By appreciating the full cycle of a plant’s life and exploring our local environment, we can deepen our connection with nature and find beauty in everything that grows and changes, says Maria Berg, floral designer and head stylist at Rosendal’s Garden in Stockholm.
Similar to the concept of Slow Food, ‘slow flowers’ is a philosophy that celebrates the unique botanical character of each season and place, promoting sustainable farming and the conscious purchase of ethically grown flowers. Officially formed in the U.S. in 2014, the Slow Flowers movement is a reaction against the ecological costs of the global cut flower industry and encourages us instead to pay closer attention to the plants that grow locally.
When looking at our natural environment with open eyes, we find that there is great beauty in our everyday surroundings, beyond just fresh flowers: a variety of foliage, twigs and branches, dried seed pods, grass and herbs that can be picked and used for decoration, through all four seasons.
‘Nature always changes, even just a little day by day, so it’s impossible to be bored,’ says florist and decorator Maria Berg at Rosendal’s Garden, a biodynamic market garden in central Stockholm and proponent of the Slow Flowers philosophy since the 1980s.
‘An important part of our mission is to invite people to look differently at farming, and the flow of the changing seasons is the foundation of everything we do. I want people to open their eyes to what surrounds them in their everyday life and try to see the beauty in everything – even the things that have withered. I also want people to look at plants in a longer and fuller perspective, because almost all of them have multiple seasons that can be appreciated and used in arrangements. It’s just a matter of how you interpret the plant and combine it with other shapes and colours.
You can buy any flower or plant, and have it shipped here, but it’s going to be out of context. In my own arrangements, I use as much as possible from our own garden combined with the stuff I find in the forest, including cut branches and other waste materials. It’s important to me to create something beautiful from things that would otherwise be thrown away. It’s obviously also a much more sustainable approach to living plants – not focusing only on the short-lived flower and letting everything else go to waste but trying to understand the whole process and cycle of their life, and really cherish the different seasons. It adds value and can be a source of joy to follow.
An elderberry tree gets beautiful white flowers in spring and dark berries in the autumn, but it’s the same tree. Rose bushes will have colourful and gorgeously scented flowers during the summer, and a few months later equally beautiful rose hips. Some plants, such as poppies, are perhaps even more beautiful as a seed pod than during their time of flowering.
I really want to encourage people to bring home stuff from nature and put it in a vase. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a beautiful decoration. There’s so much you can pick for free in the forest or by the road, with the extra benefit of avoiding the toxic chemicals that are sprayed on most cut flowers.
If you look for it, you’ll be able to find something to pick on every walk you take – in any country, at any season. Grass and reeds can be super beautiful, and they also change a lot with the seasons. It’s really nice to put a single flower or straw in a vase and follow their development up close. Just look for the simple stuff.’