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Earth Day is Almost Here: Sustainability at Your Favorite Florist

17 Apr

JBlooms Practices That Make Your Flower Arrangements Earth Friendly

Hi Bloomies! It’s almost Earth Day, which reminds me I should tell you all about the sustainable practices I like to use in my business.
Earth Day- Lovely Branches

My Every Day Commitment to The Earth

Local Flowers

When at all possible, I use the most local and in season products I can find. There are several local floral vendors that focus on seasonal, NW and sustainable plants. Peterkort Roses is located right here in Portland, and has year round availability on locally grown roses and lilies. Twigs, a vendor at the Portland Flower Market, uses birch bark, branches, cork and wood to make creative containers (like the one below), wreaths and household decor. Hubrich Farms, another market vendor, is locall too, in Hillsboro. They grow hyacinth, tulips, wheatgrass, and lily of the valley, most of which are sold to be planted and are therefore also reusable.

Recycled Products

There is a whole new line of vases and containers made from recycled glass. They come in different shapes and sizes and are actually less expensive than the non-recycled glass containers!  I also love to use plastic, which seems counter to “Earth Friendly”, but they are lightweight, easy to clean and are recyclable if you don’t want them.

Biodegradable Products

You know that green brick under all structured flower arrangements? That floral foam is in fact biodegradable and goes right in the compost! It can take a little longer to break down, so smaller chunks are recommended. Flower food and floral spray are both environmentally friendly and non toxic. Don’t eat it by the spoonful, but if a dab gets in your coffee it’s not harmful to you (or pets!).

Urban Foraging

As long as it’s not directly on someone’s property the local greenery is, in fact, up for grabs. Grapevines and ivy overgrowing a fence and that are in “public domain” are a cheap and effective way to reuse what’s out there, reduce overhead, and make the neighborhood a little more attractive. Seriously, though: NO FENCE HOPPING. Keep it to the sidewalks, ok?

This last week we chopped down a dogwood that was in a bad spot, really old, and sickly. Both picutred arrangements are courtesy of that ailing tree. It had just sprouted buds, and I was able to reclaim the flowering branches for a multitude of projects. The wood will go for the fire pit  and the rest will all be composted. I truly try and save everything I can. When I can’t, I do recycle, and compost.

Plantables

Centerpieces that “break apart” into individual potted plants are also a good reusable item, as you can invite each guest at your event to take a seedling home with them to plant in their own garden.

Reclaimed Blossoms and Naturally Decorative Container

What’s In Bloom? Fave Spring Flowers to Bring the Outdoors In Right Now

20 Mar

Spring Has Sprung!

It’s finally Spring, which here in the PNW really means rain for another three months, but that’s what makes this place so green and lush in the summer.fave spring flowers

MY Favorite Spring Flowers

These are my favorite spring flowers to work with, and some of the easiest for you to find right now. They’re all springing up beautifully right now, and if you’ve planted a few bulbs or bushes over the years, your garden is probably showing signs of life.

Daffodils

This seems a little redundant, but it needs to be said that this trumpet of spring really does call in all the rest of the springtime blooms, and gives us a bright sunny yellow to look at while the drizzle continues.

Tulips

They come in almost every color and in lots of different shapes, so the tulip is one of my most oft used springtime buds. They do continue to grow, even after cutting, so they are a good flower for those who enjoy change.

Lilac

Fragrant, and beautiful, it comes in a few shades of purple/lavender and can sometimes be found in white. This one can be tricky to use as a cut flower… you need to crush the stem after cutting to allow for proper uptake of water. I love my sledge hammer for this project!

Crocus

Not really something that can be used in a cut arrangement, but as a bulb it’s festive in a potted plant container, and of course it’s always good for making Saffron!

Hyacinth

There are the big, fragrant heads of hyacinth that are fun alone or in arrangements, and then there are the little grape hyacinths… tinier, more and delicate than their large counterparts, but fun clustered together in a posey.

Daphne

This is the super fragrant lemon smelling plant that blooms this time of year: tiny four petaled pale pink flowers in clusters at the end of the stems. Again, they’re not very useful in a mixed arrangement, but their smell is incredible and I recommend having at least one on your property.

