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June Birth Month Flower: Honeysuckle

5 Jun

A Sweet Flower for a June Birthdayhoneysuckle

Happy Birthday to all my June Bloomies out there!

Summer is finally here, along with all the fun, fragrant summer flowers. Honeysuckle fits right into that category as the birth month flower for June! Known for their profuse trumpet-shaped flowers and intense fragrance, this climbing vine blooms in spring and continues flowering through summer or early fall. It comes in shades of white, yellow, coral and red.

Honeysuckle Around the World

There are about 180 species of honeysuckle around the world, with approximately 20 varieties that are native to North America. In China, where there are nearly 100 native species, the flowers and berries are used in herbal medicine to treat a variety of complaints.

Honeysuckle also appears in folklore around the world. Its fragrance is thought to induce passion and love, and bringing a blooming honeysuckle into your home means that there will be a wedding within a year. Shakespeare also referenced honeysuckle in some of his works, and to this day the variety native to England is considered to be the flower of lust.

 About Honeysuckle

Did you know? Honeysuckle is edible, and the nectar is very sweet—that’s probably where the plant got its name. Many varieties have toxic berries, though, so don’t eat them unless you are positive that they aren’t harmful.

Honeysuckle are valued as garden plants—their twining vines can cover unsightly walls or outbuildings. They do best when their roots are in the shade, and their flowers are in sunlight or very light shade. Beware though—they may do so well that they begin to take over the place!

Honeysuckle are a beautiful and fragrant flower that will be enjoyed by the people, hummingbirds and bees in your garden all spring and summer long.

“A Honeysuckle Bower”

A honeysuckle bower, sweet,

Twines its fragrance ‘round my feet

And with the lily draws me toward


A gated-garden’s secret world.

-S.E. Johnson

May Birth Month Flower: Lily of the Valley

15 May

Delicate Lily of the Valley is Just the Thing for a May Bloomy

Happy birthday May Bloomies! May’s birth flower is the lily of the valley!Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley Meaning

Lily of the Valley means “return to happiness,” probably because when you start to see them in your garden, you know it’s officially spring and that winter is over.

About Lily of the Valley Flowers

Super fragrant and delicate, it’s a fleeting flower popular with spring brides (Kate Middleton had some in her bouquet).

These only come in white or pale pink (I’ve never seen them in pink). Each lily has several small white bells evenly spaced on bowing stems surrounded by dark green foliage. They love the shade and are self-proliferating; one clump quickly turns into several within just a few seasons.

… The Naiad-like Lily of the Vale,

Whom youth makes so fair and passion so pale

That light of its tremulous bells is seen

Through their pavilions of tender green…

Shelley

Lily of the Valley macro

April Birth Month Flower: Sweet Peas

25 Apr
If you must go, go with flowers.

If you must go, go with flowers.

Sweet Pea Blooms for April Babies

Hi bloomies!

I was so busy enjoying the sun (and preparing for an upcoming trip) that I forgot to post this yesterday! I don’t want you to miss out on this month’s birth month flower though, the delicate little sweet pea.

About Sweet Pea Flowers

Sweet Peas are the flower for the month of April. If you have a birthday this month, then this is YOUR flower. It is powerfully fragrant, but incredibly delicate. This flower really does resemble a regular edible pea plant, with tendrils, strong vines, and beautiful hood shaped flowers.

Sweet Peas usually come in shades of white, purple, and pink. Rarely they are available in pale yellow. They are easy to grow, but don’t last very long when cut. They are truly fragile, but quite beautiful while they last.

Sweet Pea Meaning

Sweet Peas symbolizes departure. Hopefully the departure is from past negative experiences, and into positive future changes. It’s a great flower to include in a farewell bouquet, a true departure.

March Birth Month Flower: Daffodils

6 Mar

Daffodils: Spring is (Nearly) Here

Tulips bring cheer anywhere they go!

Daffodils bring cheer everywhere they go!

Happy Birthday March Bloomies!

Even though the weather seems more like December, the promise of spring is evident with the arrival of our Birthday Flower of the Month, Daffodils. They personally are one of my favorite flowers, and the ones I have in my kitchen currently even smell like honey!

The Meaning of Daffodils

As one of the earliest blooming flowers, Daffodils symbolize rebirth and fresh starts. To give someone a Daffodil is to mean “regard” or “chivalry.” Daffodils can also mean honesty and forthrightness. Some even contend that the Daffodil’s trumpet shape is a call to “toot our own horns.” What a great way to celebrate a birthday- with flowers from those who hold you in high regard, and want you sing the  song of yourself to the world!

