Royal florist creates biodegradable Remembrance Sunday wreath

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A leading florist has come up with a biodegradable alternative to the poppy wreath for Remembrance Sunday.

Judith Blacklock, who has arranged flowers for Kensington Palace and runs an eponymous school in Knightsbridge, has created plant-based wreaths that can last a week without water.

The traditional poppy wreaths, which represent the flowers of Flanders, in Belgium, that grew around the fallen in the First World War, are artificial. The red dye can stain memorials and the nylon and plastic does not degrade. 

Ms Blacklock’s wreaths are made up of plants symbolic to the various countries honoured, which are woven into a light wooden frame.

Working with David Richardson, head of horticulture at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Ms Blacklock chose yew and holly for Britain, fern for New Zealand, eucalyptus for Australia, protea flowering plants for South Africa and lotus seed heads for the countries of the Indian subcontinent. She said: “They must last a week at least without water, and then slowly disappear, naturally. 

“The leaves mustn’t be too long — they are hard to weave otherwise — and the stems have to be compact. 

“I went into my garden and started with what I could find there and I hope this is something that anyone might want to make as a wreath. 

“The aim is to relate it to nature. The wreaths themselves follow the natural process of life and death.”

Mr Richardson said: “We wanted to do something for the War Graves Commission in its centenary year. In the past, they always used to send plants from the different battlefields to be made into garlands and wreaths — particularly on Remembrance Sunday. 

“I wanted to do something that looks to the future — and perhaps this kind of wreath is something people can do for themselves.”

He emphasised that the alternative wreaths were not intended to supplant the poppy.

The wreaths cost about £38. There are plans to make smaller ones for sale at information centres about the Western Front in Belgium and France.

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