The Love Tax: Likely new EU duty on flowers from Kenya


DSC_2326Made In Kenya

The Issue

After a break down in discussions, it has become increasingly likely that imported cut flowers from the East African Community, which includes Kenya, will be shackled with a 5-8.5% tax.  The new tax is set to come into effect in just over a week on the 1st of October.

Unfortunately, it is only flower imports from Kenya that will face the new tax, as the other countries in the EAC are protected by virtue of the fact they are ‘Least Developed Countries’, and consequently can export to the EU tax free.  As a result of this tax, imported Kenyan flowers will become more expensive, and so Kenyan growers will find it difficult to compete with cheaper alternatives.

Given that the majority of red roses bought in the UK originate from Kenya, this new EU tax will hit romantic Brits in their wallet at a time when they can least afford it; not good news for wannabe paramours.

The Size of the Market

According to “More than 500,000 people, including 90,000 direct flower employees, depend on the flower industry for their livelihoods. The cut flower industry has become Kenya’s second most important foreign exchange earner, producing exports worth almost €360 million annually” (Taken from  This concentrated and targeted blow to such an integral part of Kenya’s economy could have devastating effects.

How is Fairtrade Involved?

Fairtrade has worked tirelessly to ensure that many flower farmers in Kenya receive a fair income for their flowers, and in that vein “44% of all cut roses produced in Kenya now come from Fairtrade certified farms” (from  This Fairtrade certification has resulted in investment in ‘education, better housing, healthcare and infrastructure such as roads.’  To impose this thoughtless tax would be to halt, and potentially degrade, the substantial progress made so far.  Therefore Fairtrade is calling on all parties involved to cooperate and come to an agreement, so that the damaging import tax is not imposed, and the integral investment in Kenya’s economy can continue.  Please see Fairtrade’s official comments here:

Arena’s View

At Arena Flowers we source stems from many countries and many growers, to suit the differing needs and price expectations of our customers; seasonal British flowers, many varieties from expert Dutch flower farms and, also, Kenyan Fairtrade roses.

Arena is a proud member of Fairtrade. We source over a million stems per annum from Kenya and our team visits Kenyan farms several times a year. We believe that any tariff would be a hugely retrograde step and that it would have a direct deleterious effect on the flower growing worker communities in Kenya that depend on the EU’s continuing support and trade for their daily income. There is no doubt that if this tariff is imposed, Kenyan workers will be the ones to pay the price. We join Fairtrade in urging the EU to come to an agreement with the EAC as soon as possible to avoid this unnecessary and punitive tariff. 

UPDATE: There has been no official progress announced, and as a result Kenyan farmers must prepare themselves for the imposition of this damaging and unnecessary EU tax. Please see details here.


Shoes that Bloom!


Shoes that bloomImage Source

What’s this then? Shoes that bloom! How is that even possible we hear you ask? OAT, a Dutch footwear company, has bridged the gap between style and nature by designing biodegradable shoes. Made from hemp, cotton, cork and biodegradable plastic, with mixed seeds embedded in the tongue of the shoe, the footwear can be buried into the ground (once you are done with them and certainly not whilst you are wearing them) and after a couple of days wildflowers will bloom from them. The seed mix contains:

  • Black-eyed Susan (we can assure you, despite the name, that Susan was not hurt in the making of these shoes)
  • Spurred Snapdragon (nor were any dragons)
  • English Daisy (nope, Daisy hasn’t been injured either)
  • Catchfly (it took a lot to catch the fly, but it’s safe and sound)
  • Corn Poppy (is still able to pop corn)
  • Sweet Alyssu (and Alyssu is still sweet)

The only thing we are worried about is what happens if you’re out and about when it rains, do you wake up the next day to find your footwear has grown from shoes to shrubbery? Well OAT doesn’t think that will happen but secretly they hope they do as ‘it would be hilarious’ – comforting words!

Oh, and how are they made? Well, that’s a big secret… but what OAT does tell us is that all materials are sourced within Europe, except for the hemp.

Shoes that bloomImage Source

So instead of the usual sacred ritual of tossing your old shoes into the corner dumpster, choose to sow your OATs!

However bizarre an idea, we think these are… wait for it… we’ve all heard the punch line, so lets say it together… Bloomin Marvellous!

Beautiful Fresh Flowers




The Ultimate Guide To…Hooker’s Lips!


psychotria-elataImage Sourcepsychotria-elata2Image Source

Yes, that’s right you haven’t misread the title, this is a guide to the ultimate hooker’s lips, but not the type you’re thinking of. We are talking about the most kissable, luscious red lips that belong to the plant Psychotria Elata, a tropical tree found in the rain forests of Central and South American countries. The leaves of the Hooker’s Lips (also known as the Hot Lips Plant) have evolved into this Mick Jagger-esque form to attract pollinators such as hummingbirds and butterflies.

However, this unusual plant’s “lips” are only kissable for a short while before they spread and reveal the plant’s rather ugly white flowers, like a deleted scene from The Naked Lunch. This extraordinary plant has (sadly?) become endangered due to deforestation and its increased popularity with very peculiar plant collectors.


hookers-lips-6Image Source

Levity aside, let’s hope we don’t have to kiss this plant goodbye. Please don’t make us. In fact, we have searched extensively (well, Googled extensively) and we can’t find the seeds available for purchase anywhere, so even if you are foolish enough to want to, you won’t be able to grow yourself a pair of Hooker’s Lips to pucker up to.

Although we don’t sell these plants at Arena Flowers, we do have a fantastic range of luscious red roses; not quite a pair of freaky ageing rocker’s Hooker Lips, but, when sent as a gift (to the right person), our bouquets will be sure to get you a smooch!