Daffodils In Your Garden

Did you know that Daffodils came in pink varieties too?

Did you know that Daffodils came in pink varieties too?

Daffodils are among the easiest flowers to grow, and a great choice for beginner gardeners.  They are perennial bulbs, will self sow and spread, and will come up again and again for decades. Plant them in the fall for spring blooms year after year. I have learned this year that they are pretty easily transplanted, even in the middle of a growing season. I have several relocated Daffodils happily pushing up heads as I type.
There are hundreds of varieties of Daffodils available today. They come super tiny or big and showy, very fragrant or all about color.  They come in different shades of white, yellow, and pink. Even with this limited palette, the different petal and cup formations, and variations in hues, mean seemingly endless varieties.  Better Homes and Gardens has a great slideshow on 17 Top Daffodils.

Daffodil Arrangements

Daffodils and Tulips are a classic combination.

Daffodils and Tulips are a classic combination.

Daffodils are a staple of simple backyard garden arrangements. Whether in bunches in a jar, or more elaborate arrangements with other spring flowers like tulips, there’s nothing quite as cheerful as Daffodils indoors. Cut daffodil stems tend to ooze a clear goo, which is toxic to other cut flowers. Therefore it is advisable to cut them and set them in their own water for a time, then rinse the stems and add them to the other varieties you wish to use.If you want them on their own, I still recommend giving them fresh water after an hour or so, just the help them last longer and keep the water clear.

William Wordsworth on Daffodils

I leave you with a poem. Enjoy!

Daffodils

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth

February Birth Month Flowers: Pansies and Primrose, Oh My!

6 Feb

February Bloomies Get the Cutest Flowers of the Year

Pansies in a teacup, just for your special day!

Pansies in a teacup, just for your special day!

February is best known for roses, but if you’re a February baby, you get to celebrate with the cutest little birth month flowers of the year: Pansies and Primrose. Usually I pick one birth month flower to highlight each month, generally the one I like better or the less old fashioned choice.

This month however, I just can’t pick between Pansies and Primrose, and the good news is, you don’t have to either. Both of these spring plants look nice in a “Garden Basket”- a basket collection of small houseplants and other plantables. Of course, just a few on a cupcake, or in a small teacup planter is a great way to celebrate a birthday too.

Pansies for February Birthdays

I learned something new today, Bloomies! Correction- I learn something new most days, but today I learned something about flowers: A pansy is a version of a violet!

I was researching Violets and Primrose because they’re both the February birth month flower. When Wikipedia is the only source on something, I begin to panic. How did Wiki get the information if it doesn’t exist? Then I saw the photo link on the site and it clicked. I was looking for Violets, and I should have been looking for PANSIES!

Pansies are early spring flowers common in gardens and yards in the NW. Usually white, purple, yellow or a combination of those, they resemble little lion’s heads (to me, anyway). If you give a pansy, it means “you occupy my thoughts”.

Primrose for February Birthdays

A sweet little birthday treat: cupcakes decorated with primrose for February.

A sweet little birthday treat: cupcakes decorated with primrose for February babies.

Primrose, the other February birth month flower , is also a very common NW garden plant, popping up in early spring. It’s generally the first one I see at the garden centers and the flower market. There wasn’t a ton of information on these flowers, but I found a sweet clip of a poem I enjoyed:
‘Primrose, first-born child of Ver,
Merry Springtime’s harbinger
–Beaumont & Fletcher.

January Birth Month Flower: Snowdrops

2 Jan
Snowdrops arrangement from bloom.uk.com

Snowdrops arrangement from bloom.uk.com

A Resolution: More Flowers in 2013!

Happy New Year, Bloomies! 2012 was a rough year on many people I know, and I think many of us are looking forward to a smoother 2013. This year I’m going to start off right. A little late, but right. More flowers, less stress. Hoping the same for you!

Snowdrop: The Better January Birthday Flower

Normally, when I do the flower of the month for birthdays I just grab what’s top of the list, the most common. However, I know people who hate the flower most commonly associated with this month- carnations. So we’re going to flip the script, as it were.

Snowdrops are tiny, white and love the snow. Often they are the first bulb flowers besides crocus to show in the late winter/early spring, popping up in the melting snow. The heads hang downward from the stem. Each flower only has three petals.

