Rachel Siegfried of cut flower farm Green and Gorgeous talks about style, seasons and sustainability

“I know the flowers I like to work with — it’s like knowing the type of paints you like to use if you are a painter,” says Rachel Siegfried, florist extraordinaire and the green-fingered guru behind cut flower farm Green and Gorgeous.

With more than two acres of fields overflowing with beautiful blooms, Green and Gorgeous is a vibrant hive of floral industry deep in the Oxfordshire countryside.

Creating beautiful bridal bouquets and arrangements —as well as providing a range of floriculture and floristry courses — Rachel’s work is much in demand.

“It’s hard to believe that when we started out some 12 years ago, no one was offering British home-grown flowers,” says Rachel. “There was no competition whatsoever.”

Times have, of course, changed, but Rachel and her partner Ashley Pearson have much to keep them occupied. As well as the flowers, they grow vegetables for their popular Farm Gate shop and the recent lockdown saw them move into floral deliveries. “When you have your own business, you have to work hard and always adapt,” says Rachel.

Her British grown, seasonal and sustainable flowers remain must-haves on many a bride’s wishlist, though. “Garden-gathered style is particularly fashionable for weddings,” says Rachel, who cites meadow flowers such as ranunculas as among her own particular favourites. “Also dahlias — they were the very first cut flower I grew so are very important to me.” Her signature style is “natural, light and airy, and quite elegant and stylish”, she says. “When it comes to colour, I can work across lots of different colour palettes. I like to play around with colour and be a bit edgy sometimes.”

With many discovering a renewed interest in their garden during the recent lockdown period, Rachel has plenty of advice for budding flower growers. “Start simple,” she says. “Dahlias and sweet peas are good flowers for beginners to grow. One covers early summer [sweet peas] and one late summer, they are both cut and come again, are not too difficult to grow and they both offer so much choice of varieties.

“The main advice I would give is to try and have a separate cutting patch — treat your flowers like a crop, as you would do with any vegetables you grow. Sow them in straight rows and don’t mix them in your borders — you won’t want to pick them otherwise. Flowers will need that extra effort — watering, staking, feeding, and so on — to become a premium cut flower stem and not just a garden stem.

“And come on one of my courses — that is my best advice!”