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Flower Blog Archive - July 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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cool new site

You have made this site much cooler by changing its layout, i like it but some pointers for improvement.

  1. This sudden change is effecting some pages getting displayed incorrectly. You should point out that using <CTRL+F5> would help solve this in most cases,
  2. There could be a help page or an introduction page in the or mentin somewhere what changes you have made,
    1. flower-face.gifAll the best to you guys and hope this work out well for you!

Blazing Star - Liatris

Liatris or Blazing Star is a native prarie plant as well as a popular perennial plant in many gardens. It's long lasting blooms make excellent cut flowers, either dried or fresh. In the garden the flowers attract butterflies. The flower spike opens from the top downward. This is unusual because most flower spikes open at the bottom first and work upward.

Liatris perform best in full sun and are quite drought tolerant. They will not tolerate soggy soils, especially in winter. New plants can be produced through seed or by division of the tuberous roots in the spring. Division will be necessary every 4 years or so. Tuberous roots can be cut with a sharp knife. Allow at least one eye to remain on each division.

Liatris species available to gardeners include:

Liatris scariosa: This species grows up to 5 feet tall with flowers available in white, lavender, or rose. It often requires staking in the garden to prevent lodging.

Liatris spicata grows 2 to 3 feet tall with rosy purple flowers. 'Kobold', a cultivar of L. spicata, grows only 18 to 24 inches tall with purple flowers. This plant works well planted at the front of the perennial border.

When drying liatris, harvest flower spikes when one-half to two-thirds of the flowers are open. Remove foliage from the stems and hang them upside down in a dark, dry place. Air circulation is important to prevent molding and speed the drying process which usually takes about three weeks. Liatris can also be dried with desiccants such as silica-gel or sand. Flowers dried with desiccants often have truer blossom color. Liatris make excellent pest free plants for the summer blooming garden. You may want to try some in your perennial garden. Reference.

Hybridizing creates daylilies in almost all colors

By Mitzi Davis For The Coloradoan
Diamond dusting, shark's tooth edging, watermarks and gold-wire edges.

These aren't words that describe daylilies growing in roadside ditches. Daylily or Hemerocallis species originates from the Greek hemera (a day) and kallos (beauty). Native to China, Korea and some Japanese islands, daylilies followed the trade routes to Europe in the 16th century. European settlers brought daylilies to North America, along with lilacs and peonies.

In 1893, the first recorded hybrid daylily was introduced in England. Today there are 40,000-plus hybrids registered in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and Germany. Results from hybridizing are flowers in all colors except true blue and pure white, flower sizes from 2 inches to nearly a foot across, and plant scapes (leafless flower stalks) from only a few inches tall to more than four feet. Flowers can be one color, bi-tones or bi-colors, and can have eyes, bands, ruffles and halos. Flower shapes include round, triangular, or star-shaped, along with unusual forms where petals are pinched or twisted. And, if that wasn't enough to get your attention, daylilies are easy to grow and virtually pest free.

Daylilies have bright green strap-like leaves 12 to 24 inches long. They arch into a graceful fan of foliage. Scapes arise from the crown and branch at the top, forming multiple flowers. Although each individual flower lasts one day, a plant with good branching and high bud count can bloom for several weeks. Growing different cultivars that bloom throughout the season will give you continuous blooms for several months. Smaller varieties of daylilies work well as border plants, while larger varieties can be used as background plantings. Plant spring-flowering bulbs around the daylilies and the emerging daylily foliage will cover up the dying bulb foliage. Daylilies planted in front of irises will provide color after the irises are finished blooming. Mass plantings of daylilies work well to add color and foliage contrast to trees and shrubs. Individual plants look great in a mixed perennial border.

Daylilies are very hardy and will grow in almost any type of soil. However, daylilies do best in well-drained soil, so add compost or organic matter to heavy clay soils before planting. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots, and plant the crown of each daylily at soil level, but no more than 1 inch below soil level. Daylilies need full sun to partial shade to flower well. A spring application of a low nitrogen fertilizer, such as 5-10-5 or 10-10-10, will provide nutrients needed for plant growth and flowering. Excess nitrogen will increase foliage growth at the expense of flowering. Deadheading flowers and removing any seed pods will also prolong bloom.

Daylily clumps should be divided every four to six years. You can do this in early spring, when new growth is emerging, or in the fall after flowering. Dig up the entire plant and gently pull the fans apart. Some plants have such thick rhizomes that you will need a spading fork or a knife to break up the clump. Replant two to three fans in a group - exchange the rest with other daylily growers for different varieties and colors for your garden.

Daylilies are virtually pest and disease free, although occasionally you may have problems with thrips or earwigs. Good sanitation, such as cutting scapes after blooming and cleaning up dead foliage around the crowns will help keep the plants healthy. Reference.

Hybridizing creates daylilies in almost all colors

By Mitzi Davis For The Coloradoan
Diamond dusting, shark's tooth edging, watermarks and gold-wire edges.

These aren't words that describe daylilies growing in roadside ditches. Daylily or Hemerocallis species originates from the Greek hemera (a day) and kallos (beauty). Native to China, Korea and some Japanese islands, daylilies followed the trade routes to Europe in the 16th century. European settlers brought daylilies to North America, along with lilacs and peonies.

In 1893, the first recorded hybrid daylily was introduced in England. Today there are 40,000-plus hybrids registered in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and Germany. Results from hybridizing are flowers in all colors except true blue and pure white, flower sizes from 2 inches to nearly a foot across, and plant scapes (leafless flower stalks) from only a few inches tall to more than four feet. Flowers can be one color, bi-tones or bi-colors, and can have eyes, bands, ruffles and halos. Flower shapes include round, triangular, or star-shaped, along with unusual forms where petals are pinched or twisted. And, if that wasn't enough to get your attention, daylilies are easy to grow and virtually pest free.

Daylilies have bright green strap-like leaves 12 to 24 inches long. They arch into a graceful fan of foliage. Scapes arise from the crown and branch at the top, forming multiple flowers. Although each individual flower lasts one day, a plant with good branching and high bud count can bloom for several weeks. Growing different cultivars that bloom throughout the season will give you continuous blooms for several months. Smaller varieties of daylilies work well as border plants, while larger varieties can be used as background plantings. Plant spring-flowering bulbs around the daylilies and the emerging daylily foliage will cover up the dying bulb foliage. Daylilies planted in front of irises will provide color after the irises are finished blooming. Mass plantings of daylilies work well to add color and foliage contrast to trees and shrubs. Individual plants look great in a mixed perennial border.

Daylilies are very hardy and will grow in almost any type of soil. However, daylilies do best in well-drained soil, so add compost or organic matter to heavy clay soils before planting. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots, and plant the crown of each daylily at soil level, but no more than 1 inch below soil level. Daylilies need full sun to partial shade to flower well. A spring application of a low nitrogen fertilizer, such as 5-10-5 or 10-10-10, will provide nutrients needed for plant growth and flowering. Excess nitrogen will increase foliage growth at the expense of flowering. Deadheading flowers and removing any seed pods will also prolong bloom.

Daylily clumps should be divided every four to six years. You can do this in early spring, when new growth is emerging, or in the fall after flowering. Dig up the entire plant and gently pull the fans apart. Some plants have such thick rhizomes that you will need a spading fork or a knife to break up the clump. Replant two to three fans in a group - exchange the rest with other daylily growers for different varieties and colors for your garden.

Daylilies are virtually pest and disease free, although occasionally you may have problems with thrips or earwigs. Good sanitation, such as cutting scapes after blooming and cleaning up dead foliage around the crowns will help keep the plants healthy. Reference.

Keeping perennials in shape

By Lauren Bonar Swezey
During the past few years, perennial gardening has become a popular Western pastime. Gardeners have discovered that. unlike annuals. perennials keep performing year after year--provided they are well maintained.

But many disappointed gardeners find out the hard way that you can't just plant perennials and forget about them. They need a certain amount of seasonal maintenance--pruning, shearing, pinching, and deadheading--to encourage flowering and attractive form.

When and how you do these chores depends on when a plant blooms and how it grows. The following guidelines are for some of the most popular perennials.

In mild climates, many perennials don't go dormant in winter as they do in colder climates, and plants often keep on blooming. But if you want to avoid scraggly looking plants and encourage fresh, healthy growth, you'll have to sacrifice some blooms when you cut them back. Shear low-growing perennials. These ground-hugging types provide a flush of bloom in spring (or later). They include basket-of-gold (Aurinia saxatilis), dead nettle (Lamium maculatum), diascia, evergreen candytuft (Iberis sempervirens), geranium, nepeta, rockcress (Arabis), Santa Barbara daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus), Serbian bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana), and Swan River daisy (Brachycome multifida).

All these plants benefit from being sheared back after 80 percent of the blooms have faded. This helps initiate another bloom cycle.

