How to Keep Your Cut Flowers Fresh

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and giving flowers is almost as common as giving roses to your sweetheart on Valentines Day. But let’s face it: that arrangement is getting expensive! Your $25 or $50 isn’t buying what it used to get her. So let’s make whatever you get last as long as possible.
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Luckily, I grew up with a mom that had a turbo green thumb. Her gardens were huge and things grew everywhere. We lived in a DESERT people, and she had fruit trees, flowers, vegetables, berries grasses and in her home she had orchids and other plants that people said were hard to grow. She has a Christmas cactus that blooms all year. So, when I need advice about plants, she’s the expert I turn to. Here’s what she had to say about keeping your arrangements gorgeous: If you have a bunch of fresh flowers start at #1.  If you have an arrangement already done start at #5.

  1. As soon as you get home, put your flowers in a sink and cover their stems with cold water. Make sure they can drink it because they might be in there several minutes.
  2. Fill your vase with half COLD water and half ICE.  You read it correctly, ICE. Think about it: where do florists store their flowers? In a refrigerator! So if you want your flowers to bloom and die quickly, keep at room temperature. If you want them to bloom slowly and last, keep them as cold as possible without freezing them. Thus, the ice water.  If you have any florist food stir it in. If not, it’s OK. What flowers need most is fresh water.
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  3. Now, back to the flowers.  Take a pair of SHARP scissors or a SHARP knife and cut about 2 inches off the bottom of each stem on about a 45-degree diagonal and strip off any leafy-greens that will be underwater. Woody greens like thorns don’t matter. Then put the flower in your ice water vase. If you have a mix of flowers, try to start with the largest flowers first, moving to the smallest with the greenery last. Always do greenery last.
  4. BEFORE you put in the greenery, stop and think for a moment about where you want to put these flowers. Ideally you will want the top of the flowers at eye level or lower so you can enjoy all the flowers as they bloom. Once you’ve made your decision arrange your flowers and add your greenery.
    1. If it will be going in the middle of a table you will want to put the tallest flowers in the center, the smaller flowers in the middle and the greenery around the edges. Some people like having some greenery in the very top too. You decide.
    2. If the flowers are going to be on a sideboard or in a place where they will only be seen primarily from one direction, then place the greenery in the back spread out kind of like a fan, then tallest flowers to shortest. This is how I’ve done my flowers.
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  5. Place your beautiful arrangement where you will enjoy it the most and keep an eye on the water level.  Add in ice twice a day and more water as needed.  On day three or four, depending on when your flowers stop drinking water, dump the water in your vase and repeat steps 1-5 as long as your flowers last. My mom has had hers last over 2 weeks! You should easily expect a week-plus.

A few more EZ ideas to keep in mind when dealing with cut flowers:

  • Tulips like to droop. Don’t put them in a vase with a top that has a drooping edge – they will only droop faster. Stick with a straight edge for them.
  • Roses are weird. You know that cut I talked about? With them you HAVE to do it ALL THE WAY underwater AND have the scissors/knife under as well. Otherwise an air bubble goes up the stem and starves your rose to death. Sad, huh? That’s why some droop over almost immediately and never bloom. An air bubble killed them.
  •  Your flowers will last longer in a room with cool temperatures. Avoid displaying them in direct sunlight or near appliances that generate heat. You’ll also want to avoid areas like open windows, heating or cooling vents and ceiling fans as they can suck all the water out of your little darlings. You also shouldn’t display your bouquet near fruit. That’s right, ripening fruits release tiny amounts of ethylene gas which can slowly kill your fresh arrangement. Who knew?

Well, that’s it. Now you can get that Mother in your life a gorgeous bouquet and know that with your help it will be worth every penny!

 

Making an Arbor

Arbors dress up your yard or garden so beautifully. Now you don’t have to have one that looks like the arbor at the Biltmore Estate:

 
This photo of Biltmore Estate is courtesy of TripAdvisor

There are  very simple arbors that can make a great difference and are really easy to make. This great arbor, shown by Better Homes & Gardens is very elegant and doesn’t take a lot of know-how. All you need is a well-equipped toolbox to bring it to life, including a circular saw or a small handsaw and miter box for making precise cuts.

