Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Classical flower arrangement in Chinese Style

Classical Chinese flower arranging has an ancient history. Methods and techniques of arrangement have varied greatly along with aesthetic values over the years, as have preferred flower varieties. But a list of the most popular styles of arranging down through the centuries would be sure to include offertory flowers for religious ceremonies; the classical, full-bodied court flowers; decorative flower arrangements for display at banquets.

Intellectual flower arrangements- the free-style compositions found in the Buddhist meditation halls of the Five Dynasties and the expressionist works of the Yuan Dynasty.

Intellectual flower arrangements are product of the aesthetic values that developed under the rationalism of the Sung Dynasty. Intellectual arrangements emphasize such themes as reason, idealism, and benevolence, and have been used as a vehicle for expressing the artist's most cherished beliefs, his philosophy of learning, his character, or his view of the world. Intellectual arrangements were most commonly displayed in vases and included pine, cedar, bamboo, plum blossoms, orchids, osmanthus, camellia, narcissus, and other flowers characterized by plainness and simplicity. Structurally, intellectual flower arrangements emphasized purity, clarity, and sparseness.

The line network created by the interplay of leaves and branches, and the specific proportions in which the different elements of compositions were combined were also major hallmarks of mainstream intellectual floral arrangements during the Sung Dynasty. This composition, an excellent example of the intellectual school, is marked by the sharp, vigorous clarity of its lines and a disproportion between the branches and the vessel that contains them.

Magnificent neo-intellectual flowers- the literati stylized arrangements and the neoclassical forms of the Ming; and the realistic arrangements, literati stylized arrangements, homophonous flower arrangements taking their names from like sounding auspicious words and expressions, vegetable and fruit arrangements, and the popular intellectual flower arrangements, all of which gained prominence during the Ching Dynasty.

Originating in the Sung Dynasty, intellectual flower arrangements placed emphasis on logic and reason, and served as a vehicle for expressing the arranger's ethical views and benevolent intentions. These compositions underwent rapid development and took on a more dynamic character during the Ming Dynasty, when they became known as neo-intellectual flower arrangements. The neo-intellectual arrangements of the Ming Dynasty can be grouped into three categories, according to the time in which they appeared: majestic intellectual arrangements, literati arrangements, and neo-classical arrangements. This composition belongs to the earliest category.

The flowers are lush and abundant, and are centered on a perpendicular, vertically rising component. Miscellaneous flowers on all sides lend an aura of power and grandeur, in the best tradition of the palace flower arrangements of the same era. Compositions of this type later found their way to Japan, where they became the ancestor of the Ikenobo type of flower arrangements.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Beautifully Scented Sweet Pea Flowers

The botanical name of the sweet peas is Lathyrus odoratus - odoratus means scented, and these are beautifully scented flowers. They originated from Italy, and are grown in colours of purples, pinks, creams, salmons. They are available March to November.

Sweet peas are very delicate flowers and need to be kept cool, always in water, and away from ripening fruit. Commercial sweet peas are treated after cutting to prolong their life; garden-cut ones may only last one or two days but florists' peas can last over a week. In the language of flowers sweet peas mean "delicate pleasures". Breeders are trying to develop a scented yellow sweet pea. The Lathyrus family has a naturally occurring yellow pea but it has no fragrance.

Sweet pea flowers come in a wide range of colours and patterns, but not yellow. This seems strange as yellow flowers are common enough in the genus Lathyrus. Even attempts to cross the true sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus, with other species such as Lathyrus belinensis, have failed to produce the elusive yellow flower. The lack of yellow, however, seems a minor omission when one considers the wide range of colours that are available.

Some of the colorful sweet peas

Blue Sweet Peas
True clear blues are rare in sweet pea flowers. Most have a tinge of pink to them which becomes more obvious under artificial light. It also makes life difficult for the photographer. The grandiflora variety, 'Flora Norton', is one of the clearest blues available. Blue sweet pea flowers are often among the most susceptible to weather damage. Botrytis spores, germinating on the petals under conditions of high humidity, leave white spots which are most disfiguring on dark blues.

