Sewing The Seeds Of A Cottage Industry
Cotswold Life|August 2020
Sewing The Seeds Of A Cottage Industry
How one Cotswold gardener turned a hobby into a business
Mandy Bradshaw

Yellow next to purple followed by pink and then orange, there’s nothing restrained about Fiona Porter’s Cotswold garden. It truly is an assault on the senses.

Yet, this vibrant, eclectic mix is not the result of a lack of design ability but very deliberate planting. The blocks of colour that fill the sloping plot are all flowers grown for cutting and are sent to event florists across the area.

A former secondary school maths teacher, Fiona started Cotswold Country Flowers four years ago at her home in Coaley near Dursley: “I decided I needed to do something different but wasn’t quite sure what at the time.”

In fact, her new career came about by chance. She’d always been a keen gardener and was used to growing plants from seed so signed up for a day course at Organic Blooms in Bristol on growing your own cut flower garden.

“It ‘sowed the seed’,” she says with a smile, “and I thought “I could do a bit of this, just on a very low-key scale’.”

That low-key idea has blossomed and today she grows around 150 different varieties, mainly annuals but with a number of biennials and perennials in the mix.

A central hazel arch has sweet peas and there are beds of white Ammi visnaga, brilliant orange calendula and achillea in shades of pink and white.

Of course, annuals are nothing unusual and most gardeners will use them as cheap, reliable summer colour. However, Fiona looks for less common varieties and there were several that I’ve not encountered before.

Nigella damascena is well known but Nigella papillosa is a beautiful white flower with the dramatic contrast of dark purple stamen.

“The nice thing about it is you get an amazing seed head as well so it’s dual purpose.”

There are cornflowers but with white and shades of pink alongside the usual blue. Likewise, delphiniums have colours ranging from white through pink and blue to purple.


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August 2020