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Freedom Flowers

PUBLISHED: 11:32 14 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:29 20 February 2013

Freedom Flowers

Freedom Flowers

Amber Locke takes time out to visit Sheila Haswell of Freedom Flowers at Fenny Bentley


Wandering through Sheila Haswells beautiful garden just outside Ashbourne on a glorious sun-drenched August day, with buzzing bees, fluttering butterflies and multi-coloured scented flowers over-spilling every flowerbed is like being transported into a heady magical afternoon in a childrens fairy tale and with so many incredible blooms on display you dont know what to admire, smell or nibble at first!


This beautiful quintessentially English cottage garden is home to Freedom Flowers, the Derbyshire cut and edible flower grower. Sheila and her husband bought the property in Fenny Bentley 13 years ago and since then have completely transformed the overgrown two acre plot of land into a stunning floral landscape with a huge and abundant cutting garden. The flowers became a new business for Sheila three years ago and she now grows over 200 varieties of beautiful traditional English country garden flowers, herbs and vegetables.


Sheila and her team supply organically-grown flowers for weddings and celebrations and to restaurants and cake decorators for culinary purposes. Freedom Flowers have become particularly popular with local brides looking for a natural country living style look.


Sheilas flower business came about almost by chance and stemmed simply from the desire to find something to keep the grass down on the property. After unsuccessful attempts to do this with first chickens and then geese Sheila and her husband decided they needed to grow something and that if this also had a commercial use it would be an added bonus!


So four years ago they decided to turn to flowers and initially tried annuals but with the land on a slight slope the plants and seeds washed straight down the hill in the rain and nothing grew at all! Undefeated, the next year Sheila decided to build raised beds and successfully grew an initial selection of organic flowers which she sold locally in the village and some edible flowers to chef Peter Dale of The Dining Room restaurant in Ashbourne.


With this encouraging step forward Sheila decided that the flower business could definitely work and in 2010 had a proper full growing year; supplying flowers for eight local weddings and holding an Open Day for the public for the first time. The garden now flourishes with an overwhelmingly beautiful array of flowers of every fragrance, colour, shape and size imaginable from the bold vibrantly-coloured irises, gladioli and marigolds to the delicate, dainty blooms of borage, cornflowers and pansies, plus a wide variety of herb and vegetable flowers. All the plants at Freedom Flowers are grown completely organically without the use of any artificial fertilizers, weed killer, pesticides or insecticides and the pigs, chickens, sheep and donkeys who also live on the farm provide the manure to naturally fertilise the garden.


For weddings, Sheila and her team offer a variety of floral display options. They can design and fill a whole church with flowers, or they can just pick the flowers for you to collect and arrange yourself, or you can bring your vases for them to arrange flowers in. With 12 months notice Freedom Flowers can even grow you a bespoke selection of flowers and for unusual wedding favours they also offer edible flower jams, chutneys and flower-infused local honey. They supply fresh rose petals which can be used as a lovely natural alternative to confetti and have a range of pretty vintage vases, jugs, containers and tea cups which can be used to display flowers for a nostalgic look. Their selection of edible flowers can be used as part of a menu or to decorate a wedding cake and Freedom Flowers can even bring along their adorable wedding donkeys to meet and greet your guests at the church or venue!


Their edible flowers have also become popular with chefs to use as decorations or in recipes and these are shipped out to hotels, restaurants and pubs across the UK via courier in eco-punnets in compostable or fully bio-degradable stay-cool packaging, ensuring the service is a green as possible.


So if youre searching for a bouquet with a refreshing difference or a natural floral display for a special occasion or just some lovely seasonal flowers for your home then Freedom Flowers with their just-picked selection of locally-grown glorious, scented English blooms might have just what youre looking for!





COOKING WITH EDIBLE FLOWERS






Edible flowers are wonderful to include in cooking and can make beautiful garnishes for puddings, cakes, salads, drinks and also to flavour custards, ice creams, rice dishes and salad dressings etc. However, please ensure that you use only the recognised edible varieties and only ones that have either been grown specifically for culinary purposes or have been grown organically, without the use of chemicals.


Some of the most popular edible flowers include: cornflowers, nasturtiums, amaranth, viola, rose petals, borage, nasturtiums, carnations, jasmine, lilac, daffodils, marigolds and also vegetable and herb flowers which usually taste like a mild version of the vegetable or herb such as broccoli, bean, chive, rocket and fennel.




Freedom Flowers, Firs Farm, Fenny Bentley, Ashbourne DE6 1LD. Tel: 07969 737550 or visit www.freedomflowers.co.uk


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