Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Best Way to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh For Long Time

You’ve just got a bouquet or floral arrangement home. Maybe it was delivered (wrapped or in water), or you picked the flowers up at a florist or even the grocery store. So you’re wondering how best to prepare and display the flowers to extend their life. The good news is that keeping flowers fresh for as long as possible is fairly straightforward.

As soon as you have the flowers at home you remove them from the wrap, or remove them from the water they’re currently in. You will cut about an inch, maybe even a little bit more, off the bottom of the stems. Cut at approximately a 45 degree angle not straight across, why? Because flowers take up water through the stem, and cutting at an angle gives a greater area for the flower to absorb water through. Use a sharp knife or sharp shears that last thing you want to do is to crush the stem; you want a nice clean through cut. While you’re doing this, also be sure to strip any foliage that will be in or under water all you want in the water is the stem, no buds or leaves. Leaves in the water will contribute to rot, and shorten the lifetime of your flowers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Magnolia Flowering Trees

Most modern landscapes cannot support huge trees. Fortunately, most trees have dwarf varieties or similar smaller species to choose from. When choosing small flowering trees, it is a good idea to consider how they will look in every season. There are fewer broadleaf evergreen flowering trees to choose from than there are deciduous trees.

Evergreen Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora is a beautiful tree if given the right conditions. The large white fragrant blooms in early summer are unsurpassed. The species is a 40-50 foot tree, but there are smaller cultivars more suited to our climate.

Magnolia 'Brackens Brown' is a 20-foot tree. It gets its name from the felt-like brown layer on the underside of the leaves. Magnolia 'Brackens Brown' is a 20-foot tree. It gets its name from the felt-like brown layer on the underside of the leaves. Magnolia grandiflora 'Edith Bogue' is a columnar 15-20 foot variety. It will reach a similar height, but will fit into a narrower space. The smallest evergreen magnolia is Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem' at 15-20 feet.

There are things to consider when choosing any type of magnolia for the landscape. They have delicate, brittle roots so extra care is needed when planting. They do not like to be disturbed once they are established. The evergreen magnolias are dense and will create shade beneath them, so grass may not do well, and only shallow-rooted, shade-loving plants should be placed below them. Evergreen magnolias like full sun and average water.

There are deciduous magnolias that are smaller yet. A popular one is the Lily Magnolia, Magnolia 'Liliflora', which develops purple tulip shaped blooms before the leaves in spring. It will sometimes bloom again in summer in our region.

A wonderfully scented magnolia with yellow blooms is Magnolia'Butterflies'. This one will top out at around 20 feet. An underused magnolia is Magnolia 'Seidoldii', which has white open flowers and burgundy stamens. Once mature it can bloom sporadically all summer. It is only 10 feet tall, so it could be classified as a tall shrub. Most magnolias are as wide as they are tall, so they do take horizontal space in the garden.

Another good smaller evergreen tree is the Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo. It has elongated thick evergreen leaves and attractive reddish stringy bark. In late summer it develops clusters of white urn shaped flowers followed by red winter berries.

The berries are rounder in shape, but are dimpled like strawberries, though they are mealy and bland. The birds will take them off your hands before they can make a mess. There will be green, orange and red berries on the tree at the same time. The compact strawberry tree has smaller leaves and in my landscape has reached 12 feet.

Crape Myrtles are great small late summer flowering trees. They range from 10-to-30 feet in size. These are drought-tolerant trees that need full sun, and perfect drainage. They will develop clusters of white, pink, salmon, purple or red flowers. They bloom in late summer or early fall and are sweetly scented. Make sure the variety of crape myrtle you choose is hardy to zone 8, or lower for our area. When choosing flowering trees for your landscape, think beyond flowering cherries.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Columbine Flowers in Garden

With flowers suspended on thin, wiry stems, bobbing along in the breeze as if floating on water, the columbine makes the perfect addition to any garden or landscape.

Columbine foliage is reminiscent of maidenhair fern, being attached to the plant by long petioles. The flowers' colors range from purple and blue to yellow, white and red. Columbine bi-colored varieties of red and white, red and yellow, and blue and white are spectacular.

The flowers either turn up or nod downward. A notable feature of the columbine flower is the spur that is attached to each of the five petals. The spurs resemble an eagle's claw for which the Latin translation is "aquila" which is related to the columbine genus name, Aquilegia. These spurs are thrust backward and create a counterbalance that allows the flowers to nod and bob with the slightest breeze.

Though these plants look fragile, they really are tolerant of many environments. Planted in full or partial shade, columbine will thrive and flower profusely. This plant likes good loamy to gravelly soil, and a rock garden is its favorite. Once the tap root has become established, the columbine shouldn't be transplanted.

Columbine is a re-seeding perennial. In past years, columbine growing in my garden produced new seedlings each spring around the original plants. Re-seeding is a nice trait, as columbine should be treated as a short-lived perennial. The extra plants are easily thinned, and when you give them away, you'll make friends in the neighborhood.

