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Summer Blooms–The Sunflower

Did you know that the big and beautiful Sunflower comes from the same species family as the Daisy I talked about in my last blog entry?  It does!  And it’s also been around for over 3000 years, not only gracing fields with it’s gorgeous rich color, but also as a food source.  In fact, Sunflower seeds were taken to Europe in the 16th century, where, along with sunflower oil, they became a widespread cooking ingredient.   Sunflower leaves can be used as a cattle feed, while the stems contain a fiber which may be used in paper production.

Like its cousin the Daisy, the Sunflower is also two different types of flowers, the ray and the disk, combined to appear as just one single bloom.  A closer look at the center of the Sunflower shows that the disk flowers grow in a mesmerizing pattern of two opposite spirals.  You can see this best before the disk flower actually opens or after all the seed has been set. It’s a fascinating pattern.

The Sunflower is the state flower of Kansas and is native to America.    Their stems can reach over 10 foot tall and the bloom span can be nearly 12 inches wide.

Featured Flower – Daisies

The daisy, a sweet wonderful flower that is known for it’s brilliant colors.  This lovely little flower is the symbol of loyalty and pure intentions.    Did you that daisies are among the oldest known flower in the world and the plants in the species Daisies belong to make up nearly 10% of all flowering plants on Earth?  Daisies originated in northern Europe and by the 1600’s they were available all through out Europe and even in the Americas.

The name Daisy is a contraction of the phrase Day’s Eye originating in England and referring to the fact that this little flower closes at night and opens during the day.   And they are actually the combination of two flowers, the center or disk floret is one and the petals are actually another flower. Daisies are almost always white or off white with a yellow center, although some varieties can have slightly pink petals.   Yellow and purple petal daisies can be cultivated but do not occur naturally.   The stems are smooth and leafless with leaves down towards the bottom of the plant.  Leaf textures vary from smooth to hairy.


They have a great vase life and work well in almost any type of arrangement you can think of.  The star shaped daisy puts a bright spot into any arrangement you place it in.  Its white color makes it an excellent filler flower.  Daisies coordinate with almost any other flower and can be used in almost any style of arranging, from a simple woven country basket to the most formal of bridal bouquets.

The Flowering Jacaranda Tree

This is a jacaranda tree.  I saw a number of these on our trip to Palm Desert and they are just beautiful.   I wish I could have one of these in my yard, they bloom purple flowers and when the petals drop to the ground, they turn it into a sea of purple, just so gorgeous.  I believe they are native to Southern California so I don’t think they would survive the cold here in Northern California.

The Jacaranda ranges from shrubs to large trees and ranges in size from about 6 feet tall to a staggering 98 feet tall.  They bloom twice a  year, although the spring blooms are much more vivid than the fall ones.  The Jacaranda is very popular in Southern and Central Florida and Phoenix, Arizona.  It makes an excellent shade tree and is often found in parks and along streets.

The blossoms are generally a gorgeous purple, although some varieties have white blooms.  This tree is also a great choice if you are zero-scaping or have a garden that is always in direct sunlight.  The branches arch which creates great shade for other plants below.

Prickly Pear Cactus

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip out to Palm Desert and was just amazed at the beauty I found out there.

The cactus to the left is called a Prickly Pear.  This cactus grows in clumps and can be up to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide.    It has large leaf pads that turn purple in during the dry winter months and are covered with large tan spins.  These pads turn a softer grey blue color during the summer.

It flowers in the late spring, yellow blooms with red centers that get up to 3 inches in diameter.   The Prickly Pear Cactus produces a fruit as well, ranging in color from red to purple.

Purple Prickly Pear is an excellent choice for zero scaping as it is very drought tolerant and needs virtually no water once it is full grown.  Not only that, both the fruit this cactus produces as well as the leafy pads are edible.  The pad of the cactus is known as Nopal and usually served as a vegetable.   The pear or Tuna can be eaten as is or made into a jam or jelly.  You can even find Prickly Pear sorbet and candy.

Have you seen our new Starter Kit?

Flower Arranging 101 is proud to announce that we are now offering a fantastic Starter Kit.   This kit comes complete with all the tools you will need to get started on creating your own beautiful arrangements just like the ones in our videos.

Everything offered in our Starter Kit is professional grade and include tools that are not readily available in the retail market.

Your starter kit comes with everything you will need to get started making your own floral arrangements.  Including:

  • Clippers
  • Scissors
  • Florist Knife
  • ¼” Clear bowl tape
  • 1 roll ¼” green bowl tape
  • 1 roll ½” green bowl tape
  • 1 roll Light Green Corsage Tape
  • 1 roll Dark Green Corsage Tape
  • Rose Stem Stripper
  • 20 pieces each of 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24 gauge wire
  • 1  16 oz Quick Dip Bottle
  • 1 32 oz Finishing Touch Mister
  • 10 oz of Crystal Clear Fresh Flower Food
  • 1 tube Floral Adhesive

And we will be adding more and more products over the next couple of months to not only help you re-create all the arrangements I’m sharing here, but to allow you to express your own creativity!

Green and Clean

The use of potted plants is another way to be eco-chic.  Whether you purchase them pre potted, or create your own unique arrangements using an eclectic mix of pots and containers that you may have found at a thrift store or even in your own garage,  using potted plants is a great way to put some green in your event.  This way too, you will have the opportunity to add some variety to your centerpieces that might not be available if you use cut flowers only.  This is an excellent way to get great touches of  natural greenery around in your event or party.

