Founded in the 1940s by James William Tyrrell on a smallholding in the centre of the village of Cowbit, near Spalding in South Lincolnshire, J.W. Tyrrell and Son is a 3rd generation family arable farm/horticultural business growing cut flowers, cereals, sugar beet, potatoes, daffodil bulbs and asparagus.
The business is now run by Trevor and William Tyrrell (father and son) with Sam (William’s brother) helping out at evenings and weekends, when not working for a vegetable seed company.
Looking to their heritage, their business has gone full circle. In its infancy, it was largely focused on growing niche flower and vegetable crops to supply markets via the rail network in the post 2nd World War period – a trend that continued through the 1970s and 1980s.
Then, in the 1990s, arable crops moved to the forefront and became the major focus on the farm. However, in the 2000s, the presence of cut flowers started increasing once again. Cut flowers have been part of the business from the very start with prominent indoor forced bulb flowers and outdoor bulb flowers along with various species of outdoor summer flowers.
“We have always been growers of traditional flower bulbs…along with nearly every other farm in South Lincolnshire at some point in its history,” adds Sam with a smile. “For us, we think flowers have been grown here since 1947, with tulips up until the early 1990s and daffodils remaining a major crop on the farm today.”
J. W. Tyrell & Son today
Their current cut flower range consists of outdoor daffodils from January until April; Sweet Williams in May and June; with Delphiniums, Scabious, Larkspur, Nigella, and Sunflowers throughout the summer.
At present, J. W. Tyrell & Son supply wholesale flower markets and wholesale florists around the country and locally, and their flowers can be found at New Covent Garden Flower Market with A Goodchild, Pratley and D.G Wholesale Flowers.
They receive their orders from the wholesalers the day before they arrive at the market. The flowers are picked and chilled down to reduce the field temperature to preserve their quality. Once chilled, they are packed and ready for dispatch.
All their flowers are delivered to the market by local transport companies which collect them direct from the farm in the late afternoon. They are then driven down to London to be at the Flower Market very early the next morning. Speed is of the essence.
A reputation for quality
“We are a small business and our ethos is to grow the best quality flowers we can, rather than head down the multiple route of growing large volumes of flowers to a price,” says Sam.
“Being a small grower, it is easy to be dwarfed by the scale and investment of larger operations, so everything we do has to be perfect, as we cannot rely on product volume for repeat business, only reputation for quality.”
They currently employ two people full time (Trevor and William) and have skilled casual labour as and when the crop requires. Their flower pickers have been with them for 10+ years and even assist with bulb and potato harvesting out of season.
Sam points out that growing flowers is very different to growing most other crops on the farm which have a distinct close to the season. With flowers, there’s always something to do.
“Be it sowing, weeding, digging and dividing planting material, cutting and even mowing off dead stems of perennials on a frosty morning mid-winter to avoid making a mess with the tractor, we always have an activity to be getting on with,” he says.
It’s always hard to choose a favourite, particularly with the fantastic range of flowers that the Tyrrells grow, but Sam admits that, in terms of interest, daffodils hold a certain appeal. Each variety has a name and each name tells a story from who it was named after and where it was bred, to who it was bred by and why.
“One of my favourites has to be the Sir Winston Churchill,” reveals Sam. “It was named by one of our relatives with permission from Lady Churchill in his memory. I would have loved to know his thoughts to having a daffodil named after him.”
With such a long and illustrious heritage in the flower world, it is little wonder that their flowers have also attracted Royal attention.
“One of our highlights has been supplying Scabious to the Queen by personal request, as she liked the previous week’s display and wanted the same again,” enthuses Sam. “Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify for the Royal Warrant because we don’t supply direct, but it is a fantastic achievement and testament to the quality and skill passed down the generations.”
J. W. Tyrell & Son | www.tyrrellandson.co.uk