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You might think twice before buying fruit and veg that has travelled halfway around the world before it reaches the shelf of your supermarket (think green beans, garlic and asparagus). But have you ever considered the journey your flowers have been on?
This week is British Flowers Week, celebrating the beauty, quirks and environmental benefits of buying British flowers. Often they are flown in from far-flung places to ensure a regular supply of the types we’ve come to expect all year.
The aim is to get you thinking about where your blooms come from and how floral decoration can be more sustainable. Here is what you can do to make your next bunch greener.
Buy local, buy British
You’ll probably pay a bit more for your flowers but by buying British, your flowers are likely to be fresher, last longer and come with more character than the uniformity found in others. Try flowersfromthefarm.co.uk, a great resource to track down local flower growers near you. Most supermarkets will label the origin of their flowers and you can always ask a florist if they use locally grown flowers.
Before making your choices, use your surroundings to guide you on what might be available at that time of year. Currently blowsy summer perennials are 10 a penny, but come the dark depths of winter, stems with berries and evergreen foliage will be seasonal staples.
Seasonal arrangements can also be soul soothing, bringing an essence of the outdoors in. Make sure any material is responsibly sourced, the local park is not your cutting garden — no matter how good the roses look.
Avoid plastic and foam
Flowers don’t need to come wrapped in plastic. At the supermarket it may be hard to find an alternative, but when you’re visiting your local florist or ordering a bouquet you can request it is free of plastic. Floral foam is also made from fine, powdery plastic that often ends up down the drain, adding to microplastic pollution. Instead, make a framework made of (reusable) chicken wire or use a brass pin holder like Niwaki’s Kenzan flower frogs which cost from £9.
Dry or get drying
Dried flowers are perhaps some of the most sustainable. You can dry them yourself or find flowers that have already been dried. These displays last much longer than fresh, though will eventually need replacing. Many hold on to their colour and petals, and can be mixed with dried seed heads and grasses. The artist
@rebeccalouiselaw has mastered the art of flower drying and her Instagram account is a great place to start looking for inspiration.
Grow your own
There is nothing more sustainable than growing your own cut flowers. When buying plants, choose those grown in peat-free compost, ideally organically. Grey and taupe-coloured plastic pots are widely recycled. Choose plants that are perennial and avoid buying any in full flower that look too good to be true, or are flowering out of season. It’s likely they’ve been grown in perfect conditions and will struggle once home. For ideas try independentplantnurseriesguide.uk.