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Friday May 30th 2014

Flowers that Bloom in the Moonlight

Are you looking for some magic and romance in your life? If so, consider planting a moon garden full of plants that flower in the moonlight. Moon gardens are a great idea if you work during the daytime and don't get much time to enjoy day-blooming flowers. Imagine yourself unwinding from a busy day surrounded by fragrant flowers that seem to glow in the moonlight. If you can't think of many night-blooming flowers, I have some ideas for you.


The moonflower is a fast-growing tropical vine that is often used as an annual in colder regions. The flower is very similar to that of a morning glory flower but larger and pure white. This flower unfurls at twilight to welcome moths that serve as pollinators. In addition to being beautiful, this flower also has a lovely scent.

Evening-Scented Stock

This old-fashioned favorite may not have the showiest of flowers, but it makes up for that with its scent. Evening-scented stock is very easy to care for, grows up to two feet tall, and bears small lilac or white flowers. To me, they have a clove scent; however, some say they smell like roses or vanilla.

Night Phlox

This honey-scented flower is really not in the phlox family at all - it just looks quite similar to a white phlox flower. Deep pinkish-red buds provide interest during the day and open at night, smelling like candy and cake! Plant it under your window for sweet dreams.

Posted by Ava Rose in General
Thursday April 24th 2014

Hay Fever is neither hay nor fever, so what is it?

Hay Fever Story

By Leigh Fulghum

Image via Flickr from Brooke Novak

Isn't it curious that an attack of hay fever has nothing to do with being near hay or having a fever? This hay fever season, I decided to look deeper into the botany of the scourge we call "hay fever," beginning with its name.

Without a doubt, the descriptive phrase "hay fever" is much more pleasant to pronounce and spell than "summer catarrh," an earlier name used to describe the mucous-y outbreaks of June. June also being the hay season, a relationship was assumed. Our forefathers leaned toward more practical names for the June misery, like "hay asthma," "June cold," or "rose cold," all adding to our confusion over the condition.

"Seasonal allergic rhinitis" is the present medical term for hay fever. The term "seasonal allergic" implies an allergic response that occurs during the period of weeks when a particular plant is blooming and dispersing pollen. Hay fever sufferers are not ordinarily allergic until an irritant pollen is in the air.

Posted by Leigh Fulghum in General
Monday April 7th 2014

11 Unexpected Uses for Flowers

Flowers are more than just pretty faces. They have been used for centuries as sources of food, drink, medicines, and more; today, using flowers for these purposes is making a comeback. You may be surprised at some of the other practical ways that flowers can be used. I personally love making flower teas, crafts, and salads; I encourage you to try adding flowers to your diet and crafts as well.


Flowers have been used to make teas for centuries. Chamomile, jasmine, and bee balm flowers are just a few flowers that are used to make teas. Flowers, leaves, and roots from a variety of other plants can be used to make tea as well. These beverages often have health benefits in addition to being tasty drinks. I especially enjoy blooming teas, which are as beautiful as they are flavorful.

Image via Flickr by MsSaraKelly

Posted by Ava Rose in General
Wednesday March 19th 2014

Tips and Tricks for Flower Photography

Have you ever seen a flower so beautiful that you couldn't bear to see it die? Make the beauty of flowers last with flower photography. One summer, I actually received a bouquet of sunflowers and roses instead of making one for someone else. It was stunning, and I was so happy that I thought to photograph it; just looking at the pictures of it still brings a smile to my face and evokes fond memories of the happiness I felt when receiving it. I encourage you to try your hand at flower photography - you will be able to enjoy your flowers at any time of year this way, and you may even find a new hobby! Here are a few simple flower photography tips for the novice flower photographer.

Image via Flickr by Taras Kalapun

Posted by Ava Rose in General
Thursday March 6th 2014

Ever Wonder Why Flowers Make You Happy?

Image via Flickr by Frederic BISSON

People have been giving flowers for thousands of years - there is written evidence that ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Chinese civilizations all used flowers to communicate feelings, meanings, and ideas. Famous botanist and horticulturist Luther Burbank once said, "Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul." Burbank was ahead of his time; scientists have proven that Burbank was right in several studies. Of course, you and I have known that flowers make you happy for a long time - but did you ever wonder why?

