- 1. Cut 2-3cm off the bottom of the stems. This removes the scab that may have formed at the bottom of the stem. Make a clean cut at an angle to maximise the area the flower can drink from - this also ensures that stems won't sit flat on the bottom of the vase.
- 2. Remove any leaves that will be below the water line. This helps the water to stay clean.
- 3. Hydrate the flowers in plenty of fresh, clean water. Make sure to use a clean vase.
- 4. Feed using half of the flower food provided for the first 3 days then replace the water with fresh food for the next 3 days.
- 5. Display in a cool room out of direct sunlight...remember many of the flowers will have spent their entire lives growing up in the elements outside.
Elmgrove Flower Farm is nestled along the small stretch of coastline in County Meath, 20 minutes north of Dublin Airport.
The flower fields at Gormanston are a familiar sight locally, but quite unique within the Irish landscape. According to the season, the surrounding hills can be ablaze with daffodils in springtime, blooming with wild flowers and peony roses in summer and bursting with foliage varieties all year round.
With a coffee cart and expert florists on site, the thriving business is open every day to visitors. The team of florists at Elmgrove are inspired by their surrounding environment and pride themselves on styling beautiful floral displays, which are delivered nationwide.
The flower business is part of a larger family-owned farm that also incorporates livestock, tillage and Christmas trees.
The McCullough family have been farming the light soils of east coast for generations. Pat McCullough first started farming at Elmgrove in the 1940s, and grew his first crop of gladiola in the 1960s.
Commercial flower growing was just one of the many farm enterprises started by the McCullough family over the years. The farm’s core enterprise back then was a dairy herd, that continues to this day, albeit in partnership with a neighbouring farm.
The area is blessed with a proximity to Dublin city centre, and light, fertile soils that allowed experimentation with niche horticultural crops such as cut flowers.
Pat’s son, Eamon continued this spirit of diversification building up the largest onion growing enterprise in the country.
It was on one of Eamon’s many research trips to Holland he realised that he already had many of the machines and facilities required for growing daffodils, which could provide another income stream for the farm.
“I was actually more interested in daffodil bulbs than their flowers, and the potential that they had as a neat bolt-on to our onion enterprise,” Eamon explains.
When Darragh took on the reins of managing the business in the mid 2000s, he had a niggling feeling that the farm was not capturing the full potential of the daffodils by letting the blooms die off in the fields every spring.
“We started selling flowers with literally a few buckets tied to a pallet at the farm gate during the spring,” says Darragh
Today, the farm has a thriving flower business selling blooms all over Ireland and Europe.
Darragh McCullogh has spent over 25 years farming, and reporting on and writing about all aspects of agriculture for national radio, TV and print outlets. He has presented RTE’s longest running independently produced programme, Ear to the Ground, for over 20 years. Darragh also writes a weekly column in the IRISH INDEPENDENT’S FARMING SUPPLEMENT. He has also written an AWARD-WINNING book, THE GREAT IRISH FARM BOOK, which has sold all over the world.
Darragh credits the privilege of meeting inspiring farmers from every county and indeed all over the world with many of the ideas that have evolved during his time in charge of Elmgrove Farm. But he also acknowledges the long line of farming innovators that led the way before him, with both his father and grandfather pioneering cutting edge agriculture through their use of milking robots, new breeds of livestock, and high-value crops throughout their careers.
Elmgrove Flower Farm grows over 100 acres of flowers and foliage. Daffodils make up the largest part of this, with over five million bulbs being planted on the farm every autumn. The farm also grows 15,000 peony roses, along with two acres of orchards with foliage such as eucalyptus, laurel, ozothamnus, cupress, symphoricarpus, hypericum, sedum, heather, rosemary, Ladys Mantle, Red Robin, holly, eryngium, verbena, dahlias, viburnum, and so on. Gladiola, lily, sunflower, cornflower, sweet william are the main summer lines.
In addition, Elmgrove Flower Farm sources flowers from Irish growers in Dublin, Limerick, and Armagh.
