Antony and I founded Silver Grey Foliage in May 2019.
When I met Antony, he was a Paramedic and I was a trainee doctor in Emergency Medicine. Now, 10 years later, Antony works for NHS Blood and Transplant, making sure that there are enough donations to help improve lives through transplants and research. I work at the coal face as an Emergency Medicine Consultant, dealing with the medically urgent in North Yorkshire.
You may ask, if we have backgrounds in health, what is the link to flowers and why have we chosen this path? It is definitely a path that we have chosen! Setting up a flower farm in urban Leeds, just a stone's throw away from Headingley Stadium, doesn't happen by accident.
Growing is something that we have done together since we met. In our first home in Bramley, we grew vegetables in pots on the small paved yard in front of our back-to-back terrace. In our second home in Horsforth, we planted a natural hedgerow to attract birds and wildlife. We grew some of our favourite flowers so that I could have them in our home and give them as gifts (mainly to my Mum). The successes were Agapanthus, Lily of the Valley, Roses, Freesias and Lupins.
When we were looking to move again, a key criterion was having enough garden to grow more. Grow more what? In all honesty, we had not decided, but it soon became obvious!
In Spring 2019, I offered to upscale my floristry work and do the flowers for our friends, Becky and Steve, at their wedding that August. I wondered whether I could do their wedding flowers from our garden...
I realised that we had perennials for most seasons that would hold well as cut flowers, but not enough to do a wedding for 100 without a great deal of planning.
Becky wanted eucalyptus. We definitely did not have this! My research soon taught me that eucalyptus was not in season in August, that many florists are frustrated with the quality of eucalyptus that they can buy wholesale, and that in my own work, foliage and fillers caught my attention before the flowers. I am not sure what this says about me, but these 3 realisations guided the next 3 or more months as I convinced Antony to let me dig up our garden and plant 18 eucalyptus trees as foliage that I could work with and sell. Yes I did say 18! (We now have 20).
The rest, as they say, is history!
Two years on and our front and back gardens are now doing some serious perennial and Eucalyptus growing. We also rent part of a field nearby to grow more perennials, annuals, foliage and, of course, eucalyptus.
We sell our flowers and Seasonal British flowers only. We work as sustainably for the land and the environment as possible. This means that we recycle as must plastic as is possible and use the plastic mainly to protect the soil to prevent its erosion. We also recycle glass where possible and use structures in our wreaths and wider work that are compostable wherever possible. We never use floral foam.
Where can you find us? Well, the easiest place to order our flowers is here on our website! When we are allowed to open again, our flowers will be available to buy from Headingley Heart, Bennett Road, Headingley. We can't wait to meet you there!
Our workshops are a fun way to get your hands on and learn to work with seasonal flowers. We're planning to have workshops back from June. You can stay up to date with what is coming here!