cook & Carlsson

How do you like that? English Grown SLOW FLOWERS, by Cook & Carlsson

Today’s podcast is actually NOT about American flowers, but about our gifted and inspiring kindred spirits across the Atlantic. They are a few of the many flower farmers and designers who are part of their own local flower movement in Britain.

During the past several months, I often noticed the hashtag #britishflowers pop upon Twitter. It was fun to read comments and re-tweets and click through to view beautiful photos of British designers, farmers, gardens and flowers.

cook & carlsson logoOne of the Twitter names that I started interacting with was Cook & Carlsson, and I soon learned that Lizzie Cook and Moa Carlsson are the two women behind that venture.

With the alluring tagline: “English Grown Flowers,” Cook & Carlsson is a London-based design studio combining the talents of Lizzie Cook, a photographer and artist, and Moa Carlsson, an architect who has worked most recently worked in landscape architecture.

Lizzie Cook (left) and Moa Carlsson (right), partners in the design studio Cook & Carlsson

They describe Cook & Carlsson as an “independent flower monger,” and you’ll hear in our conversation the charming explanation for their use of that term. Lizzie, who has the British accent, and Moa, whose accent reveals her Swedish heritage, have joined their mutual love of nature with a desire to create beauty using flowers they grow or forage, as well as flowers they source from other UK flower farmers. 

For an art commission, Cook & Carlsson supplied a large arrangement made entirely of scented herbs, wildflowers and flower – all local, seasonal and sustainable, of course!

For an art commission, Cook & Carlsson supplied a large arrangement made entirely of scented herbs, wildflowers and flower – all local, seasonal and sustainable, of course!

Here’s more about Moa Carlsson, in her own words:

I grew up in the most northern part of Sweden, amongst aconitum, arctic bramble and Norwegian spruce, and in a family with a long tradition of growing food and flowers. My sister and both my mother and my grandparents kept large grounds living in tune with the seasons, which in their part of Sweden is rather harsh. (for example, you can’t grow apples there).

I studied and worked as an architect in Sweden, Austria, England and America. Right now I live in London, but I am a PhD student at MIT in Boston, where I am studying computational technologies to design and simulate the changing of landscapes.

In my free time I dig in my friends gardens and in the urban plots where we do guerilla gardening; I do hiking and mountaineering; I am a painter and I have a hunting license (mostly forest/mountain birds and hare).  

A seasonally-inspired autumn bouquet - natures gifts in a vase.

A seasonally-inspired autumn bouquet – nature’s gifts in a vase.

Here’s more about Lizzie Cook, in her own words:

I grew up in the Caribbean amongst the audacious vibrancy of hibiscus, frangipanis and flowers from the Flamboyant tree, all of which fired my senses as a child.  The fragrance and colours of the frangipani flower at the right time of day is pretty intoxicating!  When I went to Falmouth College of Arts in Cornwall to study photography, I fell in love with all of the tropical gardens, which reminded me of the flora and fauna of warmer climes.  I had a very free childhood, outside, rarely wearing shoes and in nature, noticing the changing seasons, being free to take it all in.  I love being near the water and I currently live on a narrowboat on a river in East London, still trying to hold onto that freedom and proximity to nature, especially in the City of London.  I like seeking out the quieter natural areas, but enjoy the diversity and pace of London.  It is a privileged thing to cycle home from the hectic city back to a peaceful boat on a river surrounded by nature reserves, and I feel very lucky! 

Cook & Carlsson's stall at the Chatsworth Road Market in East London.

Cook & Carlsson’s stall at the Chatsworth Road Market in East London.

Cook & Carlsson on their philosophy: 

We live really close to one another, just on the outskirts of London, which means there are lots of small natural refuges where you can feel like you are still connected with the wider countryside.  It was in these places where our imaginations were fired and it’s really where we had the idea of using flowers and foliages that we saw around us, but which had been forgotten about or blocked out by the increasing urbanization.  We began looking and learning about the species that were around us and rediscovering their simple beauty; we began mixing them with other things, falling in love with the results. Doing so and by growing our own flowers, we try to bring back varieties that London shoppers rarely get a chance to buy.

