In the depths of winter there’s little as uplifting as delicate spring flowers. So when my green-fingered friend Daisy told me about an online store that ships boxes of freshly picked scented narcissi straight from the Isles of Scilly to your door, I was intrigued. The Blue Box Flower Company has since become my go-to for winter blooms. Every Christmas I order a plethora of the pretty Paperwhites (£38 for 100 stems) to display along festive mantlepieces as well as on the dining table.
The Blue Box Flower Company was founded on St Mary’s, the largest of the islands in this archipelago off the southwest coast of Cornwall, in 1882, and today it works with nine local family-run farms; indeed, each bunch of flowers (all £32 for a signature 100 stems; £60 for 300) has a tag from the farm where they were grown. The bunches are then hand-tied in the traditional way before being wrapped in tissue and shipped across the UK in elegant blue boxes. Customers can order a succession of deliveries to keep their homes beautifully fragranced over the winter months, and also treat someone to a one-off box full of blooms.
The Isles of Scilly, with its uniquely warm microclimate and few frosts, has a growing season that runs from October to April. Over that period, different varieties come into bloom and each has its own charm. As well as Paperwhites, Christmas time turns up vivid gold Soleil d’Or narcissi and the delicate, creamy Grand Primo variety. They are all exquisitely pretty, but best of all, as they are seasonal and British-grown, is their heavenly scent – something that simply cannot be matched by their imported counterparts.