"Shearing should take place a little before you think plants are ready to be cut back," says landscape designer Maile Arnold of Sebastopol, California. Plants may still have some flowers, but if you wait too long and too many seed heads form, you may not get a second flush of bloom from plants such as basket-of-gold, evergreen candytuft, and Serbian bellflower, which aren't dependable repeat bloomers. The best way to shear low plants is with a long-bladed tool, such as hedge clippers. Arnold prefers sheep shears (available from feed stores), because they're easy to use and to sharpen. For most plants, cut off flower heads and an inch or so of foliage; apply fertilizer or compost. The exceptions are some species geraniums, such as G. endressii `Wargrave Pink', which get rangy. After spring bloom, cut back old foliage completely to the ground; new growth emerges from the base. Read more.

Mulch a timely reminder

By WSU Master Garderners
If you haven't been using mulches, you could try this as a new garden management technique for this year. Mulch (from an old German word "molsch" meaning "soft") means any type of organic material laid over the surface of the soil. Mulching the garden saves work, saves plants, and can save water in summer.

Saving work means having fewer weeds to deal with. An insulating layer of mulch can discourage weed seeds from sprouting.

Organic mulch also helps to moderate soil temperatures. Mulch also supplies humus as it gradually breaks down, providing a decomposed organic material that supplies necessary nutrients for the web of soil life, the microorganisms and macroorganisms (like worms) that proliferate in healthy soils.

Materials for organic mulch need to be somewhat loose in texture to allow water to penetrate and air to circulate. One writer says "the ideal mulch is easy to apply, does not need frequent renewing, is free from diseases and weed seeds...it does not pack, blow, wash, ferment...."(Avant Gardener, June 1991.) Several types of mulch materials are common locally. Bark, in various sizes, works well around shrubs and trees. It breaks down very slowly and retards weed sprouting. Both of these are helpful characteristics. Some research has shown that the larger the bark chunk, the better the weed control. So it's an excellent choice if the primary need is landscape appearance and weed control. The slow breakdown of bark means that it doesn't provide much humus for soil improvement and plant nutrition.

In vegetable, annual and perennial flower gardens, and areas where appearance is vital, other mulch materials are more suitable than bark. Particularly if the gardener intends to be adding plants, dividing plants, and installing seedlings, a mulch other than bark is preferable. Rough "unfinished" compost, commercial bagged compost, and partly-broken down leaves make good mulches.

My favorite mulch for years has been fallen leaves, from a pile that breaks down into black crumbly "leafmold." It's fine to use for weed control and looks attractive, and is free! Leaves spread 2 to 3 inches deep on the soil surface do break down over time, usually lasting one season. Or mix fallen leaves with grass clippings and chipped tree trimmings to make an excellent mulch. Don't get mulch on too thick, and don't get it too close to stems, trunks, and crowns of dormant plants. Leave a little space next to plants. One of the problems sometimes caused by mulch is the damage to plants where mulches have been applied too deeply and too close to trunks.

Mulching the garden reminds me a little bit of the pleasure of tucking blankets around sleeping children. It's certainly a caring gesture for the garden. Reference.

Petunias riding Wave of color, easy growth

By Dean Fosdick For AP weekly features
If petunia popularity were the stuff of showbiz, then you might see headlines like these dominating all the trade papers: "Wave Draws Raves; Becoming a Flower Family Fave." Or "Petunia Powers Way to Top of Petal Parade." Over-the-top theatrics to be sure, but the boldface assertions would be true.

"We're entering our 11th summer with the Wave series of petunias, and we probably can claim 10 percent of the market," said Ben Walraven, director of sales and marketing for Pan American Seed Co., West Chicago, Ill.

"No matter how green or black your thumb, you'll have success with it."

Four vigorous cultivars constitute the Wave series of petunias: Tidal Wave, Easy Wave, Double Wave and the original Wave.

Use determines which variety or varieties gardeners might choose.

The original Wave petunia, for example, is a low-growing flower. It quickly carpets large sections of ground. The Tidal Wave is a climber, capable of covering fences or trellises to a height of 3 feet. Many gardeners space the flowers closely together, creating a profuse and long-blooming hedge. Problems often develop when petunias are grown in cool, wet climates. They don't display well when soggy or after a good rain, although the Wave series doesn't seem bothered by that, Walraven said.

"Plant them where they'll get about six hours of full sun a day and if you do get some tough weather, the plants will bounce back. Because they spread so much, you get good value for your investment. Wave varieties will cover five, six or seven times as much ground as the regular petunias."

One of the major reasons why petunias - any petunias - are so popular in American gardens is the length of their growing season. These standout annuals bloom continuously from early spring until the weather turns cold again in autumn. Water them regularly or enough that they won't dry out. Reference.

Secret of plumerias: Winter of their discontent

By Norman Winter, McClatchy Newspapers
Most people are familiar with the tradition of giving floral necklaces called leis to visitors to Hawaii. The flower used most commonly is a plumeria, also called frangipani. Most of us live a long way from Hawaii, but we still can enjoy the special flower by growing it.

The plumeria has a tantalizing fragrance and commands attention whether grown in a container or the landscape. Once you start growing it, you will become hooked.

Richard and Wanda Dobbs, owners of Lei Tropicals in Gulfport, Miss., were so passionate that they turned their hobby into a business. They offer these exotic plants at garden and patio shows, as well as at their home location.

If you talk to Richard or someone with one of the plumeria societies, you will learn that this is the easiest tropical to care for and grow. How easy? So easy that anyone can do it. Would you believe the secret to its success is neglect? Well, sort of. The neat thing about the plumeria is that most of the plants are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in the winter.

So, during winter, they simply want to be stored in a nonfreezing location. They need no water or light. Giving them a drink will do them harm because they can't use it.

Plumerias are native to the tropics and related to mandevillas, allamandas and oleanders. They are started from cuttings. During the next two to three years, they develop into small, multitrunked trees with large, lush-looking leaves. They send up colorful bouquets of wonderfully fragrant flowers in colors ranging from white (Polynesia White) and yellow-gold (Aztec Gold) to multicolored blends like Kaneohe Sunburst, which is a floral rainbow of red, yellow and orange. Another multicolor is Kauka Wilder with fiery red-and-yellow blossoms. The soil should be light, airy and well-drained, whether in a container or the landscape. Dobbs starts his plumerias off in the early spring with a super-bloom fertilizer followed by a couple of applications of a slow-release blend higher in nitrogen. A dilute, water-soluble fertilizer applied every other week also would work quite well.

At any time you desire you can take a 12-inch cutting and let it cure for a couple of weeks or longer; then plant it in moist but well-drained potting soil. Planting cuttings is easiest during the growing season. Remember that water during the dormant winter season can cause rot. Cuttings, however, are easily bundled and stored during the winter. Reference.

Platinum Coast Orchid Society 43rd Annual Orchid Show

Dates:August 18, 19, and 20, 2006
Location:Cocoa Expo Sports Center, Arena 500 Friday Road, Cocoa Fl

This annual event will be held for the seventh time in the large, air conditioned Cocoa Expo Sports Center Arena, a 25,000 square foot facility. It is one of the larger orchid shows held each year in the state of Florida. The Show has been enormously successful and this year promises to be even better.

The Show will feature spectacular orchid exhibits created by commercial growers and amateur exhibitors. Over 3000 square feet of exotic orchid exhibits, design entries, and arrangements will be presented for the publics’ viewing pleasure.

Commercial growers in attendance will have thousands of orchid plants for sale to the general public. Some of the growers are from the immediate area, while others are from throughout the state and other locations, such as Taiwan, California, and Hawaii. The Orchid Society will have a large potting booth available to divide and repot orchids for a very nominal fee. A courtesy booth will be staffed by members of the Society to dispense orchid growing information in addition to providing advice and assistance to the attending public. There will be frequent drawings for beautiful orchid plants and other prizes throughout the duration of the Show. A wide range of orchid growing supplies will also be available for sale to the public.

The Platinum Coast Orchid Society is pleased to announce that a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Candlelighters of Brevard, Inc. This is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing emotional and financial support to children with cancer and their families. The Society considers it a distinct honor and privilege to assist this worthy cause and sincerely hopes the public will attend this beautiful orchid show and help make the event a tremendous success. Last year, President Jim Adamson presented a check for $3000 to Carrie McCarthy of the Candlelighters.

Should additional information be desired, please call 321-632-2847. Reference.

Herb of the Year: The Scented Geranium

By Mariana Greene, The Dallas Morning News
Just as Holland went through a tulip mania, Victorian England had its scented geranium craze. The sweet-leaved plants, which, botanically speaking, are not geraniums but pelargoniums, were coddled in heated glass houses. England's cold, damp climate was inhospitable as far as the native plants of hot, dry southern Africa were concerned.

