Regular readers may recall that I’d hoped to have fresh flowers from the garden everyday, but January is proving difficult.
Nevertheless, I’m persisting, because I don’t believe that mass produced, imported flowers are sustainable or satisfactory. I love to be surrounded by flowers and greenery, but I worry about the carbon footprint and environmental impact of the modern flower business.
To me, it’s particularly ironic that something as ‘natural’ as a bunch of flowers is so commodified and commercialised that it can negatively impact the natural world.
The cut-flower – or floriculture industry – was developed in England in the late 19th Century and now stands at an estimated US$33 billion.
The Netherlands makes up only 10 per cent of production volume but accounts for 60 per cent of global export. Since the 1990s, production has shifted towards countries where climatic conditions can provide year round production with low labour costs, with Colombia, Kenya, Ecuador and Ethiopia the world’s greatest producers. Whilst controls do exist, there are huge implications for the environmental impact of the industry.
There are concerns around the use of water, land, chemicals and labour to produce these pretty flowers. Fair trade and sustainable floristry initiatives have made some inroads to address these issues, but the fact remains that the vast majority of cut flowers are not eco-friendly, and I find this puts me right off buying them (most of the time).
I don’t have any surplus garden blooms to sell at FromeBlooms.com, but I do have a few stems to brighten up the house. I picked this little posy, of skimmia, heather and foliage today.
I have planting plans to improve the situation for next January, and I’m inspired by the Great British Florists at the Wiggly Wigglers farm in Herefordshire, who grow big, bright, bouquets all year round, and are “committed to having as little negative impact on the environment as we possibly can” https://www.greatbritishflorist.co.uk/mission-statement
Getting winter colour in a British garden requires good planning and planting, but it’s definitely possible. In hindsight, I ran low on energy (and cash) for the garden towards the end of last year, and I’m planning to do more this year for a more colourful January in 2019. Sweet box, winter flowering honeysuckle, heather and viburnum are on the wishlist for next year.
Meanwhile, I’ve got a lot of bulbs planted and expect to get some new blooms from garden in just a few weeks. The green shoots are coming, and the days are getting longer, and I very much hope that your plans and plants are coming along nicely.