See Keukenhof Spring Flowers In Full Bloom


The days are getting longer and the weather has finally taken a turn for the better. It’s spring and Keukenhof is in full bloom. The tulips, hyacinths and daffodils bloom beautifully at this time so we went to check out what reason would bring hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to see 7 million bulbs come into bloom and what exactly the fuss is all about…

Big Ben

As you can see the spectacular mosaic of ‘The Big Ben and Tower Bridge’ is starting to bloom nicely, but before showing you some of the great photos taken during this year’s visit, it is worth noting that to get a close-up view of the colourful rows of tulip beds in full bloom, the best time to visit is the beginning of May. During our trip in mid April, the tulip fields had yet to bloom, plus the stupidly long winter had affected the flowers in a big way. The park is still beautiful and you can see from the small selection of our pictures that there was still lots to see.



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11 Rare Orchids That Look Like Animals (Including A Naked Man)


Monkey Looking Orchids

When you think of an orchid, what usually comes to mind is a pretty pink or white pot plant – right? Well orchids can be found in all shapes, sizes and colours and with more than 35,000 species of orchid in the world one could spend a lifetime discussing them all. Instead we thought it would be much more fun to share the surprising number of orchid species that bear an uncanny resemblance to animals. So in reverse order of similarity, here we go:

Number 11 – The Lion Orchid

Lion Lion Orchid

Ok, so this one we  just sneaked in because in this particular image the orchid looks like a bit like lion and under the rules of the internet, all blog posts must feature a photo of a cat. I have no idea which orchid this is, so if you have any idea, let us know. It even has whiskers!

Number 10 – The Donkey Orchid

Donkey Orchid

Scientific Name: Diuris

Common Name: Donkey Orchid

Habitat: South West of Western Australia

Named the Donkey Orchid due to the two lateral petals, protruding from the top of the flower like the two ears of a donkey. You can almost see this flower squealing “Hee haawwww”!

Number 9 – The Goat Orchid

Goat Orchid

Scientific Name: Ophrys Reinholdii

Common Name: Reinhold’s Bee-orchid

Habitat: Southwest Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Iran & Iraq

This horned flower is said to look like a goat, although to me I would say it looks more like a purple-headed alien giraffe, with its long-necked stem. Either way it’s a bizarre looking flower.

Number 8 – The Bird Head Orchid

Bird Head Bird Head Orchid

Scientific Name: Phalaenopsis sp.

Common Name: The Pink Moth Orchid

Habitat: Southwest Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Iran & Iraq

Some of these species supposedly resemble moths in flight, but within this gorgeous flower there is what looks like a curious ghost-like bird’s head guarding the nectar. Cool yet slightly creepy.

Number 7 – The Green Squid Orchid

Squid Green Squid Orchid

Scientific Name: Prosthechea Cochleata

Common Name: Cockleshell Orchid or Clamshell Orchid

Habitat: Central America, Caribbean Basin, Florida Everglades

With their purple “hood” and floaty green legs these little flowers look like baby squids swimming in the sea. Either that or an alien invasion floating down from the sky to herald their impending takeover of Earth.

Number 6 – The Bee Orchid

Bee Bee Orchid

Scientific Name: Ophrys Apifera

Common Name: Bee Orchid

Habitat: Europe

It looks like a female bumblebee visiting a flower and for good reason too. This sight attracts the male bee which tries to mate with the flower, in the process of which the bee is covered in pollen and then proceeds to spread it around. Clever stuff!

Number 5 – The White Egret Orchid

White Egret White Egret Orchid

Scientific Name: Habenaria Radiata

Common Name: White Egret Flower, Fringed Orchid or Sagiso

Habitat: China, Korea and Russia

This orchid really is uncanny. Its fringed petals replicate a white egret spreading its fluffy white wings ready for take off.

Number 4 – The Fly Orchid

Fly Fly Orchid

Image credit: Ann Mead

Scientific Name: Ophrys insectifera

Common Name: Fly Orchid

Habitat: Europe

Just like the Bee Orchid, this species resembles an insect in order to attract the male of the species, which pollinates the flowers as it attempts to mate with them. Not the prettiest of flowers (unless you’re a male fly obviously, in which case…it’s HOT!).

Number 3 – The Dove Orchid

Dove Orchid

Scientific Name: Peristeria Elata

Common Name: Holy Ghost Orchid

Habitat: Central America to Ecuador and Venezuela

Similar to the Pink Moth Orchid this flower also has a hidden creature inside, in this case it’s an entire dove (well, not a real one, obviously). The bird looks exquisitely carved in an almost Holy stance and it is hard to believe it has been grown by nature.

Number 2 – The Flying Duck Orchid

Flying Duck Orchid

Scientific Name: Caleana Major

Common Name: Flying Duck Orchid

Habitat: Eastern and Southern Australia

This incredible orchid looks like a duck in flight, albeit a pretty weird duck. Surely there is nothing more amazing that orchids can offer, or is there…?

Number 1 – The Monkey Orchid

Monkey Orchid Monkey Orchid

Scientific Name: Dracula Simia & Orchis Simia

Common Name: Monkey Orchid, including one with the moniker “Naked Hanging Man Orchid”

Habitat: Southeastern Ecuador and Peru

Let’s stop monkeying around (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that) and get to the grand finale. Last but not least is our favourite of all the animal look-a-like orchids, these aptly named flowers either have monkey faces or monkey bodies! The best thing about them is they smell just like ripe orange when fully blossomed.

So, which is your favourite? Or do you have any that you would like to add to the list? Let us know below.

No matter their shape or size, these exotic flowers convey an elegance which make them perfect for gifts. To send one of our splendid orchids, clicky here. All our orchids come with FREE next day delivery.

Exquisitely Exotic Orchids