The beautiful flowers that appear for 12 hours on the flax plants are affectionately known here as the "wee blue blossom". A field of flax in bloom, swaying in the breeze is a truly wonderful sight and a strong (but not too strong!) wind is good for strengthening the stems. We have planted varieties of flax called Lisette and Avian, which have done well for us in previous years in spite of some difficult weather conditions. This flax grows to around one metre tall which is perfect for textiles. Other varieties can be shorter and bushier and these would be grown for seeds and oil.
We pull our flax by hand rather than cut the stems as this preserves the full length of the fibres.
Each year, along with the main crop of flax, we plant out small plots of heritage varieties. This year there are ten types in total including two named Stormont Gossamer and Stormont Motley, which has both white and blue flowers.
Flax has played such an important role in Northern Ireland's agricultural and industrial heritage that the blossoms feature in the logo of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont, Belfast. The logo consists of six stems of flowering flax representing the six counties of Northern Ireland.