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This Week’s Guest Blogger is Cindy Seeley, the Owner of Amber Cottage Flowers

Hi there my name is Cindy and I am the owner of Amber Cottage Flowers. It feels so strange saying ” I am a self employed flower farmer florist”, because this is actually a world away from the care sector where I spent 25 years working previously.

You may be wondering how this change came about, well back in 2020, I (along with many others), decided that life needed to take a new path. I had lost both parents and suffered through menopause and I felt myself slowly slipping away.
With lockdown, came time, and the time that had been bestowed upon us gave rise to the importance of freedom, family, health and well-being. Things that I ( we) had taken a little too much for granted I feel.
I realised that being out in the fresh air, surrounded by nature and birdsong was where I wanted (needed) to be and the stress of being behind a desk each day was damaging my mental health. So I took the decision to go part time.

I have always loved flowers, so much so, my youngest grandson gave me the nickname Nanny Flowers some years ago. I decided in May of 2020 that I wanted to grow my own blooms and have a garden full of them. I had no experience and even less knowledge, so off I went and goggled pretty much everything from seed to compost.
I joined the Instagram community who were, and still are so supportive and knowledgeable and happy to share their wealth of experience. I also joined the university of ‘YouTube’.
I put my first seeds in the soil and I watched in amazement as life appeared. From that moment, I became hooked. I was in complete awe of that tiny speck that could turn into such a thing of beauty, I just marvelled in the power of ‘ mother nature’.

I decided from day one that I would not use any chemicals within my growing and I would recycle any plastic that I would need to use. I wanted to be an eco-friendly grower.
At this point, I was a ‘ hobby grower’. My first flowers appeared at the end of the July, beginning of August. I had obviously been a little late to the party, but I became well and truly, smitten. ” If I could produce these beauties in this short time, just think what I could produce next year “…
Things seem to naturally evolve, my son is an organic vegetable grower and he delivered weekly veg boxes and we come up with the idea of offering organic flowers to his customers.
Again, I researched how to put bunches of flowers together, how to cut and condition, how to wrap etc. YouTube become my best friend

The feedback I received was lovely, people commented on the ‘ garden style’ and the scent of the flowers, and someone even asked me to make their wedding flowers… I initially declined due to fear and lack of experience but this lady had every faith in me and loved my flowers and style so I agreed.
The wedding flowers were loved and my confidence grew.
By 2021 I had lost my job in care so I decided to throw myself wholeheartedly into being a flower farmer/florist. I pushed myself out there as being different. There were no other organic flower farmer/florists in the local area, all the other florists were still using floral foam in their design work.
I had decided long ago that I would never use it.
My principles were from the offset to use organic methods , to always encourage pollinators, to reuse all plastic pots and not use single use plastics and never to use foam. I knew who my customers were, so I set out to find them.

I advertised locally, and attended a start up business course, and Amber Cottage Flowers was born. It has been slow but I am starting to get my name out there as more and more people become environmentally conscious.
Supermarket flowers have predominantly been imported from all across the globe in refrigerated vehicles and are usually covered in chemicals in order to preserve them further. These processes, as I am sure you can imagine, have a huge detrimental effect.
When flowers are bought from Amber Cottage, you can rest assured that they are fresh and colourful and full of scent and are free from chemicals. I use only brown paper to wrap or will send flowers out in recycled jam jars to keep them hydrated.
2022 has been a whirlwind of different life experiences. I was asked to deliver a bouquet of flowers to the Queen for her birthday

I joined Flowers From The Farm and this led me to being part of the team that won LARGE GOLD at the Sandringham flower show and I met the then, Prince Charles and Camila.

I have also had the privilege of meeting and building friendships with other Norfolk growers and I have had the honour of creating wedding flowers and farewell flowers

Is gardening, flower farming hard work? Most certainly Yes! Are there uncertainties? Again, Yes! Mother nature does not work to our schedule, she will do her own thing, however, one thing is for sure, despite the crazy weather and the unpredictability, it will, for certain, always be magical….
So, I then forget the achy joints, the bruises and long hours worked, as before me is beauty and I get to see people’s faces light up when they receive their arrangements.
I have come a long way and this new way of life found me when I probably needed it the most.
“Just living is not enough….one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower” Hans
Christian Andersen.

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