Scilly Flowers at Churchtown Farm is a family farm based on St Martins in the beautiful Isles of Scilly just off the Cornish coast. We specialise in growing scented flowers. In the winter we grow the traditional island flower crop of scented narcissi and in the summer we grow scented pinks.
Andrew and Hilary Julian moved to Scilly in 1987. After a year working alongside an island farmer they invested their savings in the 27 acre Churchtown Farm. After several harsh winters and falling wholesale flower prices, they had the idea of sending gift boxes of flowers by 1st Class Post. In 2002 their son Ben and his wife Zoe took over the running of the farm. The business has continued to thrive and now sends out over 90,000 beautiful boxes of flowers throughout the UK every year.
We specialise in growing scented flowers which we are able to do outdoors, all year round thanks to our mild climate.
From October-April we grow scented narcissi. We work hard to keep the islands flower growing tradition alive, growing our narcissi outdoors in tiny fields sheltered from the Atlantic by tall hedges that are an integral part of the Scillonian landscape. From May-October we grow scented pinks, an old English summer flower with a subtle perfume, beautiful colours and long vase life. Our pinks are grown in coir filled tubs and irrigated and fed by a computerised system that saves water. Some of our pinks are grown in poly-tunnels this lengthens the season and also means we can use biological pest control and reduce the need to spray.
Coir comes from the husk of coconuts, as it is a renewable growing medium and can be transported dehydrated it is far better for the environment than the peat grow bags we used to use. Scented pinks tend to produce flowers continuously throughout the summer, although each variety tends to have 3 or 4 distinct “flushes” of flowering during the season. At the end of their useful life, the old plants and the coir are emptied onto fields which are not used for flower growing and ploughed in.
Why do we use coir tubs?
Water: Here on the Isles of Scilly, water is extremely limited. We only have available whatever rainwater we can collect from our rooves, supplemented by a small quantity from our own wells. By growing our pinks in tubs, we can ensure that we give each plant exactly the right amount of water and feed at any time of the year. In this way, we conserve our precious water reserves and minimise any impact on the environment from excess fertiliser.
Crop rotation: On St. Martin’s, we are also extremely limited by the availability of suitably sheltered fields in which to grow flowers, this means that we find it extremely difficult to practice a proper crop rotation with our best fields. By growing in tubs, we are able to use our best fields to continuously grow pinks without risk of pests and diseases building up in the soil.
Weed Control: As we first cover the field with a ground cover before laying out the tubs, weeds cannot grow in the crop. This saves us time in weeding operations and means that we do not have to spray with chemical weed killers.
On our small farm we can’t grow all the flowers we need so we work closely with other Scillionan flower farmers ensuring that they get a good guaranteed price for the best flowers that they produce. This helps to keep the islands’ traditional flower industry buoyant and preserve the landscape of Scilly.
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