Most of the plants at the garden centers are improved hybrids and selected to display the biggest and brightest garden performers. However, there are several other columbine species that are landscape worthy.

While plants may not be available at the garden center, these plants will easily grow from seed. Wild columbine (A. canadensis) prefers moist, wooded sites. The plant grows to 2 feet tall and has red sepals and short spurs with yellow petals. Golden columbine (A. chrysantha) has 2- to 3-inch diameter flowers that are a pure yellow-gold color and extra long spurs. It is a tall, loose growing 2- to 4-foot tall perennial.

For those interested in a smaller plant, the alpine columbine (A. alpina) fits the bill at 1- to 2-feet tall. The blue flowers have short, curved or hooked spurs.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Flowers' Power in the Perfume

Longwood's blooms illustrate new exhibit that explores the art and passion of fragrance. Flowers' power in the perfume world will be explored at Longwood Gardens' new exhibition, ''Making Scents: The Art and Passion of Fragrance.''

The massive presentation will turn the gardens' indoor Conservatory into a treat for the senses at a time when its outdoor gardens also will be filled with blooming daffodils, magnolias, azaleas, flowering cherries and more than 235,000 tulips.

''Making Scents'' opens April 10 and continues to Nov. 10.

A flower-filled 18-foot-tall sculptural trellis, shaped like a perfume bottle, will welcome visitors to Longwood's Conservatory in Kennett Square, Chester County. A highlight will be discovering the plants and flowers behind iconic perfumes including Chypre, Shalimar and Allure. But that's only a small part of this sniff-and-tell experience. Substantial space is dedicated to explaining both the art and science poured into creating a perfume.

Visitors will sniff mystery perfume scents and learn to classify them according to the type of aroma they have from floral, citrus and fern to woody, Oriental or leather. More than 260 different aromatic plants and flowers from around the world have been added to the conservatory's existing collection for the indoor part of this exhibition.

Among the key flowers in bloom at the start of the exhibition will be yellow freesias, Oriental lilies, hyacinths and gardenias along with sweet white jasmine flowers. A special treat will be catching whiffs of the cananga tree's ylang-ylang flowers. These blooms from trees that grow in Indonesia and the Philippines are highly prized and are used to add depth and intensity to several high-profile perfumes.

Flowers and scents will change with the seasons. In bloom, too, will be a spring assortment of lilacs, lilies and narcissus. In summer, guests will be able to stop and smell the roses, scented geraniums, lavender and Brugmansias. Sage, mint, lemon and rosemary will be among the autumn scents while scents of paperwhites, pine, juniper and fir will be in place for the winter holiday season.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Problems in Dahlias Flowers

Dahlia buds are round before them open into flower and funnel shaped after they flower. It is also not possible to have a seed head without a flower preceding it. This means that the buds have formed flowers but that you have missed them. This is not so unusual, especially if the weather is either very wet or very dry, as the flowers can be very short-lived. The important thing is to cut off the seed heads as soon as possible to encourage more flowering buds.

There is a condition known as rhubarb gumming where the sticks excrete sticky resin (which is what attracts the flies). Cracks may also appear and the sticks may rot. The main reason for this is erratic water and nutrient supply. Rhubarb needs rich, damp soil, so make sure they have plenty of water and mulch thickly with manure or garden compost each winter after the leaves have died.

It's in the nature of the weeping pear, Pyrus salicifolia 'Pendula', to become tangled - and there's nothing you can do to stop it. I suggest you enjoy it for what it is, rather than try to make it do something that is against all its natural inclinations.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Daffodil Hill Farm

Daffodil Hill farm may be just the right location for your next family outing. Located about an hour outside of Sacramento, Daffodil Hill is a 4 acre farm owned by the McLaughlin family.

Daffodil Hill is home to more than 300 named varieties of daffodils. It is estimated that there are more that 300,000 bulbs in the ground with an additional 6,000 bulbs planted each year. The McLaughlin family has owned the property since 1887 and continues to offer access free of charge to the public.

The flower farm is located at an elevation of about 3,000 feet in amongst the pine trees of Amador County. All types of flowers are located on the property as well as peafowl, pigeons, chickens, and rabbits. You will find rustic farm equipment scattered around the flower farm. There are also about two dozen picnic tables located on the property as well as plenty of room to lay down blankets for a picnic. Youth groups often setup a stand across the street and sell burgers, drinks, and other snacks.

Daffodill Hill is only open a few weeks per year. The flower farm opens when 25 percent of the flowers are in bloom and closes when only 25 percent remain. Last weekend was Daffodil Hill’s opening weekend. With no rain forecasted and highs in the low 70’s, next weekend will be another beautiful time at Daffodill Hill.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gardening Flowery Plants

It's so heartening to see signs of spring all around, after the long and cold winter. Flower buds are swelling on the forsythia and bridal-wreath spires; daffodils are ready to bloom in a few days and the Lenten roses, snowdrops and early crocuses have been in bloom a week or two on my south-facing hillside.

