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Glorious Gardenias

I just love the smell of fresh gardenias. I’ve brought in my first 2 flowers of the season and right now my house smells just heavenly. The Gardenia is the perfect choice if you are looking for a incredibly fragrant flower. Often associated with love and romance, Gardenias are traditionally used in corsages, Gardenias can be used in other ways as well. Down in Florida for instance, you will often see them floating in shallow bowls inside.

The blossoms are just beautiful, either a clear white or cream colored, they almost look like porcelain. Gardenias are available in either a single or double bloom. With their deep green glossy leaves, they leave a lasting impression in whatever arrangement you use them in.

They originated in tropical areas of South Asia and Africa, but are actually named for Alexander Garden, a Charleston, South Carolina. One variety of the Gardenia, know as Cape Jasmine can reach a height of 6 feet or more. Another variety, Augustus Beauty can produce its lovely 2-3 inch diameter double blooms for up to three months. Veitchi, which is often considered a florist’s Gardenia is generally grown in hot houses and products pure white blooms. One of the largest varieties, commonly known as the Star Gardenia can grow up to 10 feet tall and has incredible 4 inch diameter single blossoms.

Arranging Tips–Water Beads

water beads for flower arrangingWater beads are one of the neatest accessories I’ve found to use when creating my flower arrangements. They are create a stunning appearance in clear glass vases and are the perfect compliment to any arrangement. I’ve used them in a number of my videos and they look wonderful when combined with floral lights.

Water beads are actually a polymer that is super water absorbent. Available in a wide range of colors including clear, they can actually hold up to 100 times their size in water which makes them a great way to keep your arrangements supplied with fresh water. Before using, they are extremely light weight and appear to be little rocks or crystals. Once they are added to water, they expand and take on the appearance of colored beads. Water beads provide an excellent vase support system for your arrangements.

And best of all, they are reusable. Once they dry out, you can rehydrate them for use in other arrangements. Always make sure to look for water beads that are colorfast to avoid the possibility of accidentally staining tablecloths, counters, grout, etc., if the vase or container get knocked over. Colorfast beads will also prevent white flowers from tinting as they will not leech color into the water supply.

Arranging Tips–Think outside the Vase

One of the first things that comes to mind when you think about flower arranging after the flowers of course, is the vase. After all, you can’t really have a flower arrangement without something for it to be arranged in. But don’t let your imagination be stymied by that traditional image of a glass vase.

I cannot tell you how many different things I’ve used when creating a flower arrangement for a client. The list is nearly endless. I’ve used just about everything from terra cotta pots, to plastic outdoor glasses, bowls and even golf shoes and jewelry boxes. And in some ways the item you use to hold your arrangements can be as fascinating and unique as the arrangement you create in it.

I would like to encourage you to think outside of the box when it comes to flower arranging containers. Besides vases, think about, dishes, ceramics, baskets, paper boxes, fabric covered boxes, tea cups, drinking glasses, cocktail glasses, in fact almost anything that can be used as a container can be used for a flower arrangement.

Bold and Beautiful Zinnas

A member of the Aster flower family, the Zinna originates in Mexico and the Southwestern United States. This brilliantly colored flower comes in a great variety of shapes, sizes and even multiple color options that make it perfect for almost any arrangement you could possibly think of. Bloom varieties include single, double, cactus, dahlia style, ruffles and pom poms.

Zinnias are also available in a profusion of colors, multi-colors, and hues. Colors include, white, yellow, orange, red, rose, pink and multi-colored blooms. Zinnas range in size from the miniature which grown to about a foot to giant varieties that can grow to over three feet tall. The Zinnia plant’s leaves are lance-shaped and sandpapery to the touch.

The Giant Zinna has a long stalk that makes it a great choice for vase arranging as well as making it easier to trim for use in other arrangement styles. The Miniature Zinna is the perfect choice for a small container or even a bud vase. Adding a little greenery will bring out the gorgeous colors of the Zinna in any arrangement. They hold up well in hot weather so they are a perfect flower choice when creating arrangements for outdoor events. And with so many colors, shapes and even patterns available, you can create an almost endless variety of arrangements using just Zinnas.

A splash of summer color–The Snapdragon

Snapdragons uniformly bear a whorl of flowers atop slender stalks. The most popular variety has a snappable flowers, but others have open-faced flowers and can include double blooms. Colors include white, yellow, burgundy, red, pink, orange, and bronze along with other variations of these colors, with the exception of blue.

Their large, blossom-laden flower heads have just a hing of fragrance. The vertical flower spikes open gradually from the bottom to the top. Snapdragons make excellent cut flowers, but can wilt in the mid summer’s heat. They are much better suited to an arrangement that will be indoors to insure that they stay lovely and fresh.