Fanciers assembled collections, exhibitions were staged on their behalf and thousands of hybrids were created, primarily focusing on leaf shape, texture, size and color. While many hybrids of 100 years ago have been lost to commerce, there's plenty of variety to fill just about any garden need. Being selected Herb of the Year by the Herb Society of America has highlighted the subtle plants' usefulness in the kitchen and the garden. The flowers of most scented geraniums are tiny and delicate, not showy in the way bedding geraniums are, with their big heads of brightly colored florets.

Never mind. It's the foliage that adds immeasurably to a garden setting, in terra-cotta pots and whiskey half-barrels and planted in the ground among flowers. Some feature leaves that are broad and lush, others are ruffled or lacy, and colors range from bright green and soft gray to markings of creamy white, gold and chocolate brown.

Scented pelargoniums have not gotten their due in today's garden as ornamental plants. They usually are relegated to a nursery's herb section (because their scented leaves are used in cooking) and can be easily overlooked. Their lush fullness is welcome as an inexpensive way to fill gaps in garden beds; choose upright, tall-growing cultivars for the back and mounding forms for the front and middle. Leaf shapes and patterns add interest all season long to mixed containers, unlike plants grown for their flowers, which must have rest periods. Trailing varieties make singular additions to baskets and window boxes, but you rarely see them used that way. The plants are annuals in North Texas, and most will turn to mush with the first freeze. Gardeners take easily rooted cuttings before the first frost, bring mature plants indoors to overwinter or buy new plants the following spring.

Although very easy to grow, scented geraniums do need regular grooming and feeding. Some varieties can get lanky, so they need frequent pruning to keep them from developing long, limp stems. Brown leaves need to be removed all summer. And because some plants are compact, some are lax and others are upright – characteristics that will not necessarily be evident in a 4-inch plastic pot – you should select a plant suitable for the site you have in mind. A proper label will tell you maximum height and should describe the plant's mature form. Many nurseries have reference books under the counter; ask for more information to help you choose.

The plants' leaves emit a range of pleasing fragrances, including lemon, rose, nutmeg, orange and peppermint. Plant some by a doorway or path, where their scent is released as you brush by. Some cultivars, however, have a strong smell of camphor or eucalyptus. If you're planting a scented garden, rub a leaf to release the oils and sniff it to be sure you're buying a selection whose fragrance appeals. Useful in the kitchen and garden, "pretty pellies" also are a boon to crafters, says Henry Flowers, garden director at Festival Hill in Round Top, Texas, where an herbal forum is held every spring.

"Tie the flexible branches of 'Lemon crispum' or 'Juniper' to a wire frame for a pelargonium wreath. Use them in floral arrangements (but cut them the night before), tussie mussies, skin balms, soaps, potpourri and as pressed flowers and leaves."

Mr. Flowers suggests several upright varieties that can be trained into topiary standards. Some that work well are 'Frensham', lemon-scented crispum types, 'Peacock', 'Rober's Lemon Rose', 'Old-Fashioned Rose' and 'Candy Dancer'." Reference.

Deadheading

By William H. Becker, Penn State master gardener
Despite the negative connotations of the term, "deadheading" refers to an important gardening process with highly positive outcomes. By removing the dead or dying blossoms at the appropriate place and time, the gardener can increase the overall health, blossoming, shapeliness and beauty of many flowering plants and bushes.

With plants such as tea roses, deadheading is a continuing process of small-scale pruning that should go on throughout the growing season. In the case of peonies and of rhododendrons, it should take place during a much shorter time, perhaps 2 to 3 weeks, as the flower petals fall and seed pods form in their place.

Whether continuous or periodic, though, deadheading is pruning at the "micro" level, which is closely related to the "macro" pruning by which one guides the overall size and shape of the plant. This relationship will be illustrated in discussion of each of the three plants mentioned.

Peonies

You will probably find, as you do this, that most stems are topped by more than one blossom. Usually it is the center blossom which dies first, while accompanying buds on side stems may still be opening. Removing the ruined flower will allow these buds their moment in the sun and extend the period when the peonies are in bloom.

Rhododendron

With this plant, of the three we are considering, deadheading involves the most unforgiving time constraints. At the same time the petals are falling away, a seed pod forms at the top of each flower truss. These should be removed as soon as possible by snipping off the whole truss-seed unit at the woody base where the trusses come together. The sooner these developing seeds can be removed, the more vigorous the plant will be next season. As you remove these, you will see new buds or small leaves emerging at an angle from the sides of the woody base, perhaps only one, perhaps as many as three or four. When these new leaf stems are about 4 inches long, snip or pinch them off about one inch from the top, just above a newly forming set of tiny leaves. "Two or three new shoots will sprout from each shoot pinched," reads my basic gardening book. "Pinch again right after the new shoots emerge but before the next season's flower buds are formed" at the center of each shoot.

This deadheading will help keep your rhododendrons contained and flower-covered. But they will resist these kindly containment efforts, always trying, it seems, to raise new leggy stems upward and outward. For advice on how to trim them back further, which is not difficult, consult a book on pruning, a landscaper or your county Extension office, which can provide the name of a Penn State master gardener.

Roses

Deadheading hybrid tea roses properly is simple and is best done regularly, perhaps every other day, especially during hot weather. Once the blossom has fully opened, begun to bend over or discolor or to drop petals, snip it off with a sharp pruning tool just above the next leaf down on the stem, where, if you look closely, you will see the bud of a new leaf stem emerging. Some hybrids tend to grow very tall stems, and in such cases you may wish to skip down a leaf or two or three before you cut, thereby deadheading and pruning at the same time. If you are a newcomer to rose-growing, you may well find it hard to send those first blossoms to the compost; just remember, there are lots more buds waiting for their chance. Reference

Container gardening ideal for wooded lot

By Amy Ritchart
Living on a wooded lot is beautiful.

There is a lot of shade — which is good for the deck and patio.

There are, however, no flowers — not even in the front of the house where the sun shines in the morning.

And there's no obvious perfect place for a vegetable garden. The old house had a wonderful vegetable garden that was gated with a farm-style fence.

At the new house, we've had to turn to container gardening.

I've planted a lot of container flower gardens — but never a container vegetable garden. I was in luck, however, when several weeks ago the Montgomery County Health Department had a seminar about vegetable container gardening.

Mesina Bullock said the seminar idea for the county Health Department's Scale Down program followed a May feature article in The Leaf-Chronicle. She wanted to find a way to encourage those with even very little garden space to grow fresh vegetables. "Often times it's expensive to buy fresh vegetables," Bullock said. "Aside from regular exercise, eating right is the most important thing you can do for your health."

Tips for creating the garden include:

1) Using a pot that is the same width at the top as at the bottom.
2) Using garden gloves.
3) Placing about a half-inch of gravel at the bottom of the pot for drainage.
4) Using quality potting soil.
5) And most importantly, choosing a color variety of vegetables to include in the garden.

I took my kids to the seminar, and they were helpful with picking out which vegetables we should grow. And they help with watering the pots — which we've managed to avoid in the last few weeks by placing them strategically so the rain water has kept the soil moist. We violated the first rule and used a bunch of flower pots I already had stacked in the garage. The top is wider than the bottom, but we threw caution to the wind in favor of expediency and saving the money it would cost to buy new containers.

We donned our garden gloves and placed the gravel at the bottom for drainage and followed with potting soil that already had vegetable fertilizer in it. It was a little more expensive, but because we were only filling containers the price didn't make the project prohibitive. Read more.

A UK View of Pinks vs. Carnations

By Carolyn Whetman
Mention the name “pinks” and the most British people will recall with nostalgia the sight and perfume of a border in their grandparent’s garden. British gardeners have been particularly devoted to Pinks which belong, more than any other flower, to the days of sun bonnets, print dresses and tiny cottage gardens. Their history is impressive, having been cultivated for hundreds of years with much evidence of wild forms abounding on the mountains, hills and valleys of ancient Greece. They are found throughout the world and were a favorite in the UK even before the reign of Elizabeth 1, when they were grown to edge garden borders, to be picked for posies and made into bunches to be sold in the market.

The question often asked is, what is the difference between pinks and carnations? And the answer is genetics. Nearly all modern hybrid Pinks have D. caryophyllus in their ancestry, together with D. plumarius, D. chinensis and D. gratianopolitanus, but the main distinctions are the blue grey foliage, narrow leaves, strong constitution, ease of cultivation and frequently the presence of a darker ‘eye.’ Several centuries of breeding have produced an astonishing range of flower hues and patterns, but the one characteristic in both pinks and carnations that is easiest to lose is that of perfume. There are few modern carnations available, whether spray, standard or pot, where perfume has been retained. The modern hybrid pinks and dianthus available have been specifically selected to retain the spicy fragrance for which they have always been renowned. These modern cultivars include the ‘Devon Cottage.’ ‘Scent First’ and ‘Star’ ranges raised in the UK.

