I don’t often post about my design philosophy and methods but this topic is one I feel strongly about. A floral arrangement is a beautiful way to share nature’s beauty with others. Anyone who has ever gifted or received flowers understands this. I am adamant that all floral designs can be natural, long lasting and environmentally conscious and that makes them all the more unique and gorgeous!
What do I mean by combining environmentalism and floristry?
I prefer to buy local product, when it is available seasonally, in support of small flower farmers across the country and particularly those in my own county. Additionally, I prefer to avoid the use of floral foam and opt for environmentally friendly methods of arranging the flowers into containers such as using curly willow branches as a nest or chicken wire as a framework. And now I elaborate…. 🙂
Local bunches are traveling less of a distance so they are always fresh and hardy. They are delivered without plastic packaging materials and often brought to me in pails of water, ready to use. I can purchase local zinnias, sedum, dahlias, sunflowers, hellebores and so much more in smaller (think- “easy to use up” quantities) with no waste and reorder frequently, as needed. I love that I am helping a small business owner and his/her family along with the fact that I am using materials that are completely in keeping with the season.
Understandably, in the midst of a Michigan winter, local farmers are taking a break and planning their gardens for the coming spring. With the help of my wholesale flower supplier, (cue- a big “Thank You” to my friends at DWF Flint,) I can purchase unique varieties to incorporate into my designs year round. Flowers are grown in gardens and hothouses around the world. Each region is known for its own specific varieties and as a florist I can select tulips from Holland, protea from Australia and South Africa, roses from Equador and orchid sprays from Thailand weekly. And believe me, my wholesale vendor is a much needed buddy when it comes to special orders and weddings!
Now back to my environmental agenda. 🙂 I prefer to design with any and all of the beautiful stems the way they will last longest- in fresh water and a bit of flower food (sugar+citric acid+a bit of bleach to stop bacteria) rather than using the green floral foam that the floral industry introduced in 1954. The introduction of this foam was amazing at the time because it allowed flowers to travel further and stay stable in their containers. It also assisted florists in creating designs that could be attached to easels and arches, in shallow trays or any other containers that either could not hold water easily. I remember the days of designing at my mom’s floral shop in Plymouth (late mid 1980’s – early 1990’s) and how foam was the chosen method for all of the wedding and daily design work with an occasional glass vase arrangement.
That trend has reversed and I love seeing more natural design methods being used across the globe by floral artists . There are so many creatives out there making foam free installations that are stunning and sturdy. My guess is that most of you are occasional flower purchasers may be unaware that the that this foam is toxic and non-biodegradable. It is bad for the environment because it sits in landfills long after the arrangement is gone and the cute container is stored away for another time. And floral foam is toxic to humans because it is made up of carcinogens. Here is a short article by Nicole Hamilton that provides more specifics: Floristis & Foam Toxicity.
One more quick note! As a consumer calling a local florist (and please do look online for that local business in the zip code of the recipient- not a 1-800 call center business,) you will get the most amazing reward of a fresh, long lasting and naturally beautiful arrangement if you let the florist guide you in what looks nicest for the season and the particular week you are ordering. Trust us, we know! 🙂
Thanks for reading!!!