Cream Sweet Peas

A most valuable color among sweet peas, cream blends well with most other colors. The Spencer variety 'Jilly' has long been the mainstay of exhibitors and serious gardeners alike. Among the old grandiflora sweet peas, 'Mrs Collier' holds a similarly elevated position.

Lavender Sweet
One of the most traditional sweet pea colors, there is always a wide choice of excellent lavender varieties available. Much work has gone into their breeding , and modern varieties combine large flowers with good configuration and clear bright color. Lavender sweet peas are more weatherproof than the blues, but equally hard to photograph successfully.

Rose Pink Sweet Peas

Always popular, and available in a wide range of shades on either a white or a cream background. Generally vigorous growers, these varieties perform consistently well in the garden and on the show bench. 'Mrs Bernard Jones' remains a popular and reliable choice.

Red Sweet Peas

Really good red sweet peas are few and far between. Crimsons tend to over vigorous with coarse spikes and badly positioned flowers. Some scarlets develop a blue edge to their petals in hot weather, although this tendency has now largely been eliminated by careful breeding. Few red sweet peas can be relied upon to produce top quality exhibition flower spikes, but 'Restormel' is generally regarded as the best.

White Sweet Peas

White sweet peas have always been popular, and there have been many excellent varieties starting with the grandiflora 'Dorothy Eckford', bred in 1901. It makes a fascinating contrast to modern varieties like 'White Frills'. Older varieties tended to be "white" seeded, but most recent sorts are "black" seeded. Black seeded varieties are considered easier to grow, but have the disadvantage that flowers may develop a pink tinge in hot weather if the plants are under stress.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Horse Chestnut Blossoms First Flower in Spring

The horse chestnut tree, which originated in the Balkans, was introduced to Britain in the 1600's as an ornamental tree. It grows so successfully here that it is hard to believe it is not native to the U.K. It allowed to grow freely it forms a magnificent tree and it is not surprising that it is widely planted in parks, large gardens, churchyards and village greens.

The horse chestnut is one of the first trees in leaf, and looks its best in springtime, when it is covered with clusters of either pink or white flowers, known as 'candles'. These flowers are normally pollinated by the early flying bumble bees. The leaves are made up of 5 to 7 leaflets. Interestingly, once a flower has been pollinated, its color changes from yellow to red as a warning to visiting bees not to bother with it.

The glossy fruits from horse chestnut, well known to children as the "conker", give rise to the tree's American name of 'buckeye' on account of their resemblance to the eyes of a deer. They are formed inside a spiky, green outer shell and are eaten by deer and cattle. Legend has it that they were ground up and fed to horses by Turks as a cure for broken wind.

Large leaf and flower buds are clearly visible even during winter months but are encased in a scaly, resinous protective covering that prevents damage from frost or damp. This thick sticky coating melts with the beginning of warm weather in spring, and flowers and leaves appear with remarkable rapidity, usually within three to four weeks.

European horse chestnuts produce clusters of white flowers with a pale scarlet tinge at the throat or yellow mottling. American horse chestnut flowers can be white, pale pink, or yellow, depending upon the species. All types of horse chestnut trees, with their graceful wide limbs and showy flowers, are grown for their ornamental beauty.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wonderful Four’o Clock Flower

Mirabilis jalapa or four o'clock flower is the most commonly grown ornamental species of Mirabilis, and is available in a range of colors. Four O'Clocks got their name because it opens in mid-afternoon. The botanical name Mirabilis is Latin and means "wonderful." It refers to the flower color. This plant is a longtime favorite that prefers full sun to partial shade and is very tolerant of heat stress and pollution.

It remains open overnight, and closes in early morning. They will also remain open on cloudy days. They are also noted for their strong, pleasant fragrance. These flowers are very beautiful and can come in many different colors. Flower colors include white, red, pink, yellow, and some two-toned blooms.

Four O'Clock are typically grown from large seeds, making them easy to plant. Four O'Clock seeds germinate quickly, and grow fast, up to 2-4 feet. Sow seeds directly into the garden just before the last frost in your area. Cover seeds with 1/4" of soil. Space plants 12 inches apart and thin to two feet apart. In addition, Four O'Clocks is propagated by its tubers. Tubers should be dug up in the fall and stored in the dark, in damp peat moss or sand.

