Valentine’s Day falls in the depths of the Czech winter, at a time when it is impossible for local growers to produce cut flowers. Rather than purchasing chemically-treated roses that have been flown in from Kenya, Ecuador or Ethiopia, a new generation of Czech florists are urging people to consider saying “I love you” with more environmentally-friendly bouquets.
The key to this more sustainable approach lies in embracing the plants and flowers that are locally available this time of year, and fundamentally adjusting our expectation of what a bouquet of flowers should look like.
“I would consider either buying potted flowers or flowers from local growers who combine dried flowers with evergreen plants” says Magdalena Lukášová from Kytky od potoka, an organic flower farm located in Velké Přílepy, just north of Prague.
“Remember that Valentine’s Day is all about love, so let’s also keep in mind our love for Mother Nature and the Earth, while we show our love for each other”.
Lukášová says that in recent years, we have become more conscious about what we eat and suggests that we should adopt that same environmental consciousness towards our choice of flowers. “Our apples are chemical-free and organically grown. We all can tell the difference between local apple and apple transported from Spain. Why not think about flowers in a similar way?”
Kytky od potoka are not alone in their reimagining of the traditional bunch of flowers. “A February bouquet can be wild, free and playful”, says Veronicka Jirásková from Green Decor, a flower shop with outlets in Dejvicka and Žižkov.
“A bouquet could contain spring flowers like tulips, narcissus or anemones, and could be combined with other natural elements like branches, eucalyptus or ivy.”
She stresses that an arrangement like this is much more environmentally friendly than an imported bouquet, as it doesn’t require as much heat or energy to create, and the flowers don’t need to travel long distances.
The concept of Valentine’s Day is itself a recent import to the Czech Republic, for traditionally, the Czech “day of love” is celebrated on May 1. Both florists agree on the importance of seasonality, which means that their bouquets would look completely different during the full throes of spring.
“Of course, the ideal “bouquet” is blossoming cherry tree under which a girl has to be kissed so she gets more beautiful” says Lukášová with a smile, “but in our May bouquet you’d find tulips, buttercups, anemones, daffodils, lush spring greenery – twigs, knapweed, daisies and peonies.”
Sunny days in May seem like an eternity away, as we struggle through the months of a winter lockdown, and like many other sectors, the pandemic has taken its toll on local florists.
“We lost all events, weddings were cut in half and all of the restaurants we provide flowers for are closed. Fortunately, we could keep our stores open. We’re not as busy as normal, but thanks to our awesome customers, we are still here. I would like to say a huge thanks to them!” says Jirásková. “We have an online shop where customers can order bouquets for delivery, so Green Decor is continuing!”
Kytky od potoka has also experienced a downturn, especially in its wedding and workshop business, but it has responded to the challenges of the pandemic with some innovative products available from its online store.
“We have seasonal wreaths, DIY wreath sets, DIY sets for making bath bombs with our dried flowers and essential oils, as well as plant-based candles, and feeder wreaths” says Lukášová. “Times are tough on everyone, so it’s really important to support local business”.