Flower Festival “Glorifying God Sustainably with Flowers” at St John the Baptist Cirencester

Published: Friday June 14, 2024
A picture of Beth Bruce-Gardener with her sustainable flower arrangement
SCF Ambassador Beth Bruce-Gardener with  one of her sustainable flower arrangement designs

A sustainable flower festival showcasing the work of eco-friendly flower arrangers from thirteen parishes across two deaneries will take place on Saturday 6 July.

The main festival day is Saturday 6 July from 10am to 4pm, when refreshments will be provided for visitors and the demonstrations will take place. The church will be open until 4pm up to Tuesday 9 July for viewings.

The festival has been organised by four church members in the diocese who promote sustainable flower arranging: Beth Bruce-Gardener of St Mary’s, Fairford, who is the ambassador for Sustainable Church Flowers; Rosemary Bailey of St Marys’ Tetbury, who is the eco ambassador for Cirencester Deanery; Ceri Harding, who leads the team of flower arrangers at St John the Baptist Cirencester; and Jennie South of Holy Trinity, Minchinhampton, who is the eco ambassador for Stroud Deanery.

Included in the day, there will be demonstrations by the Revd Benji Tyler, Vicar of St Andrew’s, Chippenham, who is keenly involved in the movement. Beth Bruce-Gardener will also be there to provide practical ideas, encouragement and support for the flower arrangers.

A member of Flowers on the Farm, an organisation that supports local, seasonal flowers grown by UK flower farmers, will be on hand showcasing the what local growers are doing.

Jennie South said: “The festival will show that everyday practices, such as flower arranging, can be done sustainably without damage to the environment.

Flower display on a church pedestal with a stain glass window behind“Society has done so much harm to the environment by assuming that we can do whatever we want with it without consequences. Unfortunately, people have only recently come to realise that this is not the case.”

The designs on display will follow the flower-arranging criteria provided by Sustainable Church Flowers (SCF). SCF is a growing campaign formed within the Church of England at Harpley, Worcestershire. It promotes sustainability in churches, cathedrals and churchyards.

The criteria specifies that the arrangements must be:

  • Seasonal — using only flowers, foliage and dried materials that are available in their natural season
  • Local — using ‘grown not flown’ flowers to minimise travel miles and support local growers and suppliers
  • Biodegradable — SCF encourages using biodegradable and compostable materials
  • Foam-free — using natural and compostable techniques, for example willow, sustainably sourced moss, twigs, stones, and bamboo structures; and using reusable techniques, including metal chicken wire and floral frogs.
Rosemary Bailey pictured with flowers
Eco ambassador Rosemary Bailey

One component of flower arranging, invented in the mid 1950’s, is the use of foam, often known as oasis. Foam is used as a supportive base to hold flowers and foliage, maintain the arrangement’s shape, and provide stability for the inserted stems.

Jennie said: “Foam is a single-use, throw away material made from petroleum-based phenol with the addition of formaldehyde.

“The companies that produce foam make it look environmentally friendly by making it green-coloured or calling it ‘biodegradable’ –  but in fact it just breaks down into micro-plastics that end up in the oceans.

“To glorify God through flowers, and to care for His creation, we don’t want to be using materials that damage the environment.”

Donations at the festival will go to A Rocha, a Christian charity dedicated to protecting the natural world and promoting environmental stewardship.

One of their programmes is Eco Church, which helps churches take practical action in caring for God’s earth.

Want to find out more about how you could use flower arranging to become a greener church? The Diocese of Gloucester has partnered with A Rocha UK to create #EcoChurchInAnHour campaign.



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