An entire lawn flowers blooming. They were a light purple, or lilac, color and look just like some I have blooming under a dogwood tree on a sunny slope. They're a variety of the very-early flowering (sometimes called winter flowering) crocuses, which are smaller than the usual "Dutch type", but have the advantage of blooming earlier and increasing better. The catalogs that specialize in bulbs will usually have several different colors of these earlier ones, as well as the usual kinds. The new catalogs will come out later this summer or in early fall, because spring-blooming bulbs need to be planted in the fall.

Plant crocus bulbs in the lawn, except for the deer; they'll eat the leaves and flower buds as soon as they come up, unless they're sprayed with a repellant. That job is much easier if they're in one bed, instead of scattered over a wide area. This year, sprayed them just twice and they've been left alone. Use the milk-and-water solution, one part milk to five parts water.

Collect many more of the snowdrops and daffodils because the deer never bother them. It's so satisfying to be able to put these bulbs anywhere we want them and never have to worry about spraying them, and save the space behind the fence for things they do eat.

The other plant blooming now is the Lenten rose (helleborus orientalis or hybridus). It's close kin to the Christmas rose, which has white flowers and blooms even earlier. Pink flowers were brought from Tennessee, who had bought an older home, where the Lenten roses had spread by seed.

They'll soon be replaced by new leaves, which will stay healthy and green through next winter. Of course they aren't actually roses (but who wants to go around saying helleborus); they are perennial plants that bloom just once a year, but those blooms will last several weeks, just when we need cheering up. They grow fine in a partly-shaded location and spread by seeds (slowly), but large plants can be divided in late summer by digging the whole thing up and carefully cutting apart the root system to leave at least three buds on each piece. Replant immediately in good soil with rotted humus or peat moss dug into it, and keep watered all fall, in dry spells.

It's not hard to have some outdoor flowers, at this time of year, by planting some that come up and bloom early, even in deer country. Just plant things they don't eat: snowdrops, daffodils and helleborus, soon to be followed by forsythia and bridal-wreath.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cherry Blossom Blooming Started

Warm weather and abundant sunshine in Washington, D.C., will allow the celebrated cherry trees to blossom earlier than expected.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is from March 27 to April 11 and includes activities such as parades, dinners, fireworks, art displays, musical performances and a 10K race.

March 27 marks the 98th anniversary of when Japan gave Washington, D.C., 3,000 cherry blossom trees to celebrate the nations' growing friendship. This annual two-week event celebrates the beauty of springtime and companionship.

The buds on the cherry trees usually sprout in the early spring but the exact time of blossoming greatly depends on the weather.

This is when 70 percent of the blossoms are open. March 28 through April 9, the blooming period, occurs when 20 percent of the blossoms are open.

The peak date varies each year because it relies on favorable weather conditions. Due to a forecasted beautiful next few weeks in the nation's capital, this may be the year for an early peak date.

These weather conditions should set those trees into an early bloom and ensure a great spring festival.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rosebud Flower Blooms in Space

This image shows AFGL 3193 what looks like a rosebud a small piece of a very complicated region of gas, dust, and stars in the constellation of Cepheus in the northern sky which is delivered by Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). This region has star formation, cold and hot dust and even a supernova remnant (called NGC 7822). This particular part seen by WISE shows a cluster of young stars called Berkeley 59 the stars colored blue to the right surrounded by the gas and dust from which they formed. This cluster is less than a million years old, and the massive, hot stars are blasting out radiation that is eating away at the cocoon surrounding them.

In the false-color image from WISE, red shows the coolest dust, blue and cyan warmer material, and green reveals long-chain organic molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. You can see how the PAHs appear to form around the rim of the nebula as the material there is compressed and warmed by the ultraviolet light and solar winds from the young stars. The filaments are testament to the forces tossed around as the stars go through their violent birth process. One of the stars in the cluster is a massive O5 star with dozens of times the mass of the Sun, and blasting out radiation at a rate 100,000 times that of the Sun!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Clematis Armandii Flowering Type

Clematis varieties are among some of the most prized twining climbers in the Bay Area. The diversity of foliage aside, there are 10 categories of flowers, everything from single and double forms to open and closed bell-shaped, even tubular and tulip-shaped.

Nearly all of these flowering types are deciduous. One notable exception is Clematis armandii, an evergreen, group one bloomer that offers a most persuasive set of credentials. Start with the uncharacteristic-for-a-clematis foliage, which features mostly trifoliate, large (to 6 inches), pointed, leathery leaves. Young leaves are a bronze color, then turn a shiny dark green as they mature. These handsome leaves form a verdant backdrop to the blooming show that arrives in early spring. And what a show indeed!

Once established, Clematis armandii blooms prolifically with intensely scented, saucer-shaped flowers that will knock your socks off. Blooming begins in early March and can continue into June. It makes you want to put a chair underneath the vine in spring, grab 10 books and say, "Call me when June arrives."

