Micro-farm grows beautiful flowers in former Haringey Council nursery
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
Ruth visits the Wolves Lane Flower Company where two green fingered entrepreneurs are producing organic blooms for florists and home delivery
Most of the market gardens that fed London went years ago, but now renewed interest in buying local is encouraging a resurgence, in the form of ‘micro-farms’.
They mainly grow vegetables but we have a rarer bird in North London; a flower farm. Wolves Lane Flower Company (WLFC), the creation of Marianne Mogendorff and Camila Klich, is one of several interesting enterprises renting space in the former Wood Green nursery where Haringey Council grew bedding plants.
The site has several glasshouses and a sheltered position and Marianne and Camila took on two of the glasshouses and a run of outdoor beds.
Using organic methods, they produce flowers for local florists and designers, and clearly work like mad (including both of them becoming mothers). Back in 2017, couch grass, horsetail and bramble in the outdoor beds made a good place to start.
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Helped by family, friends and volunteers, WLFC got cracking.
It was volunteer day when we visited and several energetic people were there, laying irrigation pipes in the raised beds of tulips, clearing dahlias, sowing seeds. This being November, it took some imagination to see the summer flowers Marianne describes as filling the glasshouses and beds so that you have to shimmy to get past them.
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But next year was already there in the making, in the young foxgloves and sweet williams, the seedling scabious, cerinthe, briza grass, gysophila, viola. And last summer was there in the dried flowers.
Being a newish business means there’s a lot of experimentation. For instance, installing irrigation in the glasshouse ‘was a game-changer’ and drying flowers extends their season. I saw bunches of them hanging upside down under the staging, curtained by thick plastic to keep the light out. There was a bunch of statice, the old warhorse of dried flowers, but many unexpected ones, eg, curled cress grown for its seedheads and the lacy calyces of Bells of Ireland.
Compost is another aspect where Marianne feels ‘we’re hitting our stride’, aided by a recent course about using extra layers of straw to make ‘compost cake’.
The whole site has a positive, community feel and is run by Organic Lea. The site supervisor dreams of setting up rainwater irrigation from the glasshouse roofs.
No longer a dream but happening right now, is the launch of the Wolves Lane Flower Club. Subscribing to the club (wolveslaneflowercompany.com) means a monthly bucket of varied seasonal flowers will arrive on your doorstep for six months, starting in April. They will not have been flown in or carried on a huge lorry for hundreds of miles, they will be local, organically grown and very beautiful.
Congratulations to Hollickwood Primary School, Muswell Hill, for being the UK winners of the international Golden Bulb competition, 2020. This competition is run by the bulb trade and encourages children of many countries to get planting. Which is what was happening at Hollickwood last week. I’m hoping to visit the gardening club next spring to see their new bulb display.