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Q. How can we make sustainable choices when it comes to our wedding flowers?
A. Susanne Kennedy says: : In our sustainable floristry workshops we have a very hands-on approach where participants will make their arrangements using traditional methods like the Japanese Kaizen (better known as Flower Frog), moss, wood or chicken wire as a base, and also traditional flower arranging vessels with metal cut-out lids that you can often pick up in charity shops. There's a small theoretical part in our workshops where we talk about where our flowers come from and what socio-economic and environmental impact the international flower trade has. We discuss the pros and cons of floral foam and how it impacts not only the environment but also your health. Another fun part of our workshop is learning about seasonality and the availability of English flowers. We love showing our participants the abundance of an English flower garden which proves there's no need to ship the blooms in from 6000 miles away. Forage, grow and shop local!
When helping our couples select their wedding flowers, we aim to implement sustainable principles as much as possible. We encourage choosing local, seasonal blooms but we're not going to turn away a winter bride who wants roses in February. We don't want our couples to feel pressured to have the perfect eco-friendly wedding. Instead, we are suggesting constructive ways that they can reduce the environmental and ethical impact of their big day. This can mean avoiding single-use plastic and floral foam; re-using church arrangements in the main venue or donating them to a charity after the celebrations so that the blooms can be admired for longer.
At Milston Flower Barn we offer a selection of courses and workshops that teach a range of different skills required for wedding flowers, events and church decorations. All our classes can be personalised for a group of friends and family, making it a fun-filled evening in your own home or at Milston Flower Barn.
Susanne Kennedy, Milston Flower Barn Wedding and Event Florist
A sustainable day
Q. How easy is it to prepare homegrown, sustainable flowers for our big day?
A. Sarah Raven says: Growing and arranging your flowers for your wedding can be so rewarding but it requires plenty of planning. Decide what varieties you want on the day, what purpose they'll serve and what your sowing and cutting schedule is to ensure they'll be ready for cutting ahead of the wedding. Each couple will have their own taste and preference, some will prefer light and delicate flowers while others will lean towards more architectural shapes and sturdy blooms. It's important to choose varieties based on what will grow at the right time of year and not get fixated on any one individual type because they might not be in their best shape on the day so focus on colour and shape first and foremost.
I always pick a range of dominant flowers as central pivots for displays and bouquets, like dahlias, sunflowers, zinnias, echinaceas, roses and lilies. Don't be afraid to use contrasting colours or break the rules and use the opportunity to grow your wedding flowers to bring your personality to the palette. Use foliage and foraged items to bulk out displays and bouquets. Foliage can be useful for weddings early on in the season providing a beautiful display while lines of foxgloves and lupins give them a structural interest.
The scent is so important and sweet peas offer this. You'll never regret growing these because they'll make a fantastic addition to any flower arrangement. For buttonholes, lilies and sprigs of heather are great options. If you're set on having a rose or dahlia in the buttonholes, wrap the stem in cottonwool followed by cling film and buttonhole tape.
A wedding day isn't complete without confetti and natural confetti provides a wonderful touch and is often preferred by venues. Fresh rose petals and marigolds as well as dismembered cornflowers all work well, plus the petals of larkspur and delphiniums too. Consider catching the dropped petals that have fallen off the other flowers you're growing for the wedding and keep those as supplementary confetti.
When it comes to picking day, put the stems straight into cool water (removing all leaves on the stems first) which will make a big difference to the vase life of the flowers and keep them looking fresher for longer. If any of your blooms start to droopy before the big day, sear the ends in boiling water (five seconds for softer stems and 45 seconds for woodier varieties).
The most important thing to do once your arrangements are complete is to enjoy the day. Your venue will be brimming with the scent of your favourite flowers and you'll take immense pride in seeing the fruits of your labour as beautiful, natural decoration on your wedding day.
Sarah Raven, Sarah Raven
Q. We're keen to have locally grown flowers in our wedding arrangements - can you help?
A. Laura Awdry says: If you're looking for a sustainable and eco-friendly approach to your wedding flowers, try searching for a local flower grower on www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk. There are hundreds of members and growers like myself all over the country specialising in seasonal British blooms. In peak times, I use this wonderful network of growers to help keep me supplied for the busy wedding season.
Autumn marks the end of the British flower-growing season, but there are still October treasures to be found. The end of the dahlia season is normally October, depending on the first frosts, making these stunning flowers a real treat for an autumnal bouquet. Many growers will have these cared for undercover to extend their season. Chrysanthemums are another wonderful choice, not like the shop varieties, but those with bold, blousy heads.
Dried flowers are also very in vogue at present, so incorporating dried grasses, seed heads and flowers is another way to embrace the changing of the season. Being able to buy British flowers when they're out of season is made possible because many growers dry large quantities of flowers for the winter months. Why not pick dried flowers displayed in bud vases for table arrangements to create a different look? Choose a dried-flower hanging arrangement, or incorporate them into buttonholes and bouquets - the ideas are endless.
This bouquet, pictured, showcases chemical-free varieties grown on my farm that includes amaranthus, daucus dara, dahlias, honesty and scabiosa seed heads, dried grasses, jasmine, and viburnum mixed with artichoke. These are also examples of how dried buttonholes and table flowers can look.
A very environmentally friendly choice, British flowers are a wonderful way to style your wedding, embracing the style and seasonality of flowers for your big day.
Laura Awdry, Pinkney Farm Flowers