Elmgrove Farm encompasses a number of other farm enterprises such as cereals, dairying, Christmas trees, poultry. Many of these additional enterprises are operated in partnership with neighbouring farmers.
In addition, Elmgrove Flower Farm sources flowers from Irish growers in Dublin, Limerick, and Armagh.
We believe that Elmgrove Flower Farm is one of the most sustainable sources of cut flowers in Ireland.
The most recent data for flower imports into Ireland are quite shocking. Bord Bia estimates that €271m is spent on cut flowers in Ireland annually. However, 2021 figures from the Department of Agriculture estimate that a paltry €10m of this is produced in Ireland. That’s less than 4% of the total spend, suggesting that a whopping 96% of all flowers sold in Ireland are imported. Elmgrove Flower Farm is very different. While we also buy imported flowers to ensure a range and variety throughout the year, Irish flowers account for over half of sales at our flower shop. In fact, over three quarters of all the stems we sell are Irish (which is also proof that Irish flowers are better value than imports).
Our story on Irish flowers doesn’t stop there. When we add in all the flowers that Elmgrove Flower farm sells domestically and internationally, a massive 98% of all our flower sales are actually Irish grown. This is possible because we export over 10 million stems of daffodils to countries with longer winters than Ireland, such as Poland.
Locally grown flowers almost always have a lower carbon footprint than imported stems. There’s the obvious issue of transport, with many blooms being flown into Europe from Africa, Central America and South America.
Even if they are ‘only’ trucked in from glasshouses in Holland, they have still used up a fair bit of energy on the 750km trip in the form of diesel in the truck and chilling in the cold-rooms that facilitate the international trade.
The other issue is the sustainability of growing water hungry flowers in places like Kenya where water supplies are under severe pressure. Countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Columbia provide superb growing conditions for many flowers with their sunny, dry climates, cheap labour and plentiful space. But in an era when burgeoning populations exert ever greater demands for clean water supplies, the sustainability of using scarce water for flowers becomes debateable. Elmgrove Flower Farm has invested heavily in sustainability measures to ensure that we are doing our best to protect the environment. These include:
- 1. The installation of €50,000 of solar panels to remove over 14,000kg of annual carbon emissions. This calculation incudes the ‘cradle to grave’ emissions associated with the manufacture and disposal of the solar panels themselves.
- 2. The use of trickle irrigation systems to minimise the amount of water being used on indoor and outdoor crops. The irrigation systems double up as fertiliser systems, by transporting fertiliser directly to the roots of the flowers. These ‘fertigation’ systems allow us to minimise both the water and fertiliser that is being used to grow the crops.
- 3. Our participation in Bord Bia’s Sustainable Horticulture Assurance Scheme ensures that the farm is independently audited to ensure that we are responsible in the use of all our inputs and outputs, from packaging and pesticides to waste and water.
- 4. The GPS system on the sprayer ensures accuracy to less than 20cm in every application to the crops.
- 5. Robust EU environmental directives ensure that farming practices within Europe are by far the most tightly regulated in the world. This includes obligations that at least 4% of the farm is provided as space for nature. In this regard, Elmgrove Flower Farm goes far beyond the basic minimum requirements, with close to 10% of the farm left uncropped for nature to thrive.
We source all kinds of imported flowers throughout the year. Winter is a time when we are dependent on Irish lilies, brassica, daffs, tulips and foliage. However, customers still expect to be able to buy roses in the winter, the same way they expect tomatoes and pineapples 365 days a year on the shop shelves. However, even in the summer time we find ourselves importing some flowers. Why? Here's an example: if we get an order for a wedding in the summer, and the bride requests a specific colour rose or lily that we haven't got in our tunnels or available from other Irish growers, then we resort to imports. And because we can't buy in single stems, we often have a few stems from the bunch of imported roses left over to incorporate into our own bunches.
These flowers almost all come via Holland, but in reality they can be grown anywhere from Kenya to Cost Rica, Turkey, Spain, etc. Basically, anywhere that gets more sun than Ireland! Flowers love sun, and many species simply won't grow outdoors in Ireland, and even if they do, they can be very prone to the damp weather diseases that are a feature of the Irish climate.
