We've had a few sightings of Scented Narcissi shoots from our farmers over the past few weeks- not long to go until the start of our season!
Will you be receiving one of the first of our luxury Isles of Scilly Flowers?
Today we went down to Tremelethen Farm to see what father and son, Rob and Keith Hale, have been up to.
Tremelethen Farm are currently getting their bulbs ready to send off in huge quantities across the UK. Before they can send them, they have to clean and grade the bulbs.
The bulbs travel up the conveyor belt where any stones and debris are removed by hand.
Then the bulbs move on to a new section where they are brushed to remove any dirt.
The bulbs are then graded and sorted as they are shaken along the next part of the machine. There are different sized holes for the bulbs to fall into.
Once a basket is full, it's emptied into huge bulb containers, labelled by variety, and are then moved into the ventilated greenhouses.
Thanks Rob for showing us around!
Our farmers are as busy as ever preparing the fields for next Season's crop, which should be ready around the end of September.
Mike Brown from Sunnyside Farm has been using the machine below, a "Bulb Hoover", in the last few days on his farm.
The Bulb Hoover has belts that scoop the bulbs up & into the wooden box on the back.
The next step is to bring them back to the shed for cleaning & grading.
Before machines like this were invented, the bulbs used to be ploughed up, left to dry on the ground, then picked up by hand into baskets.
Wow! What a Season it has been! We have provided you with over 20 different varieties of Scented Narcissi and Narcissi this season, with the help of our fabulous farmers!
We have the last of this Season's flowers coming up from Tremelethen, Trenoweth, Seaways, Borough, Sunnyside, and Lighthouse Farm on St. Agnes, so make sure you don't miss out on your last chance to enjoy some Scented Narcissi this Season!
We've had an amazing bundle of late cropping Scilly Pride from Lighthouse Farm, which is available now on our website!
Mothering Sunday is a hugely busy time here at the Blue Box Flower Company- so we thought we would show you the chain of events that lead to your bouquet!
First of all, the Scented Narcissi are hand picked to order by our various teams at all the farms that bring us flowers- this is a photo of Team Tremelethen picking the Scilly Pride that will be going out in all of our Mother's Day Bouquets on Friday.
Next stage of the Scented Narcissi, is the grading process. Rhiannon of Sunnyside Farm is bundling all of the same length Scented Narcissi together- this is how we ensure that only the top grade of flower is sent out to our customers, which is why you will always have those lovely long stems!
Time to bring the Scented Narcissi up to the Blue Box Flower Company!
Every day, our farmers visit us (multiple times) with van loads of flowers. Some of these are already tied and ready to go out in the bouquets, others need to be counted and tied by our Bunching Team.
Once the Bunching Team have checked the grade of the flowers, they are counted in tens, and placed on the banding machine, which enables Louise, at the head of the machine to count exactly how many flowers each farmer has brought up to us!
To keep the flowers fresh, we store them in a cold store which is a hive of activity as fresh flowers are shipped out, and new flowers are brought in- can you imagine the scent of all of these flowers?
Finally, our florists select the freshest and best grade of Scented Narcissi flowers for our luxury Blue Box bouquets. They are placed in Flower Fresh Pouches, to ensure they have water for their journey, and then carefully wrapped and hand-tied in our bespoke packaging.
The journey, of course, does not stop there. We then take our Blue Boxes up to the airport, or the quay and they are flown to Lands End, or placed on the Gry Maritha to start their journey to Penzance Quay.
Our couriers come into their own at this point, delivering the bouquets up and down the UK.
We still have a few weeks left of our Season until most of our Farm Teams will be going to their Summer jobs, so make sure you place your order while you still have a chance!
After a long period of high winds and tides on the islands, we are delighted to say that not only are our flowers flourishing, with new varieties coming up every day, we also had little to no disruptions to our deliveries during the storms.
Despite having faced the worst storms on the Islands since 1980, the flower farmers of Scented Narcissi have been working furiously to battle the elements, and with the help of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, kept business open as usual shipping their flowers across to the Mainland.
It’s been a challenging time logistically for us, but it has not affected the quality of the Scented Narcissi we have sent out, and thanks to the efforts of the Steamship Company, and our Courier service, has had little to no disruption to the delivery of our bouquets.
Astonishingly, even with winds of up to 90mph recorded these delicate scented blooms continue to flourish
Rob Hale of Tremelethen Farm said “The huge undertaking of hedge planting around the hundreds of tiny fields to create a ‘Shelter Belt’ over the last 25 years provides protection from the wind to the majority of the crop. The loss is minimal after such a sustained period of high wind strength- it’s amazing more damage has not occurred“
Introducing Keith Hale of Tremelethen Farm:
How did your family first come to be on the Isles of Scilly?
My Mother's family had been on the island of Tresco since the 16th Century, but after they moved to Exeter, she always wanted to return to the islands. She joined the Land Army, who let her return, and she worked at Tresco Abbey Gardens.
My Father moved to Tresco from Leicester as a herdsman for the estate. He was offered the position of herdsman at Tremelethen Farm in 1951 and we have been there ever since.
I met my wife, Sarah, in The Mermaid, who moved here when she was 6 with her parents to take over the Gold Farm, which also grew Scented Narcissi. She helps all winter on the farm with tying and grading Tremelethen Farm flowers.
How did you get into farming?
I went away to boarding school and absolutely hated it! I returned as soon as I could after my 'O' Levels to help my father, and took over the farm from him when he passed away in 1951. My son, Rob, went away to Seale Hane Agricultural College, and has been helping Sarah and I on the farm for ten years now.
