When thinking about table décor, great floral centrepieces really help theme an event; or add glamour. And, if well thought through, will be ice-breakers or conversation starters. So, never underestimate how purposeful that spot in the middle of the table actually is! But the irony is, for something so naturally beautiful there can be dark, destructive roots.
So how can you do better? Learn from our TOP TIPS:
Flowers: imported or local & seasonal?
Ask your florist or floral designer where your cut flowers are grown.
Do you know British flowers only account for 14% of the flowers sold in the UK? And it’s not just carbon emissions from transporting flowers overseas that’s not good. Flowers need to be kept fresh. Therefore they are refrigerated. So they munch through energy, use fuel and churn out emissions. In short, buying imported flowers is not good for the environment. Interested to know more? Learn more about Buying British Flowers here.
If you have to import flowers, ask if they are Fairtrade.
The flower industry employs a largely female workforce of poor, less educated and therefore vulnerable workers. It has long had a reputation for poor working conditions including low pay, over-crowded housing and repression of trade unions. By choosing Fairtrade flowers, you work with certified farms. These farms must ensure safety and working conditions for their employees. Best of all, they receive a premium of 10% for every stem sold. This allows them to invest in healthcare, education and other social benefits for their workers.
Floral displays: constructed with foam, tape and wire?
Do you really need to use ‘OASIS’, floristry wire and floristry tape?
We only just discovered that one block of floral foam is the same weight as 10 plastic shopping bags. It is non-biodegradable, non-recyclable and toxic for both humans and animals. It’s such an issue the RHS is banning the foam from all of its garden and horticultural shows. So, what can you use instead? You can get great effects using reusable or natural materials. Pebbles, sand, gravel, clay, marbles, wood shavings, compact moss or even fruit are great support alternatives for floral arrangements.
Be cautious of ‘biodegradable’ floral foam. It doesn’t entirely decompose and can leak more toxic compounds into water than regular floral foam.
You can compost flowers. But not if they are taped and wired. As a simple alternative, ask your florist to work with pliable twigs and natural fibre string and twine. Then, everything can be composted.
Could your table décor do something good for others?
Achieve a splash of colour with bedding plants.
For example, the photo to the right was taken whilst setting up for an informal lunch. Three bedding plants were kept in their original pots and tied together with hessian and twine. After the event, the plants were donated to a home for the elderly; thus bringing some colour and joy to their gardens. And as the plants thrive, they consume carbon dioxide. In short, this is a carbon positive table centre.
There are plenty of alternatives to flowers. Houseplants and succulents are becoming more and more popular. Following the event, find out who in your community might benefit from them.
Go edible or go brick-a-brack!
Filling a table centre with an abundance of fruit can look lavish and extravagant. Besides looking amazing, the children at a local school will be incredibly grateful for your generosity when they are tucking into fresh, donated fruit the next day.
At a private dinner in a library, we paid a local hospice bookstore to ‘borrow’ some old books. The dining table had loose and bound piles of books; seasonal plants wrapped in old maps; glass domes full of curios; an old typewriter and antique reading glasses to try on. As a result, by not using floral table centres, the guests were hands on. First, they took photos wearing the glasses. Then, loved looking at the ‘portable’ typewriter, state of the art just 100 years ago! And all commented on how the history of the room had been brought to the table. After the event, the books and curios were returned. And the plants donated to the local hospice. Consequently, there was zero waste; the charity bookshop had earned money for lending books and the hospice had spring flowers to plant.