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Wednesday June 25th 2014

Flowers for the Bees, Birds, and Butterflies

Let me tell you about the birds and the bees... oh, and the butterflies, too! You don't need to have a large or expensive garden to attract pollinators to your garden; in fact, birds, bees, and butterflies love what some of us consider weeds. The key to attracting birds, bees, and butterflies is to plant a wide variety of flowering annuals, perennials, and shrubs that are rich in nectar and that bloom at different times so there is always food available. It is also important to curtail use of pesticides and to provide shelter and water in your garden. One way to provide food and shelter is to leave seed heads and dead foliage standing on plants, especially over the winter - this is great news to me, since it means I don't have to tidy up my garden! Here are a few of my favorite flowers for attracting birds, bees, and butterflies.

Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea

Photo via e_chaya (Flickr)

Posted by Ava Rose in General
Thursday June 5th 2014

Creatures Disguised as Flowers

Some of the most fascinating and beautiful creatures are those that disguise themselves as flowers; of course, since I am a florist… I might be a little biased! Many insects wear a flower disguise in order to protect themselves from predators by blending in to their surroundings; on the other hand, some blend in to ambush unwary prey. However, not all flower-like creatures live on land-one look at sea anemones, crinoids, and certain fish and you will realize that the ocean is an underwater garden. Here are some stunning photos of seven creatures that look like flowers.

Malaysian Orchid Mantis

If there was a contest for which creature looked the most like a flower, the orchid mantis would be the winner. In fact, when this mantis was first discovered in 1879 by journalist James Hingsley, he thought he had found a carnivorous orchid! The orchid mantis doesn't just hide among the flowers to ambush a meal-it can sit out in the open all by itself and wait for insects that are attracted to flowers to come directly to it. In fact, it does a better job at attracting insects than real flowers do!

Image via Flickr from alcuin la

Posted by Ava Rose in General
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