How to make an impact in a sustainable events world

Have you ever made a rash resolution after a particularly chaotic day? Such as how, from now on, you’ll get up a couple of hours earlier each day and use the time when you’d otherwise be asleep to do Really. Useful. Things. Perhaps go for a run, a swim even, heck! Why not do both? Make some bread, or maybe do a bit of housework? Why, you could beat the queues at the flower market and get the pick of the crop! All by 06.00 am?

Very nice, but is it sustainable?

It’s a very nice idea, and we don’t mean to be negative, but who actually does that? Or rather who can keep that up for longer than say, 3 days.

Now in the flower industry it is very easy to have moments of madness, putting spectacle over practical, such as suspending a thousand blousy peony flowers from a towering installation set within the glass walls of a baking hot orangery. Promising to tend to their delicate petals every single moment of the day and generally ignoring the voice in the head saying… “well yes this is a beautiful design, it looks amazing, but its not very sustainable is it?”. Like getting up a 4.00am each morning to bake bread, hanging delicate flowers in sub-tropical conditions may sound simple, but is it realistic?

Asking ourselves whether an is idea sustainable or not has become a bit of ‘a thing’ the team at Hybrid. For us, sustainability means creating something that will stand the test of time.  We promise our clients something that will not only look beautiful, but will also last as long as the client needs it to.

And of course, there is the definition of sustainability in an environmental sense. This too has been preoccupying our minds at Hybrid: how can we ensure that what we do in the events industry is much more mindful of the environment.

So, when the team behind The London Summer Event Show came up with “Sustainability” as the theme for their 2019 Event’s Industry Show, we thought to ourselves:

We need to take part in this. Now is the time to honour our “is it sustainable” mantra and encourage people to think about ecological standards for future floral event design.

The show’s Director Clare McAndrew described the message of the two-day event thus: 

Sustainability is not just about being green. It’s about running a commercially successful event that contributes to a stronger and more just society, whilst at the same time reducing its impact on environment.

Never ones to take a theme lightly, we wanted to do this justice.  We were determined to create a super cool design concept which would stand the test of time whilst generating as little waste as possible. Our design was to be set in the ‘Heat Wave Room’, a space which encourages guests to consider the impact of global warming, and our creation was to be the centrepiece of Banking Hall, on their iconic grand staircase.

No pressure then!

We decided that we would not, under any circumstances, rush out and buy cut flowers solely for this event. Instead, we wanted lots of planted material, recycled containers, dried flowers, locally grown floral material and to recycle recently used flowers from previous displays.

Our mission was to bring these items together to form one strong visual look.  The Heat Wave theme inspired us to create some kitsch looking designs, hinting at tropical motifs and mixing fun vibrant oranges, yellows, pinks and coral along with tropical greens.

And the result came to together perfectly! The design was a dream to put together and was created on-site in record time.  We created bold striking shapes and achieved height with tall plants and props, all without the use of floral foam.  We used huge recycled oil-drum containers painted in shades of orange and pink, some even wrapped in recycled astro-turf (note: this astro-turf had already been used countless times, but we still had reservations about whether to use it!).  We borrowed plants from our wonderful plant supplier friends using gorgeous tall kentia, ficus, strelitzia and monstera plants surrounded with vibrant British grown orchids and begonia plants all of which could be used again after the show. 

We used coconut shells as containers and painted dried tropical seed pods the most vibrant coral pink.  Our next-door neighbours, the wonderful Pollen and Grace, gave us catering sized empty tins of coconut milk (the design of the labels just perfect for the event!) which would then go on to be recycled again after the show. All cut flowers had been pre-used in our past displays and had spent the previous week being admired in reception areas across the City.

The installation proved a talking point for many events professionals and wonderful backdrop for the brightly coloured and gloriously talented dancers from Ultimate Event Dancers

At the end of the show, we were so surprised at how easy everything was to take down and remove from Banking Hall.  Hardly anything needed to be thrown away; the tall plants went back to plant suppliers, the containers went on to be recycled, the orchids and begonias were donated locally, and the dried items stored away ready to be used again in the future.   

And whilst there is always room for improvement, we were proud at what we had achieved and happy that we had challenged ourselves and in doing so, opened the minds of other events professionals.  As to finding the answer to our favourite question “Is it sustainable?”, the answer to that was definite “Yes!”. 

