It’s amazing to think that it’s just over 8 weeks until Christmas. Another year is flying by: summer’s not long gone, yet here we are with two months to go, already gearing up for our busiest time of the year.
Steph, our resident florist, has this week designed three beautiful festive bouquets: a dazzling Christmas bouquet with a modern twist featuring stunning white chrysanthemums a striking lily and of course plenty of island grown white narcissi; a seasonal spray characterised by more traditional flowers including pretty red alstromeria and yellow Scilly scented narcissi; and a simpler but no less pretty posy bouquet.
Meanwhile, on the farm we have just started picking the first of this season’s narcissi. We’ll be busy picking narcissi right through to the spring, but operationally, things really crank up in December, especially the fortnight leading to Christmas. That’s when we ship 1,500 of our seasonal bouquets as well as thousands of boxed narcissi off the Isles of Scilly to all corners of the mainland.
As you might imagine, it’s no easy task! It’s a total team effort, and something we’ve actually been preparing for since August – when our narcissi are just about to start peeping through the soil.
So far, we’ve been recruiting seasonal staff and getting our teams prepared, sorting out logistics, and planning our operations meticulously, together with back-up plans, so that we’re fully up-to-speed for when the rush begins!
Our office team starts to take Christmas orders from early November, building to a crescendo in the final six-weeks. At peak times, the phones are ringing off their hooks for 12 hours a day with equally as many online orders to be processed!
At the beginning of December, we take a team of 27 packers, led by Ben and Neil, our Operations Manager, across to a temporary base on St Mary’s, together with a full-size shipping container stuffed full of everything they need to get the orders on their way… from the message cards, tissue paper, ribbons, care labels and flower food to tape, staple guns, coffee mugs and tea towels! Back on St Martin’s, Zoe oversees the entire operations, supported by Steph and her bouquet team, the office team led by Ruth and, of course, the flower pickers in the fields.
By 10th December, when the first of the Christmas orders leave Scilly, the back-up cavalry has also arrived in the form of grannies and grandpas! Both Ben’s and Zoe’s parents are on hand to help – Ben’s on the farm, and Zoe’s holding the fort at home.
And throughout it all, keeping the whole team happy, smiling and full of festive cheer is Jackie. Officially, she’s our admin manager but at Christmas she doubles as our head of catering, maintaining a constant supply of home-made sausage rolls and mince pies right up until the last of the bouquets and boxes of narcissi leave for the mainland on the final Skybus freighter on the last posting date before Christmas!