I didn't realise how much flowers mattered to me until they were gone.

Dia dhuit! I'm Ionia, the flower farmer behind Lus Cut Flowers. I was raised in an Irish cottage surrounded by green fields and hazel copses. In my memory summer was full of the scent of sweet peas growing by the door, the petunias that overflowed the window boxes, and the delicious, dusky smell in the evenings of the climbing roses that rambled through the apple tree branches.

I loved the ceremony of cutting daffodils in spring to put on the kitchen table. To this day the smell of daffodils reminds me of Easter egg chocolate! When we had a cousin coming to visit from the States, my Momma would cut a few roses to place in a vase by their bed. That act, for me, elevated the room somehow, endowing it with an elegance and beauty that was like something out of a book.

Then, when I was 18, I moved away to the big, industrial city of Glasgow in Scotland. I loved Glasgow, and the thrill of living in a big city, but I missed home. Away from the garden and fields I felt adrift, unsettled, lonely. It was the first time I realised how much peace of mind just being outside in nature had always brought me. The only thing that gave me that sense of connection with nature in Glasgow were those €1 bunches of daffodils they sell in supermarkets at Easter. Despite my tight student budget I used to buy them every week in Spring - the sense of joy they gave me whenever I walked into our apartment kitchen was priceless.

Fast forward ten years or so and I'm back in Galway, Ireland, working as an actor and co-director, with my sister, of our theatre company Moonfish Theatre. I'm living in Galway City, with the dream of eventually moving back out to the countryside of East Galway. I love acting and theatre, but I still yearn for that connection to nature; that reason to spend hours and hours outside every day as I did when I was younger.

My sister is getting married and she wants locally-grown flowers at her wedding - roses and wildflowers like those that we had grown up with. But no local wedding florist can offer her anything but hothouse flowers imported from Holland, Africa and South America. What?! We can't believe it. So she ends up using flowers from her own and my parents gardens - gorgeous, scented, familiar flowers grown just down the road. How is it that these flowers grow so well here in Ireland, I'm thinking, but florists buy in flowers from the other side of the world?

Around about the same time I stumble across the book 'Floret's Cut Flower Garden' by Erin Benzakine, the book that has launched the career of many a local flower farmer since its publication. This book blew my mind: it explained how local flowers are a viable, sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to imported blooms. It described Erin's own journey as she built up her flower farm in Seattle, USA. And it laid the foundations for my dream to start a flower farm of my own.

It has taken years to make that dream a reality, but here I am, farming on our 2 acre plot just two fields up the road from the house I grew up in. I feel so lucky every day to get to work outside, surrounded by nature and more aware of its beauty and fragility than I ever was when I was young. I still work as an actor and run Moonfish with my sister, which is the perfect balance to the solitary work of a farmer.

I passionately believe that locally grown flowers are a simple yet powerful way for us to connect with the natural world that modern life distances us from. Whether it's a €1 bunch of daffodils or a bouquet bursting with scent, colour and texture, we all deserve the joy of flowers in our lives.