Four O'Clock prefer full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. Note that in partial shade they may grow lanky. They will do well in rich, well composted soil as they are big eaters. Keep soil moist. Add a general purpose fertilizer once or twice a month to encourage vigorous growth.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Passion Flower is used as Medicinal Herb

Passion Flower is a woody vine with intricate blue, purple, red, or white flowers. Passion flower is also known as maypop. It is a woody vine with flowers which reminded early pilgrims of the passion or suffering of Christ. The plant produces small berry-like fruit called granadilla or water lemon. The aerial parts of the plant are gathered during fruiting season and then dried for future processing.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) was used traditionally in the Americas and later in Europe as a "calming" herb for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and hysteria. Passion Flower is a naturally grown medicinal herb, approved by the German Commission E in the treatment of insomnia and nervousness. Passion Flower reduces spasms and depresses the central nervous system.

The dried aerial parts of passion flower ( Passiflora incarnata ) have historically been used as a sedative and hypnotic (for insomnia) and for "nervous" gastrointestinal complaints. However, clinical evidence supporting any therapeutic use in humans is lacking. Early evidence suggests that passion flower may have a benzodiazepine like calming action.
  • Latin name: Passiflora incarnata.
  • Planting months: Spring through fall.
  • Cold tolerance: Hardy; USDA hardiness zone 6 through 11.
  • Light requirements: The passion flower needs full sun for best flowering, but it can be grown in part sun
  • Soil requirements: Occasionally wet, acidic to slightly alkaline soils; moderate salt tolerance; drought tolerant. Do not keep soil too moist.
  • Flowers: Lavender and white 4-inch-wide showy flowers in the spring and summer.
  • Fruit: 2-inch-wide oval-shaped berry with many seeds surrounded by an edible pulp appear in summer and fall. Changes from green to yellow when ripe.
  • Leaves: Smooth to finely-toothed three deeply lobed bright green leaves that die back in winter.
  • Size: Depends on supporting structure for climbing.
  • Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Witch Hazel Awesome Flowering Tree

The Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana, Linn.) is a small tree, or usually a stout shrub, rarely 25 feet high. Bark light brown, scaly or smooth. Wood close grained, hard, heavy, brownish red, with thick, white sap wood. Buds sickle shaped, pale brown, hairy, enclosed in leafy stipules. Leaves alternate, unsymmetrical, strongly veined, oval or obovate, wavy margined, or coarsely serrate, 4 to 6 inches long, rusty-hairy at first, yellow in autumn, often hanging all winter.

It flowers in autumn, clustered, greenish, with 4 yellow ribbon like petals. Fruits ripe in autumn, a 2-beaked, 2-celled, woody capsule that opens explosively; seeds, 2, black, shiny. These trees Prefers habitat of low rich soil or rocky stream banks.

The flowers bear a warm, spicy fragrance and precede the leaves, blooming in late winter to early spring. The fringe-like petals on these yellow flowers resemble small strips of paper that have just exited from a shredder. Its beautiful yellow flowers, that look like curled yellow strips, make it a great landscaping element for a yard.

There are also several popular witch hazel tree varieties, such as the Chinese witch hazel, that has flowers similar to the witch hazel tree, the Jolena that has coppery-orange flowers, the Ruby Glow, that has coppery-red flowers, and the fire charm, that has orange-coppery flowers.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Make Your Own natural perfume from aromatic flower

Some people want to smell like Elizabeth Taylor. Others would like to smell like Paris Hilton or Michael Jordan. Although it cannot perceive a benefit of smelling like a celebrity, there are probably a few. However, there are also some drawbacks. Perfume in the water supply can cause many a problem. It can damage the natural defense system of mussels. And other perfumes are made of petroleum products; some are made from synthetic materials that cause allergies and even worse things.