However, it is not just the perfume that makes modern pinks an outstanding plant. They have a strong constitution, provided some simple cultural rules are obeyed. Their favorite site is in full sun in a neutral to alkaline well-drained soil--if the garden grows good rhododendrons then pinks will not fare so well and they dislike waterlogged acid conditions. They are cold hardy (-20C, -5F), heat tolerant and can withstand a certain level of drought. Commercially, they can be produced pot to pot in a cold environment with plenty of air movement. And they are versatile--cultivars available can be used in rock gardens or for edging, for window boxes, patio containers or larger planters; and they make a wonderful perennial plant with fragrant flowers for cutting from April to September.

It is a remarkable fact that many established gardeners and flower arrangers have forgotten the qualities of pinks, and there exists a generation of new and young gardeners who have yet to be introduced to them. With today’s desire for lifestyle benefits that perfumed flowers bring to health and well being, pinks are enjoying a well-deserved revival.--Carolyn Whetman, Managing Director, Whetman Pinks Ltd., Dawlish, Devon, England. Reference.

Keep Your Fresh Cuts Longer

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
An Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist has identified specific packaging wraps, called films, which provide several fruit and vegetable varieties with a long shelf life. Food technologist Yaguang Luo, with the ARS Produce Quality and Safety Laboratory (PQSL), Beltsville, Md., led the project. The technology she used is known as "modified atmosphere packaging," or MAP.

Fresh-cut fruit and vegetable varieties are still alive, and each respires at its own unique rate. Therefore, a film's permeability and the amount of oxygen initially infused into a package are key.

Manufacturers have produced hundreds of different types of films, and each type has its own oxygen transmission rate, which allows sliced produce to continue breathing throughout storage and distribution. If a film's oxygen transmission rate is too high for the variety it's wrapping, the product inside will brown; if it's too low, the product will prematurely decay.

Luo's research findings led to developing a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide inside select packages that permits a particular fresh-cut produce variety to respire slowly and stay fresh for the longest possible time. For example, fresh-cut cilantro--a leafy culinary herb that's a popular flavor component of tomato salsa--has a high respiration rate that makes storage a challenge. Leaf yellowing, dehydration and loss of aroma can set in quickly after cutting. The packaging film Luo has identified for wrapping cilantro provides a 14-day shelf life. So the cilantro has plenty of time to be plucked from the grocery shelf and chopped to enliven a fresh batch of salsa.

Using similar advanced packaging technologies, Luo has been able to prolong the shelf life of romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, carrots and salad savoy, a nutritious new vegetable crop that is a close relative to kale and cabbage. Reference.

Unknown Flower, Need Name

Can someone help me find the name of this flower? It's about the size of a small palm of a hand and drapes down a fence at my house. It closes at night and re-opens during the day and no one seems to know the name of it. Thanks. *Picture should be uploaded into this blog.

Looking For Name of this Flower

Can someone please tell me if you know the name of this flower, no one seems to know what it is. It grows from the ground, but at my house is hung up on a face and drapes down. They seem to close at night and open during the day and the bud itself is about the size of a small palm of a hand. Thanks!

Brian Smith to Lead AIFD

The Art of Flowers in Portland, Ore., was installed as president of the prestigious American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) during the organization's acclaimed 2005 National Symposium held in Seattle (July 2-6). He succeeds Eddie Payne AIFD of Marion Smith Florist in Zephyrhills, Fla. as the volunteer leader of the floral industry's leading design education and accreditation membership group.

Installed as president-elect of AIFD was Chris Norwood AIFD of Tipton & Hurst Florist in Little Rock, Ark. Tom Simmons AIFD of Scentiments in Venice, Calif. was installed as AIFD's new vice president.

Marking a first for the organization, Sylvia Bird AIFD became the first non-American designer to serve as an officer on the Institute's Board of Directors. Bird, a freelance designer from Middlesex, England, was elected and installed as AIFD's new secretary and Tim Farrell AIFD of Farrell's Florist in Drexel Hill, Pa. continues to serve as treasurer. Rounding out the AIFD Executive Committee for the coming year will be Michelle Perry White AIFD, a freelance director from Double Oak, Texas who will serve as chairwoman of the AIFD Membership Committee and Ann Benjamin AIFD of Flora Magazine in Rio Rancho, N.M., who will serve as chairwoman of the 2006 AIFD National Symposium. The National Symposium, "Phenomenon," will be held in Washington, DC, July 4-8, 2006.

Also serving as volunteer leaders for AIFD are the members of its Board of Directors who include: Jacquelin Dannemiller AIFD of Tualatin, Ore.; Mark Erickson AIFD of The Oklahoma Flower Market, Oklahoma, Okla.; Walter Fedyshyn AIFD of of Zuverink Fine Silk Botanicals, Chicago, Ill.; Sharon McGukin AIFD of Carrollton, Ga.; Lori Novak AIFD of Archibald Flowers in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Lottie Nys AIFD, freelance designer, Owasso, Okla.; Emmett O'Dell AIFD of Avanti Partners in Orlando, Fla.; Kurt Schroeder AIFD of Floralife in Walterboro, S.C.; David Siders AIFD of Experience and Creative Design in Schenectady, N.Y.; and Tina Stoecker of Designs of the Times Florists in Melbourne, Fla. Read more.

Fresh-Cuts Are Popular, Any Way You Slice Them

Convenient, packaged fresh-cut fruits and vegetables are showing up in more and more consumer markets. Ready-to-eat sliced apples, for example, are now being offered by fast-food chains and school cafeterias. With high fiber and low calorie content, precut produce provides busy consumers with healthful options while on the go.

At the ARS Produce Quality and Safety Laboratory (PQSL), in Beltsville, Maryland, several research projects and studies have led to findings that will benefit processors, package manufacturers, distributors, and grocers.

“Maintaining consumer acceptance of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables after processing and throughout distribution is a challenge to the fresh-cut industry,” says Kenneth C. Gross, a plant physiologist who heads the PQSL. “We’re conducting research to help find ways to widen the variety of offerings that stay fresh to the last bite.”

Where Package Meets Product

Package wraps, called “films,” that cover precut produce appear to simply offer containment. But today’s package films are more than mere coverings. And the choice of film depends on the produce variety being wrapped.

Each film has an oxygen transmission rate, which allows cut produce to continue “breathing” throughout storage and distribution. Hundreds of different films have been manufactured, each with unique permeability levels. This feature must be matched with a particular fruit or vegetable variety’s requirements. Another important feature is the amount of oxygen that is infused into a package before sealing. The key to maintaining quality and prolonging shelf life is to create the exact balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide inside a package. This technology, known as “modified atmosphere packaging,” allows fresh-cut produce to respire slowly and stay fresh during the longest possible storage time.

PQSL food technologist Yaguang Luo has studied the oxygen and carbon dioxide transmission rates of package films and how they affect the produce inside. “Fresh-cut fruits and vegetables are alive, and different varieties respire at different rates. It is critical to match the right oxygen permeation level to the respiration rate of the particular produce being wrapped,” she says. “With lettuce, for example, if the oxygen transmission rate of the package film is too high, it will cause the product to brown. If it is too low, it will cause decay.” Cilantro, a fresh-cut culinary herb known as a key flavor component of salsa, has a high respiration rate, making shelf life a challenge. Leaf yellowing, dehydration, and loss of aroma can set in quickly after cutting. Luo has identified a packaging film for cilantro that supports a 14-day shelf life. Read more.

Shade Gardening

By WSU Master Garderners
Many gardeners view shade as a challenging situation for growing plants. The key is to discover which plants are adapted to the conditions in your garden. Several characteristics typify shade gardening. Plants growing in shade must compete with shading trees for nutrients and waters, as well as tolerate poor air circulation and low light levels.

There are three types of shade. Light shade, partial or medium shade and full shade. Light shade may be described as an area that is shaded, but bright. It might be completely shaded for short periods of time during the day, or under a canopy of lightly branched trees providing filtered sunlight. Partial or medium shade is present when direct sunrays are blocked from an area for most of the day. This would be consistent with a large mature tree shading a section of yard for much of the day. Full shade lasts all day. Little or no direct sunlight reaches the ground at any time during the day. Dense shade refers to full shade under thick tree canopies, decks or covered patios on the north side of the house that receive full shade.

Bright bold colors are less common in shade tolerant plants than in sun-loving ones. Flowers are generally less abundant also. Therefore, shade gardens are often more subtle and restful. Plant textures shapes and colors become more important elements of the design.

Texture has many aspects. Large-leafed plants such as hostas have a course texture. Ferns, on the other hand, generally have a fine texture. Strong contrasts in texture accentuate their differences. Use strong contrasts only where emphasis is needed. Another thing to keep in mind is glossy leaves, such as those on bergenia; ivy or vinca have more impact than dull or velvety ones. And don't forget ornamental grasses, such as black mondo, hakone, maiden grass, or tufted hair grass. They do well in partial shade and will definitely add texture and contrast to your shady spots. Foliage colors and textures can bring any shady spot some pizzazz. Even though most plants flower, it is the foliage that provides interest in the shade garden. Variegated or yellow-green foliage stands out more in the shade than solid green or blue-green foliage. Deep reds and purples may even fade unless you set those plants off by a contrasting lighter color.