A famous study conducted by researchers at Rutgers University found that flowers have both an immediate and long-term effect on mood - but why and how? One reason is probably due to color. The effect that color has on mood has been known for a long time. Flowers affect mood in different ways. Pinks, peaches, and warm colors tend to provide a feeling of nurturing and are great for people who are sick or grieving, while reds and oranges are known to be colors of passion and sensuality, for example. Blues and purples promote relaxation and tranquility, while bright, contrasting colors signal celebration. I love being surrounded by flowers at work and at home; I know from personal experience that they diffuse my stress as well as that of my co-workers.

Posted by Ava Rose in General
Friday February 21st 2014

Better Desktop Gardens

There's no denying the positive, revitalizing effects that live plants and flowers add to any decor. Our working and professional interior spaces can be made more relaxing, welcoming, and interesting with accent plants. So follow the urge to cultivate a bit of soothing green space at your own desk, where people are greeted, business is transacted, or simply hard and tedious work must be done.

It is on the desk or at the reception counter where a plant or arrangement of plants will be seen up close, where people are first impressed. Therefore, the first step to better desktop gardens is take home all scraggly dish gardens with bedraggled ribbons, plants with scale insects, spider mites, or mealy bugs, along with any plant which is not thriving. Revitalize these in private and get something new. Office plants and flowers should be healthy morale boosters for both desk occupant and visitor.

The principles of desktop gardening are simple and few.

  • Consider how much space you can comfortably allot to a container or plant. There may be room for something grand, or simply 3" for a green vine in a vase. Furniture surface is important- will condensation between the container and furniture surface cause damage?
  • Plant selections expected to last indoors usually have to be those with a low light requirement. Seasonal blooming plants vary in longevity and can be replaced on a schedule. But they shouldn't be kept on display past their period of looking vibrant. Shedding petals, dropping leaves, or moldering about the stems are disappointing to behold.
  • Soil, which many people perceive as "dirt," should not be seen in a decorative desktop planter, but covered with moss or stone, stone being the neatest overall option, since mosses can dry and become crumbly.
  • It is better to avoid cacti and bromeliads with spines for desk gardening. Also, Golden Pothos, though a hearty indoor plant, earned its common name "Devil's Ivy" because of the irritating sap which oozes when leaves or stems are broken.
Posted by Leigh Fulghum in General
Friday October 25th 2013

9 of the World's Beautiful But Deadly Flowers

Hello everyone and happy October! I thought with Halloween near, it would be a good time to discuss beautiful, deadly flowers with some haunting charm! Poison is a means of protection to keep plants from being eaten. Some flowers are famous for their poison and are well known, while others may come as a surprise. Who would think that the tiny, white, innocent looking lily of the valley could hurt anyone? Some flowers cause minor irritation and sickness while others can cause death; children and animals are most susceptible due to their small size and lack of knowledge. Look around and you may find that you are surrounded by some of the most poisonous flowers.

Lily of the Valley: These dainty perennials have small, nodding bell shaped blooms with a lovely scent that I adore-but all parts of the plants are toxic. If eaten in large quantity, this plant can cause disorientation, blurry vision and can affect your heart rhythm, possibly causing death. Cardiac glycosides which alter the rhythm of the heart are to blame.

Image via Flickr by Leo-Seta

Posted by Ava Rose in General
Monday October 21st 2013

Hold Your Nose For Some of These Foul Smelling Flowers

"Take time to stop and smell the roses," the saying goes...but some flowers will make you want to hold your noses! When I think of flowers, I think of lovely, colorful, great smelling plant parts, and you probably do too. Few of us picture odd looking monstrosities that smell like rotting flesh, but the fact is there are more than a handful of such smelly flowers in the world.

Believe it or not, there is a reason for the bad odor these flowers emit – the stench attracts the flowers' specific pollinators-flies, carrion beetles, and bats, for instance. Some of these stinky flowers are the biggest and strangest on earth. The Titan Arum, Carrion Flowers, and Rafflesia arnoldii, are some of the most famous stinking flowers.

