Going green in 2019 - Becoming an eco-friendly florist
Florist foam (commonly made by, and called Oasis) is soaked in water and used in the base of arrangements to anchor the flowers stems in and keep flowers stable and fresh. It is becoming unpopular with eco-conscious florists and customers as it contains not very nice stuff, such as formaldehyde which is used to make the plastic within it. Also the green foam doesn't break down in landfill, although there is a new brown version that is meant to decompose in the right conditions within 2 years. So what are the alternatives to floral foam? Some people have suggested watermelons as this is similar consistency to the foam, others have suggested potatoes for stability and hydration, we haven't tried these yet but might give them a go. The method we prefer to use is tightly packed moss covered in chicken wire (which can be reused) or a willow frame. These are affectionately known as mossages, and can then be bound to a base to make a long table arrangement or coffin tribute, or attached to an archway or hoop and flowers added to bring colour to an arrangement. The moss give the moisture to the flowers and the structure keeps the stems in places. When inserting flowers with soft stems into a mossage sometimes you need to make a hole first with a pencil or stick and the put the flowers in. In a vase or container arrangements a chicken wire structure, or even tape criss crossed across the top, could be used without the moss as the structure provides stability for the stems and keeps them in places and the container contains the water. The more stems in the arrangements then the more stable it is as the stems cross over and form a frame lower down in the arrangement.
We run a lot of workshops throughout the year and last year we helped people make around 150 wreaths- the majority of these were made on a wire or foam base. This year are going to aim to make the majority of these workshops using a base that if fully compostable or reusable. So for some of our Easter wreaths we are going to get people to weave their own frame from willow sourced from a local farm, then attach moss with twine. Flowers can then be inserted into the moss to keep fresh, or flower tubes used, and we will also using plants secure onto the ring such as mini spring bulbs and succulents and a mix of dried material that doesn't need the moisture. For the Christmas workshops I am on track to make the 130 bases that we will need and currently have quite sore fingers and thighs from bending the willow! Dates are out for workshops for the rest of the year - including Christmas - have a look and get in early
Green burials are getting more popular so we are adapting the way that we make arrangements for funerals to not use floral foam, plastic trays or wires. We will be using large mossages bound to large pieces of bark as a base. Also incorporating plants in the arrangements means that the whole arrangement can be laid on the grave and last for months, or even plants planted in the ground after the ceremony for the tribute to last forever.
Cellophane is another material that a lot of florist shops can't live with out and use a lot of. We have only ever used it for created aqua packs to keep bouquets fresh in water. We however plan to banish it forever and will be delivering gift bouquets in glass jam jars that can be recycled. Have a look at pictures in the gallery of how these are packaged to make it easy to transport and not spill water. And although there are a lot of pretty ribbons out there, a lot have wire to create a stiffer finish, so we are planning to use hessian and raffia and have stocked up on some beautiful colours for this season.
The photos in the gallery show some of the stages of making various eco-friendly arrangements, from wreaths, table centres and gift bouquets. We will be testing out different methods and materials throughout the year and will update this post with any interesting finds.