Sustainable Bouquets

Text by Hanna Piippo. Photography by Bryan Saragosa.

It can be tricky to make sure that your flowers are sustainably sourced, but did you ever consider foraging for wildflowers? Or perhaps growing your own? From local and seasonal, to dried or pressed; floral designer Hanna Piippo shows us that there are many ways to be environmentally conscious and still enjoy beautiful blooms.

Forage or cut flowers from your garden

When picking wildflowers you don’t have to worry about chemicals or long-haul transport, so they’re immediately more environmentally friendly. Look to meadows and fields for plenty of flowers, but keep your eyes peeled for surprises amongst roadside florals too. Weeds can be just as pretty as any blooming flowers—it’s just a matter of perspective. When you prune your garden’s bushes and trees, you can at the same time cut branches to put in a vase and enjoy them indoors as well.

Pick flowers early in the morning when the stems are filled with water and leave the roots so that more flowers can grow in their place. Place the stems in water as soon as possible. Carry a bucket of water with you while foraging. At their best, flowers teach you how to live in the moment and then let go when it is time. Remember to put them in the biowaste or compost after their beauty fades.


Take care of your cut flowers and plants

Houseplants are meant to be long-lasting, for a lifetime and beyond. Take care of your flowers and plants to make them last for as long as possible and only choose plants that you can take care of. If you travel a lot, choose plants like succulents or cacti which need less water. 

Every plant has different needs in terms of light, water, soil and fertilisers. The amount of water that plants need depends on heat conditions—just like us, they need to drink more when it gets hot. Tropical plants enjoy occasional showers and a misting also.

Care for your cut flowers by placing them into a clean vase and freshwater. Strip all leaves below the water level to prevent them from rotting. Change the water and re-cut your stems regularly. You can also extend a flower’s lifetime by keeping your bouquet out of direct sunlight and away from fruit.

Grow your own and propagate

Propagate your houseplants by cutting off a healthy part of it, or in some cases only one leaf. Place the cutting in water (or sometimes directly into soil) and watch it develop roots. Plant it in a pot and enjoy the growth. It is not only fun to share cuttings with friends and family, but also an inexpensive and sustainable way of growing houseplants.
 
Another fun way to grow plants is from the seeds of the fruit you have just eaten. Avocado pits can be grown indoors into big house plants, for example. This is also a great way of showing kids how nature works.
 
 
Choose well
 
Support local and preferably organic produce whenever possible. Buy locally-grown flowers, as a shorter journey means a smaller ecological footprint. Local is not always better: sometimes the energy required to grow flowers locally has a bigger ecological impact than transporting them from the other side of the world.
Learn to enjoy seasonality, as not everything is meant to be available year-round. If so, it probably takes more effort, energy and transportation to produce. Like food, the flowers that are in season are always the best regarding quality and price. 

 
Dried flowers
 
Many flowers dry gracefully and last for a long time. Some of the easiest flowers to dry are Autumn Hydrangea, Statice, Banksia, Protea, Amaranthus, Thistle, Baby’s breath, Lunaria, and Grass-like Pampas—keeping their shape and even most of their colour.
 
Simply place them upright in an empty vase, let the stems drink the vase empty, then leave them to dry. 
So as the stems don’t rot there mustn’t be any water left. Do this after you’ve enjoyed the flowers for a while but when they are still in full bloom and at their most beautiful.
 
Some other flowers, such as roses, can be hung upside down to dry, ensuring they keep their shape and preventing droop. Even if faded colours are part of their charm, hanging small, loose and airy bouquets in a dark place will keep their colours and dry them wonderfully. Dried flowers can be fragile and hard to arrange so do this whilst they are still fresh; the same goes for wreaths. Don’t worry if some flowers don’t dry beautifully, they are all unique and not everything is meant to last forever.

 

Pressing flowers
 
Drying flowers in a press is a beautiful way to save them for years to come. You could press flowers that have sentimental value, flowers from your garden, a four-leaf clover you found. Just remember to press each flower singularly. Frame the pressed flowers and you can enjoy their beauty for many years. Or perhaps you’d like to make a herbarium book! 
 
Always press freshly bloomed flowers or ones that are still budding. If you pick the flowers yourself, do it in the morning so the flowers are well hydrated. Flowers with naturally flat faces are the easiest to press. The flowers that contain the least moisture dry the quickest. If you’d like to press thicker flowers such as roses, you should split them down the middle with clippers or a knife. Here are a few flowers that are easy to dry by pressing:
 
Cosmos
Queen Anne’s lace
Delphiniums
Poppies
Pansies
 
You can use a dedicated flower press but using heavy books is just as effective. Place the flowers between two pieces of paper, leave some space in between your flowers, so that the moisture from one flower doesn’t transfer to another. If using a book, the moisture might be absorbed by the pages, so use one that isn’t too precious. Once you’re done put an extra book or two on top of it for some added weight. 
In a month or so your flowers will be completely dry. Be careful when removing them from the book, use tweezers because they are delicate. You can glue the pressed flowers onto a piece of paper or put them in a frame and up on a wall. Enjoy your blooms for years to come!