Wednesday 8th January 2020

Growing a Floral Field of Dreams

A talk by Paul Stickland

Paul Strickland, artist, florist and illustrator, told the story of how he and his wife Helen turned a farmers field in to a thriving family run seasonal cut flower business.   Spurred on by the influence of social media, with support and encouragement from the floral community, a dash of hard graft, seasoned with tones of compost they have now become a true success story in the locally sourced cut flower market.  Black Shed are now a go to supplier for many top florists and floral designers through the UK, to say nothing of the many DIY brides and the very many happy pollinators.

Paul shared his great experience of growing straight from seed and shared his ‘secret’ propagating method revolving around Wilko freeze boxes, vermiculite and slurry. Providing a vast range of flowers  including cottage garden favourites like Sweet peas, Larkspur, Clary sage, Salvia and Cosmos to modern favourites like Lysimachus ephemeral, Gaura, Orlaya grandiflora, Ammi majus and Linaria along with special foliage and trademark grasses such as Pennisetum advena ‘Rubrum’.

Paul and Helen are constantly experimenting with new plants and this years favourite is Omphalodes linifolia which gives dainty off white flowers through the spring and summer.


Among the many hints and tips Paul told us how he growsDigitalis (foxglove) Camelot series all the way from December to April.

A great tip for success with Delphiniums is to start from fresh seed at the end of January.

To extend the season Paul grows lots of Dahlias.  The trick to obtain the best colour is to propagate from cuttings every year.  Dahlias are prolific performers, giving around 15 flowers per tuber until the first frosts. A current favourite is Karma choc but any of the varieties with the name Karma are a great choice.  Karma fuchsiana is also a great favourite along with the ever popular Café au Lait.


To extend the early season Anemones galil  provides a range of spring colours including pastels.   Benefits from a bit of protection but cuts well.

The winter is always a challenge for cut flowers and Paul is expanding the dried flower range at Black Barn.  Dried flowers are becoming a significant floral trend including dried Eucalyptus, Lavender, Thistles, good old favourites like Statice, Helichrysum and even Pampas grass.  Helichrysum makes good button holes!

Paul graciously answer the many questions from the audience and received a highly deserved round of applause.