Blooming branches

All of those trees that are just about to pop or are just showing their buds are always a fantastic way to bring a little spring indoors. Cut them before they bloom and bring them inside for a fun show of nature. My faves include Forsythia (the yellow one that blooms in February) Quince (hot coral blooms on a dark burgundy stem) Plum, and Cherry.

Spring Is In The Air, Really!

quince blossoms

Are you sensing a theme? I look forward to the fragrances of spring as much as I do the colors. To see things blooming is such a relief after the dark months, but when the air is filled with fragrance it is also an early harbinger of summer.
Hope this inspires you to bring a little outside in, or get to planning for next Spring’s showcase of colors!

Wearable Flowers For Any Occasion (Or None At All!)

27 Feb

Embrace Spring With Blooms You Can Wear

Tuck a flower behind your ear for an easy floral touch to any outfit.

Tuck a flower behind your ear for an easy floral touch to any outfit.

Does anyone else out there feel like the year is just FLYING by? It’s practically March and spring is nearly here. We all know that spring leads straight into prom season… and the weeks of corsages and boutonnieres (and sore hands) are closing in (for me at least!).

Corsages and boutonnieres are what we call “wearable” flowers, since you generally pin it to your person. But what about OTHER options for wearable flowers for a big occasion? And What about more casual ways to wear a few blooms, with no occasion at all?
You don’t have to wait for prom, (or be 17 for that matter,) to try some great wearable flower options. What could say spring better than a cute dress and a bloom tucked behind your ear on a Saturday afternoon around town? Here’s a few more ways to bring the drama and beauty of wearable flowers to real life.

Wearable Flower Trends for Spring 2013

Some fun new ways to wear flowers without this year, just for fun:

This cute little flower ring is just right for date night! From Flowers by Carolyn, in San Diego.

This cute little flower ring is just right for date night! From Flowers by Carolyn, in San Diego.

  • Flowers on your fingers. We all love the effect of big chunky rings. A flower ring is a great way to get that look with a fresh new approach. Don’t you just love the floral ring above from Flowers by Carolyn?
  • Flower head peices. A fascinator, hat or headband is a great foundation for wearable floral creations. A few flowers can make a fun small headpiece… and make a real statement! This is a twist on the ol’ “flower behind the ear.” With the structure of a headpiece as the base, you can get more creative with wearable flowers on your head, and use more flowers.
  • Flowers on your purse. If you’re out for a fancy evening, instead of wearing it on your wrist (too much like prom night) or ruining your dress with a pinholes, try attaching a small wearable arrangement, say a single rose and some greenery,  to your clutch for a fun pop of interest. For a more casual look, you could go big. How about a few Ranunculus on a big purse?
  • Flowers as a necklace or bracelet. Why limit materials to what’s available in your jewelry box, when you can have a custom made piece that matches your ensemble? You can use colored wires to create the “jewelry” and flowers as the “gems.” Or try something like the pendant below from Oh Joy.
Get inspired and learn how to make your own wearable flowers over at Oh Joy!

Get inspired and learn how to make your own wearable flowers over at Oh Joy!

How will you wear flowers this season Bloomies?

Turn Supermarket Flowers into A Stunning Arrangement

30 Jan

Create Unique Arrangements From Store-Bought Bunches

These flowers practically beg to be arranged. Take some home!

These flowers practically beg to be arranged. Take some home!

Greetings Bloomies!

This week I want to focus on giving you all some pointers on how to make your own beautiful arrangements (you know- just in case you can’t get to me for an order.)

“Not-Quite-Scratch-Made” Florals

We’re going to take a page out of many a home cook’s playbook. If  you’re trying to serve a big spaghetti dinner, you probably don’t start with fresh tomatoes that must be skinned, diced, and stewed. At the very least, you start with canned tomatoes, and maybe even jarred sauce. You can still doctor it up with herbs, spices, veggies and meat to make it your own, and it will be delicious.

Home made floral arrangements can be done this way too. It’s simple to dress up even the most basic of store bought bouquets and make them look like a masterpiece. Here’s how.

Start with The Right Ingredients

Choose a variety of flowers and greens for a great home-made arrangement.

Choose a variety of flowers and greens for a great home-made arrangement.

