It’s an incredibly exciting month for Peony fans! In celebration of 30 years of flowers at the Ruckley Estate – the floral journey began in 1986 when Margaret had the inspiration to produce dried flowers – we have a very special Today’s Special Value offer for you.
To tell you more about it, here’s Julie – founder of Peony.
It’s been 30 glorious years of flowers at our beautiful Ruckley Estate.
To give you a little information on the history of the estate and home that we live in today, it was built by the Walker family (see the plan of the original architecture from 1904 above) who were in the brewing trade. In fact, before this family moved onto the estate it was previously a monastery, so it has lots of history already before we’ve even spoken about our flowers.
My son George found the above postcard in an antique shop in London which was written from the Ruckley Estate in 1909, a lovely reminder of the history of the place. Lovely shots of Miss Walker, a daughter of the family, on her wedding day have also survived, plus images of the topiary and the gardens before they fully bloomed.
Mr. Reid Walker (the dapper chap in the above picture taken from Vanity Fair) had railway sidings that were useful to him right outside Ruckley; when he was on the train on the back from London he’d simply pull the communication cord to make the train stop at the Ruckley sidings! He’d give his address, pay the fine due and have his man ready to take him home.
Ruckley even had a train named after it! Unfortunately the train is no longer running, but we still have photographs to capture the memories.
The business of flowers all started in 1986 when my mother, with her total love of flowers and beautiful acres of gardens, visited Holland to study dried flower production to diversify the farming industry. She was able to come back with a single bag of seeds to grow; the seeds were so tiny that they covered acres and acres of land. and we finished up with 80 acres of flowers for the dried flower market! This is the point where we became the brand leader with Ruckley Dried Flowers, selling to garden centres across the UK and even to Harrods. Dried flowers were the height of fashion when we started and it seemed a case of us being at the right place at the right time!
However, in the early 1990s the dried business started to slow down and my mother went onto source artificial flowers. It was a big swing to go from dried flowers to faux, but it certainly paid off as in 2005 Peony was born! Peony was named after mine and my mother’s favourite flower, which would bloom in the summer and be the most stunning addition to the garden.
We started off with a mail order catalogue with a difference. Every flower and piece of foliage used was exactly like the real thing. I copied the pure nature from the gardens and then created stunning arrangements that everyone fell in love with for their homes. My father had pioneered the Still Water resin used today, to make sure that it stayed clear, free from bubbles and even magnified like real water! By using real soil and real fresh green moss and bamboo, this makes every bit of our arrangements as realistic as possible. We hand pick every container for their luxury and beauty, and make sure to use the highest quality to complement our faux flowers to their utmost.
From this first catalogue is where the excitement began. I then made sure going forward that mail order catalogues were a must, but also ventured into online shopping. At this point we were still in beautiful garden centres, but we also were able to export to Europe and the U.S.
Our real big break came from when we launched with QVC in September 2010. We sold out in 35 minutes! This was when Peony got the exposure to sell our beautiful arrangements to lots of homes throughout not only the UK with QVC, but overseas – such as Germany, France and Italy as well.
So to celebrate 30 years of flowers on the Ruckley Estate, I have decided to showcase a truly stunning Today’s Special Value, using my favourite flower – the Peony, with heavenly wisteria in a beautiful limited edition floral gift bag and etched vase. But you’re not just getting one, you’re getting two – in the choice of Pink or White.
Tune in on Thursday 26th May for a closer look at these stunning Peony arrangements