ONE DAY back in the 1990s an excited Charles Hudson, clutching a handful of dropped petals from a bunch of flowers in his house, ran out to the man helping him run his farm near Pershore with an extraordinary new business idea. His workmate thought he had gone crazy.

But his idea to grow flowers and dry the petals to produce a natural biodegradable confetti was far from ridiculous and now the Real Flower Petal Confetti Company at Wick, near the Worcestershire market town, is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

It is also an idea that has been copied many times since Charles – the first to grow flowers for confetti - started doing it in 1997.

He said: “It was a completely novel concept and it grew very quickly. We got little bits of publicity in magazines like House and Garden and it was syndicated all over the world.”

The eco idea has appealed to a wide range of people and orders now come in to the Wick business from different parts of the globe while some foreign travellers even make pilgrimages to the farm during the flowering period to see the brightly coloured fields.

Charles, 65, was plunged into the family farming business at the age of 21 – a lot earlier than he had expected – when his grandmother, who lived at Wyke Manor, died. At the time he was pursuing his passions – painting and poetry – while living in France.

“I thought I would become a farmer when I was about 40 – largely because there was this farm which has been in the family for two and a half centuries and I thought it would fall into my lot to look after it. I was 21 when it happened,” he said.

“It is something I have embraced and done the best I can with.” The family estate was run down when he took over but through hard work and entrepreneurial spirit he began to turn it around.

The estate now consists of 1,000 acres of arable farmland and river meadow, woodland, cricket bat willows rental cottages and a hydroelectric scheme.

Part of that rejuvenation process was sparked on a late spring afternoon when Charles was passing the village churchyard on his way home. He was looking for ways to diversify his farming activities and he spotted that there were tiny wet pieces of coloured paper lying around the lychgate – the remains of confetti from a wedding. It made the church entrance look messy and an eyesore.

Back at home he spotted some petals had dropped from a bunch of flowers on the dining room table and these two contrasting images gave him the idea to create a business producing natural biodegradable confetti from the dried petals of flowers.

It appealed to his well-established environmentalist approach to life and his desire to keep the rural economy alive.

“As well as being an environmentalist, I grew up on a farm watching the leak of people from employment on the land. I had always been very keen on keeping rural employment going.

“I have got the farm running well and the confetti business running well. The confetti business has allowed us to keep our heads above water in difficult times.

“Growing flowers is a lovely arena to be in. You grow everything you sell in different colours rather than mono colours of wheat and it attracts bees and other insects. That has been a good thing.”

The confetti business didn’t start straight away. Charles had to experiment by growing different flowers to find out which would be the most suitable – some dried flower petals did not last.

He eventually settled on delphiniums and cornflowers – although the firm does sell other petal confetti source from outside the farm.

The flower crop is rotated and grown on a different field each year like other crops on the farm and, during the flowering season, the petals are all picked by hand. There are now four staff employed by the confetti business on a regular basis and that swells to about 50 when the petals are picked.

They usually start harvesting the delphinium petals around the fourth week in June and that goes on until the second and third week in July. The cornflowers, which have a longer flowering season, are ready to pick around the beginning of June.

Charles attributes the company’s success to the fact that they concentrate on producing the best petals, the staff are very personable and they aim to give the best service.

“We get lovely letters from people saying what we have done for them. It is the brides who buy our confetti for their weddings.”

One of the advantages of growing flowers for confetti is that the finished product is extremely light and easy to store. The petals, dried using sunshine and fresh air, last for four or five years.

“The thing with petals is that once they are dried you can store them. They take up so little space and last about four or five years and they are really light. That is what really appeals to me,” said Charles.

He pointed out that other crops like cereals are very heavy, take up a massive amount of space and they deteriorate if stored for a long time.

This year the farm is growing 18 acres of flowers and is, as usual, opening the fields to the public when the blooms are at their peak. This year it is from Friday June 30 to Sunday July 9.

The farm has also planted a special Union Jack delphinium flag to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the confetti business and there will also be a special anniversary party on Saturday July 1 from 2.30pm when visitors can also meet local Pershore Plum Festival celebrities Prunella and Eggbert Plums, and The Pershore Plum Princesses.

Visitors are invited to wear Union Jack hats, t–shirts or red, white and blue clothes and a group photo around the flag will be taken at 3pm.

For more information visit or telephone 01386 555045.

Charles said: “I am thrilled it has gone so well and we are celebrating 20 years. It is a very fulfilling business.”

The firm has also attracted a number of high profile customers including Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Charles explained: “We got a mystery phone call asking us for a lot of confetti very quickly and could we supply it. Then two black cars turned up and the people in them paid for the confetti and went.

“I knew someone who was at the wedding and afterwards they told me our confetti was used. It was all very cloak and dagger but we thing Princes William and Harry organised it.”

The firm claims other celebrity weddings using its confetti include Madonna and Guy Richie, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, athlete Jessica Ennis and Andy Hill, while Take That used it for the Progress Tour and it has been used in a sting of TV shows.

Charles added: “I love the countryside and I love being outside and working with nature. Working with flowers is a wonderful thing. I have a painting studio now so I can combine painting and running the businesses.”