A lot of those designer perfumes out there aren't that green. You could do better by making your own perfume or cologne out of plants that you can grow in your very own garden. Every gardener has paused over a flower and experienced an epiphany, if they capture the scent of that jasmine in a bottle, then they will be a millionaire. The next day the petals are gone, and the aroma with them.

Just take a pickle jar that holds the invigorating scent of jasmine blossoms from overgrown garden and keep it in refrigerator. There are some 60 other scents, too, foraged and assembled overlooking the Puget Sound. Creating natural perfume is the method of making scents without any of the synthetic aromas used in commercial perfumery. Most of the flowers scent can be extracted by method of the flowers have been pressed into fats, like palm oil shortening, in an old-fangled process called enfleurage.

Steps for making a perfume from flower
  • Find a flower or flowers that you want to smell like. 1-1 1/2 cups of flower petals will work best. Make sure these flowers are pesticide-free.
  • Wash the flower petals, removing all dirt and other possible contaminates.
  • Put two cups of distilled water in an aluminum pan. You can make your own distilled water. All you have to do is boil water and collect the steam. The steam will turn into distilled water.
  • Put the petals into the pan. Work the water into a just-below-boiling simmer. You don't want to cook the flowers. This will ruin the scent.
  • Let contents simmer for about two hours. Check periodically to make sure that pot isn't boiling over and that you haven't run out of water.
  • Turn off the heat. Let the contents cool.
  • Strain contents through cheesecloth until all the solid bits are gone.
  • Put the perfume in a bottle or other storage device.
  • You are done. Use as normal.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cannas Exotic Flowering Plants

Cannas are tropical and subtropical flowering plants with large, banana like leaves. They can be grown as annuals in cooler regions, where they add an instant touch of the tropics to gardens. A surge in interest and hybridizing has resulted in a dazzling array of cannas to choose from.

Cannas are lush and exotic, cannas bring a touch of paradise to any garden, and after decades of scorn they’re rebounding back into vogue. Cannas were a huge hit in late-Victorian days, and cottage-garden artist Gertrude Jekyll praised them for “the handsomest foliage in the border.”

Cannas available at colorful Glorious flowers from white, yellows, pinks, reds and multiple pastels are graced by some of the most interesting and colorful foliage. Cannas are considered herbaceous perennials and are semi-root hardy. They will not tolerate freezing conditions, but may be lifted and stored for the winter. These easy to care for plants prefer full sun to partial shade, generous amounts of water and a regular fertilizer program.

Steps to grow Cannas Flowers
Cannas are showy, colorful plants used in flowerbeds, boxes, tubs and borders. They grow from 2 to 10 feet tall. They have large oval shaped leaves and massive clusters of flowers throughout the summer and fall

Step 1
Plant canna rhizomes outdoor in the spring when all threat of frost is over. Locate a spot in the full sun that's well drained. You should amend the soil with compost or peat moss if it's needed.

Step 2

With a shovel, dig holes 4 to 6 inches deep and plant the rhizomes about 2 inches beneath the surface. Space the cannas 1-1/2 to 2 feet apart. Make sure that the eyes of the rhizomes are facing up.

Step 3

After planting, soak your cannas with water. Add a layer of mulch to the ground to help the cannas retain moisture and discourage weed growth.

Step 4

You should water the cannas throughout the growing season. Don't let the soil get too dry. You can deadhead the plants by removing spent blooms to encourage them to produce more flowers.

Step 5

After the first killing frost, when the foliage turns brown, you should lift the canna rhizomes with a shovel. Cut off the foliage and knock off any remaining soil. Place the rhizomes in a box filled

Monday, June 7, 2010

Nutritious Edible Flowers to Eat

Flower cookery has been traced at Roman times, and to the Chinese, Middle Eastern, Greek and Indian cultures. Edible flowers were especially popular in the Victorian era during Queen Victoria's reign. Many cultures use flowers in their traditional cooking think of squash blossoms in Italian food and rose petals in Indian food. Adding flowers to your food can be a nice way to add color, flavor, and a little whimsy. Some are spicy, and some herbaceous, while others are floral and fragrant. The range is pretty surprising.

