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Flower Blog Archive - May 2006

The Flower Expert welcomes the flower enthusiasts to the special feature - Flower Blogs where the flower lovers can share the knowledge about flowers and flower related topics with the flower admiring community world-wide.

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In addition, the Step-by-Step Guide To Flower Blog gives you a a detailed notes on how to blog on flowers.

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Second Opinion: Good Health Blooms

By Dr. Murray Feingold/ Daily News Correspondent
Now that warmer weather has arrived, many people will start participating in a very, very common leisure activity -- gardening.
For some reason, in spite of its tremendous popularity, gardening frequently goes unheralded. This is unfortunate because gardening is not only pleasurable and productive, but it is also a very healthy pastime.
Gardening is a form of exercise. Studies have shown that it is beneficial to one's health. Granted, gardening usually consists of only mild to moderate exercise, but when done three or four times a week it has a positive cumulative effect on the gardener's health.
There are more benefits to gardening than just its physical value. There has been a recent surge of interest in utilizing the beneficial emotional effects of gardening. This is called horticulture therapy: the use of gardening to treat various emotional difficulties such as depression, anxiety states and other psychological maladies.
There is something uplifting about working outdoors and watching what you have planted grow, be it a flower or a vegetable. But gardening can also be associated with a variety of physical woes. Continual bending, digging, pulling out weeds and other maneuvers that are needed to make a garden flourish, can result in backaches and joint pains.
In an attempt to prevent these afflictions, a large industry has emerged with the goal of making ergonomic tools for gardeners. Ergonomics is the science concerned with designing safe and comfortable products to help prevent injuries and stress on various body parts. Look for garden tools that are designed to place less strain on your body, a body that more than likely has had too much stress placed on it already.
Also, don't get into uncomfortable positions for long periods of time or use repetitive motions. This can result in muscle and joint aches and pains. Bask in the fruits of your gardening labors, whether it is eating a delicious tomato you have grown or enjoying the aroma of the flowers that have blossomed under your loving tender care. But these are not the only benefits of gardening. As a result of all of your work you are now a healthier person.
Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of the National Birth Defects Center, medical editor of CBS4 TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show Awards

The Royal Horticultural Society has announced the medal and award winners.
The Daily Telegraph Garden, designed by Tom Stuart-Smith, now six-time Chelsea Gold medal winner, was awarded an RHS Gold Medal and Best in Show in the show garden category. Bob Sweet, RHS Shows Organiser, said: “Tom’s creativity excited the judges. The Daily Telegraph Garden displays a risqué choice of plants including Viburnum rhytidifolium, which is an unusual plant to use in association with pastel herbaceous plants. The Garden also features one of the more fashionable materials emerging from this year’s show, ‘Corten-Steel’, which provides a rusty brown appearance to the backdrop of the garden. One of the more unique features of the garden is the water feature with resonating ripples.”
Bournemouth Borough Council was awarded a Gold Medal and the coveted President’s Award, which is given to one exhibit in the Great Pavilion, chosen by the RHS President, Sir Richard Carew Pole, as his personal favourite. Speaking about the exhibit, Sir Richard Carew Pole said, "It demonstrates the pride and professionalism of local authority horticulture and should do much to attact visitors and economic benefits to the Bournemouth area. It is highly imaginative and has attracted a lot of positive comment from some of the most descerning gardening public".
Six further Gold Medals were awarded to Show Gardens: Cleve West for his Saga Insurance Garden; Chris Beardshaw for The Chris Beardshaw Wormcast Garden - 'Growing for Life’ at Boveridge House; Andy Sturgeon, who also won a gold last year, for the Cancer Research UK Garden; Dean Herald for the Fleming’s Nurseries Australian Garden presented by Trailfinders; Marcus Barnett and Philip Nixon for The Savills Garden; Sarah Eberle for her first Show Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Walking Barefoot with Bradstone.
This year’s show featured 27 small gardens, six of which were awarded RHS Gold Medals. Best in Show in the Courtyard Garden category was awarded to Diane Appleyard, Paul Ashton, Dawn Johnson, Simon Street and John Walker for their A Garden for Robin. Kazuyuki Ishihara was awarded Best in Show in the Chic Garden category for Ao Arashi (The Blue Storm). Caspar Gabb took Best in Show in the City Garden category for The Green Room.
A total of 44 RHS Gold Medals were presented to floral exhibitors in the Great Pavilion where the cream of the world’s horticulture comes together under one roof. Bob Sweet said, “The long cold spring has not made things easy for growers, but despite everything the weather could throw at them, the Great Pavilion is simply stunning. For example, Kirstenbosch, South Africa, has managed to stage a brilliant display in spite of the bush fires which swept their stock. At a time when there is a critical green skills shortage in Britain’s parks, a local authority has wowed the judges to win Gold and the President’s Award. And there are some stunning new hybrids to continue to improve the palette of plants available to the gardener.” See the detailed list of awaed winners...

Fleur de Lis Festival Nurtures Gardeners' Enthusiasm

By Darla Carter
The waterfront seemed to be sprouting with new greenery and blooms as the annual Fleur de Lis Festival attracted gardening enthusiasts and vendors to Louisville for a balmy day of horticultural revelry.
"We're all kind of crazy flower people," said Mary Zirnheld, president of the Louisville Area Daylily Society, which was among more than 40 vendors.
The festival, which revolves around plants and the city's fleur de lis symbol, is put on by Botanica Inc., a local nonprofit horticultural organization.
It's a fundraiser for the group and also supports its efforts to establish a botanical garden in the metro area, said Botanica's president, Judith Hunt.
A desire to see the project realized helped to draw Carolyn Cutshall to the event, which is in its fifth year.
"I support Botanica and I support their efforts to get a botanical garden down here," she said.
Cutshall, who belongs to a master gardeners' group in Scott County, Ind., was picking up lemon-scented basil from a booth occupied by The Herb Shack, a Louisville business owned by Jennifer Shackleton. Read more...

The Flowering Season of Trees

By Paul g. Wiegman
When we think about flowering trees, we usually conjure up colorful, conspicuous, showy shadbushes, dogwoods, crabapples and other species with big, bright blossoms. They are some of the most memorable flowering trees; however, they are not the only flowering trees. The fact is that all trees have flowers of some kind.
Botanically, flowers are the structures of a plant that either produce pollen or have a structure on which pollen lands and fertilization takes place, resulting in a seed. All trees have seeds and so at one time during the season had flowers. We don't think of tree flowers much, because they are often at the top and we seldom see them, or they are small and inconspicuous.
All trees in Western Pennsylvania flower in the spring or early summer except one. Witch hazel is a small tree, and it blooms in October, usually providing the last flowers of the season.
Some trees are in flower as early as February. Then, red maples begin to open petal-less blossoms with bright red stamens covered with pollen. Red maples have no need for showy blossoms, because their pollen is carried to the female parts of the tree by wind.
Later in the spring, birches dangle long, pendulous, male flowers called catkins. These are so rife with pollen that touching birch catkins produces a yellow cloud of free-floating pollen. With all the various trees shedding copious amounts of pollen, no wonder allergies are rampant in the spring.
However, many other trees have flowers with real petals that attract flying insects to spread pollen. On one of my middle-of-May walks along the Great Allegheny Passage in Ohiopyle State Park, I was fortunate to come across two native trees in full flower.
The first was a native maple. Now, we usually think of maples as big, tall, forest trees such as red, silver and of course sugar maples. However, there are two native maples in the Allegheny Mountains that are small trees that never get much more than 20 feet tall. These are mountain maple and striped maple.
The leaves on both are the typical maple shape with three to five lobes. Because they are small trees growing in the shade of larger forest species, they have large leaves to gather as much light as possible. On older trees of these two species, a good way to tell them apart is the bark.
Striped maple has a dark green bark with thin, vertical, white stripes, giving it its common name. Another common name is moosewood. I researched that moniker and couldn't find exactly why it is used, but the small tree is more common to the Northeast along the Appalachian Mountains, and one reference mentioned that moose browsed on twigs during the winter. I suppose that is where the moosewood name came from. Don't expect to see moose in the moosewood groves on Laurel Ridge, though. Read More...

