Flowers have the power to bring a smile to any occasion.
They’re synonymous with all of life’s major events; from birthdays to weddings and even our final send-offs.
But the flowers we’ve grown used to in our supermarkets are often imported from different countries and come clad in plastic packaging.
Natalie Drew, owner of Freefield Flower Farm, is looking to make a change to that.
Based in Rothienorman near Inverurie, Freefield offers a vibrant mix of seasonally cut flowers grown on its quarter-acre farm in the north-east.
Bunches, bouquets and much more can all be catered to for a wide range of events and occasions.
Natalie, a mum of three, had previously spent her working career in the hospitality and wedding sectors before realigning her work-life priorities.
Passion for flowers
Being a fashion and textile graduate, Natalie says that she’s always had a creative streak and when it comes to flowers, that’s no different.
“I’ve always had a passion for flowers,” says Natalie.
“Growing up in Meikle Wartle, the lady across the road from us had a little plant nursery.
“She and her husband grew prize chrysanthemums which they used to show at the village fairs.
“But while I was working events at Barra Castle, seeing all of the beautiful weddings happening there with all of the gorgeous flowers, I think it definitely sparked something in me.”
New flower venture
Christmas 2020 marked the date when Natalie announced she would be setting off on her own new venture, Freefield Flower Farm, the following Spring.
Her first growing season was a “baptism of fire” in Natalie’s words, with very challenging growing conditions marking a tough start to life on the flower farm.
Luckily, this didn’t put Natalie off and she has received various new opportunities throughout the last year as a result of her perseverance.
“Being asked to do weddings has been a real high point for me,” says Natalie.
“I offered to do a friend’s wedding bouquet last year and it’s just grown arms and legs from there.
“It’s such an honour to be able to do them and for people to put their trust in me.”
Natalie adds that flower crowns have been one of her top requests from clients looking to bring something new to special occasions.
“Flower crowns are definitely becoming more popular. We’ve had a few enquiries for things like hen parties, though I do think brides are definitely looking at them for weddings,” says Natalie.
“They’re a bit more creative and it’s definitely a huge trend just now – the bigger the better as well.”
From tulips in spring to dahlias in autumn, Freefield Flower Farm has a wide variety of flowers growing naturally in the north-east.
Insects and Scotland’s rugged climate have banished some of her fledgling crops, but Natalie believes her seasonal flowers bring something new compared to regular florists or supermarkets.
“People have mentioned that the flowers I produce are like nothing that they’ve ever bought before in a shop,” she explains.
“What I’m putting together has grown together, whereas some supermarket flowers may be in season in Africa or Holland and are put together in a bunch.
“There’s been a push for people to buy more seasonal food, so I think that’s also coming across to the seasonality and provenance of other goods like flowers that they’re bringing into their house as well.
“If I had to pick a favourite flower, I’m definitely a tulip girl!”
“I grow big, mad tulips; they’re always frilly and look more like roses or peonies than a standard Dutch tulip and people love them.”
Natalie isn’t alone in looking to make the most of flower-growing at home.
Freefield Flower Farm is part of a network of flower farms across the UK championing a resurgence in growing British flowers and putting an emphasis on sustainability in doing so.
“The carbon footprint of imported flowers is huge,” says Natalie.
“If you buy one bunch of supermarket flowers a week, that equates to one ton of carbon dioxide over the course of a year.
“Sustainability was one of my big pushes to set up this business – we use peat-free compost and everything is packaged in compostable materials.”
Bringing smiles to faces
With plans to stretch the farm to over an acre in size and make it a destination for people to visit, at the root of Freefield’s success lies Natalie’s passion for flowers and the pleasure that they bring to others.
“I love that flowers cheer everybody up,” says Natalie.
“My dad has done deliveries for me a few times and he says it’s the best job because as soon as people see a bunch of flowers, they smile.
“Flowers can be sent for multiple reasons, but they always have the same impact on people.”