The most recognizable Clematis armandii is the white flowering species. These 2- to 3-inch-wide pure-white flowers really pop against the dark foliage, providing a timeless, elemental display. 'Snowdrift' is an excellent cultivar, its flowers said to smell like honey and almonds. Pink lovers should look for Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom' (pictured), a lovely blush-pink flower, or 'Hendersonii Rubra,' with deep pinks backing white flowers.

Clematis armandii makes a great coverage vine as it will eventually reach 20 feet in height and spread to 10 feet. You can grow it up the side of a house (without worrying that it will destroy your stucco, unlike ivy), along a fence or over a strong arbor. Given its intoxicating scent, you'll want to keep it within reach of foot traffic. It's also popular with bees.

Did you know?
Clematis armandii is named in honor of a French missionary, Pere Armand David (1826-1900). In England, Ernest Wilson introduced the vine into cultivation in 1900. This species is native to China.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

10 Best Flowering Shrubs

Hardy shrubs have declined in popularity in recent years, partly because of our love of herbaceous perennials, which are considered, rightly but rather narrowly, to provide swifter effect in the garden.Herbaceous perennials are all very fine (and few gardens feel quite right without them) but they do not make shrubs redundant, since the latter are generally better at providing structure and height and color, flower and scent in spring before herbaceous perennials hit their stride.

And, although well-known shrubs such as Spiraea 'Arguta’ and Viburnum opulus have a case to be included here; there are masses of less widely planted shrubs begging to show their worth.
  1. Cercis chinensis 'Avondale’, a form of the Chinese redbud, makes a large shrub or small tree, with masses of purple-pink pea flowers on the bare shoots in late March and April. The leaves then unfurl; they are very big, heart-shaped, pale green in colour and turn yellow in autumn. This plant is hardy, happiest in full sun or partial shade, and likes a fertile, moist but well-drained soil.
  2. Halesia carolina is one of the choicest of all spring shrubs (or small trees), having adorable, nodding, pure white snowdrop flowers in late spring, once the plant has a few years on the clock. These are ¾in long, and hang in clusters of three or five on short stalks. These flowers turn into 2in-long, pear-shaped fruit with four wings and a tail. When fully ripe, these are brown, chiming well with the leaves, which yellow in autumn.
  3. Chaenomeles x superba 'Jet Trail’ is an unusual ornamental quince with a dwarf spreading habit, so it can be used for ground cover, provided the soil is cleared of perennial weeds. The semi-double white flowers appear through March and April, before and after the leaves unfurl. Chaenomeles like a sunny spot, but are not particuularly fussy about soil pH or constitution, as long as there’s good drainage.
  4. Exochorda x macrantha 'The Bride’ is another hardy shrub, with great garden presence, because the startlingly white flowers are quite large and thickly carried in 4in-long racemes at the end of short sideshoots. The branches tend to weep, and I have seen it grown on a sloping bank near water. Immediately after flowering, remove flowered shoots and thin out the others.
  5. If you garden on an acid soil, Fothergilla major is almost a must, since it has very striking, scented, petal-less, creamy white flower heads, which are made up solely of stamens. These are carried in spring on a multi-stemmed, medium-sized shrub.
  6. Stachyurus praecox, from Japan, is a large, spreading, deciduous shrub, with slender, pointed, oval leaves, which are preceded by long spikes or catkins of pale yellow, bell flowers. Leaves colour in autumn. Stachyurus praecox is hardy, although early flowers can be damaged by hard frosts. The shrub needs shelter from cold winds, so does well in a protected shrub border or woodland area, but can also be trained against a wall.
  7. Acradenia frankliniae is an evergreen shrub from Tasmania, where it is called whitey wood. This also has opposite leaves, composed of three long, glossy, green leaflets, coarsely toothed on the margins. Small white flowers appear in late April and May in terminal clusters. This medium-sized shrub likes fertile, damp, but well-drained neutral or acid soil in partial shade, where it won’t be buffeted by winds.
  8. Ribes odoratum or buffalo currant is hardy, not fussy about soils or aspect, healthy and easy to grow. The clove-scented, five-petalled flowers are golden-yellow and occur in clusters; they appear in April and May. The leaves, similar to a gooseberry, turn dark red and purple in autumn.
  9. Berberis valdiviana, it looks like something different in the berberis line, from Chile, makes a tall (6ft-10ft) evergreen shrub. It does not spread sideways too much and the glossy green leaves set off the long, saffron golden racemes of flowers in spring. Although there are a few spines on the shoots (which are avoidable), the large leathery leaves are pretty well spineless.
  10. Abeliophyllum distichum is a Korean relation of the common golden-flowered forsythia, but less beefy. It also flowers a little earlier, especially if trained against a warm wall, which is where it thrives best. Before February is out, and before the oval, opposite leaves have appeared, the creamy white, four-petalled flowers, with their golden centers, will be scenting the air. (There is a pale-pink variation, Roseum Group).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Do You Collect Snowdrops In Flower?

To those who love and collect snowdrops, little distinctions make these bulbs worth the hunt.