Succulent Beauties: Sesbania grandiflora and Bixa orellana

By Lam Peng Sam
There are many small trees that we see growing in parks and gardens, some of which can be usefully planted in small urban gardens.
Color and aesthetics are our main criteria and if these plants have culinary uses besides being colourful, they would have added value.
The Sesbania species from the family Leguminosae is no stranger in most Asian countries. Native to North eastern Asia, it is widely seen in the islands of Mauritius, India and (tropical) Australia. Sesbania is a very common tree in Malaysia and is widely planted for the edible leaves and flowers. Both the white and magenta species are edible, white being the most common.
Sesbania grandiflora or Agati grandiflora is an evergreen small tree with exceptionally large butterfly-like pendulous blooms in short axillary racemes. It can grow up to 6-8 metres high. Leaves are bipinnate up to 30cm long, consisting of 20-30 pairs of thin succulent oblong leaflets, pale green in colour and slightly glaucescent.
The flowers are large and very conspicuous with the keels (of the pea flowers) extending slightly longer than the standard petals — the whole flower structure is very succulent.
Bixa Orellana is another lovely ornamental plant much planted in playgrounds and small urban parks. Commonly known as the Anatto, Bixa is native to tropical South America, it was introduced to this part of the world by the early Spaniards.
In its native home in South America the local Indians used it (the dye from the red fruits) as a body paint. This densely crowned tree-shrub can grow up to 6-7 metres high with multiple branching and bearing pretty five-petalled pink flowers and is popular in most tropical gardens including Malaysia. Read more...

State Flower Pages on The Flower Expert Updated

The Flower Expert has updated the content for the following State Flower Pages-
Alabama State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Alabama State Flower (Camellia)
Alaska State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Alaska State Flower (Forget me not)
Arizona State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Arizona State Flower (cactus blossom)
Arkansas State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Arkansas State Flower (Apple blossom)
California State Flower - Discusses in detail about the California State Flower (Golden Poppy)
Colorado State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Colorado State Flower (Columbine Flower)
Connecticut State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Connecticut State Flower (Mountain Laurel)
Delaware State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Delaware State Flower (Peach blossom)
Florida State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Florida State Flower (Orange blossom)
Georgia State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Georgia State Flower (Cherokee Rose)
Hawaii State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Hawaii State Flower (Hawaiian Hibiscus)
Kentucky State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Kentucky State Flower (Goldenrod)
Pennsylvania State Flower - Discusses in detail about the Pennsylvania State Flower (Mountain Laurel)
South Carolina State Flower - Discusses in detail about the South Carolina State Flower (Yellow jessamine).

Ivy, Ivy and Ivy

Ivies are an exciting group of vining plants that are gaining more attention these days! The English ivy, Hedera helix, is perhaps best known for its evergreen foliage that is often used as a groundcover year-round. Its foliage is also capable of clothing brick or stone walls and fences.
In addition to the English ivy, Hedera helix, there are a number of other species of true ivy. The best known are: Hedera colchica, which has a form, 'Dentata', that is widely used as a groundcover in hardiness zone 5 and southward. Hedera canariensis, the Algerian or Canary ivy, sometimes known as Hedera algeriensis, it also comes in a variegated form called 'Gloire de Marengo'. Hedera rhombea, the Japanese ivy, is native to Japan. Hedera nepalensis, the Nepal ivy, is found in the Himalayas, Afghanistan and western China. Hedera pastuchovii, (Russian Ivy), is an Asiatic species native to the Caucasus Mts. near the Black Sea.
But some plants called ivy are really not ivies at all. The Boston ivy, which is used in northern climates to cover buildings, belongs to the genus Parthenocissus, turns red in the fall and loses its leaves. It is not evergreen. Most of the other plants labeled as ivies are plants of tropical origin and are commonly used as houseplants. This group of so-called ivies includes: grape-ivy (Cissus rhombifolia), German-ivy (Senecio mikanioides), Swedish-ivy (Plectranthus oertendahlii), and Kenilworth-ivy (Cymbalaria muralis). Poison-ivy (Rhus toxicodendron) is also not a true ivy.
Water thoroughly but infrequently. When the soil feels dry, gently add water to the soil until the surface is totally wet and the water drains out of the bottom of the pot. Then do not water again until the soil is almost dry. Do not allow pots to stand continually in water. If the air is dry, raise the humidity surrounding the plants by grouping ivies together on a tray full of wet pebbles or perlite, but do not allow the ivies to stand in water.
Ivies are remarkably tolerant to a wide range of light conditions. But in the home a south or west window can be quite drying especially in summer. A north or east window or filtered or reduced light from a south or west window is satisfactory. Ivies respond well to artificial fluorescent light conditions. Place your plants 6" to 10" from the fluorescent tubes. In temperate climates ivies may be summered outdoors in the shade. In warmer parts of the country potted ivies will do well outdoors as well as indoors. Never put indoor plants outdoors where they will receive any direct sun.
Since foliage is the main feature of ivies, use fertilizers high in nitrogen (the first number in the fertilizer formulation) to provide good green growth. Apply fertilizer to soil only, since foliar absorption would be minimal, or may even be harmful, under indoor conditions. Read more about ivies.

Pansies - Happy Face Flowers for Cool Weather Gardens

The Pansy, Viola wittrockiana is a small vigorous flowering annual that thrives in cool weather gardens and can ever survive frosts and short freezes. In USDA Zones 8 and higher pansies are planted in the fall and enjoyed throughout the winter (gardeners in colder zones can grow pansies in pots or wait to plant them outdoors in early Spring).
The pansy is a perennial that is grown as an annual by most gardeners . It thrives in cooler weather and has become a popular winter annual in Florida and similar warm climates. In colder areas the pansy is enjoyed in the spring. Pansies are small plants growing from 4-10 in (10-25 cm) tall depending on the variety. Pansies form small mounds of deep green foliage that are resistant to light frosts. Many different cultivars provide gardeners with flowers that are from 1-4 inches (2.5-10.2 cm) in diameter and come in a rainbow of colors. Older favorites have multi-toned flowers in bright, clear yellow, purple, blue and white.
Newer varieties add to the palette with light pastel blue, dusty rose, white and even black. While some of the newer colors are very engaging, I prefer the older varieties. Most of these smile back at you with a "face" formed by a whimsical patterning of color blotches, making the pansy the happiest plant in the garden. With expressions ranging from mischievous to adorable to jolly, pansies are the pixies of the plant world.
Pansies are not fussy about soil. Do, however, add organic matter if your soil is very light and sandy to help retain moisture, and prevent plants from wilting in bright sun. Fertilize when setting out to insure a good display of flowers. Read more about pansies.

Telegraph's purple patch is the best at Chelsea

By Charles Clover Environment Editor
Tom Stuart-Smith's garden of sumptuous purple and blue naturalistic planting set against walls of avant-garde rusty steel won the best in show award for The Daily Telegraph at Chelsea Flower Show yesterday (23rd May).
One Royal Horticultural Society judge described it as "without question, the best show garden I have ever seen". His fellow judges praised its "extremely high levels of creativity".
It was the second time the 46-year-old designer, a previous winner of five gold medals, has carried off the top award at Chelsea.
Stuart-Smith was planning a year off when Kylie O'Brien, The Telegraph's gardening editor, called last September and asked him to "just think about" designing a Chelsea garden. To her surprise, he said he would do it.
A legion of difficulties ensued - an attack by deer on the nursery where Stuart-Smith's hornbeam hedges were kept, a slipped disc which laid him out for six weeks and blustery weather which meant that his signature purple bearded irises had to be fixed erect with hundreds of hazel stakes cut by his 13-year-old son Harry. Read more...

Princess Flower

Common name: Princess flower
Scientific Name: Tibouchina urvilleana
Family: Melastomataceae
Tibouchina is an evergreen shrub or small tree. Leaves are large, 2 to 4 inches long by 1.5 inches wide, velvety with long hairs, oval shaped with a pointed tip, finely toothed margins and 3 to 5 deeply impressed parallel midveins. Branches are 4-angled or square and somewhat brittle. Flowers are borne in groups on terminal panicles held above the foliage and are very showy, 2 inches across with 5 petals and stamens. Flowers appear throughout the year, but are most abundant May to January. The fruit is inconspicuous, a 1/2 inch capsule with very small, but interesting seeds shaped like spiral shells.
Tibouchina is the darling of the gardening set for the last few years and like anything that is wildly popular, is often abused with poor placement and care. Use Tibouchina in groups to accent the flowers. They are great as specimen plants, in containers, in the back of large borders. Though prunable, provide enough space for the plant, at least 6 feet tall by 6 feet wide. Tibouchina is native to the rainforest of South America and the hot afternoon sun and dry season of South Florida can be rough on the plant. Choose locations that have sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon or high shifting shade. Princess flower does not like wet feet, however, does require regular watering when rain is not present. Mulch is a must to conserve moisture, cool the roots and suppress weeds. Fertilize 3 to 4 times per year with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Read More about the Princess Flower...

