There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.
That lovely little truism can be found in Alfred Wainwright’s book Coast to Coast. He walked 190 miles across the UK, from St Bees on the east coast to Robin Hood’s Bay on the west, so he should know a thing or two about bad weather.
We regularly welcome visitors to the farm and, although we warn them of the sometimes inclement conditions, they nearly all arrive ‘dressed to impress’. We watch as they tiptoe between puddles, skirt around mud patches and turn blue while we stand and chat against the unforgiving winds.
Flower farming sounds like such a charming job: it conjures up images of sunny meadows swaying in a gentle breeze. But to be honest there is a lot of ugly weather involved in growing beautiful flowers. We horticulturists have to be tough enough to work through whatever the day brings. So if you’re planning to visit us on the farm, or simply preparing for some weekend gardening, I wanted to share what the Electric Daisy team wear down on the flower farm during cold weather. (And at the risk of sounding ‘mumsy’, I do mention vests!)
Layer-up – We like to live optimistically, that’s just the way we roll. We always think the weather will improve. If you have on enough insulating layers you can strip off as the temperature rises.
Always wear a vest – The close-fitting layer will help trap warm air close to the body. I like to wear wool (suitable if, like me, you don’t have sensitive skin). Silk or cotton are good alternatives and there are several sustainable brands to choose from nowadays. Bamboo fabric (often mixed with organic cotton) ticks lots of eco-friendly boxes and is powerfully insulating, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter. It’s also highly absorbent with antibacterial properties – perfect for the sweaty job of farming or gardening.
Cover your arms – You’ll always need a bit of protection from thorny brambles, mud and cold winds, so I wear long sleeved cotton tees or fine woollen polo necks depending on the weather forecast. On the coldest days, I’ll also layer up with an extra woollen jumper – I’m just so old school, I will only wear wool, no manmade fibres on my watch (although please allow me my waterproofs!).
The right trousers – I like to wear trousers with an elasticated waist because a flower farmer’s life is very bendy. We are up and down like yoyos, kneeling on the ground to plant or folding at the waist to pick. I find jeans just dig in too much unless they are a couple of sizes too big.
Waterproof trousers – Here we are at over-trousers. I swear by these, although everyone else just thinks I look as if I’m wearing nappies. They were sold to me as ‘Really Useful Trousers’ by a man in a hardware store in Yorkshire. I adore them – they are waterproof and fur-lined, they zip up at the legs, slip on over my clothes and keep me toasty whatever the weather. They are also fast release, so when the sun comes out I can just slough them off before I start sweating.
Best foot forward – Another win for bamboo here as socks in this fabric keep toes wonderfully warm and feet smelling sweet. I wear thick woollen welly socks over my bamboo socks. For my feet, I absolutely love my red rubber ankle boots. I’ve worn them almost every day for three years and they are still as comfortable as when I bought them. They keep my feet warm and dry and unlike walking boots, which are a real pain to unlace, they are easy to get on and off. Like the trousers, you can just step out of them when you go back inside.
Over the top – For my top layer I have a really practical sheepskin coat (I’m not vegan), which is so snuggly and windproof I literally NEVER get cold.
So we’re dressed and ready! Perhaps not for the catwalks of Paris but certainly for the flower fields of Wiltshire – surely a much more chic place to be.
(Photography by Britt Willoughby Dyer and Piers Bizony)