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Friday, October 26, 2012

Flowers of The Month

The Edmonton Sun - June, 2011

Many individuals are aware of their birth stone. However, each month also has at least one flower that has a specific meaning for individuals born during that month.

The carnation is one of January's flowers. The color of the carnation is said to determine the meaning of the individual flower. White carnations are associated with purity, love, and luck. Pink carnations are a symbol of femininity and motherly love. Striped or purple carnations are rarely associated with the birth flowers because purple is linked to impulsive behavior and striped carnations are linked to regret.

The snowdrop is the less common alternate January birth flower. Interestingly, a substance in the snowdrop is used in Alzheimer's treatments.

Enduring faith and wisdom are represented by the iris for those born in February. Irises also come in a variety of colors, but less emphasis is placed on individual meaning for each color.

Violets are popular flowers, partly due to the heart-shaped petals. These plants have many uses, including use as decorations and as food additives.

The primrose, another February flower, grows expansively across open ground and blooms earlier than many of the spring blooming plants.

Daffodils are an ideal birth flower due to their association with beginnings. In some cultures, the additional meaning of rebirth also adds to the daffodil's symbolism.

The alternate birth flower for March, the jonquil, is a variation of the daffodil that has been cultivated to have certain visual differences.

The daisy, more than many other flowers, is associated with childhood and innocence. The different colors represent various meanings, such as playfulness and cheer.

The sweet pea, April’s alternate birth flower, is a resilient climbing plant that begins to bloom during the month of April.

Lilies are associated with many of the aspects of a newborn child, including virtue and sweetness. The white Madonna lily has been associated with the story of the Virgin Mary.

The meaning of the hawthorn, another May birth flower, is attributed to the flower's natural uses. Animals and insects feed on various parts of the flower, which reflects sustenance. Substances derived from the plant have been used to treat illnesses related to the heart, reflecting good health and endurance.

The ever popular rose is one of the June birth flowers. The different colors all possess different meaning, including red for love and white for purity.

Another June flower, honeysuckle, is also associated with love.

Larkspur lacks the seriousness of many birth symbols. It is associated with lightness and playfulness.

The water lily, another July flower, possesses a seed that can remain viable for up to 2,000 years.

The beautiful gladiola symbolizes infatuation. The additional meanings of strength and integrity are also associated with this bold flower, which derives its name from the Latin word for "sword."

The poppy, a resilient flower that is also an August birth flower, stands for fertility, eternal life, and lasting beauty. These flowers are a favorite for everyday occurrences and memorials.

Strength of body, mind, and spirit are linked to the aster. Some cultures have also used the aster to recognize a fallen soldier's bravery.

The morning glory, which blooms in the morning and dies before the next day begins, symbolizes affection.

Like morning glories, marigolds also symbolize affection. Due to the flower’s association with the Virgin Mary, grace and elegance are also portrayed by the morning glory.

Cosmos is a flower linked to harmony, possibly due to the ease of growing the plant and integrating the flower into a garden.

November only has one flower. The flower for November is the chrysanthemum. The flower has been connected to the sun and happiness. Upon blooming, the petals unfold in an orderly fashion, leading some cultures to associate the flower with perfection.

A plant associated with December, as well as with winter in general, is the poinsettia. The poinsettia symbolizes cheer and joy.

Narcissus, another December birth flower, is associated with sweetness and self-esteem.

Holly, a holiday and winter flower, symbolizes happiness in the home and protection from evil spirits.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Flowers And Seniors Study

Published in the Edmonton Sun - April 2011

Sending flowers to cheer someone up when they are depressed, ill or lonely has long been a traditional form of expressing care and concern. Senior citizens perhaps fall into the category of depressed individuals more than any other group of people. Elderly individuals often develop a form of depression connected with memory loss, lack of socialization, illness and other common factors of growing older. Friends and family members of senior citizens often will send flowers to their loved one in an effort to ease their anxiety and unhappiness. Or sometimes just to brighten their day. It wasn’t until recently that researchers at Rutgers University discovered exactly how much of an effect sending flowers can actually have on senior citizens.
The Research
Approximately 100 seniors were selected to participate in the flower study. In an effort to eliminate inadequate results, the participants were not told of the initial reason for the research. The seniors selected for the study were only informed that a research experiment was being conducted for which they had been selected to participate.  The recipients of the flowers were simply told that the bouquets served as a thank you for participating in the study. A series of interviews were conducted throughout the study in order to evaluate the overall health, mood and satisfaction level of the participants.

