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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mild Fragranced Flowers

Hydrangea


Calla Lilies


Most Orchids


Ranunculus


Tulips


Lisianthus


Gerbera Daisies


Carnations


Iris


Amaranthus


Celosia


Brunia


Gladioli


Kale
 

Larkspur


Snapdragons
 

Bells of Ireland


Anemones

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Floral Teas

 
From jasmine to rose petals, and lavender to orchids, floral tea has been a popular choice in flavour for tea enthusiasts for centuries.  

Many of the floral teas taste great when mixed with black, green, oolong, or white tea. 

Floral teas unlike black tea are caffeine-free beverage. They are from natural flowers, rich in phytochemicals such as vitamins, terpenoids and flavonoids.

So where do you begin? How do you know which florals to select when brewing your tea? Here is a list of popular selections, along with their health benefits: 

 
Dandelion: Dandelion Tea have a diuretic nature and can help reduce water retention and bloatedness. Dandelion tea can also help rheumatism and as it is a mild laxative, it should not be drunk in large quantities.

Chamomile: Chamomile tea has a very aromatic and fruity flavour. Chamomile is known for helping aid with toothaches, insomnia, it helps settles digestion and can help reduce the swelling of skin irritations.

Rosehips: Rosehips contain Vitamin C which helps build resistance to colds and flus especially for those living in cooler climates. The tanin content of rosehips help to balance out the laxative content found in Vitamin C and hence can be enjoyed daily.


Chrysanthenum: Chrysanthenum tea is most popular in East Asia. It is well-known for its cooling properties that help to decrease body heat and is recommended for those with fever, sore throat, and other heat-related illnesses.

Rosebud: Rosebud tea has a very sweet, floral aroma and a light, sweet taste. It is beneficial to the heart and brain. The essential oils in rosebud tea can help aid circulation and enhance metabolism. Drink rosebud teas often for natural and glowing complexions.

Elderflower: Elderflower tea has the properties of expectorant, it helps clear catarrh and reduces fever by sweating. It makes a great thirst quenching drink and it also have the benefit of warding off colds.


Lemon Balm: Lemon Balm tea act as a relaxant, it help reduces the impact of stress and anxiety on the system. It is a pleasant summer tea and is best brewed from fresh lemon balm leaves.

Jasmine: Jasmine tea is a drink that can be taken at any time of the day and it goes well with food. Jasmine tea aids digestion, it has antibacterial properties, help prevent heart disease and have anti aging component.

Peppermint: Peppermint tea is a good pick me up tea. It has antispasmodic and digestive properties hence it is a great digestive drink to consume after a heavy meal. Peppermint tea is also good for head colds.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Selecting The Right Vase


 
Flowers arranged in a vase simply look stunning and are known to suit all types of rooms and decor.  Whether it is a home, office, mall, or a business establishment, vases with colorful flowers are a pleasant sight. There is a wide range of containers available in the floral business and choosing one of them can be tricky. Whether you use ordinary flowers or exotic flowers, it can completely change the look of the arrangement if place them in the appropriate vase.

Here is a list of tips that shall help you with the selection of the right vase:

a) The first thing that needs to be considered is the size. Vases are available in all sorts of different sizes. If you have few flowers, select a small vase, whereas if a bunch of flowers need to be arranged that you need to select a large flower vase with a wide opening.



b) The height of the vase should also be considered. As a thumb rule, the ideal height of a vase is half in length than that of flowers. Lilies and daffodils have longer blooms, and hence they blend perfect with a tall vase. On the other hand, for close cut flowers such as daises and roses, a low, wide containers are best. 
 
c) Assure that the flower vase never overpowers the flowers. If they are over decorated and too colorful then they would distract from the beauty of the flowers.

d) It is advisable to select a vase that blends with the flowers as well as the room d├ęcor. They should also serve as decorative items even when they are empty and on display.


e) The place where the vase is going to be placed also plays a vital role in the selection process. If the vases are to be placed on a shelf or a table, it is recommended to select vases with wider bases so that they do not topple over. If you want to place a vase outside the porch then select a taller vase so that it is noticeable.

f) Another factor that needs to be considered is the material of the flower vase. Flower vases are available in an array of materials. Glass flower vases can be expensive however they look stunning indoors. If you are looking for cheaper options, then you should go for terracotta, wooden or porcelain vases. 