It’s not uncommon to see flower petals used in salads, teas, and as garnish for desserts, but they inspire creative uses as well roll spicy ones (like chive blossoms) into handmade pasta dough, incorporate floral ones into homemade ice cream, pickle flower buds (like nasturtium) to make ersatz capers, use them to make a floral simple syrup for use in lemonade or cocktails. The secret to success when using edible flowers is to keep the dish simple, do not add to many other flavors that will over power the delicate taste of the flower.

Eating flowers safely
Certain flowers have been shown to contain important nutrients. Others are poisonous. If you have varicose veins or hemorrhoids, or any kind of circulatory problem, pay close attention on it and follow the tips for eating flowers safely.
  • Eat flowers you know to be fresh and delicate if you are unsure, consult a reference book on edible flowers and plants.
  • Eat flowers you have grown by yourself, or know to be safe for eating. Flowers from the florist or nursery have possibly been treated with pesticide or other chemicals.
  • Do not eat roadside flowers or those picked in public parks. Both may have been treated with pesticide or herbicide, and roadside flowers may be polluted by car exhaust
  • Eat just the petals, and remove pistils and stamens before eating.
  • If you suffer from allergies, introduce edible flowers gradually, as they may worsen allergies.
  • To keep flowers fresh, place them on wet paper towels and refrigerate in an airtight container. Some will last up to 10 days this way. Ice water can invigorate limp flowers.
Some of the edible flowers to eat
Calendula / Marigold
A great flower for eating, calendula blossoms are peppery, tangy, and spicy–and their vibrant golden color adds dash to any dish.

Carnations / Dianthus
Petals are sweet, once trimmed away from the base. The blossoms taste like their sweet, perfumed aroma.

A little bitter, mums come in a rainbow of colors and a range of flavors range from peppery to pungent. Use only the petals.

Citrus (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat)
Citrus blossoms are sweet and highly-scented. Use frugally or they will over-perfume a dish.

Famously used in hibiscus tea, the vibrant cranberry flavor is tart and can be used sparingly.

These super-fragrant blooms are used in tea; you can also use them in sweet dishes, but sparingly.

Sweet, spicy, and perfumed, the flowers are a great addition to both savory and sweet dishes.

The blooms are pungent, but the floral citrusy aroma translates to its flavor as well.

The flowers are surprise minty. Their intensity varies among varieties.

One of the most popular edible flowers, nasturtium blossoms are brilliantly colored with a sweet, floral flavor bursting with a spicy pepper finish. When the flowers go to seed, the seed pod is a marvel of sweet and spicy. You can stuff flowers, add leaves to salads, pickle buds like capers, and garnish to your heart’s content.

Remove the white, bitter base and the remaining petals have a strongly perfumed flavor perfect for floating in drinks or scattering across desserts, and for a variety of jams. All roses are edible, with flavor more pronounced in darker varieties.

Flowers taste like a milder version of the herb; nice used as a garnish on dishes that incorporate rosemary.

Squash and Pumpkin
Blossoms from both are wonderful vehicles for stuffing, each having a slight squash flavor. Remove stamens before using.

Petals can be eaten, the bud steamed like an artichoke.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hydrangeas Impressive Colorful Flowers

Hydrangeas are fascinating in that, unlike most other plants, the color of their flowers can change dramatically. As with most other Hydrangea species, the inflorescence is composed of a combination of large, showy and small, inconspicuous flowers. While there are approximately 23 species of Hydrangea, only five are widely cultivated in the U.S.

Some newer hydrangeas grow in colder climates, some are so small they will fit into the perennial border, and others have amazingly large blooms and deep colors.

Four Popular Hydrangea Species are,
Mophead hydrangeas

Mopheads(Hydrangea macrophylla) are the most popular hydrangeas grown in home gardens and landscapes. Most mopheads grown today are blue or pink. A few varieties are white.

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'
Annabelle is a stunning white hydrangea; often producing heads over 10" in diameter. Unlike the better known blue and pink hydrangeas (macrophyllas), Annabelle blooms every year even after severe pruning or intensely cold winters. The huge, white "drumstick" blooms appear in profusion without fail.