Ways to do your bit:

Clare McAndrew the Show Director adds:  

“It’s easier than you think to add sustainable options to your event. First of all, question your current suppliers. Often suppliers although not branding themselves as sustainable although they may have lots of sustainable options that you may not be aware of. For example, can your florist provide you with seasonal or locally sourced flowers or potted plants that can be re-used after the event?

When printing materials opt for recyclable paper, if this is not available then check your paper is 100% FSC approved. This means that for every tonne of paper used they plant 2 tonnes of trees.”

All images courtesy of Splento

The Ultimate Floral Crowns for the Perfect Garden Party

For us at Hybrid Flowers, some of our most cherished memories are of working outside on wonderful garden celebrations, taking in the fresh air, admiring the scents and colours around us. In fact, research shows that spending quality time outdoors can boost happiness.

We have wonderful memories of designing flowers for drinks receptions in rambling private gardens; evening jazz cocktail parties in smart London locations and, perhaps our most treasured memory of all, working at London’s oldest botanical garden, Chelsea Physic Garden.

And so we were so excited when Candide asked us to work with them on Garden Day UK 2019. They asked us to create a number of spectacular floral crowns to adorn the heads of five prominent garden advocates and the amazing photographer, Julian Winslow (who photographed our work for British Flowers week back in 2014), was to capture our creations on this wonderfully inspirational project. To (Wellington) boot, this was to be set within the grounds of Chelsea Physic Garden.

Garden Day

Garden Day takes place this year on Sunday 12th May and is a nationwide community benefit project to encourage people to spend time outside. Gardeners are encouraged to down tools for the day and celebrate their gardens with neighbours, family and friends.

In researching our five Garden Party ‘muses’, we realised that bringing them and their individual talents together would make for the most amazing garden party ever, with the beautiful setting the icing on the cake.  

We wanted to create vibrant and striking crowns using classic British ‘garden-style’ flowers but with a twist: we wanted to make these individually tailored headdresses in epic proportions! Our aim was to make each crown representative of each model’s interests and personalities. Oh, and each crown, with every hand-selected element, needed to be made within an hour of photographing to ensure they looked as fresh as possible!  

The Ambassadors of Garden Day UK 2019, aka our floral crown models, are:

Arit Anderson, Garden designer and broadcaster; Michael Perry aka ‘Mr Plant Geek’, Garden presenter on ITV ‘This Morning’; Steve Horrell  and Sabina Ghayour, both Chefs and Poppy Jamie, Well-being entrepreneur.

Each one an expert within their own field, we would have been star struck designing a floral crown for one, let alone all of them! 

Garden Day Muse 1: Michael Perry AKA Mr Plant Geek.

Michael is not labelled Mr Plant Geek for nothing! He has an in-depth knowledge of all things horticultural and has admits to having been obsessed with plants for the past 30 years and counting!  Oh, and he has THE most beautiful tattoos we ever did see!  These detailed and colourful botanical style illustrations provided the perfect inspiration for Michael’s floral crown. 

Using tones of oranges, greens, lilacs and purples we wanted to include some unusual and vibrant varieties of garden flowers to the design. 

The ingredients for Michaels’ flower crown:

  • Orange calla lily
  • Allium
  • Phlebodium leaf
  • Fritillaria
  • Purple campanula (and to illustrate to show what an amazing good sport he is, see if you can spot the campanula florets in his beard!)

Michael’s thoughts on Garden Day:

More than ever I believe the great outdoors can help improve our well-being, and its brilliant that it is becoming more recognised. It’s incredibly easy [to celebrate Garden Day], you just need to be around some greenery. That could be a range of house plants, or just a single orchid plant on the windowsill. You will feel the benefits of connecting with nature, whatever you have access to. Garden day is completely inclusive.

Garden Day Muse 2: Sabrina Ghayour

If there is one thing we talk about in our studio more than flowers, gardens – and Michaels’ tattoos – it is food.  In particular, vibrant, healthy, beautifully presented food. Chef Sabrina Ghayour works with Persian and Middle Eastern flavours and writes about food with such passion. Her cooking gives great focus to vegetarian food, with a sprinkling of flowers. 

We wanted to recreate the feel of her delicious recipes by taking an edible flower (the marigold) and combining it with herbs and scented flowers.

