CUT FLOWERS GROWN LOCALLY, GOOD FOR BUSINESS, GOOD FOR BEES – 1st wk in July 2013

The summer weather is a great harbinger of bright floral colour in the garden. All too often the kitchen gardener feels the need to explain that flowers have a ‘use’ in pest control or pollination to boost fruit and veg production. All this is true, but is not the beauty of a cosmos, the scent of a nicotiana, or the statuesque demeanour of a sunflower, sufficient qualities of themselves to warrant a welcome in any kitchen garden?

Beyond the garden wall or balcony railing, growing and selling cut flowers is big business, estimated at the last count, to be worth €30 billion annually worldwide. Floriculture, as the business is called, costs Ireland about €34 in cut flower imports annually. Could Ireland grow more of its own cut flowers? There are some businesses bucking the trend and  selling Irish grown cut flowers and foliage. However they make up about 1% of the horticulture sector, which in itself is a tiny section, about 2%, of farming overall in Ireland.

One such flower growing company was started by friends Kealin Ireland, a business consultant, and her horticulturalist husband, Ciaran Beattie. Their business is www.leitrimflowers.ie. They organically grow flowers which suit growing conditions in Ireland, but which also have scent, colour, shape and all a florist would need to wow a customer. Kealin and Ciaran are working flat out to meet orders for weddings, farmers’ markets like Carrick on Shannon and Sligo and individual customer needs.

The floriculture sector is so small in Ireland that Leitrim Flowers have nothing to fear from others taking up cut flower growing as a business. In fact Leitrim Flowers run courses to train anybody interested in how to choose plants and tend them to produce the best of cut fresh flowers for home use or to grow a business step by step, as they have done. Sonairte, where I am Chairperson, has dipped its toe in the floriculture business, as we sell bunches of common wild and cultivated cut flowers from the walled garden from the Ecoshop in Sonairte and each Saturday in the Dublin Food Co-Op, Newmarket Square, Dublin 8. Drop in to Sonairte, Laytown, or the Dublin Food Co-Op if you wish to check out Irish organically grown cut flowers or take a trip to lovely Leitrim to learn about floriculture from Kealin and Ciaran at Anamadu Fields, Kilnagross, Co. Leitrim. Telephone 071 965 9970 or email info@leitrimflowers.ie.

Garden volunteer Rita O'Sullivan creating floral works of art in Sonairte with botanist Dr Declan Doogue and his Dad, Éamon.

Garden volunteer Rita O’Sullivan creating floral works of art in Sonairte with botanist Dr Declan Doogue agus a athair, Éamon.

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