Roses are red, violets are blue … but are cut flowers green?


Fresh floral arrangements bring a burst of color and elegance to any party. But are they a green party choice? Some say no. They argue cut flowers quickly die, adding to party waste. Plus, let’s face it, long-stem calla lilies are gorgeous, but they don’t exactly grow in Minnesota. Vast amounts of fuel are needed to get those pretty white blooms here.

You may also want to consider the working conditions of Colombian rose growers. How much of that hefty price tag that accompanies roses actually filters back to the women and men picking the stems? And we haven’t even touched the topic of pesticides! How much anti-beetle juice goes into growing such flawless petals?

“We questioned whether flowers were necessary,” said Annie Pennola. She and partner Kate Pearson decided they wanted “something in the middle of the table, but we decided to do potted plants,” she said.

“When we get closer to the day, I’m just going to go to a local garden store and pick out whatever looks good. At the end of the night, guests can take the plants home and the plants live on,” Pennola said. How’s that for a sustainable choice?

Kimberly Harrison doesn’t want you to give up on bright blossoms. Her floral shop, Artemisia Flower Studio in Minneapolis, supplies hand-tied bouquets to several area co-ops. She works with locally grown and organic blooms whenever she can and actively composts her floral waste. She also makes use of rented vases, repurposed ribbon and reused foam bases.

“There is no place in the Twin Cities that does organic flowers all year long. There are lots of flowers grown organically, but not locally. I would like to offer more fair-trade flowers, but those are hard to get,” Harrison explained.

“Lots of brides end up going through California because they want organic flowers, … that kind of defeats the purpose of sustainability. Those flowers have to be flown in, and you haven’t supported a local vendor,” she said.

“If you want to work with sustainable flowers, you have to be open to flower type,” Harrison explained. “I can probably get you the color you want, but it might not be the species you imagined.”

Harrison has decorated many parties with centerpieces of fragrant, living herbs and forced bulbs, both of which can be cultivated locally, live on after an event and be given to guests as party favors. She has also worked with flowering stems like peonies, hydrangeas and lilacs, which need to be cut back in order to thrive.

If your event happens to coincide with the Minnesota growing season, you can always swing by a farmer’s market and spring for blooms that support an area grower. Another option is to visit Urban Earth Flower and Garden Co-op in South Minneapolis. Its 187 members pay dues to support the store and the florists supply locally grown flowers whenever they can.

Eco-friendly blooms:
Artemisia Flower Studio

Urban Earth Flower and Garden Co-op