I don’t know about you but I am uncompromising on beauty and aesthetics. I also have other values like integrity. Phrases like you can’t have your cake and eat it jar on me! I believe that it is possible to create beauty and hold strong ethical values. Going one step further and advocating these values in the work I do is one of my priorities. If you just can’t resist those stunning floral designs you find on pinterest but also want to walk down the aisle safe in the knowledge that your bouquet is a product of joy, read on.
Maybe you are like me. Maybe you try and buy organic, you go to farmers’ markets when you can, you buy local food and when you go to the supermarket you try and get seasonal fruit and veg. There has been a huge movement towards seasonal, fresh, local produce. So, you know that strawberries don’t grow in November but what about flowers? When you pin a bouquet on pinterest do you know which flowers are in season?
I come from Cornwall and that means I grew up with flowers in my heritage, my heart and under my feet. My maternal grandfather had a farm but bought hundreds of daffodil bulbs and planted them in the field behind the farm. My grandmother would pick them, put them in a bucket with water and a little tin can at the end of the land so whoever went buy could pick up a bunch to take home and put 50 pence in the tin. They did the same with gladioli one year. My paternal family have a long history of flower growing and they would send them up to London (as Cornwall is more temperate so flowers often bloom slightly before other parts of the country). I walked the country lanes, along woodland paths and coastal cliffs surrounded by wildflowers and heady perfumes. I was lucky. Don’t get me wrong unfortunately I am no expert and I kill most of the plants that I come into contact with but my background gave me taste of what natural beauty is all about. So, when I went to a workshop with Il Casale Denari Flower Farm one of the members of ‘Italian Flower farmers’ (who you can find on instagram @italianflowerfarmers) I knew the approach they use was closing a circle for me.
‘Italian Flower farmers’ grow seasonal, local and organic flowers to supply both professional florists and private events. It means you can go and see the blooms that will be in your bouquet when they are still in the ground! This is a huge difference to how they usually end up in your bouquet. They may start their life in a country in south America, get shipped to Holland where an Italian wholesaler will buy them up only to be shipped over to Italy in a refrigerated cell. Here are 6 things to think about when you start your floral design for your big day.
1. Out of season flowers come with a huge carbon footprint
The production of flowers, just like the food you eat, have huge consequences on the environment. Far from being ‘fresh’ the are transported by huge refrigerated trucks and aeroplanes from where they are produced (often in countries like Africa or South America) to Holland where many of the wholesalers stock up. From there they are shipped out to Italy. That is one heck of a carbon footprint
2. Yucky chemicals
Flowers produced in other countries, outside the EU, often use chemicals which are banned in the EU. They are banned for really good reasons so whenever you commit to buying flowers produced with methods you are indirectly supporting the use of these chemicals, as well as exposing yourself and the ones to love to that nasty stuff.
Even handling the flowers or having them in the house is not great for us or who we have around us, scary right? And not in the least romantic.
3. Working conditions in developing countries
I love to find the story behind people, places and things. Have you ever asked what is the story behind your bouquet? Ever ask yourself who the people are behind your flowers? In Africa and south America, often they are women and children who are underpaid and who are working in terrible conditions. Buy buying from the very people who create these terrible conditions we make them more powerful.
On the other hand, when I buy local, I know who planted the seeds, who nourished them all winter and sang to them in spring. I know their story and it makes me happy.
4. You will love what using seasonal blooms does to your wedding budget
The amazing thing is that often buying local and buying seasonal here in Italy is going to cost you less than buying from a wholesaler who stocks up from Holland. We are so lucky to be living in a country with such an amazing climate where a huge variety of flowers can be grown.
5. They last longer
Part of being a well-respected florist is being able to suggest blooms that will not only look amazing on your big day but that will stand up to the test of the day, whatever the weather. Sweet peas are rarely utilised as the ones imported from Holland don’t last even for one day. No florist in their right mind would run the risk of having droopy blooms before the ceremony is over. Now my mum would grow these in my garden in Cornwall and as I child the more we picked them, the more they grew. We sat them on the kitchen table and could admire their delicate petals and heady scent for days, so why not in Italy? The answer is because they were shipped in from who knows where. Thank heavens for flower farmers like the ‘Italian Flower Farmers’ who grow sweet peas just how I used to in my garden! What is more, hey presto, they will stand up to the test of time for 3 or 4 days.
6. You get to be unique
In my book being unique is, well, priceless. Yes, you can find tulips and daffodils from wholesalers but you certainly can not find all the rare and breathtaking species that a local farmer can offer. They have the luxury of being able to offer these rare blooms for the most discerning flower lovers. This opens the doors to floral designs that are fresh, innovative, ethical and swoon worthy! I told you I wasn’t one to be told ‘you can’t have you cake and eat it’
“All the flowers of tomorrow are the seeds of today”
Many argue that an all in or out approach is simply not yet viable, that it may be necessary to incorporate some non ‘slow’ elements. Yes, it is impossible to go back in time when all you could find on the market was what was grown down the road. Now the options are literally endless. However, I for one hope that in the future ‘what grows down the road’ is given the attention is so deserves.
“The earth laughs in flowers”
The ‘slow flower’ approach is a gentle but concrete movement towards a more natural way to grow, work and appreciate flowers. Flowers were put on earth to make people happy. I want to keep it that way.
Are you interested in knowing more about seasonal flowers? Would you like to incorporate seasonal florals in your wedding design? Are there certain flowers you would love to use and would you like to know when the best time to use them is? Do you have flowers from your childhood of from special memories you would like to use for your wedding? I would love to hear what you think!