"You start looking at them a little closer, and you get stuck on these tiny, minute differences, and it all starts making sense and the biggest excitement about snowdrops is that they start blooming now."

Something happens in the last days of winter, as the little white flowers pop through snow, signaling spring before the litany of tulips and daffodils steal the show. The snowdrop so small, you have to bend down and look holds its own in the garden because of its lively appearance when everything else looks dead. Lately, it has earned something of a cult following among hard core gardeners and plant collectors in the United States, following its popularity in England, where tour buses trek out to snowdrop fields in February. Hundreds of new varieties have been discovered in recent years, which are known in the gardening world as galanthophiles, named after the snowdrop's Latin name, Galanthus.

"The snowdrop crazies are crazy, and they love the smallest difference and since I'm one of them, I'm aware it's not a normal preoccupation."

Each year, Jonathan Shaw, a Sandwich, Mass., collector who boasts more than 100 different snowdrop varieties, hosts a "Snowdrop Tea" where he auctions off some rare varieties, and gives away more common ones for attendees to take home. Mr. Shaw estimates he has roughly 8,000 snowdrops currently in bloom, mainly along paths around his garden.

While many flower bulbs are crossed to produce hybrids of every possible shape, color and size, the vast majority of snowdrop varieties are simply found in nature, rather than bred in greenhouses. Two varieties might cross in someone's backyard, creating seedlings with different characteristics from their parents. This kind of serendipity adds to its allure.

"In the last 10 years, there are at least 1,000, if not 1,500, new names in circulation of snowdrops. Because of the mania, everyone is finding new things and putting names on them, whether they deserve them or not,"

Trade restrictions on snowdrops mean American collectors can't freely purchase varieties sold in overseas catalogs and nurseries. In 1990, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora listed snowdrops as vulnerable in their wild habitats of Turkey, requiring protection from excessive collecting. That is why imports and exports of snowdrops require more permits than many other plants.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Guinness World Record Flower Bouquet

One hundred gemstone pieces stuck on petals make a wedding flower bouquet worth around US$125,000. The Guinness World Record Book recognized this bouquet as the most expensive wedding flower bouquet in Vietnam.

The bouquet, called “Thien hoa bach ngoc” (Thousands of flowers, hundreds of gemstones), is 1.7kg in weight, 45cm in diameter, 90cm in length. It consists of white roses, white lilies, white orchids, moonflowers, the root of a 100-year-old ficus, several kinds of stones, paints, feathers and gemstones, including 90 two-carat red ruby facets, nine one-carat diamonds, and a 21.6-carat star ruby.

The bouquet was created by craftsmen from DOJI Gems & Trade JSC and LyLy Flower Supermarket in Hanoi. DOJI’s General Director Do Minh Phu said the 100 gemstones symbolise 100 happy years of the couple. The ruby is the symbol of the sun, freedom and power. The diamond expresses purity and innocence.

The Guinness World Record Book recently recognized it as the most expensive bouquet in Vietnam.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pot-first, Garden-second Flowers

Jump-start spring by replanting sprouted bulbs outside. Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are popular, colorful options for the "pot-first, garden-second" method.

When you’ve had enough of winter and crave spring color, why wait? Ready-grown potted tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring bulbs are widely available during late winter and early spring at supermarkets, home centers, and other retail outlets.

Pick up a few, take them home, pop them out of their plastic pots, and replant them along the walk, the front stoop, your deck or balcony, or wherever you’d like an early dose of spring. For best results using potted bulbs outdoors, wait until local overnight freezes have passed.

Choose young bulb plants with tight buds. Acclimate the potted plants to colder weather for a day or so, keeping them in a cold protected spot such as an unheated garage or porch. Then transplant them into a large decorative pot or even into the garden if the soil is workable. Water the bulbs after planting. No other care is necessary.

Hyacinths have a heady fragrance, making them perfect to place near walks and entryways. Colorful tulips and bright daffodils are perfect anywhere

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Marigolds Native and Specialty

The National Garden Bureau is celebrating 2010 as the "year of the marigold." Marigolds are native to the Americas from Argentina north to New Mexico and Arizona, according to NGB research. The Aztecs believed the flower had magical, religious and medicinal properties. Spanish explorers transported seeds to Spain, and later seeds found their way to France and northern Africa. Marigolds also are used in Hindu religious ceremonies.

Several hundred years after their journey from the Americas to Europe and Africa, marigolds made a return voyage to North America after the Revolutionary War. The American native marigold is commonly called French, American or African, but the genus name Tagetes refers to an Italian god, Tages.

Burpee Seed Co. is credited with reviving interest in marigolds at the turn of the century, featuring them in the Burpee catalog and funding research into marigold breeding. Odorless marigolds, hybrids and triploids have resulted, and in the past 30 years, American breeders and seed companies have leaded the marigold wave.

