FLOWERS FROM THE ISLES OF SCILLY WITH LOVE
PUBLISHED: 12:28 22 August 2014 | UPDATED: 13:15 30 August 2017
Copyright Clive Nichols
The Isles of Scilly are renowned for their glorious flower farms - and this month it's the turn of the glorious Scented Pinks
The Isles of Scilly are renowned for their glorious flower farms - and this month it’s the turn of the glorious Scented Pinks
With their daintily fringed petals, slightly spicy fragrance and array of pastel colours, scented pinks are some of summer’s loveliest and most enduring flowers.
Part of the dianthus family, their Latin name means divine’ in English and it’s not hard to see why. Unlike carnations which have larger, thicker leaves, pinks have a subtle, delicate, sometimes feathery form that sets them apart and makes them a popular gift.
The island is 28 miles away from the mainland and does benefit from the warmth of the Gulf Stream but we still had some very bad storms
At Churchtown Farm, on the beautiful Scilly island of St Martin’s, hundreds of pinks are picked and packed for postal distribution across the UK every day. The business, Scilly Flowers, is run by Zoe and Ben Julian who have made a major investment in their annual summer crop this year by replacing the polythene-wrapped, peat-based grow bags they used to use with coir-filled tubs.
We’ll complete the process over the next two or three seasons,’ says Zoe. We wanted to move away from using peat - which is a non-renewable source - and reduce our plastic wastage. Coir is much more environmentally friendly because it is a natural fibre that is taken from the husk of coconuts.
It’s lighter and so less carbon hungry to transport and the tubs can be re-used year on year. Once we have finished with the coir fibre we plough it back into the soil we use for growing scented narcissi.’
Like large swathes of the country, St Martin’s suffered from one of the worst winters on record. Thankfully, however,the polytunnels - which cover part of the crop to extend Churchtown’s flowering season - survived.
The island is 28 miles away from the mainland and does benefit from the warmth of the Gulf Stream but we still had some very bad storms,’ admits Zoe. The polytunnels survived, though, and we spent spring stripping out old scented pinks and replacing them with new ones.’
St Martin’s is an idyllic place to live and visit with its magnificent seascapes, glorious white sand beaches and three pretty hamlets, rather grandly named Highertown, Middletown and Lowertown). Home to about 120 full-time residents, transport on and off the island is by boat and less than ten pupils attend the local primary school. Once a child is old enough to attend secondary school, they go to St Mary’s, the Isles of Scilly’s largest island, and weekly board at the school there.
Zoe and Ben took over Churchtown Farm from Ben’s parents, Hilary and Andrew, and have spent the last 13 years developing the postal flower delivery service which was first established in 1992. There is on-site accommodation for up to 19 staff and the family also run two holiday lets.
Scilly Flowers specialise in two main flower crops – pinks during the summer and scented narcissi over the winter months. Once picked, the flowers are carefully packed into boxes, taken to the post boat, transported to St Mary’s – then either flown or shipped to the mainland.
It’s a well-oiled process that has worked extremely well for more than two decades,’ adds Zoe. On average, we send out about 90,000 boxes each year.’
With soft feminine petals and an appealing clove-like scent, pinks go on proving they’re a pleasure to give, as well as a joy to receive.
For more information, visit
scillyflowers.co.uk or call 01720 422169
Seven days a week, 8am to 8pm (5pm weekends).