The initial interview was used to gather baseline information about each individual. Subsequent interviews measured the changes in mood and behavior of the seniors. Once the series of interviews was completed, the participants were asked questions regarding their memory of the flowers they received, their daily social lives and current events. The participants of the study were divided into 4 groups:

1)      The Early Group – This group received flowers after an initial baseline interview. This bouquet was the only one the participants of the group received during the duration of the study.
2)      The Late Group – The participants in this group only received a bouquet of flowers before the last interview.
3)      The All Flowers Group – The seniors in this group received a bouquet of flowers twice during the study.
4)      The No Flowers Group- This group only received flowers after the completion of the study. No flowers were received during the course of the interviews.

The Results
Researchers carefully evaluated the changes in behavior and mood of the participants in conjunction with how often and at what point the participants received flowers during the course of the study. The results concluded that receiving flowers no only decreases depression in seniors, but also has the ability to improve the memory and encourage social interaction!

Seniors who participated in the study showed a marked display of increased satisfaction and happiness when flowers were received. In addition, a substantial percentage of participants exhibited a significant improvement in personal memory and social interaction after they receive flowers. Many of them began to include a larger number of social contacts in their daily lives and demonstrated an overall satisfaction and happiness.

This research conducted by Rutgers University indicates that flowers may play a more significant role in the life of seniors than was first suspected. People who are happier tend to live longer and healthier lives.  I can personally attest to this as I would always bring my Grandma and Grandpa flowers on my weekly visit! I still remember the smile it brought and it is one of my fondest memories! Try it! You won’t regret it!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

8 Tried & Tested Ways To Make Flowers Last Longer

It’s a tried-and-true way to keep roses and other cut flowers fresh longer: Put a crushed aspirin in the water before adding your flowers. Other household items that you can put in the water to extend the life of your flower arrangements include: a multivitamin, a teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of salt and baking soda, and even a copper penny. Also, don’t forget to change the vase water every few days.

Freshly cut flowers will stay fresh longer if you add 1/4 teaspoon bleach per quart (1 liter) of vase water. Another popular recipe calls for 3 drops bleach and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 quart (1 liter) water. This will also keep the water from getting cloudy and inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Your posies and other cut flowers will stay fresh longer if you add a copper penny and a cube of sugar to the vase water.

Hair Spray
Just as it preserves your hairstyle, a spritz of hair spray can preserve your cut flowers. Stand a foot away from the bouquet and give them a quick spray, just on the undersides of the leaves and petals.

Don’t throw away those last drops of soda. Pour about 1/4 cup into the water in a vase full of cut flowers. The sugar in the soda will make the blossoms last longer. Note: If you have a clear vase and want the water to remain clear, use a clear soda, like Sprite or 7-Up.

Make your own preservative to keep cut flowers fresh longer. Dissolve 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar per quart (liter) of warm water. When you fill the vase, make sure the cut stems are covered by 3-4 inches (7-10 centimeters) of the prepared water. The sugar nourishes the plants, while the vinegar inhibits bacterial growth. You’ll be surprised how long the arrangement stays fresh!

Everyone likes to keep cut flowers around as long as possible, and there are several good methods. One way is to mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar with the vase water before adding the flowers. Be sure to change the water (with more vinegar and sugar, of course) every few days to enhance your flowers’ longevity.

The secret to keeping cut flowers looking good as long as possible is to minimize the growth of bacteria in the water and to provide nourishment to replace what the flower would have gotten had it not been cut. Add a few drops of vodka (or any clear spirit) to the vase water for antibacterial action along with 1 teaspoon sugar. Change the water every other day, refreshing the vodka and sugar each time.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Significance Of Easter Lilies And Other Blooms

Published In The Edmonton Sun April 17,2011

Early springtime sunshine often brings with it the glorious fragrance and beauty of nature blossoming upon the world. For centuries, we have associated certain types of flowers with specific meanings and values. We often use flowers as a way to express a particular sentiment of emotion. Easter Lilies and other spring flowers carry with them a significant meaning. Most often, the meaning associated with each flower is embedded in the history, legends, and characteristic qualities of the particular bloom.
Easter Lily

The magnificent white lily known as the Easter Lily has long stood as a symbol of purity, hope, innocence and peace. Also called the Bermuda lily, the Trumpet lily, and Jacob’s Tears, the Easter lily is a biblical flower commonly associated with the resurrection of Christ.

