Up on a hill in a field overlooking Glandore Harbour, where there used to be cows, now flowers grow. This is where Ruth Fortune sows the seeds of her trade. It’s where she watches the first cornflower of the year unfurl its petals before it joins the other untamed beauties in her romantic bouquets. It’s where she grows every flower without the use of chemicals and picks each one by hand.
The soil is fed with seaweed and farmyard manure while the plants are fed with comfrey and nettle teas.
Ruth’s flowers offer an alternative to mass-produced flowers that are flown in from places like Kenya and Colombia.
Just like the growing awareness about food miles and pesticides sprayed on vegetables, there is a growing awareness with consumers about where flowers come from and how they’re grown.
A new association, which Ruth is a member of, Flower Farmers of Ireland, is hoping that members will work together to support each other and promote seasonal Irish-grown flowers.
If she’s not hard at work in her polytunnels, tending to her many varieties of seeds, Ruth may be found with her head stuck in a hedgerow foraging for foliage or that little bit of wild honeysuckle that will add something special to a bride’s bouquet!
An architect by trade, she moved back to Glandore in 2013. “I wanted to move back home and I was looking for a way to make a living so was throwing about a lot of ideas at the time,” she says.
That autumn, Ruth took the first tentative steps in flower growing when she bought two 25kg bags of spring bulbs and started planting. The following spring, Ruth Fortune Flowers began to blossom and Ruth made the move from her back garden up to the farm.
“I like being my own boss. It’s challenging and you become very aware of every €10 coming into your bank account but it’s very worthwhile when you see the end results.
“I discovered I love sowing seeds and am still bowled over by how such tiny things somehow know how to turn into beautiful flowering plants,” she says passionately.
Seed sowing has now begun in earnest in Glandore – calendula, cornflower, corncockle, scabious, linaria, wild carrot, to name a few.
“My bouquets are natural, loose and unstructured compared to what you’d get in a traditional florist,” explains Ruth. “I love teaming bright colours together or pale pastels.”
If you’re dreaming about natural, romantic flowers for your wedding day, then Ruth is the person to call. She only takes on a small number of weddings each year so she can give each plenty of attention.
You will also find Ruth Fortune Flowers at Skibbereen Market every Saturday morning or if you want to place an order for a bouquet you can call Ruth on (086) 3606830 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Cruthu Creative