Cut Flowers

by Bend of Isles Admin

Civilisations have long used cut flowers and the symbology of flowers in rituals and traditions.

Greek mythology tells of flowers in the transformation of Hyakinthos. Hyakinthos was a mythical spartan boy who was loved by the god Apollo. Upon the death of Hyakinthos a flower named after him sprung from his blood, the Hyacinth.

The language of flowers; Floriography, was established in the Victorian era. Floriography was a response to restriction imposed by Victorian etiquette. It soon became common place to use flowers to send secretive messages. The careful arrangement of certain flower species could express feelings that could not be spoken aloud.

Flowers are still used in rituals and the sharing of our emotions today, although it’s not often we stop to question the origin of cut flowers when we buy them. A light has been shone on the floriculture industry with current restrictions on air freight and the ability to import cut flowers to Australia.

Imported flowers pose significant biosecurity risks to the environment as well as contributing significantly to carbon emissions. Plant material that enters Australia is fumigated in order to eliminate biosecurity risks. The fumigation method used is banned globally as it causes damage to the protective ozone layer. It is given an exemption for use on plant material imported to Australia to protect us from biosecurity risk.

The ‘slow flower movement’ looks to cultivation practices that reduce or eliminate pesticides and herbicides, implement strict water management in cultivation and use no plastic in the packaging of cut flowers. Flowers are grown not flown. Australian native flowers require less water and resources to grow, they also have a longer vase life due to their ability to survive in the harsh Australian environment.

Meaning has been attributed to flowers for thousands of years, and some form of Floriography has been practiced in the culture of many civilisations across the world. Current struggles against climate change call for us to create new meanings through floral arrangements where we can, and to question the origin of the specimens by which we use to do so.



Khan.J 2018, Your food may be sustainably grown, but what about your flowers?, viewed 26 September 2020, <>.

Turnbull.S 2018, Australian slow flower movement blooming fast as consumers catch on to 'grown not flown' message, viewed 26 September 2020, <>.

Barbour.L 2020, Australia imports most of its cut flowers but growers fear international blooms may breach biosecurity, viewed 26 September 2020, <>.

The British Museum, Hyakinthos, viewed 26 September 2020, <>.