UPDATE – photos of both arrangements taken 8 days later now added below blog post –
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.
We all know the damage caused to the environment by plastics, but did you know that floral foam is made from plastic too? Most modern shower bouquet’s are made in a ‘bouquet holder’. This is a plastic handle with a small dome of floral foam in a plastic ‘cage’ – looking almost like a child’s toy microphone. Floral foam is not biodegradable.
I’ve been trying to reduce my plastic and floral foam use – sometimes difficult when customers ask for a particular item that is easy and convenient to make using foam. Changing from wrapping my bouquet’s in cellophane to sustainably sourced Kraft paper is easy. Making a cascading, shower bridal bouquet is not. Or is it? I decided to give it a go and here are the results plus my tips for how you can do the same.
You will need:
Some flowers – your choice, but ideally locally grown blooms. Try http://www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk for a grower near you. I used white roses, astilbe, pink toadflax, devil’s bit scabious, houttuynia (chameleon plant), small eryngiums, pink and white astrantias, stachys officinalis (betony), flowering marjoram. Look for flowers with a variety of forms and textures.
small gauge chicken wire
wire cutters, sand paper, small hacksaw (and gloves)
something suitable for a handle – you can either use a rustic, sturdy stick (clean, strong and a comfortable fit for your hand) or I used a broom handle cut to size
florist wire – longer length, medium gauge wire
a sturdy holder for your bouquet holder – I use a handmade wooden stand and wire the bouquet holder into place whilst I’m adding flowers
Spring Wood is the view from my kitchen window. We are very lucky to live in a beautiful rural location with a backdrop of woodland. Part of our garden is wooded and filled with ferns, primroses, hellebores and foxgloves.
After many years of working in the civil service and charities, I took the hugely brave decision (for me!) to completely change my career. I’ve loved flowers and gardening all my life – and dabbled with amateur flower arranging including gifts for family and friends. But I wanted more, and in 2016 took the opportunity to begin a professional floristry course.
It was the best decision I ever made and I’ve taken my passion for flowers to a new level of obsession!
Spring Wood Flowers is officially launched and open for business. Wish me luck.