MY STORY OF FLOWERS & ART
For me, there was always flowers.
There was huge perennial bed, originally planted by my great-grandmother, followed by my grandmother, and then my mother, behind my childhood house by the beach. Swathes of daffodils appeared at the end of the hill each spring, these too were planted by my great-grandmother, 100 years ago now. And a magical walled garden, the type you read about in story books, behind what had been my grand-parents home, now my uncle's family home, with the rows of roses, sweet pea trellis's, a lean to green house with figs and grapes, and a back wall covered in loganberry vines..
Flowers are a part of my DNA, and, growing and arranging them to make a living is indeed a dream come true. I am of the 11th generation of Howe's to live here and make a living from the soil.
That soil is both precious and beautiful. I try to care for it with good, earth-kind gardening methods - I feed it with seaweed gathered from Howe Strand beach and manure from Wheltons farm yard just down the hill. I create my beds and rows using a method of no-dig. I feed and nourish soil and plants to make them strong, sturdy and resilient. I rarely need pest control, and when I do I look for methods and techniques other than chemical sprays.
DREAMS ARE CREATED BY JOURNEYS & WORK
I wasn't always interested in growing things. Initially I tried to run as far away from farms, nurseries and plants as I could!
I moved to Galway in 1997 and to study textile design in GMIT, but of course, nature and flowers always seemed to feature in my art work. While in college I worked weekends in a busy retail florist in Galway city, and as such attained an unofficial apprenticeship in floristry. Upon completion of my studies I spent a number of years running my own jewellery and millinery design studio after which I returned to retail floristry, working among a small, multi award winning team of retail and wedding florists.
In around 2008 I started becoming aware that something wasn't quite sitting right with me and the import flowers. Everything was sheathed in plastic, the leaves had a tacky feel that you only really became of aware of with constant handling. All the packaging warned that the contents were "not suitable for human consumption". I began noticing where things were coming from - Kenya, Equador, Israel, Ethiopia, and yes Holland too, but nothing from Ireland. There was nothing organic or free from chemicals available.
I began trying out a few things in our gardens at home. Sweet peas first, followed by cornflowers, calendula and cosmos. I was amazed by what I could produce. People began to talk about what I was growing too and soon they were asking me for flowers to fill their vases with, and also to put on their food. They didn't want non organically grown flowers "not suitable for human consumption" on their cakes and salads.
In 2019 having completing the Floret flower farming course, I officially opened Howe Hill Flower Farm, offering my own selection of chemical free, cut flowers and foliage, and offering a full floral design service from my atelier. I have since completed a masterclass in environmental floral design, and I am currently upskilling in a series of floral design tutorials with Sabine Darrell, focusing on foam free techniques and garden inspired floral design.
My studio and gardens are constantly evolving, but my core values remain the same. Kind, beautiful, earth-friendly flowers which say and convey thoughts, emotions, sentiments, the natural, elegance and grace without ever having to speak a single word. These flowers are carefully curated and crafted into individual arrangements and bouquets, taking into consideration their natural forms and movements, to speak the volumes that only flowers can express. My flowers, and the arrangements I create with them, are all works of art.
Our gardens are set on a 1.5 acre hilltop property adjacent to Howe Strand near Kilbrittain. The site is divided into a number of sheltered gardens, surrounded by mature native woodland, established shrub borders and hedges.
There is an enclosed perennial and herbacious area, a commercial style 1/8 acre annuals plot, and beds which seasonally alternate between spring bulbs and dahlias/lillies. A terraced garden is currently being developed to house David Austin garden roses, a viburnum cutting "hedge" and biennial/perennial beds.
We also have a 60ft polytunnel, and walled nursery yard.
The studio and gardens are working areas in which I and my family live, and which are closed to the public. We kindly restrict visits to by appointment only and generally reserve these visits to our well established clients.