In Christian tradition, the Easter lily signifies rebirth and a new beginning. It is said that beautiful white lilies sprang up in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus wept in the last hours before he was betrayed by Judas. Another legend claims that the white lilies grew from the repentant tears shed by Eve upon her departure from Paradise.
The lily is mentioned frequently throughout the bible and serves today as a beautiful reminder of the significance of the Easter season. Easter lilies grace homes and churches each spring as a symbol of purity, joy, hope and life.
The Crocus

This isn’t found as a cut flower typically, but I had to mention it as it such a magnificent symbol of spring in Edmonton. Often the first flower to appear each spring, written documentation of the crocus dates back as far as 1500 years before Christ. Highly valued in ancient times for its medicinal and herbal properties, the crocus was widely used in a number of ancient festivals and celebrations as a symbol of love and youthful joy.

Legends circling this early spring flower include that of a young and noble shepherd boy named Crocus who fell deeply in love with a sprightly nymph by the name of Smilax. According to this legend, the Gods were so deeply touched by Crocus’ love that they granted him immortal life in the form of a flower.
Another legend tells of the Roman Physician, Valentinus, who was jailed and sentenced to death for practicing Christianity. The blind daughter of the jailer was a patient of the physician. Just before being executed on February 14, 250AD, Valentinus handed the girl a note. Knowing of the healing properties of the flower, Valentinus wrapped a bright yellow Crocus in the message. When the girl opened the note, her sight was restored and she red the words, “From your Valentine”

The daffodil is also commonly referred to as the narcissus. It serves as the symbolic flower for the American Cancer Society, representing hope, bravery and new beginnings. As one of the early flowers of spring, the daffodil beautifully withstands the strong winds and storms of the season. Its sturdy and strong stem holds up through the harsh winds of spring, supporting the bright and vibrant petals of the flower.

According to ancient legend, the daffodil, or narcissus, also can serve as a symbol of unrequited love, vanity and egotism. Greek Mythology tells of a love-stricken wood nymph named Echo who fell hopelessly in love with a young man by the name of Narcissus. The young man was so self-consumed with his own beauty and vanity that he carelessly tossed aside Echo’s attentions. The Gods were angered by Narcissus’ actions and placed a curse upon him causing the young man to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. As he stayed beside his reflection, yearning for his unrequited love, he slowly was turned into a beautiful flower, destined to stare at his reflection forever.

Tulips are seen as a symbol of perfect love, imagination, and wistfulness. Various colors of tulips often carry various meanings. Red tulips are often seen as representing perfect and irresistible love. Yellow tulips signify hopeless love, white tulips symbolize forgiveness, and purple tulips denote royalty and nobility.

Turkish legend tells of a young prince by the name of Farhad who fell desperately in love with the beautiful maiden, Shirin. When Farhad received word that Shirin had been killed, he was so overcome with grief that he rode his horse over the edge of a cliff. Legend claims that a red tulip grew from each droplet of blood.

The tulip is also the flower of the 11
th wedding anniversary. The velvety dark center of the flower is said to symbolize the heart of a passionate lover. In addition to its many other meanings, the tulip also represents grace and elegance.

The beautiful and elegant iris serves as a symbol of wisdom, faith, and valor. It is said that the flower received its name from the Greek goddess of the rainbow. Iris relayed messages from the eye of Heaven to the earth. She also carried the duty of leading the souls of women to the Elysian Fields when they died. Men often planted a single iris on the graves of their beloved as a symbol of their respect. 

The iris is also often used by French and English royalty as a symbol of God’s blessing upon the throne. Legend claims that an angel awarded Clovis, king of the Franks, with a golden iris upon his conversion to Christianity. The flower became a symbol of purity, light, and perfection.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Making A Cornucopia

(c) Karen's Gardening Tips - November 25th, 2009

 Thanksgiving offers you the opportunity to make a flower arrangement in a container that is unique to the holiday, a cornucopia. The word comes from the Latin words cornus (horn) and copia (supply, abundance) so it is literally a “horn of plenty” and should be filled to overflowing with foliage, flowers, and/or fruits and vegetables. The key to making a pleasing arrangement in a cornucopia is capturing the look and feel of abundance.

Materials and Supplies:

Cornucopia: made of wicker, twigs, or any other material that will accommodate a flower arrangement. A variety of these are available in craft stores (and second hand stores)

Water tight container: should fit  partially into the cornucopia and will accommodate a piece of floral foam. I used a utility florist container but you could also use any plastic tub such as the one that contain cottage cheese or margarine. You will probably have to cut them down by an inch.