When selecting your vase, consider your taste and preference above all other suggestions, what may seem out of the ordinary or not as beautiful to some, may be perfect for your personal taste, and that is the most important factor for your decision.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How To Make Floral Water


When winter arrives and the flowers go into hiding awaiting the first thaw, your home can benefit from a touch of early spring to brighten it up as well as cheer its occupants. One way is to fill your home with vases of fresh flowers so you can be reminded of their beauty during the long winter months ahead. Another way is to bring the smell of spring into your home with sweetly scented floral waters. Although you can buy floral waters online, it’s quick and inexpensive to make floral water of your own. This allows you to customize the fragrance to suit your preferences as well as the personality of your home. Here’s how to make floral water.
 
There are actually several ways to make flower water. Here are two of the easiest:
 
Make floral water: Use fresh flower petals
 
If you have access to fresh flower petals, you can use them to make flower water with only a few simple supplies. To make floral water, mix distilled water with alcohol in equal parts in a large glass bowl. In a separate glass bowl, place a cup of fresh flower petals. After thoroughly mixing the alcohol and distilled water, pour it over the flower petals until they’re completely covered with the liquid. Place the glass bowl in a warm place to allow the fragrance to permeate the water/alcohol mixture. Allow it to remain undisturbed for seven to ten days. At that time, strain it throughly a fine muslin cloth and pour into pretty glass bottles. It’s best to keep the bottles refrigerated to prolong the life of your flower water.
 

Make floral water: Using essential oils
 
The advantage to this method is you don’t have to wait for the petals to steep in the water. Visit your local health food store and choose your favorite floral essential oils. Keep in mind that floral fragrances may have different properties. For example, lavender essential oil promotes relaxation. Once you have the essential oils, fill a glass measuring cup with distilled water. Carefully add fifteen drops of your chosen fragrance oil and stir thoroughly. Add two drops of vitamin E oil to act as a natural preservative. Place into glass bottles and store in the refrigerator. Periodically, agitate the bottles to disperse the fragrance and shake the bottle well before using.
 
 
How to use your flower waters
 
Now that you have floral waters, what can you do with them? There are a myriad of ways to add a touch of spring with these simple-to-make fragrances. Pour floral water into a spray bottle and use it in place of a commercial air freshener. It will smell sweeter and be far healthier than the ones you buy in the store. Use it to spray your pillows or sheets as well as your drawers to give them a fresh scent. Just a little bit can add personality to a room. Keep a bottle handy and spray the air when you want to get a whiff of floral. It’ll give you the little lift you need until the snow melts and the beautiful springtime flowers reappear.

Friday, September 14, 2012

6 Indoor Plants That Love The Dark

It was a long search that took me more than ten years. But finally I found it - the indoor house plant that will brighten up the end of a corridor 5 meters from my front door. The Aspidistra, commonly known as the Cast Iron plant, has graced the drawing rooms of many an otherwise drab Victorian English manor, and now graces my suburban Sydney brick home.


Many gardening experts describe the Aspidistra as one of the toughest and most adaptable house plants. Its long blades of slender dark green or variegated dark green and white leaves shoot straight out from the soil but in clumps and up to 75 cm in height and 15 cm wide.

It is such a low maintenance plant much like an even-tempered woman who does not need any fussing over but still maintains its sweet nature. It needs very low light, average temperature and humidity and just occasional watering.


Other plants that do not need much light
Low-light plants are usually defined as those that can survive in 25 to 75 foot candles - that is, a spot that is 4 to 5 metres from a bright window, just enough light to read by comfortably, but where artificial lighting switched on by day would give a brightening effect.

You can easily find the Aspidistra in your local garden center nursery. In addition, five other plants that will suit very low light situations are the following:

Aglonema (Chinese Evergreen) which are among the few plants that prefer only moderate light and adapt well to low light. It has large dark green oval then tapering leathery leaves later developing a caney base.


Drachaena deremensis varieties (also know as Happy or Fortune Plants) which are slender leafed and usually white variegated. The Drachaena family are caney plants crested with decorative rosettes of straplike foliage.

Holly fern which adapts to low light and Boston fern a fishbone type of fern that will remain in low light for many months but need a spell in brighter light to rejuvenate.


Neanthe Bella or Parlor Palm which is more suited to low light situations than most palms.

Sanseviera (also known as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue) which stands low to very bright light has waxy, erect straplike leaves usually with cream-colored margins and an unusual banding of the grey-green center.

If you are finding it difficult to find a plant that will brighten up that dark corner, why not try one of these hardy and lovely favorites of mine?


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Flowers For Thanksgiving

In Canada and the United States, Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day was traditionally celebrated as a festival giving thanks to god for the harvest. 

