Helping the environment with your wedding flower choices

English Ivy is a noxious weed, yet still many Portland area homes incorporate English Ivy in their landscaping. The reason it is considered a dangerous pest – the birds spread their seeds to our local urban forest, and those seedlings turn to vines that crawl up our deciduous trees. A bare tree in winter can quickly be covered in winding vines, making it impossible for spring leaves to bud and when left unchecked, choking the trees.

Many local groups volunteer to help clean up our urban forests and keep our trees healthy, but sadly it is a seemingly never-ending problem. The only obvious solution – stop planting English Ivy as part of your property landscaping and remove any already established.

Recently, we blogged about how you can use your wedding budget to do so much good in your community by choosing vendors like Brides for a Cause or venues that are also a charitable organization. Here’s something else you can do, choose English Ivy as greenery and filler for your wedding floral designs.

You might be thinking, “wait, if I use Ivy aren’t I creating a market for a noxious weed?” No – because we aren’t suggesting you go out and buy English Ivy. You see, there are organizations is Portland, completely devoted to keeping our forests healthy and teaching regular people like us to be stewards of the forest. SOLVE is one such great organization.

In the past, I’ve volunteered with SOLVE to go out in to our urban forest, learn about safe Ivy removal techniques, and with a group and an expert guide, helped to carefully remove all of the English Ivy from a large section of forest as a Saturday morning volunteer project. And the cool thing is ANYONE can do this. In fact, they encourage you to learn how to do this.

So what I am suggesting is wedding couples, or bridal parties plan a day about 2 weeks before your wedding. Get your in town friends together to help you clean up the forest. Take the Ivy you clean up home with you in a nice big greens safe garbage bag with a handle. Bring all this Ivy home, clean it up (just rinse it off with a good strainer protecting your drain and capturing any dirt or greens litter). Cut the vines in to easy to store and work with pieces, I recommend no longer than a Meter. Stick one of the ends in fresh water vessels. I use large emptied and cleaned yogurt containers. And then leave them in a cool room of your house. These fresh cuts will last for weeks. The vines used in this photo shoot are still going strong and we collected them three weeks ago.

If you are using a floral designer, like Vareus Events design services, just give your cuts over to your florist. You will save a lot of money on greenery and your environmentally conscious designer will be ecstatic to participate in this noble effort. Please be sure you talk to them first don’t spring it on them.

If you are doing your own designs, you can wrap your vine pieces to twine using about 22 gauge floral wire up to two weeks prior to your event if you have a floral cooler for storage, or up to a week before your wedding if you at least have air conditioning and a cool room to store your prepared vines in. Never use bundled pieces on ropes or twine in pieces larger than 15-25 feet in length. They get too heavy, especially if you plan to add flowers to the greens pieces to decorate Chuppas, arches, chandeliers, mantles, or as table runners at the reception. These pieces easily connect together if you leave a little excess twine at the ends.

So have we convinced you yet? If so here’s your next step, if you have a friend with English Ivy on their property and you can encourage them to let you help them remove it, AWESOME!

If you want to remove Ivy from our public forest, you can actually help do that. According to Monica Gunderson, Program Coordinator at SOLVE, in Portland:

We have English Ivy removal events throughout the year! Every Thursday in the summer  there is an ivy removal event in Vancouver, WA. Every first and third Saturday and first Wednesday of the month all year there is an ivy removal event in Forest Park in NW Portland. There are additional, less regular ivy removal projects throughout the year that you can find on our online calendar at solveoregon.org. Ivy cuttings stay green for a while, but just how long I’m not sure!

 

One thing to encourage people to recognize is that by removing native flowers from the landscape they are depriving bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds of food sources. I’d instead recommend brides go with greenery like ivy.

The next majorly important step after your wedding or event is complete, please make sure you enlist your wedding planner, or a trusted friend or family member who appreciates your decision to make this environmentally friendly choice, to gather up all of the Ivy and take it home to throw in their curbside greens recycling bin. You should not dispose of English Ivy in a backyard compost area, it can sometimes reseed itself, but it is absolutely safe to put it in your curbside compost bin.

If you have any questions, not answered in this blog post, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to give you free advice on using ivy in your wedding floral designs, any time!

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