Sweet scent of success for Isles of Scilly flower farm
Romantics across the UK have helped an Isles of Scilly flower farm boost sales of its spring narcissi.
Scent From The Islands, based at Churchtown Farm on St Martin's, saw sales of its mail order bunches grow by almost a fifth in the run-up to Valentine's Day.
Zoe Julian, who runs the family business with husband Ben, put the huge increase down to a combination of factors.
"It's partly luck," she said. "We've been lucky with the weather, which has been relatively mild this winter and given us a good crop.
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"But the feedback we get is that our customers like to know where their flowers come from. People who visit Scilly, have visited Scilly, would like to visit Scilly or have some other connection to Scilly like the fact that the flowers they order for themselves or for family or friends have been grown on a rock out in the ocean."
Zoe said Scent From The Islands' approach was simple: sending multiples of ten top quality narcissi by first class mail to ensure the blooms' freshness.
"When customers receive them they get that lovely smell," she said. "Not a lot of cut flowers smell these days. They're grown for longevity and colour, but rarely scent. Our flowers are lovely to look at but also fill a room with scent."
The firm, which was established 20 years ago and now employs 18 full-time staff, is heavily reliant on the transport system to the mainland. But despite the recent loss of helicopter flights from Penzance and the flooding of Land's End airport, Zoe said deliveries had not been affected.
"There was a potential for transport problems this season," she said. "But Skybus and the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company have really stepped up to the mark, so the transition has been virtually seamless. We've always used Skybus in the winter anyway and we have a very good relationship with the steamship company, so it hasn't been a serious issue for us."
With Valentine's Day behind them, Zoe says the firm is now gearing up for what could also be a record-breaking Mother's Day on March 10.
"It's been a particularly busy spring season for us already," she said. "People seem to be veering towards buying British. They want to know exactly what they're buying, where it comes from, how it's been treated and they want value for money. We're able to give them what they want."