Growing marigolds
  • T. patula, known as African or American marigolds, can be direct-sown into the garden when soil is 70 F. In fine, loose soil, make a 2-inch deep furrow; water to soak the soil; scatter seeds in the furrow about 1 inch apart. Cover lightly with dry soil. Water with a fine mist and continue watering with a fine spray for 10 to 14 days when seedlings appear.
  • As seedlings grow, water less frequently but deeper. If soil is rich or contains organic matter, you shouldn't have to fertilize. Over fertilizing results in reduced flowering and more foliage. Should flower 6 to 12 weeks after sowing.
  • Start T. erecta (French) marigolds indoors eight weeks prior to transplanting into warm garden soil. Cover seeds and keep evenly moist. Transplant into pots at the three to four true-leaf stage. Plants need direct sunlight and should be hardened off before planting outdoors. To harden off, place plants outdoors in a warm, protected location for several days.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Middlemist Red Rarest Flower in UK

Middlemist is one of the rarest flowers in the world: the Middlemist's Red exists in only two known locations: a greenhouse in the UK, and a garden in New Zealand. Imported to Britain two hundred years ago from China, back when flowers where a luxury item, it has since been exterminated in its original homeland. And now the Middlemist is blooming again nice looking flower, right?

The flower gets its name from the gardener John Middlemist, who first brought it back from China in 1804. And though there are only two known instances of this flower in the world, it's widely believed to be a possibility that there are still some being kept in gardens around the UK, unbeknownst to the gardenerit was once sold directly to the public.

That the Middlemist's Red survives today is conservation success story. "It's the importance of getting as many people as possible to ensure they stay with us on this Earth."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Create a Butterfly Flower Garden

Butterflies bring luck, happiness and riches. Most of us would settle for the momentary delight of spotting these jewel-toned beauties on the wing. As you plan your garden this spring, why not lay out the welcome mat for nature’s most charming insect? With a few simple strategies and a banquet of their favorite plants you could be enjoying the grace note butterflies add to any landscape.

There’s an unselfish aspect to creating a haven for these ephemeral creatures. Butterfly populations have been on the decline, especially in highly developed states. Offering them food and shelter will not only brings you the pleasure of their company, but will give native butterflies a better shot at survival.

Butterfly gardens make for “greener,” more eco-conscious gardeners. They require a cautious hand with pesticides, an awareness of native plants and an appreciation for the web of life. There is no butterfly without the caterpillar, no caterpillar without suitable plants for their nourishment.

A good butterfly habitat includes nectar sources for adults and the “weedy” host plants that support egg-laying and caterpillar growth. You needn’t make homely dill and nettles the centerpiece of your flower beds, but having them tucked in somewhere will support adult females and their offspring. The payoff is more homegrown butterflies fluttering around your blossoms.

Pesticides should, of course, be banned in the butterfly garden. Less obvious, perhaps, is that some biological controls favored by organic gardeners are also harmful. The bacterium BT, for instance, targets caterpillars and should be avoided.

There are a few general rules to keep in mind as you plan a spot where butterflies might congregate. An ideal butterfly garden offers plenty of sun, shelter from the wind and generous masses of nectar producing flowers.

There are many beautiful native flowers that will draw butterflies to your backyard and provide season-long bloom. Butterfly hatches occur sporadically from late spring through summer, so planting early, mid- and late season flowers will attract the largest number of visitors.

In addition to flowers, butterflies also enjoy supplemental treats including fruit if it’s slightly spoiled, so much the better. Another favorite snack is damp manure, useful for the minerals and salts it provides. Butterflies also will gather for “puddle parties” at shallow pools of water, especially in dry weather.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Chocolate Wrapper that Grows into Flowers

Dropping litter can be good for the environment after all.

A sweet wrapper has been designed that blossoms into colorful flowers when buried in the garden. The candytuft flower, the seeds of which are impregnated into the paper packaging, are adored by butterflies

The paper packaging is impregnated with the seeds of candytuft a fragrant flower adored by butterflies.

Marks & Spencer is using the wrapper for a range of pralines suitably shaped like butterflies launched today in time for Mothering Sunday. If the packaging is a success, the company plans to extend it to other products.

M&S spokesman Helene Roberts said “We are proud to have put such innovative food packaging on the UK high street”.

“These chocolate butterflies are the gift that keeps on giving once Mum has enjoyed the chocolates, she can plant the seeded paper and then enjoy the flowers and the butterflies that they attract.”
The paper bag is impregnated with dozens of seeds. Once the chocolate has been eaten, it can be unfolded, placed on a flower bed or in a pot and covered with a layer of soil or compost, and watered.

The paper will provide pink, white, red or purple flowers within weeks. The wrapper can even be cut into five or six pieces and spread around the garden.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Daffodils Show for Daffodils Lovers

Daffodils the harbingers of spring will be celebrated in Murphys on March 12-14, when Ironstone Vineyards hosts the National Daffodil Show. The show will feature more than 1,000 displays of daffodils as cut flowers or growing in containers showing bright colors and intriguing forms. It will draw daffodil aficionados from around the world, including Great Britain, Australia, Canada and Japan.