They are quite small and delicate, so work best in bunches. They work especially great in simple arrangements with out much filler or fuss.

Meaning of Snowdrops

It’s proper name is Galatus Nivalis. Its generic name, Greek in origin, Galathus means “Milkflower”. Nivalis is Latin meaning “relating to or resembling snow”.  It is also referred to as the bulbous violet and is often classified under Narcissus in botany books.

In Victorian times snowdrops were considered foreboding of death, due to their appearance in cemeteries- and people wouldn’t allow them in their homes. Don’t let this history turn you off of snowdrops though!

Today they stand as a symbol of sympathy, or can be given to a bride as a symbol of optimism and virtue. And as one of the first blooms to peek from beneath the winter snow, they’re clearly a symbol of hope and renewal. What a better way to celebrate a January birth?

December Birth Flower: Narcissus

19 Dec

Paperwhites for December Birthdays

paperwhite narcissus

Delicate, Fragrant Blooms for a Winter Birthday Treat

December birthdays can be tough, with all that competition from the holidays, but lucky you, December Bloomies, you get a beautiful birth month flower: Narcissus. It’s especially great as a potted plant that you can plant then enjoy year after year.

Narcissuses, or, Narcissi in the plural form, are tiny daffodils with a strong fragrance. There are multiple blooms on each stem, each one about the size of a dime. White and yellow are the only colors you will see these flowers in. Paperwhites, like the ones above, are the most common variety of narcissus you’ll find at this time of year.

It’s an early spring blooming bulb, that lends itself wonderfully to indoor cultivation in a pot. Grow your own garden indoors, or buy a bulb for a friend and give them a little spring, in advance. If you think ahead you can “force” these bulbs for winter by planting them indoors about 6-8 weeks in before you want to see blooms. It takes a bit of care to get them flowering just on time (and standing up straight) but you can read how here. You can also find potted, flowering narcissus in December at many florists and nurseries.

Narcissus Background and Meaning

The name of the flower is often attributed to the Greek myth of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own beautiful reflection and drowned in a lake. Supposedly Narcissus flowers grew where he had sat on the shore. It also could come from the Greek word Narcao (where Narcotic comes from), meaning “I grow numb”. In German, the Daffodil is known as Osterglocke, meaning Easter Bell. It is a symbol of vanity in the West, and of wealth and good fortune in the East. It’s also the symbol of unrequited love and the Kurdish New Year, Newroz.

Don’t worry too much about the various meanings though- there’s nothing quite as refreshing as live, flowering plants in the middle of winter, so surprise your December born loved ones with narcissus this year.

November Birth Flower: Chrysanthemums

7 Nov

Mums the Word

Happy Birthday November Bloomies! You lucky things, your birth month flower is the chrysanthemum. Mums are a symbol of cheer, optimism and long life. What could be more appropriate for a birthday gift?

I love working with mums because there are just so many colors and types to choose from, and they last a long time. Mums are a classic fall bloom. Their appearance so late in the season makes them really memorable. They really are a great boost of color just as everything else starts to go grey, especially here in Portland.

Varieties of Mums

The word “chrysanthemum” translates literally as golden flower, because the original variety was yellow, but since we’ve been cultivating them for about 700 years, there are now hundreds of distinct varieties of mums. They also come in just about every color imaginable.

I know that when most people think mums, they think of the potted plants you see outside of the supermarket every fall. While these are great potted plants, and are perfect on your front porch, they’re not exactly what you think of when it comes to a beautiful birthday arrangement. There are two classes of mums though- hardy and show. Essentially, hardy mums are the front porch kind and show mums are the celebration kind.

There are some really impressive mums that make great floral arrangements like Button, Spider, Japanese, Roman and Spoon Mums.

Button Mums

Pompon Mums are really perfect for bouquets because their compact burst of color really adds a lot of cheer to an arrangement. They are small and round, and come in great colors. Kermit button mums are a popular choice. It’s hard to match the energy of that bright lime green.

Spider Mums

Spider Mums get their name from their leggy petals. They’ve been cultivated for super long petals that reach out from the center. They add great texture to an arrangement. Some have longer, curlier petals, and others are almost downy. Like all mums, they come in a lot of different colors.

Japanese Mums

These mums are among the rarer varieties, and take a lot of work to bring out a truly great bloom. They’re grown one bloom to a stem, are sort of goblet shaped, and have loosely layered petals that scoop up, or dangle down depending on the type. They are  quite beautiful, but can be hard to find. They’re often seen at flower shows.