Available in two heights: dwarf varieties grow to about 10 inches while the taller types grow to a height of 18-24 inches. A variety that grows up to 5 feet has been developed, but it must be staked. A single snapdragon plant may produce seven or eight blossom spikes in the course of a summer.

Casual and Beautiful–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.

Daisy, Daisy, Tell me you love me do….

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.

Preparing Roses for Arranging

Last time I talked about how to chose great roses and this week I want to talk to you about how to get them ready to create your arrangement.

To process roses you want to strip all the foliage that will fall below the water line. I like to remove ALL the thorns as well. You really only have to remove the thorns below the water level, but trust me, you will be handling the roses above the water line and you don’t want to poke yourself with the thorns. Some varieties of roses have really tiny almost clear thorns on the top third of the stems and that is typically where I am handling them. Those micro thorns will get into your hands and fingers and wreak havoc, because you can’t see them to get them out. I normally will use a florist’s knife and gently scratch those tiny thorns off the stems!

Next you want to give the roses a fresh cut, cut at least an inch off the stem length and cut at the biggest angle you can cut. Make sure you are using really sharp sheers or knife. You do NOT want to damage the stem with clippers that can’t make a clean cut. The bigger the cut you can make, the more drinking surface you are giving the rose. Roses need to drink water and any obstruction in the stem will disallow the water to get all the way up to the head which will cause bent heads. Even an air bubble will cause the bent heads and roses are particularly vulnerable to this problem. There are many professionals who believe that roses should only be cut under water, because when you cut underwater there can be no air bubbles getting into the stem.
If you use a rose stripper, which I totally recommend, make sure you do not tear or scrape the skin of the stem, because this allows microorganisms (bacteria) to get into the stem and will impede the flowers ability to get that good drink of water it needs.

It is absolutely BEST to dip each rose stem into a dipping solution of a hydrating liquid before you put them in a bucket or vase with flower preservative. I don’t know of the hydrating liquids being sold at a retail level. But the good news is, we are in the process of expanding our online store and I plan on offering this product right here at! So keep checking back, we hope to have our new products up and available for your use in the near future.

Make sure when you transfer your roses to a bucket or vase that it is a clean bucket or vase. I use Clorox Clean Up to wash all my buckets and vases. A watered down clorox solution is fine too. You just need to be sure that you are killing any bacteria in the bucket/vase.

If you are not going to use your roses right away, the idea situation is to process them (remove thorns/foliage, give fresh cut and dip in hydrating solution) and then place the roses into a bucket of tepid (luke warm) water for about two hours. After that, it is best to put the roses into a refrigerator for at least another two hours (ideal temperature is 33-35 degrees). After that, do all the arranging your heart desires with your roses.

Tips for Roses

Have you ever seen somebody kind of pinching the rose heads….I do it sometimes….it is a way to see how firm the roses are….generally, the firmer they are, the fresher they are…..but NOT ALWAYS true. Some rose varieties are just softer because of the petal counts or the way the petals open. A rose that comes to mind is a POLO rose. It is a white rose that opens up like an old fashioned rose, even though it technically is not an old fashioned rose. Those rose heads will typically be softer when you pinch them. They also are not a bright white. The picture above contains POLO roses.

Another soft rose is an Osiana, which is a beautiful shade of peach. It doesn’t have a super big petal count and therefore is typically softer to the pinch than other roses. The Osiana rose is the rose on the right below this post.

Besides the pinch test, there are other things to look for when buying roses. The stems should look and feel straight and strong, as opposed to limp and weak. The heads should be upright with no drooping petals. The foliage should not be yellowing or falling off. You’ll also want to be sure they don’t show signs of insect problems or fungal disease. If you see anything on the stem or just below the flower head that looks like gray mold…don’t buy the roses!

Next time, I have more Rose tips and pointers for what to do after you get your lovely roses home! See you then.

Fragrant Freesia

Freesia is one of the biggest selling and most widely grown cut flower throughout the world. Did you know that in the UK alone, over 110 million flowers are sold? Freesia are an extremely popular flower for weddings and events. Not only does it have a lovely scent, but it has a beautiful unique shape which makes it perfect for almost any arrangement imaginable. 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 perfect for nosegays.

Freesa grow in a pattern similar to gladiolus, with a tuft of long narrow leaves and a branched stem. The leaves are light green in color and can grow to be nearly a foot in length.

Although the white or golden yellow Freesa is the one most commonly used, it is also available in orange, red, pink, mauve, lavender and purple as well as bi colors. Their long slender stems make them perfect for accenting a bridal bouquet as well as dressing up arrangements in tall graceful vases. The Freesa’s intoxicating fragrance can fill a room with its light delicate scent.

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