The show will especially feature small flowers Miniatures that grow happily in pots or in small garden spaces. The historic daffodils of the past won't be ignored; either they'll have their own section.

Members of the Calaveras County Garden Club will show their wizardry in creating artistic designs using daffodils. Not to be missed will be the photography competition beautiful photos on daffodil themes: portraits of blooms, daffodils in the garden, daffodils in the wild, daffodils and children, daffodils and pets, and more.

All sections of the show will be juried competitions. Exhibiting in the horticulture and photography sections of the show is open to the public.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Planting Water lilies in Container

You don’t have to own acreage or spend a fortune to enjoy a water garden. By pairing small or dwarf plants with interesting containers, you can have a little bit of paradise right on your patio or balcony.

Many water lilies bear flowers 6 to 12 inches wide and spread 12 square feet or more. Fortunately, they also come in much smaller sizes, and certain standard varieties will dwarf themselves in a confined space.

There are two categories of water lilies: the tropicals and the hardies. Hardy water lilies are bred for cold tolerance and do not perform well in hot climates. Tropicals prefer water temperatures of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anything that holds water can support a water garden. If you’re putting a garden on a balcony or deck, remember that water weighs 10 pounds per gallon. Terra cotta pots can be sealed with polyurethane spray or multi-surface sealer. Plug drainage holes with plumber’s epoxy, a softened candle stub, or other impermeable material. Chemicals and alcohol residues in wooden half-barrels can kill aquatic plants and animals. Line wooden containers with heavy duty plastic or seal.

A 15-25 gallon container is perfect for a small water garden. A dwarf water lily can inhabit a smaller container happily, although it isn’t wise to go below 3 gallons 5 inches of water over the crown is optimal. The larger the pot in which the lily is planted, and the larger the area the leaves have to spread, the larger the flowers and leaves will grow. Ample room also promotes the production of more flowers, and greater water volume provides better insulation from temperature extremes.While a blooming water lily can make a stunning display by itself, marginal, oxygenating and floating plants add interest and make it easier to achieve an ecological balance.

Marginal plants are those which grow at the edges of water bodies. The optimal amount of water over the roots varies with each species. Set them on bricks or concrete blocks inside the container to attain the proper growing depth.

Many highly aggressive floating plants are banned in Florida. The tiny floating plants duckweed and azolla, both native to Florida may hitchhike in on other plants. They reproduce aggressively, but are easy to skim off, and make good compost.

One water lily, one or two marginal plants and an oxygenating plant make a good start for a large tub. Oxygenating plants retard the growth of algae by releasing oxygen to the water and absorbing excess nutrients. Floating plants and water lily leaves help control algae by depriving it of sunlight. You may opt for a more lushly-planted, instant-effect water garden by adding more marginals, but be careful not to overcrowd the water lily, and be prepared to thin and repot the marginals as they grow.

Leave at least one quarter to one third of the water surface free of plants, both for esthetics and to allow sunlight to reach the growing tip of the lily.Planting
Plant water lilies in a pot; water gently to dislodge air pockets, and submerge the pot in a larger container, or plant directly in the container itself. Tropical should be planted in the center of the pot in 4-5 inches of the closest approximation of heavy loam soil you can get.

Do not use pure sand or potting mixtures containing peat or vermiculite. Neither provides enough structural stability for good root development, and peat and vermiculite will float. Peat also may make the water too acidic. Generic kitty litter is sometimes suggested as a potting medium, but it can compact around the roots, and it becomes a slimy mess once soaked. Like sand, it offers no nutritional value. Well-composted manure or compost can be added to the soil, but they may make the water dark.

Be sure not to cover the growing tip of the water lily ! Former executive director of the International Water Lily and Water Gardening Society Paula Biles cites “PTD” disease - “planting too deeply” - as the main killer of water lilies. After planting the lily, place a 1-inch layer of pea gravel over the soil to stabilize the plant and help keep the water clear. Do not cover the crown with gravel.

Start potted bare-root plants with about 2 inches of water over the crown, or just enough water to float any healthy leaves. Gradually increase the depth as the lily grows. Protect from the most intense sunlight until the lily is at the proper depth.Some Good Mediums
Plastic mesh pots, terra cotta or plastic pots, or even oil-changing pans are suitable for growing aquatic plants. Line mesh or standard pots with newspaper before adding soil to keep it from washing out. By the time the newspaper disintegrates, the roots will have established themselves enough to hold the soil.

It can take a good 6 weeks for the container garden to stabilize. Don’t be alarmed by initially dark water or even an algae bloom. It should clear up. Water lilies need full sun to flower, but here in southwest Florida they likely would appreciate a few hours of shade or dappled light during the summer.

Water lilies like still water. The water garden does not need a recalculating pump if no fish are added. Fish vastly complicate water garden ecology, and also destroy many aquatic plants. Maintenance consists mainly of trimming yellowed or dead foliage, scooping out excess floating plants and keeping the water topped up.

