If you have glanced at any Pinterest or Instagram feed these last six months you will have seen the huge trend that is now consuming the floral and design world. ALTERED FLORALS, namely bleached flowers and foliages imported from China and Malaysia have recently hit the shores here in New Zealand, and I am saying yuck!
I first come across 'preserved flowers' about twelve years ago when I was working in Japan. Roses that were vibrant colours, candy floss coloured gypsophlia, and ethereal white ferns that continue to look the same for years. They were something that I had never seen before and I loved them!
It's only recently that I've been thinking more about the social and environmental costs that these altered florals come with.
With a little online research I have found a short guide, a how-to if you will, detailing the steps for bleaching foliages.
Hypochlorites, sodium chlorite, peroxide, hydrosulphite and borohydride are the chemicals used for breaking down the cellular structure and removing the colour. Barium hydroxide, Calcium hydroxide, sodium bicarbonate and aluminium sulphate are then applied to prevent yellowing. A solution of thiourea or sulfur dioxode is then used to make the product LESS SMELLY (!) after all that, the natural plant material is so weak it needs to be bathed in calcium chloride and glycerine for it not to crumble apart when touched.
I hate to think how this chemical soup is disposed of, let alone the poor souls who's job it is to indeed apply said chemicals.
As a florist, nature lover and Mum, I feel a great sense of responsibility for the preservation of our planet. Here at Pepperberry we will not be using bleached or preserved materials, and going forward we will not be using any imported fresh product. Let's support New Zealand growers and help our industry thrive!
I do hope this trend is over quickly and we can return to celebrating Mother Nature's own painter palette and tool box!