The ingredients for Sabrina’s flower crown:

  • Marigolds
  • Rosemary
  • Ginestra (broom)
  • Clematis

Sabrina’s thoughts on Garden Day:

I’ve recently bought a new home which comes with an enormous garden and one of my greatest joys is to create delicious feasts and share them with friends and loved one in the garden. Anyone can take part [in Garden Day] simply by spending quality time in the garden with friends, family and neighbours.

Garden Day Muse 3:  Poppy Jamie

As a wellbeing entrepreneur and founder of Happy Not Perfect Poppy was a wonderful Garden Day muse.  We wanted to create and inspirational floral crown for Poppy which would look very natural and pretty to lift the spirits.  Soft petalled blooms were the perfect choice:

The ingredients for Poppy’s flower crown:

  • ‘Cloni’ Ranunculus
  • Scabiousa
  • Sweet William
  • Thlaspi flower

Poppy’s thoughts on Garden Day:

I am absolutely passionate about what the day represents, which is encouraging people to go outside and meet up with friends and family. This is so important as it directly impacts happiness and wellbeing.

Garden Day Muse 4:  Steve Horrell

If we weren’t already hanging out in London’s oldest botanical garden for our fantasy garden party, we would without doubt hold it at Steve’s converted barn and small holding in rural Somerset. His restaurant, Roth Bar and Grill is a rare find indeed and if you haven’t already visited then you MUST, even the Queen paid a visit this year! Steve is one of the original Garden Day advocates and was involved in the hugely successful Somerset Garden Day which has now been rolled out nationwide. 

His love of cooking outdoors, using very locally sourced ingredients, and stunning meat based dishes inspired us to create a vibrant and rich flower crown.

The ingredients for Steve’s flower crown:

  • Chili peppers
  • Olive
  • Hot orange ranunculus
  • Sweet Williams

Steve’s thoughts on Garden Day:

Everyone should spend more time outdoors and the garden is a great place to do that. We spend a lot of time in our garden at home. [For Garden Day] I will cook a spring lamb (home reared of course) on a spit, coupled with lots of different salads using rich pickings from the garden!

Garden Day Muse 5:  Arit Anderson:

From the start we knew exactly the floral crown we were going to create for the hugely inspirational Arit Anderson.  This award-winning garden designer, writer and Gardeners World presenter has a background in fashion, creative events and a passion for plants, people and places. And we were beyond delighted to have the opportunity to create a bespoke design for one of our real gardening idols. 

We created a design for her using stunning vibrant elements echoing her style of garden design:

The ingredients for Arit’s flower crown:

  • Icelandic poppies
  • Primula (in our favourite colour combination of salmon and burnt orange)
  • Ferns
  • Hamamelis Mollis (witch hazel)

Arit’s thoughts on Garden Day:

I’m supporting Garden Day to encourage people to sit back and enjoy the virtues of their hard work. So often we are ‘doing’ in the garden without just ‘being’ in the garden. There are great benefits on our wellness both physically and mentally being in nature, amongst plants and wildlife. A garden is our co-creation with nature. We get to choose the plants we love that bring us joy!

And the day of our garden party shoot was, truly, a joyful one! So much so that we couldn’t help but make stunning flower crowns for the amazing staff of Chelsea Physic Garden too.  They looked absolutely wonderful, proving gardens are the perfect place to make memories.

Don’t forget to show us your garden celebrations on the 12th May by tweeting and instagramming us @hybridflowerco and @gardendayUK as we would love to see your garden celebrations and your own handmade flower crowns. 

You’re invited!

Look out for beautiful Garden Day postcard invitations inside the May issue of BBC Gardeners’ World magazine out now.  Invitations are part of the toolkit available to every Garden Day host at

Visit for more tips, videos and ideas for how to celebrate Garden Day. Follow us and share images of your Garden Day get-togethers with the hashtag #GardenDayUK and tag @GardenDayUK.

Candide Gardening

Garden Day was created by Candide, a new gardening app that connects gardeners with fellow plant-lovers, public gardens and plant nurseries. It aspires to be the gardener’s best friend with a knowledge base of plants, news articles, plant identification, growing tips and garden tours. You can download Candide for free on the App Store or through Google Play.

All photography by the amazing Julian Winslow.