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No orchids for you, Olympians!

Apparently, it did not jive with the Brazil Olympics’ environmental message to give out thousands of cut flowers that would be discarded by their recipients within days. And that makes sense, for sure. But.

The London flowers had scent, thanks to lavender and rosemary.

As an avid Olympics watcher (the only sports I watch), I’ve recently been paying a bit of attention to the floral component, minor though it is. Vancouver’s 2010 winter games had long-lasting, if prosaic, green chrysanthemums and Hypericum androsaemum (the Vancouver florists also employed women who, for various reasons, desperately needed the training and work). In London, in 2012, they used hybrid teas, lavender, and herbs. The tradition of giving plant-based prizes to winners goes as far back as the first games, in 776 BC, when olive wreaths or crowns were the only prizes. So tradition is definitely on the side of giving bouquets, and it’s nice that they go to both male and female winners.

Rio 2016 is apparently the first Olympics to do away with flowers. Instead, winners are receiving colorful keepsake replicas of the 2016 Olympic logo. Spokespeople for the Rio games said that the flowers would be wasteful.

It depends on your definition of sustainable. Florists are almost always small businesses; supporting them supports their employees and the contribution to the economy by those employees. Also, it would have been a nice statement to source sustainably grown flowers. And the flowers, when done with, could be deposited into the compost receptacles that must be ubiquitous at the Rio event, given its message.

Well, flowers aren’t really the point here, and the lack of them will not deter my enjoyment of the games. However, I can’t help but imagine a Rio Olympic bouquet, which could contain the following plants indigenous to this lush and floriferous region. It could have:
Orchids (of many types)
Well, it would take forever to list them—probably half the annuals and tropicals I treasure grow as weeds in Brazil. I think I would go with the heliconia, a few orchids, and some tropical foliage. The heliconia would have to be carefully placed.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on August 11, 2016 at 8:00 am, in the category It’s the Plants, Darling.