What else have you farmed on Tremelethen?
My father loved milking cattle, and that along with potatoes was our main interest originally, growing Scented Narcissi and Daffs alongside these. Then, once plastic coverings became more widely used on the Mainland, there was less demand on the Islands for potatoes, so we concentrated all our efforts into farming Scented Narcissi.
Tell us about your farm:
Tremelethen Farm is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, and is 50 Acres in total, which is made up of lots of small fields- each field that makes up the farm is about 1/3 of an Acre. As well as Scented Narcissi, our neighbour's cattle also graze on some of our land.
What's One of Your Favourite Scented Narcissi Farming Memories?
When I was 8 years old, picking in the fields, Bernard Chudleigh asked me to get his flask. I ran back with it, and finding the gate shut, threw it over the top....the entire thing smashed!
What's Your Favourite Thing About Farming Narcissi?
It has to be going out and picking that very first flower, and smelling it, and thinking "ahhhh"!
What's Your Favourite Variety of Scented Narcissi?
Both mine and Sarah's favourite variety is Sols as it's the old standard, and the traditional Island flower. It's better in so many ways: ease of picking, ease of tying, plus a lovely scent and colour. I also love Scilly Pride for it's deep red center.
Tell us something about you that we don't know:
I am the starter for the World Championship Gig Races that are held on Scilly every year, and am a bass player in The Steamband which had BBC coverage to an audience of over 30 bIllion people on Millenium night. I've also attended 3 royal weddings.
What's Your Favourite spot on the Isles of Scilly?
The view from Golf Farm on St. Mary's.
What's Your Favourite Farming Memory With Your Son, Rob Hale?
When he was a little boy, Rob used to love coming along in the tractor with me, but he would always fall asleep as soon as we started going, with his head nodding around all over the place as we went across the fields.
Any Tips For a Healthy "Father-Son" Working Relationship?
A Father and Son working together doesn't mean we always agree on the same things, but we have a safety valve if things ever get heated! There was another farming father and son who once got in so irate with each other, a hammer was thrown, so whenever things get a little heated, one of us will mention the hammer to lighten the mood!
Look our for our next "Featured Farmer" interview with Keith's son, Rob Hale in the coming weeks!
With all of our Isles of Scilly flower famers here on the islands, we thought you might like to get to know a little bit more about who is growing your flowers, so here is the first in our series of Featured Famers.....
Introducing Mr.Brown of Sunnyside Farm:
How did you come to be on the Isles of Scilly?
My Great Grandfather was the first in our family to bring us to the islands in 1890. He went to Canada with 2p in his pocket and came back with 1p, so came to Scilly looking to increase his fortunes and find work!
How did you first get into farming?
When my Great Grandfather first came here, he worked on Tresco esate for Mr. Dorrien- Smith. Later himself and his son (my grandfather) took on a farm on St. Mary's. My Father followed in their footsteps and, as the eldest son, when he passed away, I took over the farm from him.
Have you always just farmed Narcissi?
During the war, all of the farmers on the Isles of Scilly had to give 1/3 of their farms to growing vegetables such as broccoli and potatoes, much to the dislike of Mainland farmers who had to give up 1/2 of their land. We have also diversified into cattle for beef and dairy, chickens, pigs and all sorts at certain times!
What's your favourite farming memory?
Christmas on the farm was always an exciting time. I used to go down to the farm with my 6 brothers and sisters and help Dad to tie flowers and make up boxes.
What's your favourite Scented Narcissi variety and why?
Golden Dawn because of it's exquisite scent, but I also like Soleil D'ors for their long vase life, delicate scent, and they are my favourite variety to pick!
What's the funniest Scented Narcissi farming story you have for us?
Years ago, we were picking flowers, and one of the pickers took their false teeth out at lunch to eat their sandwich. He put them on a hedge next to him, and a seagull picked them up and flew off with them!
What do you do when you're not out in the flower fields?
I am a keen racquet player, and love to play table tennis, squash, badminton and tennis.
We hope you enjoyed reading all about Mr. Brown from Sunnyside Farm- if you have any more questions for him, just write under this post and we will get you some answers!
Remember to look out for who farmed your flowers on your bouquet's Farmer tag
The Paper White variety of Scented Narcissi is in high demand at Christmas, and here are our top 5 reasons why:
1. Classic White Flowers for Christmas
This variety of Scented Narcissi is the purest white variety of Narcissi out of all of our sixteen varieties in a Season- perfect for Christmas colour schemes, centre pieces, or Christmas Presents.
2. Iconic Fragrance
This is the Scent Descriptor our experts produced to capture the powerful scent of these Isles of Scilly flowers:
"a warm balsamic vanilla-ry base supports the creamy, almond-like soul of this bloom, crowned with a soft, jasmine-like glow"
It's no wonder the scent of narcissi can be found in perfumes by Chanel, Estee Lauder, and Vera Wang to name a few.
3. The Perfect Gift
Iconic in a simple bouquet, the addition to this wonderful offering of Christmas ribbon, tissue and handwritten card in our courier delivered Bespoke Blue Boxes makes an unforgettable gift.
4. Dreaming of a White Christmas?
For many of our customers, this is their traditional family Christmas flower, evoking memories of time gone by. Christmas just isn't Christmas without the heady fragrance of Paper Whites around the household.
5. Delicate and Dainty
The shape of these blooms is truly beautiful. With numerous dainty flowers on each stem, the soft pointed petals on these gorgeous narcissi make them instantly recognisable.