Oakleaf Hydrangea
The Oakleaf hydrangea is a dramatic, white-blooming shrub with four seasons of interest. It blooms best in areas where summers are somewhat hot, but it is winter hardy farther north than the macrophylla (mophead).

Paniculata Hydrangeas
Paniculata hydrangeas will grow and bloom in a wide variety of climates (hardy to Zone 3!). Unlike mopheads, they need several hours of sun to do well. If your weather is too cold to grow the pink and blue hydrangeas or if your landscape doesn't have much shade, consider growing one of the many types of paniculatas. Paniculatas often get very large. 8-10 feet tall and wide is not unusual. Some, as seen in pictures below, get even taller.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Prairie Tall Grass Flowering Garden

A prairie is a region of flat, gently sloping, or hilly land covered chiefly by tall grasses and not many trees. Pioneers who first saw the flat prairies of the American Middle West called them a 'sea of grass.'

Prairies, also called grasslands, are one of the main types of natural vegetation or biomes (Others include forest, desert shrub, and tundra). Prairies are areas where either low total annual rainfall (10-20 inches) or uneven seasonal rainfall favor grasses and herbaceous plants over the growth of trees. In some locales, soil conditions or geology also favor grasslands over other types of vegetation. Therefore, most prairies lie between desert shrub and forest lands. Prairies are found on every continent except Antarctica.

Prairie plants are easy to grow among nature’s most spectacular flowers, producing waist high blooms of brilliant yellow, flaming crimson and soft lavender. Because of their extensive root systems, prairie plants can be the answer to problem garden spots. Once established, they require little maintenance.

Most prairie grasses and forbs are adapted to drought, fire, and grazing. They are perennials that grow back every year and have their growing points underground. During a prairie fire, the above-ground portion of the plant is destroyed, but the below ground growing structures are unharmed because the soil protects the underground structures.

In recent years, however, interest in prairies has soared, since people realized the beauty of native grasses and wildflowers. Much of the charm and appeal of prairies comes from wildflowers, such as coneflowers, prairie phlox, false indigo, and orchids. The great beauty of prairie wildflowers and grasses has prompted many people to create prairie gardens in their landscapes.

The prairie blazingstar is one of the most beautiful flowers on the tall grass prairie. It has magenta colored flowers arranged along a spike at the top of a long stalk up to 5 feet high. Many kinds of butterflies are attracted to this flower. Sweet coneflower can grow to height of 6 feet if planted in moist soil. The purple coneflower is used by many people in their gardens at home. It has the orange colored large cone. This is the part of the flower which produces seeds after the purple petals fall off. Birds like goldfinches love to eat these seeds.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flowering Smoke Tree Blossoms

Smoke tree, a tall shrub from Europe and Asia, is multi-stemmed and deciduous with an open, spreading form. The smooth, satiny leaves are nearly round and are blue-green in color in the species, purple in some varieties. The flowers are borne in large, long-lasting, fawn-colored, feathery inflorescence's, appearing in summer and lasting through fall. Purple-leaved forms have purple inflorescence's. It can grow 15 or more feet tall but is easily pruned to a smaller size.

The plant has broadly elliptic blunt to nearly rounded leaves with prominent lateral veins. Hey are borne alternately on long stems. The plant can be easily identified by its pale purple, branched, hairy flowering clusters at the end of branches. The flowering clusters have thin, hairy filaments which give a cloud-like appearance from a distance. The flowers themselves are inconspicuous little yellowish green blossoms that appear in early summer. The fruits are tiny kidney shaped brown berries.

Flowering Season: April to June.

Growing smoke tree: Full sun is best, especially for the purple-leaved varieties. The smoke tree tolerates just about any soil. Pruning this shrub is a compromise between two goals: obtaining dense foliage growth (with heavy annual pruning) or stimulating abundant flowering (since blooms only appear on wood three years old).

Uses for smoke tree: The smoke tree is good for shrub borders and mass plantings. The varieties with colorful foliage make nice accent plants.

Smoke tree related varieties: Many purple-leaved varieties exist. Royal Purple is a particularly choice specimen.