OCN (Open College Network) floristry student Alex Pickles proved she can grow flowers fit for a King by providing blooms for the coronation ceremony in Westminster Abbey.
Alex, who began her artisan flower farm and floristry business, Mountain Gate Farm and Flowers in 2022, was among members of ‘Flowers from the Farm’ to supply native blooms and foliage to decorate the abbey on May 6.
‘Flowers from the Farm’ is a national not for profit organisation which champions nearly 1000 British artisan growers and promotes local, seasonal cut flowers and foliage. The organisation was approached to invite a cross section of members to gift plant material which complemented the colour scheme selected by the Royal Household.
Alex’s gift of ranunculus, Soloman’s Seal and a range of foliage joined seasonal flower buckets from members in north Wales and Cheshire which were assembled at Carol’s Garden, a successful flower farm business run by former Reaseheath floristry student and lecturer Carol Siddorn, who also donated. The flowers were then transported via a regional hub to a central hub at Bristol where they joined flower buckets from 88 nationwide growers for sorting and preparing for their final destination.
Shane Connolly, Florist by Royal Appointment to the late Queen Elizabeth II and now to King Charles III, led the design team responsible for the seasonal, sustainable arrangements, with Alex’s flowers forming part of the decoration of the Grave of the Unknown Warrior and Quire area. The Royal Horticultural Society also gifted trees and branches for the display.
Following the ceremony the flowers were repurposed by the charity Floral Angels and sent to care homes, hospices, shelters and to other vulnerable members of the community.
Alex said: “It was very exciting to be invited to donate a commemorative gift of British cut flowers to the coronation celebrations – and definitely a highlight for my small scale flower farm. It was a great privilege to play even a minor part in such a high profile occasion.”
An accountant by training, Alex discovered her love for growing plants when she and her husband bought a smallholding on Rhos Mountain near Wrexham three years ago. Working with the natural topography and experimenting to see which plants best suit the ground conditions, she has gradually expanded her patchwork of cutting beds to grow a variety of British cottage garden type annuals.
This year she has also invested in a range of perennials and foliage stock. Her favourite crop is dahlias – of which she has about 30 different varieties. She sells her blooms at farmers’ markets, makes up DIY buckets of flowers for special events and sells gift bouquets locally.
Keen to explore the potential of what was initially a hobby, Alex first studied for her OCN Level 2 Floristry with us and completes her Level 3 this year. She plans to continue learning on our advanced leisure courses and is particularly keen to contribute to the sustainability of the industry.
As well as running her flower farm, Alex is a business consultant working within the public sector and also for private clients.