 
Although historically a religious holiday today Thanksgiving is a secular holiday.


A favorite Thanksgiving holiday floral gift is a cornucopia filled with a floral arrangement. 


The cornucopia is typically a hollow, horn shaped wicker basket then filled with flowers. 


Traditional Thanksgiving flowers include carnations and chrysanthemums in the fall colors including red, yellow and bronze.

Monday, September 10, 2012

To Cut or Not to Cut—Flowers that Flourish

 
As you stroll through your garden admiring the delicate blossoms and bright blooms of spring, you envision a stunning centerpiece for your dining room table. Believing you have gathered exactly the flowers you need to create your fragrant masterpiece, you arrange them artfully in an antique vase and step back to admire your work.

Much to your dismay, half of them have wilted within an hour. Not every flower that thrives outside can live in a vase. Knowing what flowers to cut is the key to creating a striking flower arrangement that will pour forth fragrant beauty for weeks to come.

It is important to know what flowers to plant in your cutting flower garden and which ones to avoid clipping. You should also be aware of your gardening zone and what flowers thrive in your particular area. Below is just a sampling of flowers ideal for cutting gardens in zones 3-4.

Perennials

Anemone (Buttercup)--This showy flower features large saucer-shaped blooms. It grows best in moist, sandy soil and partial shade.


Columbine—The double layers of star-shaped blossoms are delicate in appearance, but the plant is very hardy. Columbine thrives in well-drained soil with full to partial sun.

Coreopsis—The scalloped blossoms of the Coreopsis make a splendid addition to any flower arrangement. The large, bushy plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun.

Delphinium (Larkspur)—This beauty features tall staffs of spurred blooms. The plant grows best in moist soil with full sun to light shade.


Bee Balm—These large, bright blossoms add sparkle to any bouquet. Bee Balm prefers well-drained soil and full to partial sun.

Sweet William—fragrant clusters of scalloped blossoms add a subtle touch of romance. Sweet William grows best in well-drained soil and thrives in full sun.

Some other perennials to consider include Chinese Lanterns, Foxglove, Gaillardia, Scabiosa, Veronica, and Yarrow. Peonies are wonderful to cut, but be careful of those ants who love to live inside peony blooms. I tend to leave those ones outside but if you must have peonies and don’t want the ants, perhaps call your florist. We tend to carry peonies regularly during the season!

Annuals
 
Red Butterfly Milkweed—Clusters of fiery red blossoms with golden crowns adorn this plant. The Red Butterfly Milkweed prefers well-drained soil and full sun.


Celosia (Cockscomb)—The Celosia boasts large fluffy plumes of ornamental blossoms. It enjoys moist, rich soil and full to partial sun.

Forget-Me-Not—The clusters of small blue blossoms with yellow centers are ideal for flower arrangements. Forget-Me-Nots prefer rich, moist soil and full sun.

Reseda (Mignonette)—The Reseda produces dense spikes of small blossoms. It boasts a spicy sweet fragrance and thrives in rich soil. This flower prefers full sun or partial shade.

Painted Tongue—The trumpet-shaped blossoms of this striking beauty make it a splendid addition to bouquets and arrangements. It thrives in rich, well-drained soil and full sun.

Zinnia—Bright and lovely Zinnias add excitement and color. They like well-drained soil and full sun.


Other annuals to consider include Bells of Ireland, Calendula, Bachelors’ Button, Cosmos, Salvia, Statice, Sweet Pea, and Verbena.

What Not to Plant

The best flowers for cut arrangements are those with sturdy stems and long lifespans. While a large variety of beautifully bright and fragrant flowers are ideal for cutting, some flowers simply are not meant to be clipped. Flowers with weak stems, such as poppies and pansies, will wilt quickly once they are cut off from their root systems. Additionally, flowers with short bloom times are better left flourishing in their natural environment. These would include lilacs, canna lilies, and daylilies. The daylily comes by its name honestly, as the delightful flowers only last a single day.

How to Cut Flowers


Even if your cutting garden blossoms forth with multitudes of brilliant blooms, you need to know how to properly cut your flowers to get the most life out of them. Timing is everything. The best time to cut flowers is in the early morning or evening. Stems should be cut at an angle with a non-serrated blade to expose the surface area of the stem. Cut flowers should immediately be placed in lukewarm water. Remove any leaves below the water line. Do not cut the thorns on roses. Removing the thorns causes roses to wilt faster.

Flowers are generally at their most fragrant in the morning, as they have stored nourishment through the night. Cutting flowers in the early morning hours is likely to produce a more fragrant bouquet.