We have lilies available throughout the year, with daffodils and tulips stretching from January through to May. In between, Calla and Alstromeria lily come on stream, followed by Sweet William and peony in May. Roses, sunflower and cornflower get into gear in June, followed by gladiola and dahlias. In the autumn we rely on ornamental brassica and sedum, along with berries from hypericum, symphoricarpus and roses.
Every month we also have a range of foliage to choose from our orchards, such as eucalyptus, viburnum, laurel, cupress, eryngium, birch and contorted hazel.
Flowers are like us - they love TLC! So when you get your flowers, make sure you do the following to maximise the vaselife of the bouquet:
- Clean vase it is important to ensure your vase is clean before adding fresh water to it. If it is proving difficult to clean, add a little bleach & top up with cold water.
- Feed using half of the flower food provided for the first 3 days then replace the water with fresh food for the next 3 days. If your flowers are still doing well after this time just continue to change the water regularly. Flowers will have enough food but will still enjoy clean fresh water. Continue to clean the vase as in step 1. Now your vase is ready for your flowers.
- Free flowers from packaging. Flowers can arrive in a protective guard box & wrapping to prevent damage to your beautiful blooms. Remove from box & wrapping. Gently remove leaves that will remain below the water line when flowers are placed in the vase. This helps to prevent bacterial growth within the water.
- Cut 2-3cm off the bottom of the stems. This removes the seal that has formed at the bottom of the stem, while your flowers were being transported to you. Breaking this seal will allow your flowers to have a good drink. Make a clean cut at an angle to maximize the area the flower can drink from - this also ensures that stems won’t sit flat on the bottom of the vase.
- Display on a wipeable surface, since flowers can drop pollen and mark surfaces. Also, at certain times of the year dye and glitter can be applied to some flowers. Place in a cool room out of direct sunlight...remember many of the flowers will have spent their entire lives growing up in the elements outside.
- Safety means that some flowers should be kept out of reach of children and small animals. Not all flowers and berries are edible, and some varieties can cause irritation and illness.
Elmgrove Flower Farm’s shop and coffee cart is open seven days a week from 9am-6pm. Visitors are welcome to browse our plant and floral displays. However, more extensive tours around the fields are assigned to designated days.
We have started to open up our fields to tours after a very successful series of charity open days in 2023. We plan to host a series of open days on the following dates:
- Pumpkin Hunt in the Christmas Trees on Saturday, October 28th and Sunday, October 29th
- Live Crib and Choose and Cut Your Own Christmas Tree on Saturday, December 2nd and Sunday, December 3rd
- Daffodil fields open day, Easter Sunday, March 31st
- Peony field tour, Father’s Day, Sunday, June 16th
It depends on where we are sending flowers. If an order is placed by midday for delivery anywhere in the K32 postcode, we can deliver same day. For orders to Louth, Meath or Dublin, we will deliver next day. For orders to anywhere else placed by midday, we deliver within two days.
Again, this depends on where we are shipping to. For arrangements delivered locally within the K32 postcode, we deliver the flowers as hand-tied bouquets upright in water in their own bag or stand.
For flowers going to Dublin, Meath or Louth, the flowers are delivered as hand-tied bouquets upright in water in a protective box.
For flowers going anywhere else, the bouquets are wrapped in kraft paper, and hydrated with what we call a ‘nappy-sack’ and transported on the flat in a postal box.
Yes. Our packaging ensures that the flowers remain hydrated for up to 72 hours in transit. Obviously, they’ll be grateful for fresh water, food and light, but in a cool room all our flowers should last at least a week.
Our team is expanding all the time, with expert growers, trained sales assistants and professional florists have decades of experience, ensuring that Elmgrove Flower Farm is able to cater to every occasion and special request.
Our client base is growing fast, with increasing numbers of brides, debutantes, business owners and event managers relying on our expertise and deep roots within the industry to bring their floral dreams to realisation. Please free to contact a member of our team by email or phone.