Roman Mums

This is one of my favorite type of mums to work with. They have the big bold impact of a sunflower, but they’re available later in the season, and come in more colors. Like the one in the arrangement just above, it really only takes one or two to make a statement!

Spoon Mums

These mums have a really unique petal shape, that resembles a spoon. The petals are long and slender, and open up at the end in a bowl shape. The long part is often a different color than the end part, and the center of the flower, which makes a really dramatic three colored flower.

September Flower: Aster

5 Sep

September Birth Flower

Happy Birthday September Bloomies!

It’s almost FALL! This, not-so-secretly, is my favorite time of year. Football, cooler days, the changing leaves. But, it’s also September, which means it’s time to feature this month’s flower, the Aster.

Facts About Aster

Aster comes in white, pink, mauve and purple, often with multiple flower heads on a tall straight stalk that can grow to 6’!

Fragrance free, it grows naturally during the fall, which is how it earned the spot as the September flower. Of course now it’s easy to get them year round, thanks to their popularity and the ease of world wide shipping.

Aster comes from the Latin word for star, chiefly because of it’s multi-petaled daisy-like appearance. It can have a single row of petals, or multiples, depending on the hybrid.

Asters can mean love, faith, wisdom, and valor, or “I share your sentiments”, depending on which flower meaning book or website you look at. It’s a popular flower for mixed bouquets, gardens, and baby arrangements.

Varieties of Aster

New England Aster

There are several types of asters, most are common in the United States. The one most commonly known is the New England Aster (that’s the one I see most often at market), and if you’re here in the Northwest you might be familiar with the Great Northern Aster, which looks similar.

My favorite is the Matsumoto Aster ( AKA China aster) , a large disbud (single bloom) that comes in hot pink and deep purple, each with big yellow centers. They go great with mixed garden arrangements, or with other flowers in the same hue. They’re so bright!

China Aster

Whether it’s a birthday, wedding, or any other celebration, Aster’s bright colors and explosive charachter are the perfect choice for a September occasion.

August Flower: Hello Poppy!

1 Aug

Poppy, The August Flower Loves the Heat

Hello, Bloomies, can you believe it’s August already? The weather will hopefully now start getting to temperatures I like. In hot weather, it’s easy to grow the August flower, Poppy! It is one of the flowers for birthdays this month, and in my opinion, much more suited to a birthday celebration than Gladiolas.  Though quite lovely, they are often used in funeral arrangements. Here are some fun facts about the fairer August flower.

A Wide Variety of Poppies

There are 11 different genera of poppies, but the most common poppy flowers we know of are in the papaver genera. They come in white, red, red-orange,orange, and yellow-orange, and generally have yellow or black centers. They are fairly delicate flowers, with big, showy blooms, and provide strong, bulbous pods after the petals fade. I love to use the pods in my decorating, as they have a beautiful color and they provide interesting texture.

Poppies in Myth and Legend

Poppies are associated with a few Greek Gods, including Demeter the goddess of fertility and agriculture. The poppy is also linked to Hypnos, Nyx and Thanatos, the Gods of sleep, night, and death. This is most likely due to the fact that the sap from a poppy pod is a sedative; in some types of poppies it is strong enough to be used for opioids. There’s also that modern legend about eating too many poppy seeds leading to failed drug tests. Don’t worry, it takes A LOT.

The Meaning of Poppies

Giving someone a poppy doesn’t mean you want to put them to sleep (unless you are the Wicked Witch of the West), it actually means evanescent pleasure, or fantastic extravagance. That’s a much nicer message! It is this message that resonates in the art world. The red poppy was a recurring theme in art deco period paintings, fabrics and color palettes. Think about it- red lipstick, red nails, red curtains, red walls. A dramatic and beautiful statement to make. It still is popular today. No wonder there are so many nail polishes and lipsticks and paint chips and fabrics called Poppy or Poppy Red or Red Poppy!

Poppies in Floral Arrangements

While we don’t see too many poppies in the floral design world because they are truly delicate and the season is fleeting. there are a couple of flowers that have a similar appearance. White Anenomes and white ranunculous resemble white poppies, but are much smaller. Sounds like I need to plant this beautiful August Flower in my cutting garden to use next summer!

Thanks for reading Bloomies, talk to you next week!

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