A labour of love – growing flowers chemical free

Janae and her husband grow chemical free blooms in the little hamlet of Lyonville not far from Daylesford in Victoria. Here’s an insight into life on the land growing beautiful flowers in partnership with nature herself.

Why do you grow flowers?

Flowers make us happy! We always wanted to work the land in some way and when we were about to get married we started to look for DIY buckets of flowers to use that were grown locally and they were tricky to find. Eventually we came across ‘Grown and Gathered’ and traded one of our black face Suffolk lambs for gorgeous buckets of flowers and foliage. The flowers were enchanting and captured our hearts. Since then we have slowly been building up our farm with new beds every year.

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What do you love about it?

The excitement of new seeds germinating, flowers blooming, the intoxicating smells in the air and the joy that flowers bring others. They make people smile and provoke memories of loved ones. Also we love that we can be on the farm with our daughter by our side. She loves to be amongst the flowers, epically sweet peas- the scent makes her giddy.

What do you grow?

At this stage our flower farm mainly focuses on dahlias, ranunculi, sweet peas and many different annuals and perennials. As we grow so does our flower farm, such as different varieties of lilacs and other cutting hedges that have just been planted. Warratahs are next on the list to be added to our flower farm, they will be planted this February.

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What’s involved in cultivation?

We are trying to have a combination of different annuals, perennials, flowering hedges and trees, which means that cultivation involves a variety of techniques, steps and stages. We are really learning about how much of it is preparation and knowing what’s coming around the corner. An example would be our dahlias, as due to our climate they need to be pulled every winter, divided and replanted, which is completely different for how and when we plant our sweet peas. Sweet peas seeds are sown in early Autumn and flower throughout the year depending on the cultivar.

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When are you in full bloom?

At this stage we are ‘blooming’ between October through to May, with the hope of extending on either side.

Do you sell to industry or to the public?

We sell to people in the industry that are local and we also sell to the public via markets, orders through Instagram, from our farm gate and we are about to start a CSA (subscription) for the next season.

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We are very excited about offering a CSA to local people and also city folk that live on our side of Melbourne. The idea is the customers would pay for all of the bouquets ahead of time for Spring, Summer and/or Autumn. This money helps us build our farm with things such as, irrigation, equipment, new seeds or bulbs etc. and in exchange, we promise them flowers through the season. That way the customers would be directly supporting the farm! We also hope to take back old bouquets and flowers from our customers so they can be composted, thereby helping to ‘close the loop’.

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Challenges in growing?

Because we are 100% chemical free and use organic methods, we often have pest issues, like grasshoppers and thrip!! But knowing that we are doing our best to work alongside nature encourages us to keep it natural and also knowing that we can compost the flowers or share them with our animals is a wonderful feeling! And of course our flowers are #safetosniff

Our climate can also be a challenge, as it quite cold with occasional snow and frequent heavy frosts. But, we are learning more about when and what to plant every year.

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What’s your farming strategy or philosophy?

Our passion is to produce ethically grown flowers that reflect the seasons, and are 100% chemical free. We love growing a mixture of both native and non-native blooms, focussing on quality of stem length and classic fragrance and perfume, the way flowers used to smell. We work together as a team with our pasture raised chickens, alpaca and a small flock of black faced Suffolk sheep to create the best natural fertiliser – they also like to nibble on spent flowers as a treat!

What do you find challenging about life as flower farmer?

Probably ‘time’, as we are both working other jobs as well as raising our daughter. But as we build our farm each year we get closer to ‘living the dream’ of full-time flower farming for us of both.

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Do you have a favourite floral stylist / designer?

We have many favourites, however we are inspired when a floral stylist / designer can work with seasonal and chemical free flowers that are grown locally, like Katie Marx, Prunella and Lilac and the Cat.

Fleurs de Lyonville

35 Leishmans Lane, Lyonville, Victoria, Australia

https://www.facebook.com/fleursdelyonville/

All images from Fleurs de Lyonville.

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