Shop local for Christmas – Which business for your Christmas flowers and wreaths

A lot of local businesses have struggled over the last year, but there is a way we can help some of them. I’m suggesting a shop local scheme. Yes, I know, you’ve all heard the strap line ‘Shop Local’ before, but this is a shop local initiative with a twist.

Instead of using the big stores or mail order giants, why don’t we buy our friends and loved ones presents from our own local businesses? You can stay safe at home and purchase either online from your local retailer or over the phone. Many communities have volunteers now because of Covid-19 and lockdown who will go and do your shopping for you, so it makes it even easier to ‘shop local for Christmas’.

You could buy a voucher to pay for a meal or drinks from local pubs, cafés, restaurants or hotels. Or how about a voucher for a tray of delicious home-made cakes, pastries or brownies? Local chemists and garden centres have a wide range of fabulous goods to choose from and, if you purchase a voucher, your loved one can choose exactly what they want. Or how about a voucher for whatever amount you can afford to use in your local grocery shops, gift shops, charity shop, butchers, bakers, beauty salon, therapy business or hairdressers? The choice is endless and you will also be helping your local economy.

I hope to feature a local business every week up till Christmas Eve.

The first business I am featuring is actually four businesses in one! It is the Fairford Flower Collective run by four ladies from Fairford, Lechlade and Kempsford who each have individual flower businesses that comprise the Fairford Flower Collective: Beth Bruce-Gardner, Fi Passey, Ruth Robinson and Tess Wardman.

Beth, Fi, Tess, Ruth – the Fairford Flower Collective

Currently, Beth, Fi, Ruth and Tess are concentrating on offering wreaths, wreath kits and flowers for Christmas.

The wreath kit costs £25 and comes with seasonal foliage, natural festive decorations and luxury velvet and patterned ribbons. All materials are provided as well as instructions and a video link. You just need secateurs or strong scissors. Each kit contains: a 10” metal wreath ring, a bag of moss, a reel of twine, a selection of seasonal foliage, 9 dried orange slices, 3 pine cones, 3 bundles of cinnamon sticks, 3 teasels or seed heads, a length of patterned ribbon and a length of velvet ribbon, wires and a recycled paper bag.

Wreaths and wreath kits will be available for collection from Fairford, Lechlade or Kempsford from 8th December, but availability is limited. Delivery can be arranged for a small charge. Order from: Ruth at fairfordflowercollective@gmail.com.

Last Autumn, the four ladies responsible for the Fairford Flower Collective received a Silver Gilt award at the RHS Malvern Show – no mean feat for their first time of entering.

Earlier this year, the ladies had been selected to exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show,  but had had their dreams dashed due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Beth, Fi, Ruth and Tess now have their sights set on next year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

Beth runs Honeymoon Fern Flowers from her home workshop in Fairford. She provides sustainable wedding and event flowers as well as seasonal bouquets for local delivery. She says her arrangements have a natural, slightly wild, cottage garden look using blooms from her own flower patch, and the best thing for her is knowing that the flowers and foliage used are not ‘costing the earth’, as they are free from plastic and pesticides and don’t travel far from where they are grown. The name of her business came from a fern that her grandparents brought back from their honeymoon in Dartmoor in 1920. They cared for it and took it with them each time they moved house. In the 1980s, Beth’s mother took over the care of the plant and now it’s Beth’s turn to be the custodian of this very special fern.

Fi runs Corky & Prince that delivers exquisite flowers for weddings or events. She won the Fairford & Lechlade Business Club 2020 New Business of the Year Award and recently launched a social responsibility project to create a Custard Apple tree plantation on a remote hillside in Chittoor District in the province of Andhra Pradesh in India. “I’d had this in my mind for a while and was keen to get it started” said Fi. “The aim is to kick-start self-sustaining projects for the local villages and a Custard Apple tree plantation was perfect. I am looking forward to visiting the project in 2023 and being able to pluck an apple from one of the trees!”

Ruth runs The Cotswold Garden, which developed from the seed of an idea to grow flowers for those who live nearby. Using only what’s around locally and in season, Ruth is proud to have provided flowers for weddings and events right on her doorstep. Her flowers are ‘as nature intended’ and arranged in the simplest manner using eco-friendly methods. No floral foam or other types of plastic. Her flowers are loved by brides and bees alike and in 2019 she even saw them grace the tables at Blenheim Palace.

Starting a Custard Apple tree plantation

Tess runs the family business, Iris & Wilf, with the help of husband, Matt and their two children – who are actually not very helpful, but love being amongst the flowers! They grow and sell fresh seasonal flowers in Fairford, selecting varieties for their vibrancy, beautiful scent and individuality. It all started with dahlias but now they are growing a much wider variety of flowers – locally grown, natural British blooms with 100% traceability and zero air miles. You can buy a bunch from their garden gate or order by the bucket!



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