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Telopea Flowers

Photo of a wreath

The Shrine has recently introduced a Social Procurement Framework which aims to support local and sustainable suppliers.

One of the first changes we have made is to our wreaths. We now support a local small business that uses all biodegradable materials in their wreaths. Telopea Flowers, run by Victoria English, makes wreaths using a foliage base and Australian grown flowers and foliage. They contain no plastic or floral foam.

Telopea Flowers’s biodegradable wreaths feature Australian grown flowers and a willow base—no plastic or florist’s foam

The wreaths are a beautiful and fitting tribute to those we are honouring. Victoria’s wreaths are now being used frequently here at the Shrine.

Victoria is also supporting our Public Programs with a hands-on wreath making workshop at the Shrine in February 2021 where participants will make and take home their own sustainable wreath. Here Victoria shares her story.

How did you come to start your business?

I was a midlife career changer looking for something that would make a difference environmentally. I considered horticulture or science but didn’t want a desk job. Nor did I feel I had age my side for planting hedges! I am an enthusiastic home gardener though and grow a lot of flowers. I enjoy the challenge of constructing things around the yard—sweet pea trellises or inventive raspberry staking, things like that. In the end the decision to study floristry was a kind of light bulb moment.

The word ‘Telopea’ is the genus of a variety of waratah. It comes from the Greek telopos which means ‘seen from afar’. As a business name it’s a nod to playing the long game and using Australian grown materials.

Telopea Flowers wreath at our weekly Last Post Service
photographer Gemma Ortlipp

Why have you made the move to using a sustainable product?

Like many of us, in my heart I’m a nature lover. When you study floristry, you realise how much plastic there is in the industry and particularly the environmental harm done by all that floral foam (from which commemorative wreaths are generally made). At first, I felt disillusioned but realised pretty quickly there was an opportunity to be a force of positive change. I am the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and would often attend remembrance services with my father and son. I identified this section of the floral industry as a realm that badly needs change and needs it now! So, I developed a completely compostable wreath—that means no plastic, adhesiveness or wire—and took it to the Shrine of Remembrance for feedback. I was encouraged by the team there and soon after began regularly supplying wreaths for their services.

How has your business grown?

The business is growing slowly but it’s at a good pace for learning, developing sound sustainable products and creating good working relationships. I’m now expanding the business into the funeral and memorial sector to create change there.

I have developed a handful of products that are beautiful, sustainable alternatives to the current norm. Full of beauty and reverence, handmade with purpose but without the polluting materials and practices.

Book to attend the wreath making workshop