Following on from my experimenting with a foam-free cascading bridal bouquet, I thought I would trial two matching centrepiece arrangements – one with foam and one without – to see how they compare.
Florists have used floral foam for arrangements since it was developed in the 1950s by the Smithers Manufacturing Company in Ohio, USA. Back then, it was hailed as a miracle product. A time saving, convenient, effective way to design with flowers. The product retains water well without leaking and the dense material holds stems firm – even when being transported.
Before floral foam
Until the launch of Oasis foam, designers worked with containers filled with moss, made grids of twigs or bamboo, used flexible mesh such as chicken wire or nestled stems amidst submerged stems of willow or twigs. They also used glass or metal ‘frogs’ or kenzans. The convenience of floral foam saw the creative ingenuity of floral designers use of clever mechanics gradually fade until the use of the traditional techniques was seen as ‘old-fashioned’.
Back to the good old days?
More recently, the old-fashioned techniques have made a come-back (indeed for some designers, they never went away!). Why would you go back to something that has been replaced with something more modern? For me, this is about the impact my business has on the planet. I want to find a way to provide the same designs, but without single use plastics and without a material that doesn’t biodegrade.
Can you make the same designs without foam?
I’ve heard designers say they can’t make the same design without floral foam – so this is my experiment to see if it is possible….and if the final design lasts as well in moss as it does in foam.
I took one floral foam ring (the plastic backed type that doesn’t include a plastic tray) and one empty floral foam ring tray. I reused an old floral foam design – scooped out all of the old green foam and scrubbed away as much of the plastic residue as I could. This is tricky as it is glued in within an inch of it’s life!
Whilst the green oasis ring was soaking up clean fresh water, I filled the empty tray with well soaked sphagnum moss.
I then cut some lengths of chicken wire to around 3 inches wide and tucked them into the tray, bending the sharp edges down and overlapping where needed to cover the whole of the ring.
Then I placed the mossed plastic tray and the oasis foam ring side by side ready to begin designing. I tried to design them almost exactly the same – to show that the design can be replicated in both moss and foam.
The mossed tray is not quite as deep as the oasis foam ring – and therefore the finished article is slightly shallower, but overall, looks very much the same as the foam design.
Designing in both mechanics was easy – stems were easy to place and both types held the stems firmly. The depth of the foam design meant that more flowers were needed at the sides of the design to disguise the foam at the edges.
The overall verdict (so far) is that it was simple and easy to fill the tray with moss and wire. It took no longer than waiting for the floral foam to soak for the normal time.
Both designs are now being displayed indoors and will be kept topped up with water, out of direct sunlight and in a cool room. In 3 days time, I will post more photos of the final results of the experiment – the longevity of the design being as important as the ease of the initial construction. Though for wedding and event designs, 3 days is probably the maximum time needed to squeeze out of a design – mainly to allow time to make items in advance. As long as the design stays fresh for the full day of the event – that is all that is really needed.
Both designs were made with British grown flowers and foliage from my cutting garden.
Let’s see how well they last.