Nectar: First soft drink

Pressurized fizz and industrial processing aside, modern soft drink makers lag millions of years behind the curve, still catching up with the original purveyors of tasty, sugary beverages. Flowering plants have spent aeons competing with each other to coax animals to choose their formulation of something sweet. While sweetness is important, any devoted fan of a particular brand of soft drink will tell you that a truly alluring elixir has so much more.
A Phelsuma gecko with a taste for nectar checks out a Trochetia flower on the island of Mauritius. Colors and other additives in nectar may be some flowers' way of marketing their offerings to pollinators. Botanists once spoke of nectar as basically sugar water, but in the 1970s, when two researchers checked hundreds of flower nectars, plenty of other ingredients turned up, including amino acids and alkaloids. Researchers are still exploring these and other nectar ingredients. They're also determining the compounds' market appeal.
While a successful recipe brings financial profit to beverage companies, nectars attract animals that provide a service to the plant. Usually, it's the transport of pollen from flower to flower, but some plants drip nectar from their leaves or stems to attract insects that protect them from pests. Most kinds of additives dreamed up by today's drink manufacturers have, with recent research, been recognized in plant nectars. Colouring to beguile the eye? Scents to interest the nose? Health boosters? Preservatives? Some plants have mixed each of these into nectar concoctions.
Even before a pollinator tastes nectar, the seduction begins. For example, although most nectars are colorless, some plants use bright colors to advertise their liquid appeal. Other nectars give off specific aromas. Although most flowers have clear nectar, several dozen carry colored solutions, such as the yellow liquid glinting in this Trochetia blackburniana flower. New tests show that a gecko species prefers a colored nectar.
The question of food colouring in nectars - all natural, that is - has gained scientific attention thanks to a gardener in the greenhouses at Århus University in Denmark. In the early 1990s, the gardener told ecologist Jens Olesen that one of the rare flowers, the blue-purple bellflower called Nesocodon mauritianus, had blood-red nectar. As Dennis Hansen, an Århus student at the time, summarises events, "Jens said, 'Bollocks! You're drunk! Nectars don't have colours!' And they went to look, and the nectar was red."
Danish research teams then visited the island nation of Mauritius, east of Africa, and spent days watching the cliff-face home of the last 130-or-so known plants of the species. The observers had hoped to spot a native pollinator, especially one with a preference for red nectar, but they failed. Read more...

Flower Chemicals Attract Pollinating Insects, Repel Predators

When some insects zero in on a flower for nectar, their ultraviolet vision is guided by a bull's-eye "painted" on the plant by chemical compounds. Now, chemical ecologists at Cornell University have discovered a second job for these compounds: warding off herbivores.
Even before a flower bud -- such as the creeping St. John's wort -- opens for business, the same chemicals, called DIPs (for dearomatized isoprenylated phloroglucinols), are both coloring the flower in patterns unrecognizable to the human eye and protecting the plant's reproductive apparatus by killing or deterring caterpillars, the scientists report in the upcoming Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Vol. 98, No. 24).
"Now that we know where to look, anti-feedant chemicals like the DIPs undoubtedly will be found in other plant species, and they offer clues to more natural insect control agents," says Thomas Eisner, Cornell's Schurman Professor of Chemical Ecology and one of six authors of the report. An anti-feedant chemical discourages herbivorous insects and can harm those that don't get the message.
One place DIPs are found is in hops, the female flowers of the commercial hop, which give beer its bitter flavor and also protect against pathogenic microorganisms, Eisner says. "If your beer is safe and enjoyable to drink, you ought to thank a flower."
Also participating in the Cornell study, which was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, were Jerrold Meinwald, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Chemistry; Athula Attygalle, director of the Mass Spectrometry Facility in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology; Mathew Gronquist, graduate student in that department; Alexander Bezzerides, graduate student in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior; and Maria Eisner, senior research associate in that department, who is Thomas Eisner's wife and research partner. The DIP finding follows 30-year-old studies by the Eisners of floral "nectar guide" patterns that only creatures with vision in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum can see. Using combinations of special camera lenses and filters, photographic films and video imaging, the Eisners revealed a bug's-eye world where flowers display patterns that are visible only to insects. Besides making a target on the part of the flower where nectar and pollen occur, the distinctive patterns also are believed to help insects recognize a familiar flower among a field of competing images. Read more...

How to Create a Weed Free Lawn Without Using Harmful Chemicals

With a little extra effort you can have a weed-free lawn without using chemicals. Weeds cannot grow in a healthy lawn as they are crowded out. The time and effort becomes less and less over the years and eventually will become maintenance.
1) Either water your lawn or go out after a rain and remove weeds by hand, making sure to get the root system or else the weed will grow back. Use a dandelion tool to remove dandelions.
2) Re-seed the entire lawn (in Fall and/or Spring), paying particular attention to bare spots. Use a grass mix with a higher percentage of Rye grass (rye grass is a quick growing annual that will help to establish the other slower growing perennial grasses).
3) De-thatch and aerate your lawn in the Spring. Continue to re-seed once a year till lawn is thick.
4) Keep you lawn mower at higher settings during the Summer months. Read more...

Helping Flowers Fight Soil-Dwelling Foes

To form bright, beautiful blooms, flowering plants such as gladioli and roses need to be protected against diseases, weeds, nematodes, and other natural enemies.
To provide that protection, growers often fumigate their fields before planting. The fumigant of choice? Methyl bromide, one of American agriculture's most widely used and most reliable farm chemicals.
In fields where blooms will be produced for the cut-flower market, growers typically apply methyl bromide plus chloropicrin, a combination that zaps soilborne pathogens and weed seeds
Methyl bromide is being phased out, however, because of indications that it depletes Earth's ozone layer. The layer shields us--and other living things--from harmful doses of ultraviolet radiation.
To help growers of cut flowers cope with the impending loss of this widely used fumigant, ARS scientists in California and their university colleagues are working with flower growers to test an array of promising alternatives. The California Cut Flower Commission, based in Watsonville, is helping coordinate the research. Read more...

Interest in wildflowers blooms

By Gary Fallesen, Staff writer of Democrat and Chronicle
We are standing in the epic-center of the large-flowered trillium. Carol Southby is telling me about this "showy" wildflower and how you might see big patches of the white trilliums along the Thruway. "People think of it as a common flower," Southby explains. "It's not."
Locally, though, the large-flowered trillium is abundant. A hidden gem in our own back yards.
"A lot of people just see green," Southby says, when asked if she thinks we are guilty of overlooking the beauty of wildflowers hereabouts. "They don't realize what diversity there is here. In Mendon Ponds Park alone there are 1,000 species of plants. In the state, there's 3,000 species. So one-third of them are in Mendon Ponds Park."
Southby, a British native who lives in Penfield and is passionate about wildflowers, butterflies and birds, pauses. "There's only 1,800 (plant) species in all of Britain," she says by way of comparing what we have here.
We walk through a local park, Southby pointing out something new every few steps.
"Things are growing and flowering early and fast in this lovely weather," she says.
The woodlands are alive with color. Soon, many of these wildflowers will be turning to seed. Then, long after the canopy has enveloped the woodlands, the fields and hillsides will spring into action.
Wildflowers have long colored my life. I have been blessed to step into mountains in various parts of the world at just the right time for spring flowering. But I am ignorant about names of species. I usually just enjoy viewing the many and varied flowers I see. Read more about the surging interest in wild flowers...

Flowers For Mom

By Joe Temple, Master Gardener
Busy people often find themselves running behind schedule, and Mother's Day will be here before some of us realize it. The perennial question of what to get mother to honor her on her day is once again with us. As garden lovers, our first thought is something in the flower category.
Roses or colorful bouquets of mixed flowers from the local florist are probably at the head of the list. If mom would rather have a foliage plant than cut flowers there are numerous choices.
Spathiphyllum, or peace lily, has a fragrant blossom, likes a shady or limited light location, and is one of the easiest foliage plants to grow.
Ficus is another good choice if a small potted variety is selected. There are more than 800 ficus varieties, so unless you want one to become a small tree (weeping fig), choose one to sit on the coffee table. Ficus elastica, the old fashioned variety is commonly called a rubber plant.
Dracaena is another houseplant that can endure indoor light conditions and shade, but warmth and abundant light are the keys to good growth. Feed lightly throughout the growing season.
There are probably two-dozen other indoor houseplants to choose from that would fill the bill.
A novel suggestion to keep the event repeating every month would be to give a gift certificate for each month of this coming year. Mom could then select a plant or a bouquet of cut flowers appropriate to each month. As the seasons change her floral decorations would change. You might be able to slip in a birthday flower with this system. Check with your local florist.
If mom is among the younger generation, she may want a plant or tree or shrub to set out in the yard. Twenty-five years from now she can point to it and say, "The kids gave that to me 25 years ago. Hasn't it done well in that length of time" Then as an afterthought, "Where have those years gone?"
On a very practical vein, would she appreciate a flat of bedding plants? Impatiens, marigolds, zinnias, and fibrous begonias are just a few suggestions along that line. Read more...

Just move: Choose an active way to celebrate Mother's Day

By MICHELLE SHEPPARD, For Public Opinion

So many holidays are celebrated with food as the central theme. Along with our desire to spend time with family, we often go to great lengths preparing special foods to share or choosing just the right restaurant for the holiday meal. Why not reconsider those Mother's Day buffet reservations and focus the day on enjoying a family outing together?