Consider using height contrasts between plants such as dwarf conifers and their upright cousins to add interest. Pyramidal or columnar forms serve best as accents in shade. Weeping or rounded forms create a spacious feeling and can be used more liberally in the design.

By practicing the above suggestions, you should be well on your way to having a successful and beautiful shade garden. Reference.

Night-flowering Cactuses bring Color

By Mary Irish
Every morning, when I walk out to check on things, I make a point to look past the stairs and down the miniwash that divides the backyard where a large, gangly cactus winds its way through a creosote. Some mornings, it sports dozens of crisp white flowers, other days just one or two. I carelessly lost the tag, so I have no idea of its name, but its rush of sparkling white flowers enthralls me almost every morning.

I also watch for the flowers of cactus called Echinopsis "Epi." This is a short stump of a plant with a trio of wide, purple-red flowers blossoming every other week or so. Both are night-flowering cactuses, and they are my talisman, indicating that there is still life out in the garden despite the vicious heat.

Night flowering in cactuses has a number of advantages for the plant. The thin, delicate petals ooze water, and when they open during the cooler evening hours, that loss is minimized. In addition, there are a host of good pollinators in the night - moths, hawk moths and bats - that are drawn in by the beacon of a white flower.

Two of the native night-flowering cactuses in Arizona are widely grown. The Arizona queen of the night (Peniocereus greggii), with its homely gray stems and 8-inch-long white flowers, releases a potent perfume during its June bloom. But although the flowers are gorgeous, they are ephemeral, opening for only one or two nights a year. The other is our beloved saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea). Individual saguaro flowers don't last more than a day also, but there are dozens of them, so blooming lasts almost a month. Because the flowers are perched on the stem tips, they are best enjoyed from a distance. The whole lovely show is generally finished by the time it gets really hot.

To get repeated bloom through the summer, we have to turn to the night-flowering cactuses from Mexico, Central and South America. There we find the long, clinging vine-like cactus Acanthocereus tetragonus, whose deep green, five-sided stems sprawl over a fence; Harrisia martinii, a rambling plant whose long thorns make it an especially good choice to guard a window or prevent unwanted access; and the widely grown queen of the night (Cereus hildmannianus), with its forest of sturdy stems. All of those species put on grand displays of up to 50 or more large, white flowers a night. In older plants, this will be repeated numerous times over the summer, in response to deep irrigation or rain.
But the prizewinners of night-flowering cactuses are those in the genus Echinopsis. Where there were once three genera, Echinopsis, Trichocereus and Lobivia, now there is only one: Echinopsis, but you will still find plants routinely sold under their old names. This group includes the familiar Easter Lily cactus, with its small, rounded stems and large, tubular white to pink flowers. Flowers in this group sneak up on you. One day there is a fuzzy, round bud, quickly followed by a tightly curled flower. If you aren't alert the next day, there is the pathetically spent flower hanging from its long tube. Read more.

Shareholders say it with venom as Interflora is sold

By Sarah Butler, Timesonline

INTERFLORA is to be sold to FTD Group, an American rival, for £65.7 million in a deal that has angered the former mutual florist’s shareholders.

The flower-delivery company, once 100 per cent-owned by the florists that it services, was sold to 3i for £23.3 million 18 months ago.

The private equity firm currently owns 65 per cent of Interflora and management 14 per cent. The florists now own only 21 per cent, having received about £12,000 each from the buyout.

Rosemary Watkins, of Watkins & Watkins, a London florist, said “It is really sad. This company was owned by the membership for 85 years and now along comes Mr America.”

Ms Watkins, who estimates that each florist has lost out by about £90,000 through selling their stakes in the business so cheaply to 3i, retains her share in Interflora, but resigned from the service last week.

She intends to join First Delivery Network, a new mutually owned service set up by disgruntled former Interflora members.

Under the terms of the demutualisation, the florists have five weeks to decide whether to sell their stakes to FTD Group or make a matching bid. They do not have an option to retain a stake when FTD takes over.

Florists spoken to by The Times said that it was highly unlikely that the shareholders would be able to find sufficient funds to buy back Interflora.

One said: “We were told that demutualising was the best thing for us and the best thing for customers.

“Maybe the management made some improvements to the business, but this price seems a huge improvement suddenly.”

Five Interflora managers led by Steve Richards, the chief executive, who did not have a stake in the business before it was demutualised, stand to share £9.2 million from their holding if the sale goes ahead.

More than 87 per cent of Interflora’s members voted to incorporate and sell a majority stake to 3i.

Alan Stevenson, a director of 3i, said that the management team had achieved a three-year plan in 17 months and this was the optimum time to sell.

3i triples its money in Interflora sale

By Susie Mesure, Retail Correspondent

Interflora, the bouquet delivery network that sold out last year to a private-equity group, was sold to a US competitor yesterday in a £65.7m deal that implied the value of the florists' umbrella group had tripled in a little more than 12 months.

Coming so soon after 3i paid £21.3m for control of the then member-owned organisation, the sale to FTD in the US enraged florists who had campaigned against selling out in the first place. At the time, dissidents argued 3i would be more likely to look for a quick sale than invest in Interflora's long-term health. David Adair, the most outspoken florist, said yesterday: "The whole thing is one big scam and it's the members who have lost out."

The sale to FTD, the co-owner of Interflora's Mercury man logo, handed a windfall to the group's management, which paid only a nominal sum for its 16 per cent stake in the business. Steve Richards, the chief executive who was brought in to handle the original disposal to 3i, declined to comment yesterday.

An Interflora spokesman said those florists who reinvested the proceeds of last year's windfall would have tripled their money. But Mr Adair disputed this, claiming: "When people reinvested they got mainly loan notes, not equity. Florists are stunned by the sale so soon."

Under the terms of Interflora's incorporation, safeguards were inserted to stop 3i from selling on the business during the first 12 months of ownership. Florists have the right to match FTD's offer if they want to stop Interflora from falling into the hands of its US rival but none of its members harbour any hopes of them managing to raise the sum required. The company said the Florists Advisory Committee, which is staffed mainly by former board members keen on the original sale to 3i, was evaluating its position.

"Florists are struggling so badly there is no way they could find the money or the will to buy it back," Mr Adair said. It is understood that as many as 300 of the original 1,850-strong membership have left Interflora since 3i took control because they were unhappy about the new owners. This is despite backing from 87 per cent of Interflora's members for the original sale.

Alan Stevenson, a 3i director, said the private equity group was selling on Interflora so quickly because it had "achieved in 17 months what it originally hoped to achieve in three years". Changes made to Interflora since it was bought by 3i include strengthening its network, creating websites for its members and improving group buying at a local level, the company said.

Gardening Bananas put on a show

By Norman Winter, Horticulturist, Mississippi State University's Extension Service
It seems Mississippi gardeners have gone nuts over bananas, and I can see why. Last weekend, I stopped by a home in downtown Jackson that had been built at the turn of the century. Entering the back yard, I felt like I was in a tropical paradise with elephant ears, ferns, water features and tall bananas.

One garden center this year brought in bananas by the truckload and had more varieties than I have ever seen for sale in Mississippi. It is exciting to see bananas being sold by variety or species.

I hope gardeners statewide realize by now that, thanks to the Japanese fiber banana Musa basjoo, we can grow bananas and have gardens that look like the Caribbean no matter where we live. This is the most cold-hardy banana variety we know of now, and it actually returns from temperatures of 20 degrees below zero.

The flowering banana Musa ornata is also cold hardy. I have seen these return in the Tupelo and Oxford areas with little problem. Most I have seen are pink selections, which I find quite picturesque in the garden. There are other named varieties of the Musa ornata that definitely need to hit the market widely. We have been evaluating banana varieties at the Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs for the past three growing seasons. With many perennials such as roses, the third year is magical, and the plant really comes on in the landscape that year.

This is the case with bananas. One variety we are testing is called Macro, but that name does not do the plant justice. The blossom is red and big and will stop you in your tracks. Plant it in your tropical-style garden to make it look even more exotic. This is a Musa ornata variety which reaches 7 to 10 feet tall and is cold hardy through Zone 7.

The other variety is African Red. This is a name I can live with. It forms a big clump, and all the shoots seem to bloom in unison, making it an incredible sight. The African Red's petioles, or leaf stems, have a reddish tinge to them, and it may be the prettiest blooming banana for the entire state. Like Macro, it reaches about 7 to 10 feet tall. The banana plant does so much for landscapes by adding its coarse texture. The big, bold leaf structure makes you think of far-off, exotic locales, even though it may be growing in Brandon, Jackson or Sumner.