Water lilies are heavy feeders. For best flowering fertilize regularly with specially-formulated aquatic fertilizer tablets. Re-pot in fresh soil once a year, dividing if necessary, or when root growth makes it difficult to push in fertilizer tablets.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bluebonnets in Texas

It's going to be a banner year for bluebonnets.

Because of a wetter-than-average fall, Texas can expect an abundance of wildflowers this year. "We should have a spectacular show this year," said Barney Lipscomb, with the Fort Worth-based Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

Texas bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, showy primrose and other colorful flora soon will be blanketing North Texas fields and lining grassy areas along highways.

Spring rain is helpful, but it's the rain received in fall that gives flowers the much-needed moisture to germinate. North Texas received 16.33 inches of rain from September to November, ranking it No. 5 among the wettest falls.

All the fall rain is good not only for germination but early growth. "That should make for good, strong and more abundant wildflowers."

Central Texas already has a scattering of lavender-petaled widow's tear and clusters of white, blue and pink flowers. Wildflower center conservationists are reporting Texas bluebonnets prepping to bloom along roadways between Marble Falls and Llano in the Hill Country and in far West Texas, near Big Bend.

As temperatures begin to warm in North Texas coupled with sunshine wildflowers should begin to bloom in April.

"We are still a little early, with the cold weather, ice and snow and because we haven't had much sunshine."

Bluebonnets and Indian primrose will bloom in April and May. Showy primrose will bloom from April through July. Some of the best places to see wildflowers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area include Interstate 30 through Arlington and Interstate 20 in south Arlington.

While North Texans wait for the bluebonnets, they also should enjoy some of the little blooms flowering right now such as shepherd's-purse and speedwells.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wildflowers in California

Whichever poet wrote that "April showers bring May flowers" didn't reside in Central California. Around here, the timetable gets fast-forwarded two months. Problem is, "February showers bring March flowers" isn't nearly as poetic.

But it's true. Thanks to late winter rains, the murmur of spring (thank you, Wordsworth) brings what should be a glorious season of wildflowers. Here are some of the best places to view the color display.

Park at the Hospital Rock Picnic Area along the General's Highway, then walk 1 paved mile to the trailhead located within Buckeye Flat Campground. The surrounding hills are already covered in popcorn flower and fiddle necks, and lupine and poppies should join the show by mid-March.

"It's a lot of yellow and white out there right now, this is the best time of year to be in the foothills."

More than 50 wildflower varieties bloomed; Mid-March to April is typically the best time for wildflowers

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blooming Flower Plants in Home Garden

There are a couple ways to add blooming plants to the home in the depths of winter. Spring bulbs can be forced to bloom early indoors. The flowers are short-lived but can be a quick way to lift the spirits as an interim to springtime. Forced bulbs in bloom are usually available as gift plants from local florists and garden centers. Knowledgeable of the proper technique, anyone can easily force bulbs indoors at home.

For longer-lasting flowers, the better option is an actual indoor blooming houseplant. Many stay in bloom almost year-around with an occasional short rest period while others will bloom seasonally.

Aside from the usual holiday plants such as poinsettias or Easter lilies, popular indoor blooming plants are the African violet, Cyclamen, orchid, Kalanchoe, and desert cactus.

Some less common indoor blooming plants are the Begonia, Peace Lily, bromeliad, Hibiscus, Anthurium, Jasmine, Goldfish Plant, Shrimp Plant, Lipstick Plant, some geranium varieties, Gloxinia, Gardenia, streptocarpus, Impatiens, Bouvardia, Primrose, and Oxalis.

Even less common, but worth exploring, are the Brazilian Fireworks, Hoya, Firecracker Vine, Clog Plant, Cigar Plant, Flowering Maple, Guzmania, Crossandra, Clivia, Lollipop Plant, Camellia, Whitfieldia, Medinilla, Sapphire Plant, Bird of Paradise, Kangaroo Paws, Pavonia, and Dipteracanthus.

While any of these plants could be very common in specific areas, the list is developed considering overall common distribution.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Olympic Flower Bouquets

There's a nice story behind the Olympic flower bouquets presented to medal winners at the 2010 Winter Games.

We all realize how long, arduous and fraught with peril the journey to the podium is for the athletes, but it turns out the bouquet’s journey from garden to podium no piece of cake is either.

The hand-tied bouquets, conceived by June Strandberg of Just Beginnings Flowers and Margitta Schultz, owner of Margitta’s Flower Boutique went through 23 different design iterations of the bouquet before the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) approved finally on the podium.

The predominately green bouquets contained eye-catching green Hypericum berries, five striking green ‘Revert’ spider mums, and layers of leather leaf, loops of monkey grass, and folded, broad aspidistra leaves. The finished product was hand-wrapped in recycled paper and secured in simple shoelace style with a royal blue ribbon embossed with "2010 Olympics" in white.

Between 80 and 150 bouquets were made each day, most by 22 novice florists trained. By the time the last medal was awarded, these women had turned out a total of 1,800 bouquets.