I first met John and Adam of Out Bloom Flower Farm, at Llandovery’s first PRIDE in 2022. It was a very significant, and rather wonderful, day for our town. Their stand stood out, partly of course because of the colourful array of flowers that adorned it. However, it was my chat with them and their obvious enthusiasm for what they do, that made me determined to interview them for my blog. I’m delighted to share their interview below.
Tell me what made you want to have a flower farm?
John: I have loved growing flowers for as long as I can remember. It had always been a side project though, while life tended to go in other directions. What pushed it into a reality was the confluence of two things: bananas and Venn diagrams. I should probably elaborate!
First, bananas. “How bad are Bananas?” is a fascinating book about the carbon cost of various things. In it, Mike Berners-Lee (uncle of the internet!) writes that in UK supermarkets, out-of-season cut flowers emerged as some of the products with the largest carbon footprint. As an example, buying a single bunch of out of season roses can produce the same amount of carbon as 45 kilos of bananas!
Next up, Venn diagrams. We, along with many people, are pretty worried about climate change and want to do what we can to help stop it. The wonderful scientist and climate activist Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson has a simple method for finding the most impactful climate action that is unique to you. She encourages us all to find things at the intersection of: what you’re good at, what needs doing to help the climate, and what brings you joy. For us, that is growing local, seasonal flowers.
What kind of flowers do you specialise in?
We love to experiment and try new things with our flowers, but, if we had to pick a theme that runs through what we do we’d say we specialise in bright, seasonal flowers that smell amazing.
Why here, in West Wales?
Lockdown was the kick we needed to leave our small city apartment and head for the countryside. We knew we wanted to move to Wales since both of our Mums were born here so we both had fond memories of visiting as kids. Only problem was one was from the north and one was from the south, so we split the difference and landed in the West!
What kind of event do you love to create displays for?
We love nothing more than making flower displays that are deeply meaningful for our community. We are a gay couple, so helping our LGBTQ+ community celebrate in an authentic way is really meaningful to us. A highlight of last year was bringing our flowers to a local pride celebration and making custom flower crowns in different pride flag colour schemes. This year we are really looking forward to providing flowers for more weddings and celebrations. We are obviously very happy to do flowers for any wedding, but it brings our gay little hearts that extra bit of joy when we get to provide them for our wider queer family.
What’s different about getting flowers for a wedding from a flower farm, to going to a high-street florist?
We work with the seasons and grow plants and flowers that are suited to our climate. What is available at any given time is very much determined by the rhythms of nature. This means that you might need to be a bit more flexible in what you ask for, but you can be sure that we will always provide the finest of our flowers that are at their very best on the big day. We also guarantee our flowers as being very low impact (no flowers grown in gas heated greenhouses on the other side of the world here) – we even deliver them by solar charged electric vehicle!
Tell me about the two of you…
We both came to flower farming after having spent our careers in software and technology. John grew up in sunny, subtropical Florida surrounded by palmettos and alligators, while Adam comes from the less-tropical Dorset (surrounded mostly by sheep)! We met while living in London at a time when John was working at Kew Gardens – a sign of things to come. We moved to beautiful Ceredigion during the pandemic with the intention to put the principles we both hold dear into practice – enhancing local ecology, building community and doing so in a low impact way. Out Bloom has become a part of the way we are trying to do this.
What’s your personal favourite flower (each of you) and why do you love it?
John: It is so hard to just pick one! Since it’s spring right now, I don’t think you can beat daffodils. They are just so bright and cheerful and just what you need after one of our long, dark, Welsh winters. I love the variety too. Everyone knows the classic yellow trumpets, but we love growing more unusual ones with different forms, colours and beautiful scents.
Adam: I’m very fond of the Snake’s Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) – its elegant nodding flower in stunning deep purple with its unmistakable chequered pattern. I love to spot them early in the year when they first emerge. If I had a second choice, it’d be Dyer’s Chamomile (Cota tinctoria) because not only does it provide abundant, cheerful yellow flowers, but I can use them to dye fabric and yarn a bright yellow – a staple in our collection of dye plants.
Can you give us a Top Tip for wedding flowers?
Getting DIY buckets of flowers and doing your own wedding decorations can be a really lovely way of having personal and meaningful decorations, while saving you money at the same time. You might not want to try making super complicated floral constructions on your own, but everyone can make up jam jar posies for table settings that are lush and gorgeous. Especially when the buckets are curated (like ours are) with a good mix of material that work well together.
In the ‘language of flowers’ what meaning do some of the flowers you specialise in have?
For us the language flowers speak is a very personal one. Everyone has memories that are powerfully triggered by certain flowers. Be it ones that you remember growing in your Nain’s garden, or ones you received from your first love. The feeling when you walk through a glade of bluebells, or the heady smell of hyacinths. This is the language I hope our flowers speak to our customers. We do grow quite a few heritage varieties, so hopefully they will trigger those types of happy memories for you.
When you’re not creating beautiful displays, how do you like to spend your time? What hobbies / activities do you enjoy?
John: My main hobby when I’m not growing flowers, is growing other things! I love a good veg patch on the side. If I absolutely must leave the garden then I do love hiking. We’re so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world with amazing walking in the mountains and along the coast.
Adam: I love textiles, so any chance I get to sew, quilt, knit, dye or otherwise do something with fibres, I jump at it. There is such a rich cultural heritage in this part of Wales for socially important and beautiful crafts that I’m surrounded by inspiration.
Thank you both for joining me on my Blog. And do take a look at John and Adam’s wonderful new website to find out more about Out Bloom Flower Farm or connect with them on Instagram.