Mother's Day comes at a perfect time of year to start a tradition of playing versus eating. Celebrate Mom's special day in any number of ways that does not revolve around food as the star performer. The remainder of this Just Move column will provide suggestions for encouraging the "Mom" in your life to take time and enjoy herself and the joy of moving.

If your mother is already an active individual, but often struggles to find the time for a leisurely workout, consider giving her a special day or weekend pass to enjoy whatever form of fitness it is she likes to do. Some suggestions may include giving a gift certificate for a round of golf at her favorite course or lessons with a local golf pro. Perhaps your mother walks for fitness and loves to antique shop. Plan a day trip to downtown Frederick, Md., or Shepherdstown, W.Va. Both of these communities provide a variety of wonderful antique shops and boutiques to scour on foot along with designated foot paths close by that are safe and beautiful for a brisk powerwalk or a leisurely stroll.

One of my family's favorite Mother's Day activities is croquet. This slow-paced lawn game can be enjoyed by all ages and most abilities. Often we will play teams pairing younger and older family members together for more fun. My 84-year-old grandmother loves to "send" my 15-year-old teenager off the course. Along with croquet, there are several other lawn games that can be enjoyed by a few or many and will promise to keep you moving and thinking. A more active gathering may prefer a game of volleyball or softball, while others might prefer bocce or badminton. And don't forget about an old fashioned game of hide and seek guaranteed to delight all ages.

If you must celebrate Mother's Day over a distance, rethink ordering that customary FTD bouquet. Does your mother belong to a fitness facility, YMCA or a women's only spa? Think about giving her a gift certificate for additional services or to renew her membership for a month or more. If your mother is a gardener, send a seed or plant catalogue along with a gift certificate for her to select a plant or tree that will provide a season or possibly years of enjoyment.

Of course, your mother will still have to eat on Mother's Day, but perhaps by focusing on the activities and fun you will share, the desire to eat will be reduced. Besides, how many mothers out there reading this column remember what you had to eat for Mother's Day last year?

Michele Sheppard has a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology, and she is a fitness professional at the Chambersburg YMCA.

Local florists hoping for online orders

By GLEN BOLDUC, Staff Writer, Morning Sentiniel Online

Mother's Day means a lot of money spent on flowers.

But some local florists want to make sure that people spend their money locally, especially when shopping online.

So they banded together to buy advertising in local newspapers urging customers to "Order Flowers Locally," advising they will "Pay Less / Get More."

Seeking to compete with the huge online florists, local florists believe they offer consumers an edge in buying their holiday flowers.

If someone Googles for flower deliveries, companies such as FTD, 1-800-flowers, and ProFlowers come to the top of the list.

Lisa Lagrange, owner of KMD Florist and Gifts in Waterville, said these companies are mostly telemarketers that have little to do with the actual product.

"There are a lot of layers involved" in the delivery of flowers, she said.

Customers don't realize that online florists are "just order gatherers," said Aurilla Holt, owner of Berry & Berry Floral in Hallowell, Gardiner and Windsor.

"It's creating a middleman for the consumer, and that's what you're trying to eliminate," Holt said. "Nobody wants to create a middleman." That's because middlemen typically drive up costs, she said.

Besides, Holt said, when someone orders a bouquet from most major online flower companies, they end up getting the arrangement from a local florist anyway.

"It's a racket," she said.

Most fresh flower gifts sent in the United States and Canada are locally designed and delivered by professional florists. Online flower companies simply send local florists the order, then take a chunk of the sales as a commission.

Lagrange estimates that online sellers probably take about 20 percent of the cost, so customers end up getting about 20 percent less product as local florists try to protect their profit margins.

"It's throwing off the balance of the money," Lagrange said.

Besides losing commissions on orders, local florists also face challenges on delivery, as high fuel and transportation costs eat into their bottom lines.

"We live in an area that has a lot of rural locations," Lagrange said.

The florists' efforts in advance of Mother's Day -- one of their biggest days of the year -- comes as consumers increasingly turn toward the Internet for many of their shopping needs.

The florists also compete against another insidious competitor: "teleflorists," national florists who buy phone numbers -- but not storefronts -- in thousands of local markets.

In this case, dialing a local telephone number may actually connect a bouquet buyer with someone in California

"It's not illegal... But it's deceptive to the consumer," Lagrange said.

One way to ensure you're shopping locally is to ask the person on the phone if you can come in and see the flowers.

Teleflorists "don't know what products we have," Holt said. "They can't even pronounce the name of them half the time."

According to VeriSign, an e-commerce infrastructure provider, Mother's Day-related spending hit $4.4 billion in the United States last year -- a 24 percent increase from 2004.

"So many people are online for just about everything," Lagrange said. "The regular person isn't going to put that much thought into sending flowers for Mother's Day."

Reference Used

Gift ideas just in time for Mother's Day on Sunday

BY HEATHER FOWLIE, TIMES & TRANSCRIPT STAFF,

Mother's Day is only a few days away and, according to local retailers, there are still endless possibilities to choose from. That said, the real challenge is deciding will make the best gift for your mom on Sunday.

"You basically need to look at her personality," says Steve Clerke, who owns Gifts Galore with his wife, Joanne Jarvis. He says most people think their mother is hard to shop for, but in reality, it's just a matter of stepping back and assessing what she likes.

"Look at the colours they're wearing," he says, explaining the simplest tendencies highlight what people are interested in. "Do they have interests? Do they have a cat or a dog? Do they like to garden? Do they like nature?"

Steve says they've been flat out for the last few weeks because the Mother's Day buzz started early this year. "I'm thinking maybe it's because of the weather," he says, noting shoppers seem to be interested in a lasting and unique gift this season.

A walk through any local gift shop will produce shelves and shelves of ideas for wives, mothers and grandmothers. "Blown glass friendship balls have been popular... we're selling a lot of jewelry... a lot of people are starting pottery collections for their mother... outdoor wind chimes... we've sold a lot of prints and stain glass lamps," says Steve, trying to list popular choices.

And if a gift shop doesn't do the trick, an arrangement from one of the many flower shops is also an option. Betty Shorey, sales associate at MacArthur's Flower Shop, says their phones have been ringing off the hook lately. "I'll tell you, Valentine's Day is our busiest day, Christmas is our busiest month and Mother's day is our busiest week," she says. So far, their most popular requests range from specialty arrangements (including Teleflora and FTD designs) to dish gardens and mixed bouquets, to fruit baskets.

According to a recent Shopzilla survey of about 1,200 moms, which was released in April, most mothers said they'd be happiest to receive a spa treatment or massage. Local spas and estheticians are offering specials on pedicures, manicures, facials and complete spa packages. Depending on how much you're willing to spend, a basic treatment, such as a pedicure will start somewhere around the $25 range and continue upwards from there.

Kimberly Gautreau, who operates Kimberly the Studio, says special treatments are a good way to ensure some down time. "There are so few moms who relax," she says, explaining she offers customized aroma therapy massages, among other services. If you can't decide though, don't hesitate to get a certificate, so mom can choose her own special treatment.

And that's a rule that applies for any gift you're searching for. Most stores offer a gift card/certificate option and although they're sometimes touted as impersonal, they're a good way to ensure you're giving a welcomed gift. "Then Mom gets to pick for herself," says Stephanie Hansen, marketing director for Champlain Place. "They're anything you want them to be."

Rounding out the rest of the wish list, the survey also found today's mom would appreciate a chance to travel; some new jewelry; something the whole family can enjoy (like a board game); and, of course, nearly half of them said a homemade gift was the most exciting thing they could receive.

Whether it's a handmade card, a craft, or a colourful picture - mothers are well known for appreciating the thought more than the price tag. So although a luxurious gift is a nice treat, all the experts agree your final decision should rest on finding something that will show your mother how much you care. "It's the one person you should remember," says Steve.

Reference Used

Flowers for Memorial Day

Whether or not you'll be decorating cemetery monuments
for Memorial Day (May 29), you may be curious about the exact
meaning behind this American holiday. My article also discusses
a traditional container used for grave plantings in the U.S.,
as well as popular flowers for Memorial Day.

Floral Market A Hit Among Melaka Folks

Heavy traffic is synonymous with the commercial hub at Jalan Hang Tuah in Malaysia, but lately the congestion seems to worsen every Sunday. The reason -- Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority's (Fama) floral market is located at this spot.
Every Sunday since last Jan 15, a row of neatly-arranged blue-coloured canopies lined a two-kilometre stretch of the pedestrian walkway at Hang Tuah, adding colour to the already busy area. This is Fama's first floral market in the country and it draws participation of some 30 flower nursery and orchard owners from Melaka and other states. The agency aims to get some 100 participants to display their produce at the market which opens 12 hours from 7am.
There are various flower plants, herbs, shrubs and palm saplings on show -- ideal for the public's landscaping needs, apart from "accessories" like gardening gears, fertilisers and imported miniature fountains. Herbs like Sabung nyawa (Gynura Procumbens), Misai kucing (Orthosiphon stamineus), Kacip Fatimah and Tongkat Ali drew the crowd who are given information on the plants' medicinal values by the stall operators. Read more...

