Flower Farming in an urban environment can be a difficult task to achieve with small spaces to grow in on top of high rents especially when it comes to a metropole like London:
Two fresh faces in the floristry industry have exactly done that: Camile Kilch and Marianne Mogendorff are running a newly found business called "The Wolves Lane Flower Company" in the heart of north London and they do it very successfully:
The Wolves Lane Flower Company, 2018
They manage to provide most of their own homegrown florals for their bespoke weddings from an old run-down horticultural centre where they harvest and sell from March to October.
I had the pleasure of asking them a few questions about their passion and their inspiration behind and the story of "Wolves Lane":
The Wolves Lane Flower Company, 2018
How did you two meet and become the “Wolves Lane Flower Company”?
We originally met at university and then lived together in our 20s, both working as producers (Camila in fashion and moving image and Marianne in Theatre). We’d often joke about packing it all in to establish a gardening business called ‘Life of Soil’ (a bad pun on toil!). Two years ago, Camila left her job which happened to coincide with Marianne discovering this rather magical albeit rundown horticultural centre down the road from her flat, that the council were looking for people to pitch ideas for it. After several months of late night phone calls, dreams and proposals we were able to snag some land there to grow - one of the large greenhouses previously used to grow bedding plants and an outdoor overgrown strip of land. We’ve been slowly creating our cutting garden ever since.
What does you Business stand for?
We’re still at the very beginning of our business journey - last year we were both still working in other jobs and Marianne is only now coming back from having a baby - so we are still figuring out what areas of the business we want to focus on.
What we do know so far is that the environmental impact of everything we do is important to us so we only use British grown flowers and foliage, never use chemicals, try and avoid plastic and are constantly reviewing and questioning whether our working practices are sustainable. We think it’s possible to do this without compromising on beauty in the floristry work we do or in the flowers we grow for others to work with.
We’re growing flowers for local bouquet delivery, weddings, other florists and events and are excited to keep broadening the range of flowers we can offer.
We belong to several communities that are important to us: the Wolves Lane community of growers and community groups at the horticultural centre where we’re based, our local area in Wood Green, North London and the community of flower growers in Flowers From The Farm.
We hope we can be a voice for positive change in each of these communities and draw experience and help from each of them in turn. We still have lots to learn!
Have you always had a connection with horticulture in your lives?
Gardens were important to both of our families growing up so this love was definitely instilled early on! I think it’s been a gentle realisation for both of us that we find working with plants and flowers incredibly fulfilling and to have the courage to take the plunge and try and make a living from this.
On what scale do you grow your own florals?
This year we’ve increasingly been able to provide all flowers and foliage for the weddings or events we’ve worked on which has been incredibly satisfying. We’ve tended to source from other small flower farms where we’ve needed additions. Gilly Flower in Berkhamsted and Organic Blooms in South Gloucestershire have both been amazing to work with and are master growers! We have occasionally sourced additional British grown foliage from GB Foliage at Covent Garden Flower Market as it’s very hard to grow enough foliage before things have got established. We’re excited to continue to scale up our growing and draw on the lessons we’ve learnt so far.
Being part of British Flowers Week and to install at the Garden Museum must have been a great Milestone. What other events or stories have been the best in your career so far?
Thanks, it definitely was huge milestone for us. We’re really proud of the hard work, persuasion and passion we poured into our initial pitch to Haringey Council to try and secure the growing space in the first place. Crazily, we initially pitched to take over the full 6 acre site and with hindsight we’re very relieved we’ve been able to start small and scale up gradually as we’d probably have both had nervous breakdowns by now! It was a real tenacious (read insane) move to write a business plan in less than a month and present it to the council with no real prior experience and we learnt loads from doing it.
Where do you want to take your business in the next few years?
The Garden Museum was our first ever large-scale installation and once we’d conquered the nerves we totally loved creating it. It’s only in doing these things for the first time that you really work out how to do it so we’d love the opportunity to keep creating large and ambitious commissions - although perhaps not in a competitive context!
We’re also keen to develop the community volunteering aspect of our business. One of our big inspirations is flower farm Organic Blooms who in addition to growing and arranging their beautiful flowers, work with adults with learning disabilities to provide training opportunities for them on the farm. We’d love to collaborate with a local charity in Wood Green to offer similar training opportunities. Growing is such a meditative and even healing occupation and we’ve seen for ourselves the benefits of being around beautiful flowers everyday!
Do you think that Brexit will influence the way British Blooms are grown and percieved?
Ah Brexit! We’re hopeful that this spells good news for British grown flowers and British micro artisan industries in general. One change florists already tell us of is that the wholesale price of stock from Holland has already increased in price, so perhaps this will promote a greater awareness from florists and consumers in general to be mindful of where their flowers come from. Success stories like Flowers from the Farm winning gold at Chelsea have already created an awareness and appetite for British flowers, one of our big challenges as an industry is how does this network of micro businesses fulfil demand when none of us got into this to become a distribution specialist! And how do we distribute British flowers in an eco friendly way.
What advice would you give a young horticulturist?
Growing is one endless science experiment where factors like the weather or soil you use means you’ll never get the same results. Try things! Put a seed in a pot of compost, water it, nurture it and see what happens. Get used to things failing but try and draw lessons from that to do it differently next time. And most importantly take time to sit, watch and appreciate what you’re growing. You’ll learn the most from observing and it’s so easy in the mid growing season frenzy to forget to take a moment to stop and enjoy it all.
Are there any trends that you foresee for the coming seasons?
Dried flowers seem to be having a moment which is good news for British growers who are always trying to be creative with what they can work with in Winter months. We’ve just harvested our honesty so are looking forward to playing with that for Decembers wreaths.
And whilst the last two months of growing are approaching quickly there is still a lot of homegrown beauty available from "The Wolves Lane Flower Company"
Have a look at their website to get your own home-grown blooms
and to follow their journey: https://www.wolveslaneflowercompany.com
Or follow their story on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wolveslaneflowercompany/
The Wolves Lane Flower Company, 2018