When it comes to buying cut flowers, sometimes it's hard to remember that behind those beautiful blooms sometimes lurks something more sinister — namely thousands of miles of shipping and herbicides and pesticides. That's why Deborah Prinzing, the author of the new book The 50 Mile Bouquet, recommends that you buy local and sustainable flowers for those you love (like your Mom this Mother's Day). Keep reading for Deborah's great tips on local and beautiful bouquets, and if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out Deborah's event at Flora Grubb on Mother's Day.
As more florists and designers discover the negatives of that green foam block (also called florist's foam or Oasis), they are returning to some tried-and-true techniques for stabilizing stems in a vase. The problem with the foam is that it is a formaldehyde-based product that does not break down in landfills. Many designers I've interviewed express concern about breathing and/or exposing their skin to the material.
Alternatives to Floral Foam
- Vintage and new flower frogs. I started collecting these years ago and they're easy to find at tag sales and vintage flea markets for under $5 or $10. Use and reuse!
- Pebbles, glass beads, and marbles.
- Excelsior fibers. Also called wood aspen, you can find this packing material through craft stores or wine shops. Insert a tangle of the fibers in your vase and then you can stick stems through the fibers to stabilize. When you're finished with the arrangement , the excelsior fibers can go into the compost pile with other clippings.
- Chicken wire.I have a $15 roll of 15 inch by 5 foot-long poultry fencing that I use over and over again. Just use wire clippers to cut off a 12-inch section of the wire so you have an approximate square. Form it into a loose ball to fit the interior dimensions of your container . If the container is shallow, use sticky clay (available in the floral department at Michael's or other craft stores) to anchor the chicken wire in place.
- Twigs and branches. I learned this technique from several designers I interviewed for The 50 Mile Bouquet. As a first step. arrange a framework of decorative twigs inside your vase, placing each one at an angle that crosses over the next. This interior matrix is then perfect for inserting other floral branches and foliage — and the twigs become part of the design.
Keep reading for more eco floral design tips!
More Ideas For Greening Your Bouquet
- Use recycled containers and vases. My girlfriend stocks up on $1 glass vases at flea markets and vintage stores and has them on hand all year long. When visitors come to see her amazing rose garden, she sends them home with a beautiful rose arrangement of just-clipped flowers and a recycled vase.
- Use greenery from your own garden. Broadleaf or needled evergreen foliage, ornamental grasses, perennial foliage and herbs are all unique foliage sources - straight from your garden. If you buy flowers from the farmer's market or another local source (many supermarkets are beginning to source from local flower farms, for example), add them to your own foliage to create a naturalistic, fresh-picked bouquet.
Thanks for the tips, Deborah! For more ideas and gorgeous florals, be sure to pick up Debra's book The 50 Mile Bouquet.
All photos from The 50 Mile Bouquet courtesy David Perry Photo