Flowery Feasts

Some of us like to brighten up our dining table with a vase of fresh flowers. Corelle dinnerware designers probably had this idea in mind when designing the new and colourful Dandy Blossoms collection.
The Dandy Blossoms diningware aims to provide diners with the “endless pleasures of springtime pastures” and a “delightful floral setting to relish special moments at the table.” Introduced in 1970, Corelle fast became the top-selling brand of dinnerware in the United States. Combining strength and durability with aesthetic appeal, Corelle saw its popularity spread worldwide.
Corelle’s dining ware boasts a durability resulting from a revolutionary “sandwich construction” that bonds together three layers of special glass materials, creating a lightweight product that does not break, crack or chip, and resists permanent staining. Read more...

Begonias for every fancy

Begonias are lovely foliage plants. In fact, Begonias are grown more for their colourful foliage than for flowers and they make lovely house plants. Begonias comprise an enormous group of lovely flowering and foliage plants and the estimated number of species runs into thousands.
Obviously everyone can find a begonia to suit their fancy — whether for foliage colour or leaf form, even flowers in clusters on long stalks. Begonias are herbaceous annuals and perennials. Begonias are native to moist tropical and subtropical regions of the world, and are most diverse in South America.
Begonias may best be grouped according to their habits, for instance, those growing from the common fibrous-rooted pattern, those from rhizomes and those from tubers. Whatever the growth pattern, begonias grow best in moist air. They all show a preference for a lightly-packed porous soil. Begonias are relatively shallow-rooted.
Filtered or indirect sunlight is best. There are many hardy varieties in the fibrous-rooted group that flourish with only a few hours of good indirect light. Read more of begonias...

Scammers coming up roses

Gene Hanson, Staff Affiliate, Johnson County Sun

"Local" calls to order flowers for a friend in a hospital or funeral home may go to New Jersey or elsewhere and the bill could be $40 higher than expected.

About 30 area florists met at Dalton's Flowers-Plants and Gifts, Overland Park, April 27, to try to fight people they consider scammers.

"I've been in this business for 50 years and I've never seen anything like it," Bill Dalton said.

The alleged scam begins with an out-of-area company buying a phone book ad that mimics local floral ads, except no address is given. Callers reach a telemarketer, who adds a handling fee. A sending service, such as FTD or Teleflora, captures 20 percent of the order.

Flowers With Gifted Elegance, Randolph, N.J., has been targeted by Delaware and Virginia attorneys general for allegedly violating consumer protection laws, according to Floristdetectives.com, a Web site investigating florist schemes.

"This is impacting every legitimate florist in the metropolitan area," said Frank Stuppy of Stuppy Greenhouse, North Kansas City, a wholesale supplier of cut flowers and floral supplies. "When this kind of scam negatively affects our clients, it has a negative impact on us. And the customer may be paying $100 for a floral arrangement that is worth only $75."

The Kansas City phone book lists florists that use Lenexa and other local city names without giving addresses. A call to each number reached a recording that gave the name Flowers With Gifted Elegance. A live operator gave an area address, Route 210, but when pressed he gave a New Jersey location. He said the company charges $8.95 to fill an order.

Kansas and 18 other states ban deceptive listings, but the public remains exposed to out-of-the-area telemarketers.

Area florists are inserting notices in floral orders to warn customers about out-of-town telemarketers and inflated fees.

Reference Used

Mother’s Day flower show

Come celebrate spring and your mom with the Klamath National Forest and California Native Plant Society’s annual wildflower show On Sunday, May 14.
Nearly 300 species of fresh wildflowers, native plants and ‘non-native’ weeds will be on exhibit at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds, in the Flower Building, at 1712 Fairlane Road, Yreka. The exhibit, sponsored as a partnership by the Klamath National Forest and the Shasta Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, will display flowers, shrubs, trees, mosses, ferns, lichens, and weeds, many of which are found only in the Klamath region. These plants lend our area an international reputation for its diverse and unique blend of plants. Read more...

History of Mothers Day and Bouquets

OPENPRESS, May 4, 2006

Mother’s Day was not an official holiday in the United States until 1914. Modern Americans can thank the perseverance and determination of a woman named Anna Jarvis who, deeply devoted to her own mother, helped to make Mother’s Day an official U.S. holiday.

Jarvis’s mother, Anna Maria Reeves Jarvis, was an activist during the Civil War and lost 8 of her 12 children before they reached adulthood. When she died in 1905, Anna (daughter) was distraught and vowed to devote her life to honoring her mother. Her devotion led her to strive to appoint an official U.S. holiday to recognize mothers. Though Mother’s Day had been celebrated informally for many years, Jarvis wrote many important figures (including U.S. congressmen and prosperous businessmen), imploring them to back Mother’s Day as an official holiday.

Anna’s efforts finally paid off. In 1910, the governor of West Virginia declared Mother's Day a state holiday on the second Sunday in May. The following year, every other state followed suit. By 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill declaring Mother’s Day a Federal Holiday.

At first, celebrations of Mother's Day were relatively private, where children would accompany their mothers to the churches where their baptisms were held. Gradually though, Mother's Day has flourished into a significant and memorable occasion where many people express their love for their mothers through thoughtful gifts and quality time with family.

Read More

1800flowers.com coupon: 15% off $30

1800flowers.com slices 15% off a purchase of $30 or more via coupon code "CLEVERMOM". It's the best percent-off coupon we've seen from 1800flowers.com since February. Coupon ends December 31. Other 1800flowers.com coupons are also available.

Reference Used

Exciting New Lilacs Developed

After years of hybridizing, testing and evaluation, two new lilac (Syringa) cultivars - Old Glory and Declaration were released to the ornamental nursery industry by the Arboretum’s shrub breeding program.
Old Glory has abundant fragrant bluish-purple flowers, rounded growth habitat and leaves that have improved disease tolerance. Declaration stands out for its fragrant striking reddish-purple flowers in floral clusters up to 30 cm (15 inches) long that occur along the branches.
The Arboretum is the leading institution in the United States conducting long-term hybridization, testing and evaluating of trees and shrubs. Over 650 named cultivars have been released by the Arboretum to the ornamental nursery and floral industries. Learn more about these lilac varieties...

What To Do With Withered, Finished Hardy Spring Bulbs?

Late spring is when the foliage of spring-blooming daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and iris reticulata dies down. It is time to dig, divide and store or replant the bulbs for next year's bloom. Here's how, according to Gail Gredler, horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.
After the leaves turn yellow, cut and destroy the stems and foliage of the plants. Dead foliage left on the ground may carry disease to new growth the next year. Fertilize the bulbs you plan to leave in the ground with a 5-10-10 fertilizer and some bonemeal for an extra source of phosphorus. If your flowering bulbs have become too crowded or have ceased blooming each year, you may want to dig them up, separate them and replant them farther apart in newly fertilized soil. Replanting or respacing can be done now, but is best done in the late summer or early fall.
If you decide to dig spring bulbs up and store them over the summer until fall, dry them for a day, then keep them in a cool, dry place. Temperatures higher than 70 degrees will damage the tiny flower inside. Dig up your bulb beds when the soil is fairly dry to avoid unnecessary soil compaction. Take care to dig deeply and far away enough from the bulbs to prevent slicing them with the shovel. Remove bulbs and shake off clinging soil. Discard soft, rotten or diseased bulbs.
To replant the bulbs now or in the fall, spade the beds eight to 12 inches deep. Remove large stones and break apart clumps of hard soil. Use a small handful of well-balanced fertilizer per cluster of bulbs. Place a one- to two-inch layer of organic matter at the bottom of the planting space. Thoroughly mix the fertilizer, including two tablespoons of bonemeal per bulb, and organic matter with the soil. Add a thin layer of unfertilized soil. Place bulbs on top and cover them with more unfertilized soil. Soak the planted area to settle the bulbs.
As a general rule of thumb, plant bulbs to a depth of two and one-half to three times the diameter of the bulb. Tulips should be about six inches deep; crocus, two inches; daffodils, seven inches; grape hyacinths and irises, three inches and hyacinths, four inches. It is important not to plant bulbs too shallowly because this will encourage frost heaving in some regions. Read more...

Contain Your Garden!!

