In our drive to promote diverse farming, we’re delighted to welcome another microbusiness to Honeydale. Wilder are a social enterprise specialising in cottage garden style cut flowers and are part of Flowers from the Farm, a growing network of artisan flower farmers across the UK.
What brought Helen Pooley and Sophie Heneage together is a passion for horticulture, but they come from very different backgrounds. Helen worked for many years as a graphic designer for various charities, but after the birth of her son, was ready for a change and realised she was happier outside. She was also keen to bring her charity experience to a new social enterprise venture. Sophie was formerly the Head Gardener at The Manor
House, Sutton Courtenay, a grade II listed garden which has featured in many gardening books. Latterly, she’s been working at Adlestrop House, with pleasure grounds embellished by fabled landscape designer Humphry Repton and said to have inspired Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. She’s also been involved with Thrive, an organisation specialising in horticultural therapy.
Sophie and Helen were introduced to each other by Helen’s sister and the idea for Wilder was born. A year ago, the pair secured the use of a small plot of land in the Gloucestershire village of Broadwell. Their signature style of natural arrangements featuring wildflowers, cottage garden blooms, plants from the hedgerows, berries and grasses has proved very popular, selling at North Parade Market in Oxford and increasingly requested for Cotswold weddings and parties.
‘The idea with our arrangements is to bring nature and the wild outdoors inside, evoking the feel of a country walk,’ explains Helen.
In spring, Wilder’s evocative bouquets feature timeless blooms such as parrot tulips, anemones, and ranunculus together with blossom and hazel catkins. In summer, there are cornflowers and corncockles, larkspur, honesty, scabious, campion and sweetpeas.
In Autumn hawthorn, rosehips, grasses, field maple and asters are beautifully grouped with dahlias and sunflowers and in winter the focus is on wreaths of holly and ivy together with rosemary, bay and chinese lanterns.
Sophie and Helen have been busy preparing their plot at Honeydale, erecting a greenhouse and a selection of hardy annuals are ready to go in the ground for harvesting next year. The plan is for Wilder bouquets to incorporate the borders, shrubs and trees that are already growing around the farm. ‘We want to use what’s already there,’ says Sophie. ‘Honeydale is such a wonderful environment for us, with such a wealth of diverse plants, trees and hedgerows, and inspiring natural beauty.’
The social enterprise initiative will be introduced when the business has sufficiently established. There’s a real shortage of gardeners in the UK with the job failing to attract today’s youngsters, so the aim is to offer opportunities and horticultural training to equip those who would otherwise struggle to find work with the skills to secure to real employment.
‘We absolutely love doing what we’re doing,’ says Sophie. ‘And we’re so excited to be involved in the growing community at Honeydale Farm, and to be able to take Wilder to the next level.’