When the chips are down the flower industry step up and never has that been more apparent than with the massive outpouring of affection and support for Ukraine. Florists across the UK have not only shown their support with word but deed as well and whilst it is impossible to calculate or indeed keep track of everyone who has done something we can bring you a tiny taste of what’s been happening since the invasion started.
We start with Ukrainian born Genia Silva, who did a master’s in economics in Kyiv before moving to Bath University for her master’s in marketing. Four and a half years ago she decided to move out of the corporate world and set up Lush Petals in London.
For her the situation is obviously incredibly close to her heart and so finding a way to help was an instinctive reaction as she explained. “I wasn’t sure what to do … obviously sending money and goods is crucial but then I thought why not use my love of flowers.
I set up a JustGiving page, designed a yellow and blue bouquet of Delphinium, tulips, spray roses and Oxypetalum and invited people to donate. The reaction was amazing. In just seven hours we had raised over £5,000; many of the doners not even expecting the flowers!
My suppliers at New Covent Garden Market were equally amazing. Bloomfield, GB Foliage and Green & Bloom, were so, so helpful and to be honest we couldn’t have done as much without their incredible support and generosity.
I have never raised money before … had no idea how it would go and actually thought it might be a bit cheesy to do a bouquet. But the openness, love and support for my country has been amazing and I am so grateful to everyone who supported the fundraiser.”
Like so many Helen Fish, who with her husband Steve runs Amaryllis Floral Design in Ossett, was horrified at what she was seeing and knew she wanted to do something. What that something could be was the question mark until Steve bought home a wrap of Cold Brew roses. They opened to the most beautiful bloom and Helen thought it would be good to run a raffle using this unique variety.
However, what started out as just five luxury hatboxes quickly – actually within 24 hours - increased to 15 whoppers as their supplier Flower Connection in Leeds jumped on board and donated all the flowers and foliage needed.
From then on it was 6 days of concerted promotion by Helen who used the power of Facebook to engage and encourage her community to the point that over 700 customers entered at a cost of £5 each or simply donated funds to the appeal. In total a massive £4110 which went to the Red Cross Ukrainian Appeal.
Speaking about the appeal Helen said: “Steve had brought these gorgeous roses home and I knew they were extra special. Initially I only thought of doing a single prize, that developed into 5 and then it just took off.
I think everyone wants to help but how to do it is harder and I had no idea how it would work … the night before we went live, I was worried we’d only get 5 or 6 entries! Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d get over 700 and indeed I have been overwhelmed by the support of the local community and their willingness to get involved.
It was a huge amount of work, I had to set up a separate bank account and I confess I had palpitations when I transferred the money. But I am delighted we have, with my community’s help been able to do something."
For leading wholesaler Flowervision, based in Bristol, it was a case of picking up on an idea that one of their customers, Blue & Bohème Florist in Lechlade had started.
It was simple, buy sunflowers, sell sunflowers and send the profit, or all proceeds depending on the florist, to the British Red Cross Ukraine Crises Appeal.
However, one florist’s idea was picked up by many others and that’s where Flowervision stepped in. Because they sold all the blooms at cost price and donated the money to the appeal as well. By early March they had donated a massive £7,010 with more to come and that doesn’t take into account the huge amount raised by their customers.
As they said: “Like everyone, we were all feeling very helpless watching the situation unfold in Ukraine, but we should feel proud as a flower community that we have been able to come together to do something small to help".
In Caerphilly, Wales Nicola Downie sold daffodils, sunflowers and ribbons to raise £515 for the Ukrainian Animal Rescue fund and a further £538 to the Ukraine Humanitarian appeal.
Over in Dublin Kays Flower School has raised over €4,000 for an online Flower Crown tutorial and in Holland John Elstgeest of the Flower Circus, who lives in Ukraine, hosted a special online demonstration with Mark Franck with all donations going to a Dutch based humanitarian charity.
In Horwich, near Bolton, Lancashire Maxine Smith and her team at Flowersmiths raised £578 with a raffle for a gorgeous bouquet and at Flowers on the Cobbles in Sandbach, Cheshire, not only have they sold blue and yellow flowers but one of their talented florists, Nok has made a collection of crocheted hair clips, bobbles, brooches and key rings and
And throughout Europe wholesalers and exporters are using their trucks to deliver much needed supplies to refugee centres in Poland. Not just from Holland but the UK too, like the lorry from van Vliet Gateshead which traveled to their Polish branch, run by Kevin van Vliet for onward distribution to those in need.
You can still help ... here's how
We suspect there are hundreds of florists we haven’t been able to find but if you haven’t yet got involved but want to do something then why not pick up on an idea launched by Elizabeth McKenna, the bonkers florist who came 4th on The Apprentice back in 2017!
With the help of Floristpro she’s devised an easy to use and fully integrateable solution for you to use on your website and which - like all your add on products - allows customers to add a donation as they check out their Mother’s Day orders.
Because truth is every single penny helps - be it in the thousands or the hundreds. Speaking to a Navy Chaplin who was involved in the Afghanistan conflict, he said that whilst clothes were useful to a point, in reality hard cash, to the right organisations who can buy exactly what's needed helped a whole lot more and why we praise EVERY fund raising initiative going.
If you do something and want to share email us at email@example.com and we'll include it in our next round up.