Container gardening is more popular than ever. According to research conducted by Dynamic Design, the average household today has 4.2 planters. And why not? Ideal for urban or rural lifestyles, container gardening offers more mobility and flexibility than traditional gardening. It can provide year-round satisfaction as well as the opportunity to bring the outdoors inside.
Once thought to be the ideal alternative for apartment dwellers and people with small yards, container gardening is today enjoyed by people of all ages, lifestyles and gardening abilities. Here are a few tips to ensure a successful, satisfying container gardening experience:
  • Choose the right container - Use containers with capacities between 15 and 120 quarts, remembering that small pots restrict the root area and dry out very quickly. Deep rooted vegetables and larger plants require deeper pots to sustain growth.
  • Choose the right soil and fertilizer - There are a variety of potting soil mixes specially balanced for the types of plants most often used in a container garden. Since many of these are slightly acidic, it’s often helpful to add a little lime to the soil.
  • Choose the right plant and location - Properly prepared with the right container, soil, and fertilizer, the next important decision is what to plant. The final choice comes down to personal preference and the type of atmosphere you want to create. Petunias, impatiens, periwinkles and geraniums do especially well in containers and add dramatic color to any area.

  • Read more...

    Environmentally friendly plant pots help solve waste

    Some people may cringe at the thought, but if properly treated, cow and pig excrement can be transformed into environmentally friendly flower pots that provide valuable nutrients to plants.
    Other than providing a superb solution to livestock waste management, this novel idea could also serve to enhance awareness of environmental protection among Taiwanese, said Koh Meeng-ter, the owner of the patent of this trendsetting technology and the head of the Livestock Management Department at the Livestock Research Institute.
    According to Kuo, the number of registered breeding pigs nationwide stands at 6.8 million. Traditionally, the excrement from pigs is piled into a compost heap. Each pig produces around 0.01kg of dry sludge per day. Taiwan has enough pigs to generate around dry 68,000kg of dry sludge per day. In the past, other than turning it into compost, there was no other way of dealing with animal waste. So Kuo decided to utilize the dehydrated sludge made using cow and pig excrement and mix it with paper pulp in a ratio of four to six to produce flower pots... Read more...

    Orchids, Orchids and Orchids...

    Medieval herbalists considered orchids to have aphrodisiac properties, a concept amusingly explored in the 2002 movie “Adaptation,” in which Meryl Streep, playing “The Orchid Thief” author Susan Orlean, sniffs orchid powder and falls in love with orchid collector John Laroche, played by Chris Cooper.
    Orchids were so popular in 19th-century Europe that auctions created orchidelirium among collectors and prices soared in a way that resembled the tulipmania of 17th-century Holland. Charles Darwin was fascinated by orchids and studied them extensively.
    The word “exotic” seems to have been invented to describe orchids, and the word “difficult” is almost always attached to any mention of them. Whether it’s because of their mystique or in spite of it, orchids are highly popular – they are the second-most-popular potted flowering plant in the country, after poinsettias and before chrysanthemums, according to the Agriculture Department. From 2004 to 2005, orchid sales grew 5 percent, to a wholesale value of $128 million annually.
    There are several reasons for the increase, and not all of them exclusive to orchids. The Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service says flowering potted plants and cut-flower bouquets are expanding markets that account for about $20 billion in sales a year. Read more...

    GrowerFlowers.com presents 'Photo Blooms(TM)' Just in Time for Mother's Day and Takes Gift Giving to the Extreme

    DETROIT, May 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Mothers and grandmothers alike will be delighted this Mother's Day when they receive their fresh flowers along with a photo of their children, printed on a full-color Mother's Day greeting card.

    Photo Blooms make composing sentiments easy when you can send your favorite high-quality photo, worth a 1,000 words, along with your bouquet of real fresh flowers. During the checkout of the customer's order, they simply upload their photo to be printed on a high-quality greeting card. This personalized Mother's Day greeting card is then sent with their flowers by overnight delivery. Throughout Mother's Day this service will be free on select grower fresh bouquets and is available exclusively at GrowerFlowers.com. Delivery is available to most locations in the United States and Canada.

    Mark Thiessen, CEO, stated, "This was a natural for us. Being in the flower industry for over 50 years, we understand and firmly believe that we are in the business of helping our customers send a sentiment. Whether it is a gift for Mother's Day, Birthday, Anniversary or just because, flowers are almost always sent for sentimental reasons. We feel that flowers are simply the upgrade included with the personal message to emphasize and highlight the sentiment that the customer is trying to convey. Really, there is no better way to enhance sentiments, than by including a personalized photo with your gift.

    "It's very exciting for our company because technology has allowed us to go to an all new level of adding value to our flowers. With digital imaging being the latest craze, we are confident that the feature of sending printed photo greeting cards will work for all kinds of products beyond flowers. Our initial results have shown an increase of 50 percent conversion in sales and this is catching on very quickly. My goal is to push our company forward with full 'exposure' to the market, as soon as possible. All customers should be able to send photos with any gift item.

    "There is also great potential for this product in the corporate gift-giving sector. It's every marketer's dream product and the potential in the industry is truly unlimited. We've already seen interest from some of the bigger players and it's only a matter of time before our major competitors try to duplicate what we are doing here."

    GrowerFlowers.com (http://www.GrowerFlowers.com) is a privately held company and has been offering flowers, bouquets, gift baskets and other gift items online for over 10 years. GrowerFlowers.com is the first floral company online to offer the service of including a personalized photo greeting card with the sender's personal greeting and flowers. Photo Blooms are available on GrowerFlowers.com's primary product line of flowers shipped direct from greenhouse suppliers by overnight courier.

        For more information on Photo Blooms visit:
    
        http://www.growerflowers.com/photoblooms
    
    

    This release was issued through eReleases(TM). For more information, visit http://www.ereleases.com.

    FTD Group Moves to 3rd-Quarter Profit

    © 2006 The Associated Press

    DOWNERS GROVE, Ill.— FTD Group Inc., a provider of floral services and products, on Monday reported a fiscal third-quarter profit, reversing a year-ago loss, due to an increase in Valentine's Day sales.

    For the quarter ended March 31, profit was $7.4 million, or 26 cents per share, compared with a loss of $25.6 million, or $1.14 per share, during the third-quarter last year. Revenue edged up 3 percent to $128.6 million, from $124.9 million last year. The company went public in February 2005.

    Analysts, on average, predicted a profit of 23 cents on revenue of $125 million, according to a Thomson Financial poll.

    A 14 percent growth in sales related to Valentine's Day was partially offset by the shift of Easter into the fiscal fourth quarter, the company said.

    FTD reaffirmed its guidance of 2006 profit of $23 million, or 76 cents per share, and revenue between $450 million and $460 million. Analysts expect a profit of 74 cents on sales of $451.7 million.

    Reference Used - FTD Group Moves to 3rd-Quarter Profit

    Organic Bouquet uses the web to cultivate a national market for its niche product

    By Paul Demery

    As 67 mayors from around the world walked out of a United Nations World Environment Day forum in San Francisco last June, they were greeted by a 300-person chorus singing a theme song—“United Nations, Together We Can”—created especially for their forum. The forum itself was generated within the halls of the U.N. amid global concerns about ecology, but the choir and the song were compliments of a startup online organic flower retailer, Organic Bouquet Inc.

    “The U.N. had nicknamed the June 5th event Flower Power Day,” says Organic Bouquet founder and CEO Gerald Prolman. “When I heard that, I realized we had to become involved.” In addition to sponsoring the choir, Organic Bouquet had commissioned Grammy-winning gospel singer Edwin Hawkins to write the song, then flew him and a dozen other singers to San Francisco to join the choir.

    Read More - Prolman is a man on a mission.

    Artistic duo a blooming success

    By SOPHIA BROWNE

    CHOOSING flowers to send to a special lady can be a daunting task for most men.

    But floral artists Shauna Larsen and Bart Hassam have one simple tip.

    “If you are sending flowers for a birthday don’t just tell us ‘she’s a woman and she’s 35’, describe the characteristics of the person, like she’s elegant, sophisticated ... and that helps us to create something that suits them.”

    The tip could change countless relationships and came as the pair were demonstrating their skills at the Ginger Flower Festival in Yandina yesterday.

    And they had some important tips for anyone thinking of buying flowers for a loved one or creating their own floral designs at home.

    Reference Used

    Best UK Online Florist - Web User Magazine Award

    Serenata Flowers awarded Gold Award for best online florist in the UK by Web User magazine

    PRWEB) February 4, 2006 -- Serenata Flowers are pleased to announce that they have received a Gold Award for best online florist from the UK's best selling Internet magazine, Web User, beating Interflora and Tesco.

    As the UK's largest independent online florist, Serenata Flowers offer stunning flowers at very attractive prices all backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

    In their review, Web User were particularly impressed with the ease of use of the Serenata Flowers website and the high quality and longevity of the flowers received.

    With Valentines Day on the 14th February, the UK's online florists will receive a major increase in traffic and orders over the coming week. Visitors to the Serenata Flowers website during the run-up to Valentine's Day will find many stunning floral gifts to suit any budget, ranging from 50 red tulips at £34.99 to a truly extravagant bouquet of 50 long stemmed deliciously deep and velvety Grand Prix roses at £169.99. To ensure loved ones feel extra special, all Valentines orders will be sent for delivery between 8am and 6:30pm.

