I always anticipate seeing the nearly 4500 Olympic ceremony bouquets as they usually incorporate meaning and significance by choosing flowers according to some tradition and culture of the host country.
The 2012 Olympics in Great Britain took it a sustainable step further by requiring all the flowers be grown and locally designed in the UK, all packaging be recyclable, and all the plants had to be reused. A task for sure, as sadly like our American Beauty rose is scarce and no longer American; 90% of flowers sold today are imported and there were minimal English roses being grown any longer; ironically the most famous flower associated with Great Britain.
Russia is in the same situation and one of the largest importers of cut flowers. Domestically produced flowers only make up 2-3% of their flower sales with nearly all of the annual 1 billion worth of flowers coming in from Columbia, Ecuador, and Kenya. * At least unlike the US, they have kept the import duty on them. The Soshi award bouquets incorporated the language of color to enhance the meaning along with certain varieties tailored to Russian symbols and environments. There is today, a rose crop being grown in Leningrad, but unfortunately not enough for 1000’s of bouquets. How wonderful that would have been.
The purple statice represented the colors of the resort city of Soshi and I will venture a guess the light blue ribbons represented the crisp Russian sky. The yellow Solidago (a cultivated goldenrod type) stood for both the goldenrod’s’ healing properties and the wealth of the Krasnodar Region. The green and white button chrysanthemums represented the contrast of the valleys, meadows, and mountains along the long Black Sea coast. The laurel signified the warmth and hospitality of the Caucasus peoples and of course the symbol of winners. The eucalyptus was the surprise to me as they included it for the historical reference to its planting in Sochi to drain the wetlands. The bouquet was rounded out with Salal or ‘lemon’ leaf.
Obviously, much thought went into the reasons behind each flower used but sadly, all the flowers were imported from South America. Since the distance factor effects the longevity the same as the imports here in the US, hardiness I suspect was another factor in the choices. All of the flowers are known resilient grown with various chemicals to survive long periods without water, temperature gaps, and all the jostling they endure on the long journey.
Personally, I think President Putin did a wonderful job and put an enormous amount of thought into the Olympic celebration right down to the smallest detail of the Olympic award bouquets. Russia has one of the most vast and beautiful landscapes with many unique cultures. The history of the country is fascinating and the architecture is unique of its own. It is obvious that he authorized millions of dollars and engaged years of creative thinking on showing the world these assets while, keeping everything in absolutely good taste. I am sure there were many other details that were inherently Russian but unfortunately the flowers were anything but.