Cornish Flower Train

For more than a hundred years, every spring, the "flower train" from Penzance, Cornwall, sped through the night to Paddington train station, delivering violets, anemones and bluebells to London. The delivery of these flowers was the first sign of spring as the little posies of Cornwall violets appeared in the flower sellers' stands on every street corner. Fifteen years ago the trains were privatised and come no more. And the globalisation of the flower trade has meant that there is no longer any season for flowers. As for the Cornish flower trade, their businesses were under-cut by the cheap flowers from the tropics as well as the fact that their flowers are so very seasonal. Hence the wonderful display kicking off an effort to market the farmers and their flowers. Present at the train station were two farmers from Cornwall whose family farms have been in the flower business for 150 years. They grow more local varieties than anyone else. Global warming has changed their growing season. Since there is not so much frost and cold any longer, they can grow more kinds of flowers outside and more easily. For example, their blue iris bulbs keep coming up every year now, whereas formerly they had to plant new ones annually. The kind of flowers that they grow has also changed; but more because florists want big, bold flowers, not sweet, delicate violets. :: Arts Council England

Tags: London

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