No matter which banana you try first, know that good winter drainage and a substantial layer of pine straw will help them return in the spring. I think most of us aren't feeding the bananas enough. I saw the banana trial at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Although our varieties were similar, their sizes were much larger. Some of this might be attributed to their soil, but I found they were pushing theirs a lot with fertilizer.

As you travel this summer, look for bananas being sold by variety. If one day you find African Red or Macro, know you are getting a plant that is extra special. You can see these and other bananas at MSU's Fall Flower and Garden Fest in Crystal Springs on Oct. 20 and 21. Reference.

FTD to buy Interflora for $121 million

CHICAGO, July 7 (Reuters) - Flower company FTD Group Inc. (FTD.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Friday said it agreed to buy Interflora Holdings Ltd. for $121 million, a move that FTD said would give it a base to expand in Europe.

The deal, which is subject to certain conditions including Interflora's members' right to match FTD's offer, is expected to add to profit in fiscal 2007, FTD said.

Inspirational Story - Ultra Violet Floral Studio in Edmonton

How they did it?

Janet Waldon and Bernard Gauvreau were ice-dancing partners before they decided to open Ultra Violet Floral Studio in Edmonton in August 2004. But, with 108 competitors including big-box retailers in the area, they new they needed an edge. That's why they decided to go high-end and create an open concept gallery-like studio, where all of the work is done in the centre of the store in an interactive environment..

Construction and renovation: $52,000 (including $15,000 they got from their landlord toward the reno)

Equipment: $18,000 (including fixtures, work station and cooler)

Start-up inventory: $14,500 (including flowers, vases, ribbon, tissue paper and other supplies)

Total start-up costs: $84,500

Rent: $1,800 a month

Inventory: $8,000 on average (depends on the season)

Other monthly expenses: $2,700 (including delivery service and store maintenance)

Total monthly expenses: $12,500

Number of $100 bouquets they need to sell each onth to break even: 125

Read their story

Official Unofficial Chicago Flower

By Beth Botts Tribune staff reporter
Published July 2, 2006

What flower says "Chicago" to Tribune readers?

For the last week, Home&Garden has been conducting a completely nonbinding, wildly unscientific poll for a flower that better represents the spirit of Chicago than the current city floral emblem, the mundane chrysanthemum.

There were 4,717 votes through Monday's deadline, by mail but mostly on the Tribune's Web site (www.chicagotribune.com). And the winner is ...

Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum), a native plant best known for its wispy seed heads, evocative both of the presettlement Midwestern prairie and of the swirling smoke of the conflagration that rebuilt the city in 1871.

"I would like to thank the people of Chicago for their wisdom, their patience and for having a lot of time to repeatedly vote for prairie smoke on their computers," said Mike Nowak, host of WGN-Radio's "Let's Talk Gardening" show, who nominated the wildflower. With 35 percent of the tally, it beat out globe allium at 12 percent, flowering crab apple (this reporter's nomination, sniff) at 28 percent, daffodil at 13 percent and wild leek (believed by historians to be the plant on which the name "Chicago" is based) at 12 percent.

Nowak freely admits he "stuffed the ballot box." (How's that for the spirit of Chicago?) Prairie smoke was trailing crab apple until he passionately appealed to listeners of his show, which airs at noon Sundays, for more turnout.

"We got about 400 votes on Sunday alone," he said. One woman e-mailed him to say proudly she had voted 45 times. The only consolation we crab apple lovers can take is that Nowak's listeners likely are gardeners who know their plants.

What's next? We hope to have some influence on Mayor Richard M. Daley, who said beforehand that he might heed a public outcry demanding a new city flower.

The plant's gossamer fluffs may pose a challenge to WGN-TV anchor Allison Payne, who kicked all this off looking for a flower that could be incorporated in jewelry designs -- and turned into an iconic symbol for our city. But rolling with the punches is in the Chicago spirit too. At a minimum, Chicago gardeners have a new plant to try, which will bring a little bit of history to sunny gardens. Reference.

New Mexico Master Gardener Conference

By Bev Eckman-Onyskow For the Daily News
Master Gardeners from all over New Mexico and as far south as northern Texas, 135 of them, gathered at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces for the seventh annual state Master Gardener Conference last month.

Otero County was third in state participation with 11 representatives, behind Do a Ana, the host county, with 42, and Bernalillo with 17. Bernalillo has the state"s biggest city, Albuquerque, and the most Master Gardeners in the state with 200.

The Otero County contingent included Master Gardener Association president Connie Klofonda; past president, Lois Glahn; Jane Crockett; Karen Lerner; Levi Wirta and his wife, Rita Wirta; Linda Zenner; Margret Lassich; and this writer.

Klofonda said one of the highlights of the conference was having it on the NMSU campus. "That affords us a lot of opportunities you don"t get anywhere else. I loved the place where we had the reception, at the Fabian Garcia Science Center Landscape Garden. And I appreciated all the work the Do a Ana County Master Gardeners did to beautify it. It gave me ideas about what we could do." Reference.

Teleflora Kicks Off 2006 Make Someone Smile(R) Week July 16 - 22

Teleflora, the world's leading floral service and product company, announced today its plans for the 2006 Make Someone Smile(R) Week program, the industry's leading benevolent project.

Make Someone Smile(R) Week will enlist thousands of Teleflora florists nationwide to deliver floral arrangements in the company's keepsake Be Happy(R) Mugs to those most in need of a smile: hospital patients, children at foster-care facilities, residents of nursing homes and others. This year's program will run from July 16 through July 22.

"Making someone smile through the gift of flowers, especially those less fortunate, is an extraordinary experience," says Rich Salvaggio, vice president of industry relations and publications, Teleflora. "The feedback from local communities and the floral industry has been overwhelmingly positive since we launched Make Someone Smile(R) Week in 2003. Teleflora is committed to its local communities, and this program is one way to give back to them."

Additionally, during Make Someone Smile(R) Week, anyone can deliver a smile to someone they love -- and donate to the American Cancer Society -- by visiting www.teleflora.com/makesomonesmile and sending an arrangement from Teleflora's Charitable Giving Collection, a selection of bouquets offering a contribution towards cancer research (20 percent of purchase price).

Teleflora will work with its national Units to donate the keepsake Be Happy(R) Mugs. The Units, in turn, will work with local wholesalers and growers to secure flower donations. With these donations the Units, along with thousands of local Teleflora member florists, will create lovely floral arrangements in the mugs and deliver them to local hospitals, charities and organizations.

Developed by Teleflora in 2003, Make Someone Smile(R) Week has grown into one of the floral industry's most successful cause-related initiatives in North America. Last year's program:

-- Delivered 23,000 floral arrangements to those in need of a smile

-- Spanned 325 cities throughout the United States and Canada

-- Involved 2,500 florists who donated 25,000 hours of their time

The success of the 2005 program is a testament to Teleflora's objective of helping those less fortunate by giving them something to smile about, through beautifully designed flowers delivered by a local florist.

For more information on Teleflora's Make Someone Smile(R) Week, and how you can get involved, please visit www.teleflora.com/makesomonesmile or call 310-966-3517.

Teleflora Names Debbie Listman as Chief Operating Officer

Teleflora announced today that Debbie Listman has been promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer. Ms. Listman has worked for Teleflora for the past 12 months, and since 1989 has held a number of managerial positions within one of Teleflora's sister companies. Most recently, she was Chief Operating Officer of the Franklin Mint. The company also announced today that Phil Kleweno, President, will be leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

Commenting on this announcement, Tom Butler, Chairman, Teleflora, said, "We are delighted to have Debbie on board to guide and build on our operations. Her solid knowledge of our business will be an important component as Teleflora continues to be the best place for florists to do business each and every day. Under Phil's direction the company made great strides in improving the products and services offered to our members and while we are sad to see him leave, we view this as an opportunity to establish a fresh new perspective on our future in the floral industry. We are actively seeking a new president and hope to fill this position very shortly."

A simple click can cost big bucks

BY SUSAN SCHROCK
Knight Ridder Newspapers

A $10 Internet discount wound up costing Hurst, Texas, resident Roberta Smith four times her online shopping savings.

When a family friend died last winter, Smith logged onto FTD.com to send flowers. After she entered her billing address, e-mail address and credit card information, an ad popped up inviting her to a discount on her $100 arrangement. Smith remembers clicking on the ad and completing her purchase.

Four months later while checking her credit statement, Smith noticed she was being charged $10 a month by a company called Shopper Discounts and Rewards. When she called the company to ask about the fee, she was surprised to learn that she had signed up for its program.

Smith said she had not remembered filling out any online forms to join. It turns out that she had inadvertently enrolled after accepting the discount. Customers of other online retailers also have complained that they were surprised to find out they had enrolled, according to several consumer Web sites.

Webloyalty.com, which operates Shopper Discounts, Reservation Rewards and other online programs with a monthly fee, does not try to fool anyone into being a member, said Rick Fernandes, the company's CEO.

