You’d think our industry would be one which champions sustainability but floral schools still teach how to use floral foam, imported flowers are driving out smaller, local flower growers and bleached and dyed florals are set to be the next big trend in weddings. We want to show that there is another path, and it’s not expensive in fact it’s more cost effective, it builds better relationships with others in the industry and makes us better florists.
Here we’ll share what we’ve learnt on our sustainability journey with you and if you have any suggestions for us please drop us a line as we’re always keen to learn more.
When I made the decision to start down this path as a florist I was a stay at home mother with two young children and no money to buy flowers. Or at least I couldn’t justify getting a box of flowers from a wholesaler couriered to me (we don’t have a local flower market in Taupo) to make one bouquet for that one order I had. But what I did have was access to my mother’s rambling country garden. So I started experimenting making bouquets from only what I could pick or forage and I suddenly realised these bouquets had so much more depth and interest than those I’d made in the past solely from commercially grown flowers. It was my lightbulb moment, the one that defined my style, made me different from the other florists in town and more than that – it challenged me to become better. To try different things, work with materials I hadn’t used before, wonky stems, short stems, changing leaves through the seasons. I was now looking at the garden, really looking at it and seeing all the possibilities for different kinds of bouquets.
Then as my fledgling business grew I had to start ordering in flowers. But again distance to the market was a problem, by the time flowers had been sent by the grower to the auction, then to the wholesaler and back to me on an overnight courier they were already a week old with not much life left in them, yet I was still paying good money with no way of knowing what the quality would be like. I started searching out growers to order from directly and when talking to the smaller ones realised I couldn’t be the one dictating what I wanted when I had no idea what was in their garden or flowering that week. Instead I put it in their hands and said why don’t you try sending me a box of whatever you’ve got, flowers and foliage, short stems, long stems, whatever colours and I’ll make the best of it. I’ll be like that provincial chef whose menu changes depending on what’s in season or what’s available, so I’ll sell my bouquets based on size and I’ll decide what goes in them.
Using seasonal local flowers and buying straight from the grower has defined my business. I may not be getting them at the cheapest auction price but the quality and variety is exceptional and the vase life overall more than makes up for it. There’s nothing like being able to tell your customer where each flower has come from, it makes it so much more meaningful.
It is true that sometimes garden flowers don’t have the lasting power of commercially grown flowers but there are things you can do to mitigate that. Pick in the early morning or early evening, cut your flowers and put them straight into a clean bucket of water and then leave them somewhere cool for a day to rest before arranging.