I know what you are thinking….you think we have made a spelling error title, but I can assure you, it’s not.
The wedding industry is fuelled by fad and fashions, and we as florists are guilty of running with the herd when a trend takes hold, it is a business after all. The question is, are we making short sighted decisions based on profit, perpetuating the problem of glamorising the use of weeds.
What is a weed, anyway?
A weed is generally a term we use to describe ‘a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants’.
The reality is, sadly, many of the plants florists use all over Australia, are restricted plants. A restricted plant is a plant that poses a threat to primary industries, the natural environment, livestock, human health and people’s livelihoods. They are invasive plants that need to be managed to ensure that they do not spread to unaffected areas of the state or country.
Cut flowers are often transported large distances before and after sale. This means that the damage restricted plants poses to the environment, rises substantially and so does the cost to the community and the environment in the greater sense.
While the current wedding trends favour Australian Native flowers, many florists are teaming these flowers with noxious weeds such as asparagus fern and pampas grass. Many florist pages I follow (read: drool over) regularly use things like Pampas grass in their gorgeous arbours. The scary thing about Pampas Grass is that each head contains up to 100,000 seeds! These tiny seeds are easily picked up by the wind and carried great distances. If the plant then becomes established in an area, it takes over and restricts the growth of native plants. Pampas Grass is also a fire hazard.
Cotton bush, also known as Swan pods are also a restricted plant in some states. Here, in Sydney, you will pay top dollar for the lime green balls. Unfortunately the pods contain hundreds of seeds. What the concern is, is that when the floral arrangement is disposed of, those hundreds of seeds will have the opportunity to germinate, and therefore the plant may spread in a far wider sense than if the seeds were carried by wind and rain naturally.
Another couple of favourites are Privett Berry, and doddavine. Despite being restricted plants, these are hot sellers in the flower market. Whether lime green, or ripened in a deep navy blue, the Privett berry provides a cost effective, and textured choice for bouquets and arrangements. But as you can imagine, when those tiny little berries begin to dry and drop off, they become sprinkles of destruction.
Doddavine, which is also known as ‘Strangleweed’ grows everywhere, and in the Australian bush as the name suggests, it strangles everything in it’s path.
There is of course a way you can have your cake, and eat it too, so to speak. If you have your heart set on a restricted species, such as Pampas Grass, you can make sure that you source the product from overseas or that it has been treated by way of irradiation. Some venues and wedding planners may even insist on a treatment certificate to ensure that are able to continue to protect our beautiful environment.
It is certainly going to take some time, and it will be extremely hard to regulate but it seems that a change is coming. Now it’s time for us all to decide if we are going to run with the herd this time…or be left behind.