In Beulah United Reformed Church, Cardiff, we have a strong tradition of using flowers and foliage as part of our worship. We are also an Eco Church and realise that caring for God’s earth and seeking global climate justice means that we must consider the environmental impacts of all aspects of our church life, including the way we use plants and flowers in our flower arranging.
In the spring of 2022, the Elders discussed how Beulah might mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the possibility of organising a flower festival was mooted. However, we felt the traditional pattern of using floral foam and imported flowers was no longer acceptable. Importing flowers from overseas can produce up to ten times the carbon footprint of locally grown flowers and the foam materials commonly used in flower arranging are unsustainable and non recyclable. Karen Holbrook, who oversees flower arranging at Beulah, is passionate about minimising our carbon footprint and promoting local, seasonal flowers and foliage. She suggested putting on a sustainable flower festival later in the year. The ethos of the festival would be that all the arrangements would be created from locally grown blooms, plants and foliage and that there would be no use of floral foam.
The idea soon became a reality as local churches, organisations and businesses agreed to participate. Seeds and plants were handed out after worship to those willing to grow flowers for the festival and over the summer flower heads from plants such as lavender and hydrangea were donated for drying. As the festival was being set up, people brought along their flowers and foliage to decorate the church and contribute to the beautiful arrangements.
The culmination of this ambitious project was our spectacular Grown Not Flown Flower Festival which provided an opportunity to enjoy the glorious and abundant flowers we have growing in our gardens and allotments. The festival ran for three days from September 2 to 4 with several hundred people coming into the church, some for the first time since the pandemic. As well as viewing the floral displays, visitors had the opportunity to hear from a local flower farm about earth friendly growing methods. Karen has recently become an ambassador for Sustainable Church Flowers whose vision is clear – ‘to reduce pollution in our floral decorations by using carbon neutral flowers and less plastic’. We reached out into the local community, inviting them in to the church to join us in going forward to glorify God sustainably.
With thanks to Mary Edwards, Beulah URC