New wild flower courses

Wild plant and flower specialist, Charles Flower of Flower Farms is offering gardeners, farmers and landscape specialists the chance to learn more about using native plants in their designs at home as well as in farm and woodland schemes.

Charles, who lives at Snelsmore Common near Newbury and whose wild flower farm is based at Shalbourne near Hungerford on the Berkshire/Wiltshire border, has put together an exciting programme of courses for this summer with aim of encouraging more people to experiment with native plants. For farmers, some of the options under the Environmental Stewardship Scheme include sowing wild flowers.

The first course, Restoring Wild Flowers to the Garden and Countryside, is an ideal introductory course for anyone with an interest in growing wild flowers. This half-day workshop runs on both 17 June and 1 July from 2pm-5pm and takes place in the training room and in the plant centre and gardens at Flower Farms. The workshop covers which plants to choose, seeding and planting, site preparation and management.

The second course, Collecting and Propagating Wild Flowers, runs on 24 July from 2pm-5pm and covers all you need to know about collecting, storing and germinating wild flower seed as well as propagating plants. The course will include practical sessions in the wild flower garden and greenhouses at Flower Farms. Plant identification will form part of both courses. The cost for the half-day courses is £30.

On 28 October there will be a full day workshop on the ancient art of hedge laying giving participants the chance to learn one of our oldest countryside skills. This practical workshop will include working in pairs to cut and lay a section of hedge under the guidance of farm staff.

Flower Farms’ founder Charles Flower is renowned for his work in restoring wild flowers and plants to the countryside.

Charles said: "There is a real enthusiasm for restoring lost wild flowers and plants not just in the wider countryside but in garden schemes at home. Our courses are growing in popularity, people really do want to know how to identify, select and grow the right plants and seeds.

“The wider effect of increasing interest in our native species is the benefit to insects, butterflies and other wildlife. Gardeners and landowners will be surprised what happens if they can re-establish wild flowers with all the nectar that they provide."

Visitors to the farm will also be able to tour the wild flower collection of 150 plant species that has been established in the show garden at the farm. The garden, which looks stunning over the summer months, is designed to demonstrate the full range of habitats and shows which plants favour the variety of conditions from sunny spots to shade and clay soils, to chalkland, to meadows, orchards, hedgerows, wetland and woodland planting.

The visitor centre at the farm is open daily from 10am to 5pm, between May and August. Admission is free. For more information on visiting the farm or booking courses, contact the farm on 01672 870782 email: web

Flower Farms Course Dates
17 June (half day – 2pm-5pm) Restoring Wild Flowers to the Garden and Countryside, £30
1 July (half day 2pm-5pm) Restoring Wild Flowers to the Garden and Countryside, £30
24 July (half day 2pm-5pm) Collecting and Propagating Wild Flowers, £30
28 October (full day 9.15am-4pm) Hedge laying, £50

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