About Puggs Meadow Flowers
Situated in North Dorset’s beautiful Blackmore Vale, halfway between Shaftesbury and Sherborne, Puggs Meadow was, until 2014, a field full of contentedly munching cows. Some stock-proof fencing, a turf stripper and a fair bit of double digging later (the clay soil being badly compacted) nearly an acre is now producing flowers from spring to autumn. On the whole the field has been pretty unstroppy about its change of use but plans include serious land drains (when it rains in the West Country it doesn’t muck about) and tree planting, to provide armfuls of blossom in the spring and bowers of berry-laden branches in the autumn. We are always told that people love our flowers as they can’t buy anything like them in the shops: the day we can decorate a full-on marquee wedding with nothing but quince blossom Lizzie can die a happy woman.
After a good stint as a magazine journalist, then decade in London as a professional gardener, it was time for pastures new – literally. Lizzie Fairrie and husband, Steve Keenan moved at the back end of 2013 to north Dorset to three acres of land with a house attached to set up a cut-flower farm.
The need to grow – to raise from seed, to strike cuttings, all the things you need space and a greenhouse for; the urge to test if plants are more productive living without chemicals in no-dig beds (well, after an initial breaking up of the badly compacted soil); to get that grin when you present someone with a richly scented bunch were all catalysts. That Steve, city born and bred, wonderfully agreed to upsticks to a village without so much as a street light nevermind a pub, was the reason it could happen…
Steve Keenan had been a travel journalist for 25 years. He began writing for The Times of London on travel news and business travel in 1996, went on contract two years later and joined the paper full-time as deputy travel editor in 2000. In December 2004, he became the first national digital travel editor in the UK, running the travel website of The Times and Sunday Times.
The introduction of a paywall at the papers in 2010 persuaded him that the connected world might continue outside of Wapping and in December 2011, he left News International to co-form Travel Perspective. And as he didn’t have an office to travel to every day, he was happily persuaded to move to Dorset to help Lizzie grow flowers.
With her other job as a registrar for North Dorset, Ren can not only provide the flowers for your wedding but she can marry you, too. Weeds pull themselves up when they see her approaching, as they know they don’t stand a chance. Enthusiastic, indefatigable and with volumes of hilarious tales of her former life as a film extra to keep spirits up when the weather’s out of sorts, we strongly suspect she taught the Duracell bunny everything he knows. Every business needs a Ren and if we could only work out a way of propagating clones of her that dream of a private island in the Caribbean would be a done deal.