Smith would have had to click the "yes" button on the discount and enter her e-mail address twice to enroll, he said.

"The terms and conditions are fully laid out next to the yes button," Fernandes said. "Immediately after you click the link, you are sent a page that says thank you for joining."

Webloyalty pays retailers for each customer who accepts a free-trial offer for its program, which advertises discounts at more than 800 online stores.

Unless customers cancel after the 30-day trial, they are charged a monthly fee. During the trial, Fernandes said the company sends five e-mails about the services offered.

Smith said that if she received the e-mails, her computer would have automatically deleted them as spam. After contacting Shopper Discounts, she was able to cancel and get one month of the membership fees refunded. She believes that the enrollment isn't clear enough because she did not want FTD to share her credit account information with a company she didn't know.

"The only thing I can say is don't click on anything if you don't know what you are clicking on," Smith said.

An FTD spokeswoman said that the disclosure states that the customer is authorizing FTD to provide account information, including credit or debit card number, to Webloyalty.

For love of lilies

By Mike Drew, Calgary Sun
Wood lilies look amazing from any angle, but they are especially cool when viewed from below.

The petals look like bright orange wings, the stems like bamboo, the pistils and stamens like some sort of alien tree. And backlit by the morning sun, with the rays suffusing through the green of the leaves and the dark sulphur of the petals, they are just stunning.

I was thinking this as I lay on my stomach looking up through my wide-angle lens in the quiet forest at Sibbald Flats. It was just past seven in the morning and the sun, though risen a couple of hours before, was just peeking through the pine trees around me.

Streamers of morning light sprayed across the forest floor and lit the plants among the trunks and out on the open ground in front of the trees. Asters and vetch, roses and baneberry, strawberries, glowed like lit from within.

But the most brilliant glow of all came from the wood lilies. And they were everywhere.

The wet weather we had last year and the heat we’ve enjoyed this spring seem to have brought out the best in these guys. And the blossoms glow even more brightly against all the green of the other plants taking advantage of the ground moisture and all that sun. I lay there for a few minutes enjoying the view, looking up at the deep blue of the morning sky with that orange glow in the foreground, but I got up when I felt some of the other early risers making their way up my shirt. Scratching, I walked back to the truck.

We’re having a banner year for wildflowers and their numbers seem to be peaking now. Every little opening on the forest floor, every foot of roadside, the margin of every swamp and slough has rafts of blooms.

Geraniums in pink and purple, wild roses, paintbrush, cinquefoil, violets, asters, even a few late chokecherries and wolf willows, there are flowers everywhere. I could have stopped every hundred feet and shot a hundred more pictures. It was tempting. But I drove slowly along instead, marvelling at all the beauty. I headed down Sibbald Flats road and out past The Kananaskis Country gates and then back to Hwy. 1 and Bow Valley Park before succumbing to temptation and stopping at the Yamnuska parking area off Highway 1A.

The forest there is so stunning — a grand mix of conifers and deciduous trees, wetlands and meadows. Everything is there. Walk a kilometre along the trails and you’ll pass a dozen foothills habitats.

But I was fixated on the wood lilies. And they didn’t disappoint.

Once again I found myself laying on the forest floor and looking up. But this time, on the way down, I shot some pictures looking down at the flowers instead of up. And they were every bit as stunning. I took some more pictures from underneath and then start crawling from bunch to bunch. Along the way I found a crab spider waiting for prey on a rose blossom and a little patch of striped coral root, one of my favourite orchids. And lots of big bright blanket flowers turned their bright yellow faces toward the morning sun.

There were cool spider webs, too, but I passed them by.

It was the wood lilies that held my view. The provincial flower of Saskatchewan, they are found all across the country. Their bright orange faces enliven the wilds almost all the way across the country. But don’t let those bright faces tempt you to take a bouquet home. Pick a blossom and the whole plant dies.

Better just to lie underneath and contemplate their beauty. Reference.

A Scentful Gathering: Gardening Masters Mix

By Stacy Smith Segovia, The Leaf-Chronicle
Tip Top, the historic home of Elwyn and Rubye Patch, was the dramatic backdrop for Les Candides Garden Club's biennial flower show. The members created flower arrangements — using both flowers from their own gardens and store-bought specimens — to fit several themes.

Jane B. Dowlen took second place for the "Gathering the Family Around Past and Present" category. The flowers in her low, rounded arrangement were inspired, she says, by the surroundings in which they were placed.

"The Patches' home, this lovely old antebellum home, led me," Dowlen says. "It's a lovely setting. We were really very fortunate to have them agreeable to having our show there."

Dowlen says Tip Top is so gorgeous, the flowers could be less so and still shine.

"It was a very pretty show," she says. "You could do weeds there, almost."

Dowlen skipped the weeds and chose roses in keeping with the old southern style.

Betty Darnell's entry in the "Won't You Please Come In?" category was a flight of the imagination, a clear indicator of the creative possibilities when one follows her instincts. The arrangement is a three-part harmony, combining the fullness of an oval container with the angles of a small square one and the height of a tall, thin vase. "A friend gave me the oval-shaped glass container," Darnell says. "I just kept dreaming about it, thinking, 'What can I do?' I knew I wanted to put hydrangeas in it."

Inspired by a magazine photograph, Darnell added a single stem of lilies to the rounded abundance of hydrangeas. The drama that single stem creates is impressive.

The square and tall containers came from Darnell's daughter, Kay Drew. "She had the square one, and the tall glass piece in the back, Kay found that on clearance at Hobby Lobby," Darnell says.

Darnell bunched miniature roses in the square container, their roundness an appealing contrast to the geometric lines of the glass. The third part of the whole is the tall container, bursting with flowers and grasses.

"I wanted to put bells-of-Ireland in that," Darnell says. "They're tall and curving and graceful. The color looked good in the living room." Darnell's entry, the first three-part arrangement to be used in the show, won first place in its division as well as Best of Show.

"I love to do it because I love competition," Darnell says. "It was really fun. That arrangement is the easiest I have ever done." Reference.

The Tulips: Foreign Exchange

by Kalpana Sahni
Innumerable poems and songs have been dedicated to the tulip. It was believed happiness resided within the yellow tulip bud. Nobody could get it to open until one day a small child ran up to the flower laughing. It was the innocent laughter that made the tulip bud unfold its petals.

A profusion of red tulips dotted the velvet grass of the undulating Kazakh landscape, spilling over into the parks and avenues of Almaty. Wonderstruck, I asked a Kazakh lady about the whereabouts of a tulip nursery. She thought I was crazy. “What nursery! These grow wild.”

I had never seen such an abundance of tulips and it took me a while to readjust my mind to the tulip’s spatial and temporal associations. The arid regions of the Pamir, Altai and Hindukush mountains were the real home of tulips. The Emperor Jehangir, for instance, mentions that the residents of Kashmir grew them on their flat mud roofs and they looked spectacular. Tulips are indeed so elegant and beautiful that one can understand the Ottomans pining for their favourite flowers and dispatching messengers to the steppes of Turkestan to bring back bulbs for their newly settled territories in present-day Turkey. Innumerable poems and songs have been dedicated to the tulip. It was believed happiness resided within the yellow tulip bud. Nobody could get it to open until one day a small child ran up to the flower laughing. It was the innocent laughter that made the tulip bud unfold its petals. Fizuli, the 16th century Azeri poet, in his famous poem, Laila and Majnun, describes the tulip’s “crimson cup” and “ruby’s glow” as the harbinger of spring. Majnun shares his secret with the tulips:
Imploring all the tulips of the leas
To tell his love in Leyla’s pearly ear...
He pressed the tulip’s petals to his eyes
And kissed its feet with lover’s heavy sighs.

Once they had been brought from Central Asia to Turkey, tulip cultivation spread to all corners of the Ottoman Empire, to be grown by one and all, rich and poor. By 1726, the Ottomans had listed some 900 varieties of tulips and the Sultan’s botanists had classified them with names such as Ruby Drop, Matchless Pearl and Diamond Envy. There was even a tulip growers’ handbook called The Balance of Blossoms, written by Sheikh Mehmet Lalezari, whose surname meant Golden Tulip. The image of this flower seemed to appear everywhere — in Ottoman miniature paintings, on royal robes, in carpet patterns, on tents and also on glazed ceramic tiles. There were even tulip shaped fountains and vases. In the early 18th century the Sultan decreed a Lale Devli or the Tulip Period of festivity. It was a time for leisure, rejoicing and great creative activities throughout the Ottoman Empire. The Court Poet, Nedim wrote: “Let us have fun, let us all dance and play, for it is tulip time!” Small wonder then that the tulip is Turkey’s national flower. But then it also happens to be the national flower of Holland, the country synonymous with the tulip today.

The Europeans discovered the flower in the mid 16th century. In 1554, Ogier Ghislain de Busbecq landed in Istanbul as the Austrian ambassador to the court of Süleyman the Magnificent. Busbecq wrote:

We saw everywhere an abundance of flowers... The Turks are so fond of flowers that even the marching troops have their orders not to trample on them.