The Titan Arum, commonly called the "corpse flower", is perhaps the most famous of these stinking flowers. Amorphophallus titanum is a giant stinky flower, growing up to ten feet tall and has the second largest unbranched inflorescence known to man-and I can tell you from experience, it smells like rotting meat. It is a very odd looking flower, with a very tall yellow/green center spike known as the spadix, and an encircling frilly modified leaf that is a reddish brown color called the spathe. The many small flowers that make up the inflorescence are on the bottom of the spadix. The nasty smell comes from chemicals that produce sulfur, and the plant starts to smell when the spathe unfurls. Titan Arums, native to Indonesian rainforests, are very rare in the wild and in captivity and they only flower every seven to ten years. The giant stinky flower only lasts two days then collapses; if fertilized, large bright orange seeds begin to develop on the inflorescence. Most of the time, the plant spends cycling between a dormant corm and a single leafed plant. The Arum family contains other stinky members, such as skunk cabbage and voodoo lilies. I do not recommend sending these in a bouquet…unless it's to maybe an ex-lover or former employer…ok; maybe they do have some good uses.

Image via Flickr by Roger Wollstadt

Posted by Ava Rose in General
Monday October 7th 2013

The Month of the Marigold: The October Birth Flower

Hello everyone, this is Ava and I want to wish you a happy fall! The season has arrived with the beautiful oranges, reds, and yellows that it is famous for. How appropriate that the October birth flower is the marigold, which comes in these same colors. Give a friend a bouquet of marigolds this month to celebrate a birthday or the coming of fall! This October flower is an old fashioned favorite due to its long lasting bloom time and hardiness. As humble as the marigold is, I was very surprised to learn of the October birth flower's rich history in my botanical studies.

Description of the October Birth Month Flower

Several plants bear the common name of marigold, but either the common red and gold native Mexican marigold or the calendula is considered the October birth flower. Although both plants share the common name of marigold, I can tell you that botanically they are not the same plant. Calendulas are yellow or orange daisy like flowers with either single or double petals from the daisy family and are native to the Mediterranean. Common marigolds are native to Mexico and the flowers are traditionally a mix of red and orange ruffled petals, but can be orange, yellow, red, cream, maroon, or a mix of red and orange.

Image via Flickr by Katy Warner

What's in a Name?

The calendula was the plant first named "marigold" -- the word marigold is a combination of the words "Mary's gold". These golden October flowers were placed on altars to Mary in place of golden coins. The marigold was also considered Mary's flower because it bloomed during festivals in honor of Mary. The scientific name, Calendula officinalis, got its name because the plant always bore flowers on the calendae, or first days of the month. Over time, other flowers became known as marigolds as well, especially the similarly colored Mexican flowers of the Tagetes genus that we think of when we hear the word marigold today.

Posted by Ava Rose in General
Monday September 9th 2013

Profile of the Aster Flower - The Birth Flower for September

Give that special someone the stars when you send a birthday bouquet this month that includes the aster, the September birth flower. Aster is the Latin and Greek word for star, and historically asters were often called starwort or star flower. The September flower truly is one of the stars of fall, as it gives a great burst of color to the season when many other flowers are dying.

Image via Flickr by Markles55

So here's the run down on the awesome aster:

There are several types of asters, some of which grow wild in the United States. You have probably seen them and maybe considered them weeds; I often see the small, white, daisy like flowers growing along country roadsides when I travel. The September flower does, in fact, resemble a star in shape with a yellow disc at the center and elongated petals radiating from the disc. The yellow disc is actually comprised of several tiny tubular flowers. Asters come in shades purple, pink, red, and white. The birth flower for September may also have many layers of petals giving a ruffled appearance, or a single layer of petals. Many types of asters are popular to grow in the garden, such as the New England aster; however the aster most commonly used in floral arranging is the China aster, which is native to China and Japan. China asters look a lot like chrysanthemums, with doubled petals and flowers reaching approximately four inches in diameter.

September Flower of the Month: Asters for Fall Color (pdf)

Posted by Ava Rose in General