Where to Buy Flowers for Semi-Home Made Arrangements

Most grocery stores have a small floral section. If yours doesn’t, you can try Costco, a Farmer’s Market, or look for a roadside stand. Depending on the season, pre ‘arranged’ bouquets are easy to come by and there are often multiple choices. In some metro areas, small corner groceries are a great bet. Each source will offer something unique. If you have the time, it might be worth combining pieces from a few shops.

Choose Your Flowers

Avoid anything with discolored foliage, wilted, or soft looking petals, mold, or crushed blooms. Sometimes a flower can get a little wrinkled or creased- especially lilies. Therefore, finding the PERFECT bouquet might seem impossible. Just find the least damaged of the ones you like. One bunch generally fits one regular sized vase. Keep this in mind if you are thinking of doing more than one arrangement.

Choose a Container

Do you have a cupboard stuffed with vases from old arrangements you’ve been given? Start digging and see what you find. The best size should be 8″ or so high, the size a dozen roses would come in. If you’re doing something smaller, or several arrangements, that’s ok too. Just make sure you have sufficient flowers for what you are wanting to do. I don’t recommend a vase larger than the standard 8″ vase, only because pre-made bunches are generally cut shorter than what you’d need for a taller vase. If, somehow, you don’t have a collection of vases stashed away, get creative with your container choices. Do you have larger mason jars, or cute buckets of some sort? Unusual containers can add to the over all effect of your arrangement too.

Step-By-Step Recipe for Home Made Flower Arrangements

Prepare Your Flowers

Just like cooking, a bit of prep work makes it easy to pull everything together. Instead of chopping vegetables though, we’re prepping our flowers and vase.

  • Remove foliage from the stem, most importantly what will be under the water line. This reduces the chance of the water getting slimy, or the flowers rotting.
  • Separate out your types of greens and flowers in your bunch. It makes it easier to see what you have.
  • Fill your vase with warm water (above tepid but below bathtub temps) and floral preservative packet, if one was provided. Stir to dissolve all the preservative.

Arrange Your Flowers

Now that you have everything you need, set up in your workspace, (um, kitchen table), let’s talk about how to assemble the greens and flowers into something gorgeous.

  • Cut stems on an angle. This helps the flowers and greens to draw up more water and stay fresher longer. Don’t wait to long after cutting them to get them in water- the cut will dry out and “heal” not allowing water up the stems. You can re-cut if necessary.
  • Start with the greens. Whether it’s eucalyptus, or fern or salal or another green, cut them low so they rest in the neck of the vase, obscuring the edge and adding a structure for the other flowers.
  • Place flowers. The tallest should be smaller and shortest should be biggest. There should also be a rounded or triangular shape to the arrangement. Make sure it’s not top heavy. That is, more flowers should be short and full, with a few taller ones to fill out the design.
  • Use the Fibonacci sequence/golden rule. The tallest flower should be 1.5-2 times the total height of the vase. The best arrangements feel balanced.
  • Add or subtract things until it feels right and pretty to you. Trust your own eye and sense of aesthetics here. This is your creation after all!

Tips For Using Common Grocery Store Flower Types

Did you know, tulips continue to grow after they're cut?

Did you know, tulips continue to grow after they’re cut?

Congrats – You just did flower arranging! I told you it was simple. Here are a few more pointers to help you create truly beautiful bouquets, centerpieces, and more.

Tulips

If tulips are curved or arched, they will most likely be straight by tomorrow. Also, they continue to grow after they’re cut, so make them shorter than you’d think and you might need to trim them a couple times later on.

Roses

Roses should be cut under warm water and allowed to rest in water for an hour or so before arranging to make sure they last and don’t droop over immediately.

Gerberas

Gerbera Daisies can sag or have limp stems. I recommend floral straws or floral wire to keep the stems straight. Both are available at art and craft supply stores.

Happy Arranging, Bloomies!

Men’s Flowers…Really!

25 Sep

Fresh Flowers and Plants for Men are More Common Than You Think

I know. everyone assumes flowers are for girls. But did you know two thirds of my office deliveries are for men? There are several floral options that are more masculine than the typical babies breath and rose arrangement (not that I use babies breath!). From the structured look of tropicals, to the bold size of sunflowers, and the classic look of succulents, there are a ton of great ways to surprise men with florals.

