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Grab the hottest blooms of the year at a Kent flower farm’s open day on Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10

By Lesley Bellew

After the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, declared peonies make her ‘endlessly happy’ the glamorous scented flowers featured in her wedding decorations and instantly became the hot blooms of early summer.

Some of the most beautiful peonies are grown in Kent, on a flower farm tucked away on the North Downs, where Kent’s own Queen of the Peonies, Kate Blacker, is now busy supplying florists with perfect peony blooms for bridal bouquets.

Kate grows more than 13,000 peonies on Little Budds Farm in Thurnham, near Maidstone.

Kate Blacker cuts peonies for market
Kate Blacker cuts peonies for market

There are 40 varieties, from white, cream and yellow to coral, pink and red which can be bought as cut flowers during a short season from mid-May to mid-June or as potted plants throughout the year.

Kate, who has been growing peonies at the farm for 12 years says they are ‘great-value’ because, although they take four years to flower, the robust plants can continue producing blooms for 100 years.

As well as selling plants Kate, and her business partner Linda Moore, of neighbouring Broad Street, also supply peonies to exhibitors at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and take their cut flowers to London markets where they have become the ‘must-have’ table decoration.

Kate Blacker's colleague Linda Moore inspects the peonies
Kate Blacker's colleague Linda Moore inspects the peonies

The peony maybe back in fashion but in China it is the ‘King of Flowers’ and has been cultivated there for thousands of years, while the Ancient Greeks considered it ‘Queen of Herbs’ for its healing powers in treating stomach complaints and labour pains.

Kate, who studied medicinal horticulture at the University of Greenwich with much time spent at the Hadlow Campus, near Tonbridge, said: “Peonies have everything – fragrance, beauty and glamour. I have always loved them – my parents had an avenue of peonies leading from their garden gate so when I thought about specialising in cut flowers it had to be the peony.”

Peony Bartzella
Peony Bartzella

Kate’s last open weekend is on Saturday, June 9 to Sunday, June10 from 10am to 5pm at Little Budds Farm, Coldblow Lane, Maidstone, Thurnham, Kent ME14 3LR.

For details call 01622 735312 or email kate@thisartofmine.co.uk

For sales inquiries visit blackerandmoore.co.uk

A pink shade is always popular
A pink shade is always popular

Kate’s top tips for growing peonies

  • Peonies can cope with a clay soil and benefit from a cold winter with early bursts of warmth in spring
  • The peony crown should be about 3cm below the surface of the soil
  • Remove the flower buds for the first three years
  • Plant in the ground not in a pot
Fields of fragrant blooms
Fields of fragrant blooms

Recommended blooms

  • Early season Dark reds: Red Charm and Buckeye Belle
  • Mid-season Bright pinks: Cytherea and Coral Sunset
  • Late-season Soft pinks: Fuji Mountain and Angel’s Cheeks
  • White: Duchesse de Nemours

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