And one of the best things about using potted plants and greenery is that at the end of your event, your decor can become your party favors. Send your guests home with a great reminder of the wonderful time they had.    Or consider donating the plants to a nursing home or a hospital so that they are reused and can continue to be enjoyed.

You can also donate your flower arrangements and trust me, a nursing home or hospital is very appreciative of this gesture!  You’ll feel good about the donation as well.

So just do a little thinking out of the box and see what ideas you can come up with to be more eco-chic at your wedding or party.  Our earth will be glad you did!

Eco Friendly Centerpiece Ideas

Okay, admit it….when you think of organic flowers do you think of weeds?  I do!  Many of the flowers that are grown organically are not the type of flowers you would typically use for centerpieces.  But, with some careful planning, they can be.  I recently visited an organic farm near me.  To my surprise they had sweetpeas growing wild (and organically) all over their property.  They also had delphinium, roses, irises and sunflowers growing organically.  They showed me mint, fever few, echinacea and lavender; and incorporated into a bouquet look very nice together.  I purchased a couple of their medicinal bouquets, which included the herbal components mentioned above and made a bouquet for someone in the hospital.  I was greeted by three employees at the front desk who couldn’t stop asking me about this bouquet.  Yes, they noticed it had mint in it and couldn’t get over how nice it looked and smelled! The bottom line here is it is very possible to have organic centerpieces that look elegant and you will be proud to display.


One element of using organics that you should be aware of is that you can’t always count on something to be available.  Organic farming is more sensitive to pests and weather.  So if an unforseen pest attacks the crop, you may not be able to get the flowers you were anticipating.  They also tend to be a little more expensive than non-organic flowers.  Always have a plan B!

Look for more tips and suggestions on eco friendly floral arrangement ideas next time!

Featured Flower-Dahlias

The Dahila is one of the most versatile flowers around.  Considered the national flower of Mexico, this amazing flower comes in 6 different sizes and 11 different bloom categories.  Ranging from Giant which are more than 10 inches in diameter to the very dainty Mignon which is less than 2 inches across, the Dahlia is also available in Miniature 2-4 inches wide, Small, 4-6 inches in diameter, Medium which are 6-8 inches and Large which measure 8-10 inches across. The 11 bloom categories include, Decorative, Cactus, Fimbriated, Ball, Waterlily, Anemone, Collarette, Orchid, Peony, Single, and Novelty.  Their petals can be spiky, wispy, round, thin or at least another half a dozen varieties.  Petal colors can be one solid color to a mixture of up to three different colors. I’ve used Dahlias in a number of the videos offered here at  Make sure to check out our products page to find an arrangement that best suits you!

Featured Flower-Freesia

The sweet smelling Freesia is one of the highest selling and widely grown cut flower around the world. Freesia is available most of the year, but is abundant in spring. The bell shaped blooms have a sweet citrus scent and unlike other flowers where the white variety is the most fragrant, with the Freesia, it’s the pink and red varieties that are have the strongest scent.

In addition to pink, red and white, it is also available in yellow, lavender, mauve, orange and gold. This flower with its wiry stem and delicate bloom adapt perfectly to any arrangement. It is most popular for bridal bouquets and wedding centerpieces and is the perfect addition to any nosegay.

Once cut, the Freesia will last between 4-7 days. The blooms need to be supplied with lots of water. Remove old blossom heads to make way for the new ones to open.

Calla Lily Care and Preparation Tips

Last time I talked to you about Calla Lilies and their colors and sizes.  Now I would like to share with you some tips on how to prepare your Calla Lilies for whatever arrangement you plan to create with them.
It is best to purchase callas at the stage of openness that you desire, because these flowers generally don’t open significantly after they are cut.  A trick to get a tight calla open further is to stuff cotton inside the flower around the spadix.  Some wholesalers will sell the callas at different cut points, meaning how much they are opened.  Make sure when you buy callas that the spathes (the colored petal that makes up the calla) are firm and free of spots, blemishes, bruises, splits and brown tips and that the spadices are visible.

As with ALL flowers, as soon as you get them you should give them a sharp cut of about 1 inch off the bottom of the stem, place into a clean bucket/vase of lukewarm water and make sure to add flower-food to the water.  Note: don’t fill the vase or bucket with water, allow about 2-4 inches of water in the bucket/vase for callas.  Callas are heavy drinkers, so add water and flower food daily and recut the stems every two days.

Callas do a funny thing I can’t explain, and that is that the stem ends sometimes will curl and/or split.  Because of this, if you are making a bridal bouquet a couple of days ahead of time, leave a little extra stem length and plan to cut about an inch off the day you need the bouquet.

Callas need refrigeration, ideally at 33-35 F degrees.  If properly handled your callas should last for 4-8 days.  If your calla stems arrive a little limp, they will revive after you’ve given them a fresh cut and let them sit in lukewarm water.  If the stems are curved and you need them to be straight, wrap newpaper around them and put them upright in a bucket of water and they will straighten up for you.

I love Calla Lilies, you can create so many incredible arrangements and bouquets with them.  I’ve made quite a number of videos using Callas that are available right here for purchase or can be viewed in the members area at any time.

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