But it was the tulip that specially caught the fancy of the Austrian ambassador. He returned to Vienna with some bulbs, which made their way first to Austria’s Imperial Gardens. Some others he handed over to Carolus Clusius, a botanist. However, Busbecq got the name wrong. Instead of Lalé, he mistook it for the Turkish word for turban (tülbent). Thus the name — tulipano, tulipan, tulip etc! Now it so happened that in Holland some bulbs were stolen from Clusius’s research garden. And overnight the tulip became a rage, but of a peculiar kind. Instead of poems dedicated to its elegance and beauty people started betting on it, staking claims to it. The tulip was turned into a status symbol by the gentry and renamed the Pot of Gold. In 1634 Tulipmania or tulip madness broke out in Holland. DG Hessayon, a Bulb expert, relates:

“Possessions of all sorts were sold to buy bulbs — a rare type could cost the price of a farm, house or coach and horses. Of course there were not enough bulbs to go round and so Tulipmania became a paper speculation.” Fortunes were made and lost till 1637 when the tulip bubble burst. Alexander Dumas’s novel, The Black Tulip, is set in Holland at the time of the tulip mania where a 100,000 guilders was the reward for cultivating the black tulip, “a new flower, destined to bloom for one day, and to serve during that day to divert the ladies, the learned, and the curious”. The story of political intrigue and romance runs parallel with the author’s critique of the tulip’s commercialisation. Today Holland produces over nine billion tulip bulbs annually and a travel website invites tourists to enjoy the Dutch tulips in Kazakhstan. Reference.

Roses may be red, but violets aren't blue

By Christopher Andreae
"Roses are red, violets are blue...." Hmm, well, so much for the accuracy of children's doggerel. Some roses are red - that's true enough - but they have an amazing number of other colors, too. As for violets, if there is one that is a real "blue" - I mean a true ultramarine or an authentic cobalt blue, the sort of blue blue seen in the sky - then I'd like very much to meet it.

Violets aren't "blue." At least not here in Glasgow, Scotland. It's true that you do get pink ones, and yellows, whites, and all kinds of in-between colors, but the archetypal color of a violet, as its name suggests, is violet. Like oranges are orange.
There are dissenters to my view. One writes: "I have heard - but am not sure if it's true - there's a "real blue" one that's native to the US, maybe to the Midwest." Well, anything may be true in the Midwest. But I'd like proof.

There are other popular ideas about this small, traditional, and delightful wildflower that are a tad more accurate - as when someone is described as a "shrinking violet." Violets are indeed rather shy (even if they can also spread like wildfire in places that suit them). What I mean by "shy" is that they aren't six feet high, take-notice-of-me plants. They like to hide themselves in grass or lurk in hidden corners. Their flowers are not loudly declamatory on long stalks, but rather self-effacing and definitely little.

They don't much like to be brought out into the open. I picked a violet flowering in the garden the other day to bring it indoors because I wanted to look at it closely. I gave it good water to drink. But it chose not to. What it did was shrink. The flower turned to crumpled paper in the miniature vase and is now brown and sinking.

Wildflowers don't always take kindly to domestic arrangements, reminding humans that plucking flowers for our own pleasure is not necessarily as natural as we like to think. I was, after all, interfering with the violet's natural intentions - to turn from flower to seed and seed to future generations. In the big outdoors, it would have fulfilled itself just fine. As a matter of fact, the patch of ground around our house is, as the years trot along, proving itself distinctly violet-friendly and violet-productive. Earlier in the spring, I thought 2006 was not going to be a good year for them. I was wrong. They have, perhaps a bit late, cropped up in all kinds of unsuspected places and flowered with (for violets) happy abandon.

I am particularly proud of one kind of violet that shows up in crevices and cracks between our paving stones and is even thriving under the shadow of a cotoneaster. This type has a slightly larger and more strongly hued flower than the commonest kind we have, which is what the Scots would call "peely-wally" - faded and pale.

"Violet" can be a surprisingly vivid hue, and yet still be different from "purple." This deeper, richer kind of violet flower is the one I'd like to cultivate even more ... though cultivation doesn't really suit wild violets. I have no idea how this deeper violet happens to be in our garden. It certainly wasn't here when we arrived 25 years ago. It doesn't grow wild around here. Nor did I steal a plant of it from another gardener - though I was gravely tempted to do just that when I saw a veritable diaspora of them flourishing haphazardly in John Brookes's garden.

Brookes is one of Britain's notable garden designers. His violets put mine in the shade. Yet "his" and "mine" are not really apt words. You may welcome violets, you may encourage - or at least do your best not to discourage - their presence, but you can't possess them. If they choose to stay around you, fine; if not, too bad.

In Brookes's garden, it is his advocacy of gravel that most pleases the violets. He uses a lot of gravel. They love to seed in it at will. And my own keenness on gravel, stimulated by Brookes's liking for it, has had a similar effect. Yet, in Brookes's "Book of Garden Design," I have found no mention of violets. Perhaps this is because they do not add their small punctuation marks to a garden by design. You can't design violets. Read more.

Beautiful Flowers: It's All in Their Genes

By Don Comis
As you visualize the orange and yellow mums--and maybe the purple asters--in your soon-to-be fall flower garden, consider what would happen if the genes for these flowers disappeared.

To make sure this doesn't happen, Agricultural Research Service scientists and cooperators are helping to preserve these genes as the genetic diversity of many popular flowers continues to shrink. Breeders often focus on beauty at the expense of other traits, while development threatens natural habitats. Both of these factors lead to a narrower gene pool.

ARS, Ohio State University and the American floriculture industry have created the Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center in Columbus, Ohio, to preserve flower genes for this rapidly growing sector of U.S. agriculture.

Center director David Tay and colleagues are preserving flower genes--contained in seeds, bulbs, cuttings and plant tissue--in seed coolers, greenhouses and fields. The ARS National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colo., keeps duplicates in highly secure storage. Just three years old, the Ohio center is the newest addition to the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System, which began in 1946 and now includes 26 genebanks across the country.

With its modern, 6,000-square-foot office-laboratory complex and an 11,500-square-foot greenhouse complex, the Columbus center is one of the few flower genebanks in the world. This year, the center added a tissue culture lab for housing tissues of daylilies, geraniums and other vegetatively propagated flowers. The center maintains a total collection of more than 2,000 plant accessions from around the world. It recently acquired an X-ray machine to screen out empty seeds and check for damage from cleaning.

The floriculture industry is vital to the economies of many states, like Ohio. Nationally, floriculture is a $13-billion-a-year industry, while globally it's worth about $50 billion. Reference.

Protecting The Popular Flower

UC IPM has teamed up with growers, ornamental plant organizations, and industry personnel to develop IPM strategies to protect a $300 million cut flower industry in California.

In USA, California is the largest producer of gerbera flowers, one of the most popular ornamental flowers in the world with more than 200 varieties. Gerbera growers often spray pesticides to control pests such as leafminers, whiteflies, and thrips.

With funding from UC IPM and other organizations in the Gerbera Pest Management Alliance (GPMA), researchers are investigating ways to improve the timing for releasing natural enemies, integrating biological control, and using new reduced-risk pesticides to control destructive pests. A key concern is to determine how many pests are present and the number of pests it takes to impact crop yields so that growers can skip treatments when they are unnecessary.

Four 10,000-square-foot sites in Encinitas, Carpinteria, Ventura, and Watsonville are being used to develop standardized sampling methods and thresholds for gerberas. Without knowing how different numbers of pests affect a crop, growers don't know the best time to spray pesticides or to release natural enemies, which can result either in crop losses or excessive control costs. With science-based information on pest pressure and risk gathered in these experiments, growers will have a better understanding of when to apply natural enemies or pesticides so they can obtain the best possible pest control and reduce pesticide use.

Researchers studied climatic factors such as temperature and humidity and non-climatic variables such as variety and leaf age to help determine optimal pest management practices. When complete, this study will serve as a model system for cut and potted floriculture crops statewide. "The Gerbera Pest Management Alliance has been designed to advance integrated pest management and biological control strategies for gerbera growers wherever they may fall on the pest management continuum," says UC Davis entomologist Michael Parrella, who is one of the investigators of the project. "We have some growers who are actively using biological control, while others are just starting. This program, based on developing solid sampling strategies, will offer all growers the opportunity to advance their integrated pest management. We meet three times a year at a cooperating grower's packing shed, review progress of the GPMA, share experiences, and tour the gerbera production area."

Other GPMA members are the California Cut Flower Commission, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, county advisors, allied industries and manufacturers of reduced-risk pesticides. UC IPM, the California Cut Flower Commission, the Hansen Trust, USDA (via the National Floriculture & Nursery Research Initiative), and the American Floral Endowment also provided funding. Reference.

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