    Serenata Flowers have been established in the UK for 2 years and are the UK's fastest growing online florist. By sourcing fresh flowers direct from the best growers around the world, the flowers are fresher, spend less time in transift and offers significant cost savings for customers.

    With distribution centres in London, Manchester and Birminham, Serenata are able to offer same day delivery of floral gifts to 70% of the UK's population and next day delivery to the whole of the UK.

    Web User is the UK's top-selling internet magazine, is published fortnightly and includes independent reviews of over 200 websites in each issue.

    Trackback URL - http://www.prweb.com/chachingpr.php/TWFnbi1NYWduLUhhbGYtUGlnZy1IYWxmLVplcm8=

    A trio of European designers will work their magic at the Philadelphia Flower Show

    By APRIL LISANTE

    THEY ARE THE dynamic trio of the flower world, three European floral designers who can turn flowers into gravity-defying, jaw-dropping masterpieces.

    Per Benjamin, Max van de Sluis and Tomas De Bruyne are Life3, world-class floral arrangers who were invited to be the centerpiece of the 2006 Philadelphia Flower Show, which starts Sunday. This will be their first visit to the show, where they will host how-to floral-arranging seminars, do demonstrations and design their own exhibit.

    The hothouse hotties met in 2002, after each placed within the top five - Benjamin took first, while van de Sluis and De Bruyne placed third and fifth respectively - in the highly competitive Interflora World Cup, an international competition where contestants make arrangments that look more like modern artwork than the average bouquet in a vase.

    The three kept in touch and started Life3 (www.life3.net), a consulting company that travels the world to teach seminars on floral arranging.

    The blond and buffed Benjamin owns a floral consulting company in Stockholm, Sweden, while van de Sluis and De Bruyne own floral shops in the Netherlands and Belgium, respectively.

    Reference Used - Petal pushers

    Online Sales Rise In Key Gift Categories

    comScore Networks, the leader in the use of the Internet to measure and understand consumer behavior, today released an analysis of consumer behavior related to Valentine's Day. The comScore analysis revealed that total online spending in the Flowers & Gifts, Health & Beauty and Jewelry & Watches categories rose 22 percent year-to-date, through February 9, 2006 versus the corresponding period in 2005. On an individual category basis, online sales in the Health & Beauty and Jewelry & Watches category each rose 24 percent compared to the same period in 2005 as Americans purchased gifts to celebrate with loved ones. Online sales in the Flowers, Greetings & Gifts category rose at a slightly slower rate, increasing 17 percent versus last year.

    Read More

    Buying flowers online

    WTVG-- Feb. 14, 2006 - Our experiences varied widely, and not for the better, in our sampling of bouquets we had delivered

    We bought a Valentine's Day mixed bouquet from ftd.com and shipped them to our colleagues in Philadelphia. The picture on the internet looked good --- but the flowers our friends received were wilted, a rose was broken, and it wasn't as big as the picture on the internet. FTD apologized and sent us an email about its "good-as-gold guarantee." They called our experience "unusual" and offered to replace our bouquet and refund our money.

    Next, we tested virtualflowers.com to see if they would get our online order right. 13ABC bought a peach rose basket. When we opened the box, it looked nothing like the photo on the internet. We went to Schramm's, the local florist who designed and delivered the rose basket. The owner showed us the order form sent to her. Schramm's employee Sandy Sack told us, "My order form says a few pink roses with purple flowers in a small brown basket." She got it right! She says virtualflowers.com never sent her a picture, just the instructions to use pink roses instead of peach.

    Sack says online buying is more expensive. "What they don't understand, there are a lot of extra fees when you do it online. You're paying much more for a product than if you would have called the flower shop directly." Sack says Schramm's strives to make every customer happy. As for Virtual Flowers, they offered to send us new flowers, reimburse us and called our experience an isolated incident.

    When our friends in North Carolina opened their Valentine's Day gift, they had no complaints about the stuffed animal or the flowers. The dozen pink roses with a vase and a ballon delivered to us from proflowers.com passed the test, too. The online florist sent us an email saying, "Proflowers prides itself on delivering on 'what you see is what you get'."

    Our final test: teleflora.com. We ordered the "Be Happy" bouquet. It was supposed to come with yellow roses and white daisies. Our smiles turned into frowns. The yellow roses were peach. So beware: the florist may use substitutes. And get this: with all the service fees and taxes, all the bouquets cost more than $50.

    Reference Used - Buying flowers online

    Love in full bloom

    By KATHY VAN MULLEKOM
    DAILY PRESS (NEWPORT NEWS, VA.)

    Roses are not the only flowers that match the definition of "romance" for Valentine's Day.

    Calla lilies, tulips, Gerbera daisies, Stargazer lilies, sunflowers and even houseplants, they keep living and giving, are nice choices.

    If you give or get fresh-cut flowers, here are some tips on how to care for and use them. The suggestions come from Bridget Behe, known as the "flower doctor" at www.flowrmd.com. She's a professor in the department of horticulture at Michigan State University and is a Michigan-certified florist. (The Flower Promotion Organization, a nonprofit group that promotes the use of cut flowers, sponsors the flower doctor, who can also be reached by phone toll free at (888) FLOWRMD (356-9763).)

    • Pick your petals. When you select loose flowers, look for upright, firm petals and buds beginning to open, not fully open. Yellow, spotted or drooping leaves are signs of age.

    • Do the nose test. Smell the water; it should smell fresh and clean, not like a fish aquarium.

    • Check for slime. Look at, and feel, the flower stems; they should be clean and not slimy.

    • Watch for breaks. Avoid flowers with stems that have cracks or weak points in them.

    • Give your pretty petals some extra care to prolong their good looks, including:

    Cool 'em off. Before arranging cut flowers, store the blooms in a cool place.

    • Leaf 'em out. If the leaves on stems fall below the water line, remove them. Leaves in water promote bacterial microbial growth that limits the water a flower takes up.

    • Keep 'em clean. Vases, floral clippers and knives should be clean. Wash them with a detergent or antibacterial cleaning agent and rinse thoroughly.

    • Put 'em under the knife. To keep flowers fresher, re-cut the stems by removing one to two inches with a sharp knife under running warm water.

    • Control 'em. Keep fresh flowers out of direct sunlight and away from drafts such as air and heat vents or fans.

    • Divide, decorate with 'em. Feel free to separate big bouquets into smaller ones you put in small vases that you scatter throughout your home. When flowers are coming to an end of their life, cut the stems a half-inch from the blooms and float them in a bowl of water, maybe accompanied by floating candles, stones or marbles.

    • Place blooms on a plate with some candles or in a bed of potpourri to let them dry naturally for continued enjoyment.

    Stumped for suggestions? Wonder what flowers to get for the person you just met or the person you're really serious about? Floral designers with www.ftd.com and 1-800-Send-FTD (736-3383) offer these suggestions.

    • First date. You know little about the person's taste or style, so go bold, but simple. Choose a flower with a large blossom in vibrant colors. A small grouping of two or three Stargazer lilies or sunflowers makes a sexy statement to your date.

    • New relationship. Enjoy the exhilaration of a new romance by choosing fun, colorful flowers such as daisies. A handful of Gerbera daisies in red, orange or pink are sure to create a connection.

    • "I love you." You've been dating a while and have just said "I love you." This is the perfect time to send that gorgeous bouquet of rich red roses, or choose the shade that's her favorite - something like yellow, coral, peach or white mixed with a color.

    • Serious, long term. You've been together for many years and red roses have said it all. Something meaningfully fresh is needed. Try a new shade of roses, like the deep-orange red that's trendy and popular this year.

    • Or, contact your favorite floral designer and ask for a specially mixed bouquet she won't forget. Then tuck in a surprise - maybe those diamond earrings she's always wanted.

    Nontraditional flowers like these roses in peach hues are ideal for Valentine's Day.

    Consider Stargazer lilies for your sweetie.

    Consider Calla lilies for Valentine's Day.

    Nontraditional flowers like these Gerbera daisies are ideal for Valentine's Day.

    Reference Used - Love in Full Bloom

    Pest-Free Valentine Flowers

    When people think of sending flowers for Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, the acronym FTD might come to mind. Add USDA and CBP to the list.

    Here's one thing you probably haven't realized about the long-stemmed beauties you got from your Valentine. They've been rid of pesky insects and diseases, thanks to some important steps taken by the federal government.

    Every year, millions of boxes of cut flowers are brought into the United States.

    Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists make sure that, over the course of their long journey, these flowers haven't met up with "hitchhikers" - bugs and diseases that don't currently exist in the U.S.

    CBP works with the Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and importers to ensure they provide the proper documents for each flower shipment. If not, shipments may be held up or refused.