For us, it’s about the lifestyle that comes along with the business. We are very lucky to visit lots of local gardens, growing sites, nurseries, meeting local growers and hanging out with people who are on the same page as far as our ethos is concerned. Then we collect all of our material and put it together, which we relish as it appeals to our strong creative sides, the combination of which seems to be magic! Many laughs and good biscuits make good arrangements, we have found. 


Flowers from the Farm, the UK's nationwide network of cut flower growers

Flowers from the Farm, the UK’s nationwide network of cut flower growers

Through our exchanges, I learned that Cook & Carlsson is the first London-based member of the “Flowers from the Farm” organization, which was founded by Gillian Hodgson. Lizzie and Moa were sweet enough to connect Gill and me.

Part two of this interview is with a true kindred spirit. Gill is the Mother of the British Flowers movement. She grows flowers at her own farm, Fieldhouse Flowers in Yorkshore. Here is how Gill describes her flower endeavor: 

Field House Farm in Yorkshire, where Gillian Hodgson grows her beautiful British flowers.

Field House Farm in Yorkshire, where Gillian Hodgson grows her beautiful British flowers.

“Fieldhouse lies in the Vale of York at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds and we have 200 acres of light sandy land.  We farm wheat, barley and carrots and I have my flowers on just one acre. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather were here before us – and my great-great-grandfather farmed at the next-door farm.  John, my husband, and I have been here 25 years now.  The house was built around 1780; it’s draughty and takes a lot of upkeep – but it’s a great family house and we love it.” 

Gillian Hodgson of Fieldhouse Flowers and Flowers from the Farm, the #britishflowers organization.

Gillian Hodgson of Fieldhouse Flowers and Flowers from the Farm, the #britishflowers organization.

As you will hear in our interview, Gill has been putting much of her energy into promoting British flowers through Flowers from the Farm. She and others came together in 2011 to launch this network of cut flower growers. Read more about the group’s origins here. 

“Our aim is to create a brand for British flowers as a World class product,” reads the organization’s web site. And the tag-line: “Putting British flowers back into every vase in the country,” sounds comfortably familiar with the way I conclude each of my podcasts.

I invite you to join all three of them on a Twitter chat any Monday. The #Britishflowers chat takes place at Noon Pacific/3 p.m. Eastern every Monday (and that means 8 p.m. GMT/Greenwich Mean Time). Please look for these inspiring leaders of the #britishgrown flower movement on Twitter and more. 

To follow up on Gill’s story about the “fake” British Valentine’s bouquet and how the UK flower farmers used social media, especially Twitter, to highlight the inaccuracies, follow this link to Flowers from the Farm’s media report. 

Farm gate sales of British flowers.

Farm gate sales of British flowers. 


A hands-on Flowers From the Farm workshop for new and established UK flower farmers, which took place in Harrogate.

A hands-on Flowers From the Farm workshop for new and established UK flower farmers, which took place in Harrogate. 


At the height of summer, Gill Hodgson's flower farm explodes with a beautiful array of blooms.

At the height of summer, Gill Hodgson’s flower farm explodes with a beautiful array of blooms. 

So many connections to make as together we promote our domestic cut flower farming industry and the floral designers who care about the origins of their design work.

Special thanks to Lizzie and Moa for permission to use the photographs they provided; and to Gill for permission to photos of her farm and the Flowers from the Farm participants.

My friend Kasey Cronquist started the hash-tag #originmatters. In the UK, Gill Hodgson calls the same idea #knownprovenance. Similar in their intent, both phrases highlight what is going on in both the U.S. and the U.K. Consumers want to know the sources of their flowers. And flower farmers are fully engaged in providing that information!

It has been my pleasure to share with you today’s podcast conversations. Apologies for the uneven audio quality in some places, which was subject to the idiosyncracies of doing interviews via Skype. In the second interview, my voice was quite garbled, while Gillian Hodgson’s came through very clear. So we had to re-record many of my questions and patch together the interview. I’m sure you’ll really enjoy these interviews, despite the minor tech problems. 

Because of the support from you and others, listeners have downloaded episodes of the Slow Flowers Podcast more than 6,500 times! I thank you for taking the time to join to my conversations with flower farmers, florists and other notable floral experts.

If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

Until next week please join me in putting more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. 

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about her work at