Floral foam: enough to fit snuggly into container; usually about ½ block.

Foliage: at least 3 different kinds of greens that provide contrast in texture and color. Some foliage may come with the flowers you buy, but your garden and house plants may be able to provide all that you need. Some possibilities are boxwood, eucalyptus, privet, rosemary, fern, Indian hawthorn, nandina, clethyra, euonymus, acuba and oak (red or arrange).

Flowers in fall colors: my mixed bouquet from the supermarket had mums, sunflowers, mini carnations and statice. I added some black eyed Susan’s from my garden.

Fruits: includes berries, miniature cattails, grasses, Italian wheat, lotus pods and rose hips that look good with the flowers, as well as mini pumpkins, grapes, apples, and pears that can be used alone without flowers.

Florist wire: about 18” or enough to anchor container to cornucopia.

Florist picks: (optional) to secure fruits and berries into foam.

Florist tape: (optional) to secure foam in container.


1. Soak the foam in tepid water until saturated. Don’t hurry this process by pushing the foam down into the water as you will create air pockets that will not supply the plant stems with water. Just let the foam sink on its own as it fills with water.

2. Meanwhile, using the florist wire, secure the container into the cornucopia so that you have as much of the foam sticking out of the cornucopia as possible. Drilling small holes in the container will greatly facilitate this process, which is the hardest thing about this whole arrangement.

3. Cut the saturated foam slightly larger than the container so that it will fit very snuggly and you won’t have to tape it in. Make sure the foam stands at least 1-2” higher than the edge of the container.

4. Add the foliage. start with the long, finer textured foliage and set the outer limits of the height and length of your arrangement. Make sure that some of the long stems are set into the upper part of the foam and extend downward onto the table surface.  If you have Italian wheat, mini cattails, or other tall material, add it to the upper and/or lower foliage.

5. Fill in with shorter sprigs of greenery. Don’t try to completely cover the foam.

6. You will be adding flowers and other material that will cover it. Put smaller flowers like pompom mums high up and further out front. Put the large flowers towards the center. Be sure to turn your arrangement as you work so you don’t leave any parts bare.

7. Add berries to small areas between flowers. If the berry stems are too short, wire them to florist picks. If you have no picks you can fashion some from twigs just make sure that you cut the end of each twig so that it is square in cross section. If you don’t do this the twig may turn in the foam, digging a hole in the foam and changing the position of the berries. Fruits (and vegetables) can be added by sticking one end of the fruit or vegetable and the other in the foam.

8. Add water to the container. Do this every day as the flowers and foliage will use a large amount of water and the container and foam do not hold nearly enough to keep the flowers fresh.

9. Place the arrangement in a cool dark place like a garage until the big event. This will keep them looking their best. Avoid placing the arrangement in sun light or near heating vents.

10. Snip out dead flowers and leaves as they appear to keep the arrangement looking nice. Some flowers, like mini carnations will last over a week and can look very nice with the greenery even when the other flowers have died and been removed.
The cornucopia arrangement is basically one sided, or at most, two sided, rather than round so it is best used on a side board or buffet table rather than on the dinning room table.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Anniversary Dates, Associated Florals, Traditional & Modern Gifts

1st Pansy Paper    Clock
2nd Cosmos Cotton    China
3rd Fuchsia Leather    Crystal, Glass
4th Geranium Books    Electrical Appliances
5th Daisy Wood    Silverware
6th Tulip Sugar, Candy    Wood
7th Jack-in-the-Pulpit Wool    Copper Desk Sets
8th Clematis Bronze, Pottery    Linens, Laces
9th Poppy Pottery, Willow    Leather
10th Daffodil Tin, Aluminum    Diamond Jewelry
11th Morning Glory Steel    Fashion Jewelry
12th Peony Silk, Linen    Pearls
13th Hollyhock Lace    Textiles
14th Dahlia Ivory    Gold Jewelry
15th Rose Crystal    Watches
20th Day Lily China    Platinum
25th Iris Silver    Sterling Silver
30th Sweet Pea Pearl    Diamond
35th Tiger Lily Coral    Jade
40th Nasturtium Ruby    Ruby
45th Blue Rose Sapphire    Sapphire
50th Violet Gold    Gold
55th Gerbera Daisy Emerald    Emerald
60th Calla Lily Diamond    Diamond
75th White Rose Diamond    Multi - Diamond