Great Floral Picks For Men

Continue reading

Bright Colors of Exotic Flowers Bring That Sunny Feeling Home

22 Aug

Extend Your Vacation with Exotic Flowers at Home

Hello Bloomies! August is flying right by and that means we’re nearing the end of the vacation time for 2012. However, I know a secret: you can bring your vacation bliss home with an arrangement of exotic flowers. The bright colors and intense perfumes will bring your mind right back to the beach.

Did you visit Mexico, or Hawaii, or some other tropical place this summer? Why look at pictures of bird of paradise, or orchids, or ginger from where you WERE when you can have live, fresh versions of the same to enjoy HERE at home? Many exotic flowers native to those locales are available locally.

Exotic Flowers are Easy

You’re just back from a relaxing vacation, and the last thing you want to do is care for delicate flowers While, exotic flowers can cost a bit more than a more common mainland blooms, but they generally last longer and require less maintenance.

They enjoy heat and drier climates, and tend to hold their color and form. The stunning stems of many exotic flowers can easily last two or three weeks. The bold structures and deep, bright colors typical in tropical arrangements are popular among men and complement any decor, which makes them an easy choice for anyone.

Try Some of These Classic Tropicals in Your Home

Orchids

Orchids last much longer when cut and submerged in water. Orchids drink from their faces as well as their stems, so keeping them under water extends their lives.

Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise are brilliant and bold, and quite resilient. Their shape evokes the flighted creatures of your travels.

Ginger

Ginger blooms are tall and strong, but don’t hold the strong scent of the edible root. It is

Lobster Claw

Lobster claw looks a bit like a Bird of Paradise, but comes in more colors and works well as a contrast. These stunning stems can last two or three weeks.

Anthirium

Anthirium has a heart shaped face that is waxy in appearance, and comes in several colors to mix and match with other tropicals. Only one or two stems are needed to create a beautiful vacation memory inside your home.

Exotic Flowers in Arrangements

Tropical Foliage

Tropical foliage is also beautiful, accentuates the tropical flowers and adds some ‘filler’ to a trpoical flower arrangement so you can buy fewer stems but keep the same impact. I love Ti leaves (in green and burgundy), aspidistra with it’s variegated striping, and anything reminicent of a palm frond.

Play Up the Bright Colors

I prefer exotic flowers in a black container, as the contrast allows for the bright colors of the flowers to stand out and make their own statement. Whatever exotic flowers you enjoy most, treat yourself to an arrangement, and ease yourself into the reality of coming back from vacation.

Flowers For Sunday Dinner

15 Aug

Flowers On the Table Make Family Dinners Special

Recently, my family started a new tradition of family dinners, bi-monthly on Sundays. While it’s not a formal affair, flowers on the dinner table seem to make the evenings just a little more special. For many of us, it can be hard to get everyone to the table at the same time, and Sunday dinner is a time to re-connect with our larger family, and make time for each other, and that is certainly something to celebrate.

Fresh Flowers Add That Something Extra

Indoors or out, fresh flowers add interest, fragrance and beauty to the table. Flowers simpy add to the memories of a happy, love-filled evening with family. We all know that food is a multi-sensory experience, from the sight of the presentation, to the smell coming from the kitchen, and of course delicious taste. Flowers add a finishing touch to the experience, and can really make a simple family dinner an occasion.

Just one fresh bloom, a few tied together, or several in small containers down the center of your table can add the oomph without busting your budget. This simple bunch is tucked into a glass for a simple statement.

You can let your menu choices inspire your flowers or vice-versa. Play up a simple Cuban Sandwich, with a side of Avocado Salad and a tropical flower arrangement like this one. Now it’s a party!

Try roses or something more victorian for an English meal such as the classic, humble Shepherd’s Pie, or a more refined Roasted Cod and Saffron Mashed Potatoes. Are you hungry yet? This simple, elegant yellow and white arrangement is perfect for either meal.

There’s till plenty of summer left for dining ‘al fresco’, and daisies or sunflowers are perfect for an all american cookout. Get that grill going!

There are a TON of options for your many family dinners to come, and plenty of opportunities to gather with your clan with a bunch of fresh flowers to make it special. You don’t have to wait for the holidays to celebrate life! Use your imagination or pick my brain to create that special evening with your family.