Blooming business in high country

Farm environmental consultant Josie Murray in the flower garden of her Hakataramea Valley home,...
Farm environmental consultant Josie Murray in the flower garden of her Hakataramea Valley home, accompanied by her loyal helper Fergus. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
Josie Murray has brought some petal power to the Hakataramea Valley.

Mrs Murray has developed a micro high country flower farm High Country Flowery on Caberfeidh Station, a property managed by her husband Hamish. What started as a hobby for her is now finding favour with others.

A farm environmental consultant, she works remotely for a South Canterbury-based farming company and the couple are expecting their second child in December.

She grew up with a mother who had a large garden, and she had a grandfather who was a keen vegetable grower. She recalled bunches of flowers being picked from the garden before they went visiting.

After having her first child, Mrs Murray wanted an activity they could do outside together in the sun. She had always had a vegetable garden but she wanted to learn more about cut flowers so she started doing some research.

The couple moved to the Hakataramea Valley three years ago and she had to research what flowers were best suited to what could be an extreme climate, and learn about the growing season.

Hardy annuals could handle temperatures of minus 10°C to minus 15°C and she planted them as seedlings in autumn, leaving them to the elements of frost, snow and wind before they "came into their own in spring". Bulbs, including tulips, were ideal, as they also needed a cool period in the ground.

While many people started planting at Labour Weekend, she was more inclined to plant tender annuals in November, when it was safer weather-wise in the valley.

Her husband fenced off an area after she tired of dogs and a toddler getting into the garden and making a mess, after the hard work of raising the plants.

One of her bouquets using homegrown seasonal flowers.
One of her bouquets using homegrown seasonal flowers.
Naming her favourite flower was a difficult one. In spring, she particularly loved Iceland poppies. She also enjoyed dahlias, which were easy to grow and work with, and snapdragons were also lovely, she said.

She started off just for herself, documenting her blooms on an Instagram page. She enjoyed being creative, taking photographs and also sharing the trial and error involved.

Then people started messaging her and asking for flowers for a variety of occasions. It had spread by word of mouth and it had also helped her become part of the community as she had met "heaps of people" through selling flowers.

Self-taught when it came to arranging flowers, Mrs Murray enjoyed the creativity involved. While she had done some online research, she found putting flowers together tended to come naturally.

"I just love that I can switch off and create with flowers."

The likes of market — the type of flowers seen at farmers markets — or garden bouquets were proving very popular as people enjoyed the rustic nature and wild touch to the often colourful bunches. Sustainability was also important and she did not use single-use plastic or floral foam.

Mrs Murray said she would see where High Country Flowery went. Depending on where the family ended up in the future, she might look at expanding the venture.