I hope this helps when deciding upon what flowers you like for your garden. If you are like me, and want flowers in and outside the house than keep these ones in mind!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Beginners Guide to Home Composting

Composting your kitchen and garden waste is a great way to reduce the amount of waste you dispose of in your rubbish bin.  By composting your waste you can generate a free source of rich compost to help improve your garden, and also help to reduce global warming in the process.


How does home composting help to reduce global warming?
When sent to landfill organic waste is compressed under tonnes and tonnes of other waste types.  The organic waste therefore does not have enough access to air, which restricts the waste from being able to decompose properly.  Instead of decomposing, methane gas is produced which contributes to global warming.

The Compost Bin
The first step to start composting at home is to get a compost bin.  You can either purchase a compost bin or you can make your own.  Compost bins can be bought from the majority of garden centres.  The government funded Recycle Now Home Composting Campaign also sells discounted compost bins.

The next important step is to decide where to position the compost bin, which can affect the overall quality of the compost that is produced.  For best results place the bin in a well drained area which has good access to sunlight.  The drainage will enable excess water to drain out of the compost and placing the bin in a sunny spot helps to speed up the composting process.


What waste items can I put in my compost bin?
There are lots of everyday waste items from your garden and kitchen that can go into your compost bin.  These are broken down into ?Greens? and ?Browns?.  Greens are the type of items that provide moisture and nitrogen and are quick to rot.  Items classed as Greens includes:

Grass cuttings
Vegetable peelings
Leaves
Fruit
Tea bags
Weeds

Browns are waste items that take longer to rot but provide pockets of air, along with fibre and carbon.  This includes items such as:

Cardboard boxes
Newspapers (scrunched up)
Toilet roll tubes
Egg shells (crushed)
Shredded paper
Twigs and hedge clippings


How do I make a good quality compost?
To make a good quality compost it is important to use a good mix of both 'green' and 'brown' wastes.  It is simply a case of monitoring the compost and adding more waste depending on the look of the compost.  For example, if it looks too dry add more ?green? waste, and if it looks too wet add more ?brown? waste.  Every so often it is also a good idea to mix or turn the contents of your compost bin to add air.

How long will it take for my compost to be ready to use?
This will vary depending on the mixture of waste that is placed into the compost bin, the surrounding conditions and the weather.  In general it should take between 6 and 9 months for your finished compost to be ready to use.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pointsettias

Poinsettias are of course an important and honored symbol of the Christmas season, but with the right care and planning these beautiful flowers can last far beyond the holiday and bloom again the following year.  Poinsettias are among the most beautiful of all indoor flowers, and although the most common color is still red these stunning flowers now come in a variety of pinks, whites, peaches, yellows and even blues.  In addition to the traditional solid colored flowers, today poinsettias are available in a variety of speckled, marbled, and flecked varieties as well. 

 
The poinsettia is actually native to Mexico, where they grow wild as a perennial shrub, sometimes reaching ten feet or more in height.  Poinsettias are an important commercial crop wherever they are grown, and millions of these colorful flowers change hands every time the winter holidays roll around.
 
One of the most enduring myths surrounding the poinsettia is that it is a poisonous plant, but in fact a recent study has found that these plants are not toxic to either humans or pets.  It is a good idea, however, to keep these beautiful flowers out of the reach of pets, both for the protection of the pet and the protection of the poinsettia.  Although the flowers and leaves of the poinsettia are not toxic, their ingestion could cause stomach upset, especially in cats.  Poinsettias are indeed beautiful to look at, but they are not a food source for Fluffy or Fido.
Since poinsettias are so beautiful, and such an important part of the holiday season, it is important to choose the right variety, and to ensure that the plants chosen are healthy enough to last throughout the entire Christmas season.  It is important to look for a poinsettia which shows strong coloration throughout the branches, along with lots of healthy green foliage.
 
After the poinsettia has been brought home, it should be placed in a location with plenty of indirect sunlight and a moderate temperature.  The soil should be lightly to moderately moist, and over watering should be avoided.  In fact, over watering and high temperature are among the most common causes of problems with poinsettias.  It is also important to avoid cold drafts, so the poinsettia should be kept well away from doors and windows that are frequently opened.


After the blooming season is over, many gardeners will want to keep their poinsettia for next year.  If attempting to keep the poinsettia alive through the winter, it is important to wait until it has completely finished blooming, then cut the plant back and keep it in a cool and dark location.  When properly cared for, many poinsettias will bloom again with the approach of the winter season.