Images by Stories by Ash
Today we interview one of our Eco-Wedding experts – Annie from Branch & Sea, an Eco-Florist based in Brisbane.
Annie studied environmental management and worked in the photography field for many years, and now has steered these skill sets into sustainable floral design. Branch & Sea‘s style is soft, wild and romantic, as you can see here in the images featuring Sami and Angus’ recent wedding. Sami and Angus were readers of the Mindfully Wed E-Guide and so it was important to them to choose a florist that shared their values around eco-friendly wedding flowers, particularly avoiding overseas imports and nasties such as floral foam. Annie from Branch and Sea was therefore the perfect fit!
Why are you so passionate about Eco-Floristry?
For me, it’s all connected, loving flowers and nature means caring about people and our planet. As a florist I hope to keep learning and sharing the knowledge that is out there to help support paths toward sustainability.
What are some of the environmental issues/fair trade issues within Floristry?
Yeah, I really feel the weight of this question; it’s heavy but I feel hopeful we can all tackle it together.
Two of the biggest environmental issues found in floristry come down to the use of Floral Foam and imported flowers. Floral foam which has been used in floristry for decades is actually made of micro plastics that never break down. When floral foam is washed down sinks and drains it ends up in our water ways and oceans. It’s a threat to our ocean biodiversity through ingestion into blood streams, which in turn affects ecosystems.
With imported flowers, Australia currently has laws in place that require fumigation against pests using methyl bromide. This is an ozone depleting chemical that is toxic if inhaled. Imported flowers also undergo a cool chain supply network to keep them alive through their long journey by air, which ensures that flowers are in refrigerated conditions from farms to your hands.
Unfortunately Australia imports a high number of un-certified flowers from overseas countries such as Kenya, Colombia and Ecuador. Clients have no way of knowing where their flowers have come from without asking their florist. And by purchasing un-certified imported flowers from overseas, we are supporting un-ethical working conditions for BIPOC farming communities. The best way to find out where your flowers are coming from is to ask. Ask your florist or your flower seller and help support local growers in the process.
Pinterest/Fashion has a lot to answer for when it comes to environmentally destructive trends; what are some trends to avoid?
Sharing floral design from around the world online is so inspiring to me for art, design and floral knowledge. However sometimes flowers and foliages from other regions and countries are not actually environmentally safe for the region we live in. So the pampas grass we see in photos from the U.S is actually an environmental threat to our ecosystems and biodiversity here in Australia. It’s up to floral designers to look up flowers and foliages and make sure they’re safe to use or offer all the incredible alternative native flora we have here. If you’re unsure, each city council in Australia has a database of the environmental weeds for their area.
In terms of bleached and dyed preserved product, I am the first to admit I have been down the path before and it’s not a good path. The problem with bleached and dyed preserved product is that most of it is imported from overseas. And it undergoes many different toxic chemical treatments to get it to the colours we see around us everywhere now. There is even a chemical step in treatment to get rid of the smell of the bleaching chemicals. Many people have skin and eye reactions when in contact with these products too. Worst of all these products can’t be composted and returned to nature, creating more waste.
What are some eco-friendly floral trends emerging?
Covid19 lock downs have definitely pushed floral designers to return back to gathering beautiful foraged flora in local areas. Using nature skeletons like branches, stumps, seed pods, foliages and flowers found growing in nature nearby is a really cool way forward and I find constraints often inspire creativity.
I would say another big trend that has been spurned by Covid19 lock downs would be floral minimalism. Focus on appreciating pared back airy, bouquets and individual blooms, especially for table centrepieces rather than en masse.
Could you give us some examples of seasonal locally grown floral options for each season?
Living in South East Queensland the seasons are pretty much blended into Summer and Winter haha! But we do get some loveliness in between too.
I love kangaroo paw in beautiful sunset and violet tones. And the sweet smells of Boronia, Tuber rose and and Stephanotis. And then there are the incredibly vivid green hues of Banksia baxteri. And the dahlias, with 1000 cupped petals in every ombre you can imagine.
I cannot even tell you how good spicy/ sweet stock smells in it’s fairy floss colours. And oh my favourite is when the stock come with dirt on the roots and you can tell they were freshly picked. There are rambling stemmed poppies and the most divine scented garden roses. Banksia prionotes with feathery sepals and warm orange hues.
Winter time brings native Wattle Mimosa, sweet puff balls of yellow that are the best sight against cold grey skies. And ranunculus, with heart warming hues and the softest petals. And it feels like they will just keep unfurling forever. Blushing bride returns with softest pink hues and native Paper Daisies are the sweetest too!
Spring brings the coolest flowering viburnum, just these hanging puff balls of white and green goodness. Arum lilies are rippling and elegant, super pretty. Oh and Cotinus flower plumes are so wispy and gorgeous. And I adore the smell of Eriostemon in the spring and their little pink and white flowers like tiny stars!
What can couples expect when working with you?
Someone who is very enthusiastic about flowers hahaha! But mostly I approach couples with an environmentally thoughtful and heart felt experience for their florals. I aim to express their love through flowers and bring as much joy and romance to their day as I can.
Tell us about your happy place?
It sounds super corny but making flowers for people is my happy place. The process connects my heart straight to my hands and brings me with so much joy. To be part of special moments in people’s lives is a beautiful privilege.
In my down time I love adventuring and spending time with friends and family out in nature. Camping in the bush or by the ocean is 10/10 for me.
Thanks so much for your wonderful insights Annie! You can get in touch with Annie HERE.