I thought I’d touch on the topic of “eco floristry” this month. “Eco” is a word that is bandied about a lot at the moment and often inappropriately used but that is a whole subject in itself! 

Sustainable or eco floristry is an interesting and huge topic which often comes up when talking to wedding clients.  A lot of wedding clients expect me to use floral foam, otherwise known as “Oasis”. They are often quite shocked and taken aback when I explain that I am a “foam free florist”; not meaning that I don’t like a bubble bath, but more that I don’t use floral foam in any of my work, and aim for everything I use to be recyclable, reusable or compostable. 

Floral foam, for the uninitiated, is a sort of solid green crumbly man made sponge type thing that holds water and you poke flowers into it to hold them in place, often in awkward positions, eg on arches, beams, or tables where you don’t want people knocking over vases etc. It doesn’t have a good reputation environmentally, because it crumbles into tiny particles that contaminate water sources. It takes a lot of energy and chemicals to create it. It’s not recyclable. So in my effort to be as kind to the earth as possible, I don’t use it.

There are alternatives; methods that were in use by talented floral designers like Constance Spry even before the invention of floral foam. One of the alternatives that I like to use is a mix of chicken wire and moss. It’s important obviously to know where your moss comes from and that it is sustainably harvested. My supplier sources moss sustainably harvested in Northumberland.

Basically, you create what is known in the trade as a “mossage”; (fantastic word!) a sausage made of chicken wire filled with damp moss, which can be squidged into the shape you need. This is great for arches, can be placed on plates or trays for table decorations, and made into wreaths or used to keep funeral sprays and sheaves hydrated. 

For example, a lovely summery table decoration can be made with a wreath laid flat and paired with candles or a lantern. Using a reusable wreath base bound with moss, covered in greenery and flowers can be very effective. The wreath can be placed on a plate or log slice to stop any damp from seeping through.

The other great thing about using moss like this is that it can be dried out afterwards and reused many times, until it is finally composted.  I find that actually moss is nicer and easier to work with too. If you poke a stem into floral foam, it leaves a hole if you change your mind and pull it again. Moss is much more forgiving!

I’ve laid out these pictures so you can see how a floral table wreath can be made……I used a copper wreath form which can be used again. 

Foam Free Eco Floristry

Written by

Frances

Flower Grower/Florist and Garden Designer based in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria UK