We recently partnered with the beautiful flower nursery Smith and Munson Ltd who supplied us with amazing tulips for a Tori Murphy photoshoot. Inspired by the colours, the flowers and the business itself we spoke with Company Director Jo Munson and asked her to tell us all about life at Smith and Munson Ltd...
Tell us a little about how Smith & Munson Ltd began and how it looks now in its 5th generation.
The company was established in 1949 but the family have been growing on this site since the early nineteen hundreds. Now ran by Stephen and myself with Edward (the fifth generation) joining us full time in 2016, after completing university. Although like Stephen he has been working here since he was very young, it is in their blood! We grow tulips in the winter and spring and lilies in the summer and autumn with everything grown under glass. We are a modern nursery and the varieties we choose to grow are the latest varieties, which are recommended to us by Dutch exporters who we trust and have dealt with for many years.
What does a day in the life at Smith & Munson Ltd look like?
During the tulip season a day in the life of Smith and Munson is very busy. There are 15-20 people working for us and we are cropping and bunching throughout the day, then packing the flowers, which leave us in the evening ready to be delivered into the wholesale markets in the very early hours.
How many flowers on average do you grow in a year and what are the key colours and types of flowers that you grow?
We grow 7 million tulips, made up of just under 100 different varieties, which include all the parrots, fringed, double and lots of single types, a whole rainbow of colours! For lilies, which are a much slower growing flower we grow just under 2 million varieties with a mix of Oriental, OT’s, LA lilies and now the beautiful Roselily too.
How has British flower growing changed over the years?
The British flower growing industry has grown enormously over the past twenty years with the supermarkets aiding a lot of this growth. We have lost a lot of growers however there are now more flowers grown, from less growers. People think that because we have lost growers the industry has died but we are still here, it’s not been easy and we have struggled to compete with Holland but there is an increasing demand for British flowers again. We ned to get more British flowers into the florists, we want customers to be asking – “are these British grown flowers?”
The biggest change is, and it’s wonderful, more and more and more customers are buying flowers for their homes on a weekly basis and not just for special occasions, everybody should treat themselves to bunch of gorgeousness, pop along to florist and see what delights they have to offer.
Are your customers all UK based or do you send your flowers across the world?
Yes all of our flowers stay in the UK, we send to nearly all of the major cities and towns, from Cornwall up to Glasgow.
Do you see trends/fluctuations in the sales of flowers?
We always have a big a selection of colours throughout the season but we have noticed a lot of interest in pastel colours. There is also a lot of focus on textures as well as colours too.
What are your ambitions for Smith & Munson going forward?
I would love to have everybody asking for, not just tulips, but Smith and Munson tulips and them knowing that they were grown with love, care and attention to detail, just for them.
A huge thank you to Jo Munson for taking time out of her very busy schedule. But how better to celebrate these beautiful spring days with bunches of Smith and Munson tulips, just in time for Mother's Day too...