The taming of the Scilly shrew

A very lucky Scilly shrew

A very lucky Scilly shrew - Credit: Archant

Scilly Flowers have begun picking this year’s crop of scented narcissi – with the first boxes being posted out from the tiny island of St Martin’s on St Narcissus Day.

Scilly Flowers' new bulb harvester

Scilly Flowers' new bulb harvester - Credit: Archant

Grown outdoors, the flowers have undoubtedly benefited from this summer’s hot, sunny weather. Known for their wonderful smell, delicate heads and striking colour, scented narcissi from the Scilly Isles are available throughout the winter – bringing a welcome touch of early spring to many a home throughout the UK.

Every four years the bulbs are lifted out of the ground, cleaned and bagged during their summer dormant period to ensure the best quality flowers. This year that process proved much easier thanks to a brand new machine that the Julian family have invested in and, of course, some excellent weather.

“We usually have to wait for a long enough dry spell to start work in the fields but this summer we were spoilt for choice with lots of long periods of settled sunshine,” said Zoe Julian, who runs Scilly Flowers with her husband Ben. “That and our new farm machinery made the bulb harvesting task a lot more efficient.”

Not that the procedure is without its challenges. This year a rare Scilly Shrew had a very lucky escape when it was spotted inside the machine and scooped out – just in the nick of time.

“We’re very proud of our Scilly Shrews because, having adapted to live near the seashore, they are only found on the Scilly Isles and a few of them on the Channel Islands,” said Zoe. “There aren’t very many of them so we were delighted when the one in our harvester managed to scuttle away.”

With their scented narcissi now ready for picking and posting, the Scilly Flowers’ team are looking forward to some very busy months ahead with the run up to Christmas when an average 20,000 boxes are sent out as gifts.

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