    Miami International Airport leads all U.S. airports in flower shipments, receiving 12 to 15 million stems of roses daily during peak times.

    Protecting our agricultural and floral industries - it's just another way our government works!

    Reference Used

    Designer Todd Oldham Creates Contemporary Mother's Day Flowers & Designs via exclusive partnership with FTD.COM

    DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., April 26 /PRNewswire/ -- FTD.COM, a leading provider of flowers and gifts, announced a new, exclusive relationship with renowned designer Todd Oldham today. Todd has designed a new line of contemporary, and innovative, floral arrangements, which are only available online at FTD.COM.

    "I am very excited about my new adventure with FTD," said Todd Oldham. "As a long time gardener and flower nut, I've had a lot of fun coming up with new ideas in a medium I love."

    The following is a sampling of Mother's Day Flowers that are immediately available at FTD.COM. To view the entire collection of Todd Oldham Flowers at FTD.COM, just visit: http://www.ftd.com/oldham

         -- Mother's Day Flowers that won't be forgotten -- the Todd Oldham(TM)
            Springtime Culinary Creation is designed in a colorful, reusable
            colander for the mom who knows her way around the kitchen.
         -- Mother's Day Flowers for the Mom who redefines traditional baking --
            the Todd Oldham(TM) Measure of Happiness and Todd Oldham(TM) Bundt
            Blossoms, available with either daises or roses.
         -- Mother's Day Flowers for the Mom who has an eye for nature's beauty --
            the imaginative Todd Oldham(TM) Butterflies in Bloom Topiary accented
            with butterflies.
    

    Read More

    What moms treasure on Mother's Day

    Moms say the best gifts don't cost a dime - ANGELIQUE SOENARIE

    Remember the crayon-colored Mother's Day card that you gave your mom when you were a kid? And as you got older, perhaps you served her breakfast in bed with a flower that was plucked from the garden?

    The material to make the card or the breakfast may have cost only a few bucks, but the effort put a smile on her face.

    "I know moms of all ages like gifts that are made from the heart," said Kinsey Williams, a Columbus mom.

    Sharmon Taylor, 57, whose three daughters are now moms agrees. She said the best gifts she received were homemade.

    "It's usually something special to them, and they think it's very special to you and they've created it," Taylor said, adding that she's kept many of the Mother's Day gifts her children have given her through the years.

    "It's been anything from special pictures that they've made or drawn or poems they've composed... anything like that kind of tugs at your heart."

    Mother's Day is just two weeks away and now is a good time to plan or make something special for your mom. It doesn't have to be costly, but a showmanship of appreciation.

    Not sure what to get or make for the woman who raised and pampered you?

    Perhaps she'd like a day off from household chores or a drawing from her youngsters. Too old to draw something for mom? A paid trip to the spa or a nicely prepared meal are good ways to show mom you love her.

    Williams remembers when she made a coupon book for her mom. Each coupon in the book could be cashed in for a house chore her mom normally did. There were also coupons for manicures.

    "She said she always loved that gift," Williams said. "Maybe she needs an errand done or would like to go shopping and (someone) can have a baby sitter scheduled for that day.

    "That's what I'd like," hints Williams.

    Honoring mom

    While children are planing something special for Mother's Day, moms around the Valley also honor their own moms.

    A mother of three, Jenny Adams thinks of the holiday as a family celebration.

    Adams and her two sisters, Merritt Carty and Meghan Blackmon, plan to take their mother, Taylor, to the Columbus Museum for a Mother's Day lunch and tour of "The Love of a Mother: Images by Mary Cassatt and Other Selected Artists."

    "It works out because my two sisters and I are all mothers and so it's nice that we can honor our own mother," she said. The lunch is the Friday before Mother's Day.

    Blackmon, the youngest of the sisters, is celebrating her first Mother's Day as a mom. Her daughter, Mary Bright Blackmon, was born in August of last year.

    "She's crawling and starting to pull herself up. I think she's close to taking her first two steps, so I'm just looking forward to spending the day with her and watching her," she said. "It's been a fabulous year so far. Motherhood is such a blessing."

    Blackmon credits her mom for the person and parent she is today.

    "My mom was the best influence on me and with all of my sisters," she said. "She definitely taught us the right way to do it and I hope that I can raise my children half as well as she raised us."

    Her mother, Taylor, believes her daughters are doing just fine.

    "There's a sense of pride and humility," said Taylor. "Those feelings increase each year in watching them as mothers and and how they raise their children."

    While Taylor enjoys being a grandmother, she'll always think of herself first as a mom.

    "I also find that motherhood in general -- regardless of the fact that they're grown women now -- is being available when they need you no matter what their age."

    Read more at What moms treasure on Mother's Day

    E-Tailers Disappointed Customers During Holiday Shopping Period

    Netflix.com, Amazon.com, LLBean.com and QVC.com were the highest scoring online retailers. CompUSA.com, Kmart.com and Sears.com performed the lowest in the ratings. The sites with the biggest drop from spring to the holiday season were ToysRUs.com, OldNavy.com, Sears.com and JCPenney.com.

    Recent research suggests that satisfaction among customers of 40 top retail Web sites dropped over the holiday season.

    Find out why?

    Secret Codes Can Save You Money Online

    If you've ever shopped online, you've seen the box provided for "special code" or "promotional code." This magical savings box shows up somewhere between your online "cart" and the act of inputting your credit card information. These offers allow you to enter a series of numbers and letters to receive anything from 25-percent off to free shipping.

    These are, in essence, digital coupons provided as incentives to repeat customers or members of the site's rewards programs. You don't have to be a member or a VIP, you just need to know the right combination of letters and numbers that will get you that discount.

    In recent years, independent Web sites have cropped up listing promotional codes from stores including amazon.com, americangirl.com, sportsauthority.com and 1800flowers.com. If you are willing to spend a little extra time hunting around these sites, you can save a bundle on a varied and diverse list of products.

    Read More and Save

    Bouquets: Pretty As The Picture

    HEY, LOOK AT THAT. WE GOT FLOWERS, FLOWERS THAT WE SENT OURSELF FROM SEVERAL ONLINE RETAILERS, JUST THE WAY YOU MIGHT ORDER THEM FOR VALENTINE'S DAY. FOR THIS EXPERIMENT WE WENT TO FOUR OF THE MOST POPULAR FLOWER WEBSITES, PRO FLOWERS.COM, FTD.COM, 1800FLOWERS.COM, AND HALLMARK.COM.

    OUR GOAL WAS TO SPEND ABOUT $50 ON COLORFUL BOUQUETS IN A VASE. THEN WE TOOK OUR BOUQUETS TO BALLSTON COMMON MALL IN ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA TO FIND OUT IF CONSUMERS THOUGHT THE FLOWERS WE BOUGHT LOOKED AT PRETTY AS THE PICTURES WE BOUGHT THEM FROM.

    Click here for results

    Flower Power!!

    Keep a bright bunch of flowers in the room to encourage conversation.
    Research at Rutgers University found that elevator riders were more likely to be chatty when someone on the lift was carrying flowers. As a centerpiece, a colorful flower arrangement may have the same effect.
    Texas A&M researchers found that volunteers who kept a vase of vibrant flowers along with green plants generated more creative ideas than those in an environment lacking vegetation.
    Kansas State University researchers found that women who are exposed to flowers are less stressed. Refer...

    Nandina has spread far from its heavenly roots

    In China, the Nan-din shrubs are often found just outside doors to the house. According to a Victorian author, should anyone have a bad dream it was confided to the home shrub to ensure no harm would follow. What that Westerner may have construed as talking to the shrub was more likely a conversation with the door god, Men Shen. It was he who guarded the house against demons, allowing the family to sleep peacefully without being troubled by demonic dreams.
    During the height of the English Empire, little was known about the mysteries of Asia. Those who did venture into China to trade no doubt misunderstood a great deal of what they saw. In terms of the Nan-din shrub, or what we know now as nandina, the Chinese planted it near doorways because it was pretty. They also liked to grow nandina at temples, and this led to its common name, sacred or heavenly bamboo.
    Today we allow nandina to grow freely into a large bushy shrub. The multiple stems tend to grow straight up in an almost bamboo-like form. Chinese gardeners would carefully clip away the lower foliage to allow these rods to show through the few remaining wisps of leaves. If you could see a well-pruned nandina in the Asian style you would instantly understand why it is visually grouped with bamboo. You would also realize how tragic it is when gardeners routinely shear this natural beauty into square or oval shapes. Unlike bamboo, this evergreen shrub _ more akin to barberries _ has whole lot more color to offer. The original species, Nandina domestica, produces bright red new growth that faded to a very vivid lime green. It blooms in open trusses of small white flowers in summer. By the winter holidays the heavy bunches of bright red berries rival holly as holiday decor. Read more...

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