Over Mother's Day last weekend, there was an absolutely overwhelming demand for flowers – possibly one of the highest levels our industry has ever seen! It’s been beautiful to see the love that people have showed their Mum’s and friends through the gift of flowers, and it feels as if now more than ever there is a huge appreciation for flowers and nature as a great way to lift our moods and bring happiness during this unusual time.
This has come when there are less imported flowers coming into our Australian flower markets. Disruptions to import lines and freight charges have made importing less economically viable, which means our local growers are being more heavily relied on. The silver lining of this is that it presents such a great opportunity for our industry to make a more sustainable change.
There is no doubt that imported flowers like roses from Kenya, and orchids from Malaysia are absolutely beautiful and almost "perfect" visually to many people, locally grown often have so much character and unpredictability in their shape and colour, and in this way, and in our minds, are also perfect in their own way.
Source: My Violet - Cecile Brunner roses, every one is different, and perfect.
And while both imported and local flowers are beautiful in their own way and have their place in different types of floral arrangements, using local flowers is by far a more environmentally sustainable option, and in many ways a better option economically for our local growers.
There are also so many flowers that are so special, but in many ways this is because of their fragility and in some cases their short life span, so they cannot physically be imported. We are so lucky here in Sydney to have so many beautiful local growers that bring their stunning flowers to Sydney Flower Market every week, or sell directly to florists from their farms.
Source: Redbud - Magnolia flowers are so beautiful in their fragility, they could never be transported long distances.
Source: Jonima Flowers - beautiful poppies grown on Jonima's farm in Camden
And while locally grown flowers may not always last as long as the imported varieties (although for many they can last weeks!!), they have immense beauty in their individuality and most alluringly, stunning heady perfumes.
Amy Merrick puts this trade off so well in her book On Flowers, “Fragrance is an allure more dearly bought than even the most luxurious French perfume, though, fragrant flowers are often the most ephemeral. It is a worthy sacrifice, scent in lieu of long life.”
Source: Amy Merrick "Favourite smell on earth"
Local Daphne grown by Alison and Wayne Inglis in Bilpin - their Daphne grows under their camellia and you can smell it on their farm from at least 50 metres away!
So while so many have been talking about the "good things" that have come out of this unprecedented time, to us, one of them has been that being able to "slow down and smell the roses" has never been more prevalent.
Source: BnB Flowers - if only you could smell these!!
So while we aren't working on events and weddings where flowers are seen en masse, we are privileged to be delivering flowers to many in their homes, where the scent and character of each stem is able to appreciated.
And not only that, this situation has also given many florists a chance to experiment with new combinations using the extraordinary variety of what our local growers offer here rather than abroad at this time of year; the more limited options available to us are what's driving the creative process.
So for customers who’ve been “brought up” to experience flowers in one way, now is also a good opportunity to re-learn; to celebrate character, fragrance and lifespan of our local flowers as they are in their natural state, embrace the imperfections that come with them and ultimately, move in a more sustainable direction.
This article was jointly written by Beth Abood and Jane Lampe.