Flowers add so much to a celebration, from an intimate get-together, to a large formal wedding, to corporate launch party. They can also be a source of waste, and a producer of a large carbon footprint. With flowers coming from farms worldwide, as well as from our own back yard, making choices that reduce an event’s impact. yet keep it “eco-chic” can, at first, be daunting.
Beyond the flowers themselves, the choices about containers, arrangement styles and accent pieces can mean large amounts of chemicals, and waste headed to the landfill. A simple thought to keep in mind along the way is, where will piece this end up, a week, a month, or a year from now.
Here are some ideas to get started.
Choose locally grown or Fair Trade flowers
Favorite wedding flowers, such as roses, orchids and hydrangeas are almost always imported from other continents, and are grown under varying standards for labor and environmental practices. An informed florist will know which flowers require little or no pesticides, be familiar with countries having fair labor standards, and will use and promote flowers with Fair Trade, Eco-sensitive certification, such as Veriflora. Inquire which locally grown blooms are available, and whether there is access to those that are organically grown. Local greenhouses offer a good assortment of year-round flowers, as well as seasonal field crops that require less energy to grow.
Keep it real
Flowers are naturally beautiful, but they are often dyed or spray painted to match a bridesmaid dress or corporate logo. Insisting that no dyes or aerosol products, such as leaf shine, spray paint, or adhesives are used will not only reduce chemicals, but will ensure the flowers may be composted.
Fresh flowers or plants are much better than artificial stems that are produced in overseas factories, often under poor working conditions. Even though they may be used again, they will ultimately end up in a land fill, and will not bio-degrade.
Choose bouquets styles that don’t need a plastic holder, and opt for ceremony and reception arrangements styles that do not require floral foam, the unfriendly spongy material used as water source in many floral arrangements. Lower arrangements or collections of small containers and candle holder are ideal. Many accents, such as colored lights, are one-time use, or require batteries that are discarded after one use.
Rent whenever possible
Many florists will rent vases for ceremony and reception arrangements, and the containers are often high quality, made of glass or ceramic and will be used several times over. Choose center piece styles that can be hand-tied, and guests can simply lift them out of the container to take home. Candle holders are usually available to rent as well.
Remember, taking even small steps towards a greener lifestyle can make a big difference, all the difference in the world.
Photos; organic peonies and veronica, Captured Soul Photography
Locally grown fall bounty, Two Tone Studios
We’re all familiar with the 100 Mile Diet, and many of us have even tried it in some form, whether for one special meal or for an extended period of time. 100 Mile Weddings are now a big part of this movement, and flowers have a starring role!
Southern Ontario is blessed with a gorgeous array of flowers, with many choices at the height of wedding season. Many are commercially grown, but there are lots available from organic growers, usually from late spring through early fall. Smaller, organic farms often experiment with more unusual varieties and colours.
A list of some popular locally grown flowers:
- Mini Amaryllis
- Paper Whites
- Sweet Peas
- Pussy Willows
- Lady’s Mantle
- Rose hips
- Fall mums
- Mini pumpkins
Available year-round from Ontario Greenhouses;
- Gerbera daisies
An amazing list! With careful planning,and knowledgeable vendors, an event can easily feature the wonderful abundance from Ontario. From food, to beer and wine, to the most beautiful flowers, we have it all, within 100miles!
As they say, time flies when you’re having fun. May was such a flurry, it seems most of it never had a chance to sink in. It was a month of learning, great projects, and of course, was the kick off of wedding season. In fact, its seemed as if the world awoke from a dreary winter and decided all at once to engage, celebrate and participate.
I had the opportunity to spend a day with some old friends and peers at a workshop directed by former World Champion floral designer, Per Benjamin. Per, a designer from Sweden, gave us some new perspectives on colour, which will be helpful when helping brides chose their flowers. Our projects involved very intricate details, and provided us with some very fresh approaches to both bridal and interior floral design.
My project , featuring a few of my favourite things;
Orchids, callas, gloriosas and roses are attached to a light weight heart, which has been covered with beautiful wools. An unusual, yet so romantic bride's bouquet!
The day was a welcome break from a hectic schedule of weddings and events, and a chance to share ideas and challenges with some fantastic designers.
But the highlight of this post is a very special group of people who are honoured each May. Flourish has been making the corsages and boutonnieres for the honourees for several years. 175 corsages isn’t a project most florists would care to take on, in fact, most would turn it away. However, having a special connection to the recipients of the corsages, it is a project I take on very mindful of the special contribution they make in our community.
Every May, St Mary’s Hospital (Kitchener) hosts a special dinner for its volunteers. Being a former volunteer on the Festival of Trees committee, I have attended the dinner on several occasions. Over a 5 year period, I co-ordinated the decorations for hundreds of Christmas trees, staged Kitchener City Hall with large theme displays,and oversaw wreath-making bees, all with the help of several other volunteers. My first invitation to the dinner came as a surprise as I didn’t really consider myself to be part of the Volunteer Association.
Looking around at my fellow dinner guests, 2 things stood out. 1st, they were mostly women, 2nd, most of them were aged 60 -80. Yes, 80, with a few in the 90 range. Any sense of smug accomplishment I had with my Festival of Trees experience was put in it’s place with the dedication I saw in these individuals, many who on the front-lines of services crucial to our health care system. These are the folks who greet you as you come into the hospital, who give you direction and a comforting smile as you await surgery, or news of a loved one’s condition. They tirelessly raise funds for equipment and improvements to the hospital.
Awards are given out starting at 5 years of service. This year, 31 individuals were honoured for a total of 420 years!!
For example, there’s Theresa, who is a greeter, who was recently honoured for 50 years of service, and Barb, a volunteer for 45 years, who helps staff the gift shop. Then there’s Madeline, the founder of the gift shop, who has dedicated 41 years of tireless commitment. Other regular faces include Rose, another greeter, and also Harold, who shows up for 6am, Bernice, who distributes mail, a volunteer of 35 years and Vi, who at 93, still helps out at fund raising events, and was always a fixture in the Angel Shop at the Festival of Trees. Then there’s Jessie, who was present when the cornerstone of the original St. Mary’s Hospital was laid, and who was there to see the opening of the new addition in 2008. She has been honoured with 50 years of dedication to the hospital. The Tim Horton’s is managed by 2 retirees, Martha and Fran. Not a position usually taken up as a retirement pastime!
So, even though I whine about tired fingers, and the monotony of making 175 of the same little things, I make them as pretty and as special as possible. My short span of discomfort is easily blown away by the scope of the commitment and contributions of each one of these volunteers. Yes, May is always a month of learning.