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This wooden arbor takes a few hours of labor and waiting overnight for the concrete posts to cure. It looks lovely and is easy enough a novice could take this one on. Visit The Spruce.com for full details.

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This is an arbor my dad made and is a bit more advanced. He’s added an outdoor chandelier, hanging baskets on either side, a fountain on one side and a bench on the other. You can do this too if you have a little patience.

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My dad has plans for every project in the world but it’s taken him most of his adult life to accumulate them. Today if I want to build something I’ll go into the home improvement store and pay $24.99 for 10 deck or 8 arbor and trellis plans. But I know a guy! He has created a plan book for every wooden project imaginable and the reason I love it is that it is idiot-proof. Because when it comes to projects I tend to be an idiot. I won’t understand why there has to be a hole at this end (or even if there IS a hole at this end) because the plans just don’t show it clearly. It’s very frustrating. Ted’s plans are extremely detailed with great graphics and step-by-step — and I mean that — instructions. So take a look for yourself and make an arbor for your garden.

I’d love to see the results when you’re finished. Please share them with me!

 

2018 Ideas for Home and Gardens

It’s winter and we’re looking around the house and yard and thinking “this could use an update!”

Let’s face it – 99% of us do not belong to the 1% club. We actually HAVE budgets and bills and timelines so tearing out everything we don’t like and starting over just isn’t an option. To help you know how to get the biggest bang for your buck here are the biggest trends in 2018 in home and garden design from the experts all over the world:

  1. Bolder Colors – unless you’re about to sell your home go ahead and get dramatic with those colors. Here is Behr’s 2018 color pallete:
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    Blues and grays are big this year with a few reds thrown in too. But you don’t have to keep to these colors. If you want a sunshine yellow bedroom, go for it!
  2. Mixed metals everywhere – move over brushed nickel, stainless steel and rose gold. This year just about anything can be used anywhere.  Black is big in kitchen fixtures because it’s dramatic and doesn’t show fingerprints. Gold seems to be the trend in bathrooms. Copper is seen everywhere from walls to sinks to lighting fixtures. If you see something you like go ahead and use it.  There are no rules this year!
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  3. Flowers anyone? – Florals seem to be everywhere. Couches, pillows, walls, bedding – there is definitely a trend to bring the garden into your space.
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    And speaking of gardens….
  4. Turning homes into greenhouses – there is a definite trend for more plants in the home. People these days are saying goodbye to grandma’s fern and hello to fun and functional plants like aloe, aluminum, indoor herb and salad gardens and creating terrariums. With all the benefits plants bring to a home this is a great trend to embrace. Just make sure the plants you purchase are child/pet safe if that is a concern in your home.
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  5. Wallpaper – this has been an emerging trend that is hitting big this year. Forget the tiny patterns and stripes of the 1900’s. Today’s wallpaper can be customized to  be anything you want. Florals are huge (of course) but so is using wallpaper to create an agate focal wall. Very cool!
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  6. Extending living spaces outdoors – our homes can only be so big so the trend is on making our yards more functional by providing outdoor living rooms, dining rooms and compact kitchens. None of these have to be big or expensive – in fact, this may be the best way you can update your home.
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  7. Groundcovers – there is a plant that grows in my area that has round green leaves and purple flowers in the spring. It has replaced about half my lawn. I’d love to say it was intentional but this is a horrible weed nicknamed “Creeping Charlie.” Why am I telling you this? Because the trend this year is to replace some or all lawn space with groundcovers – low growing plants that permanently protect the soil and look good. I’ve tried to pass this weed off as a “groundcover” but I don’t think anyone is buying it.Time to plant some phlox. It will look so much better than the Creeping Charlie!
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  8. Creating quiet places – the trend for water features is still hot, hot, hot but it no longer requires you to create a waterfall, stream and koi pond. The trend this year is on smaller water features, often homemade, in a place in your yard that is off the beaten path (if there is such a thing.) Adding a bench or chair may finish off this space and make it a place you would like to retreat to.
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  9. Edibles, bouquets and more – This year’s trend seems to be all about practicality. We are growing more of our own food. If you like fresh flowers in  the home you are planting tulips, gladiolas, lillies, dahlias and coneflowers. You are thinking about bees and planting flowers you love to pollinate. Plant milkweed for butterflies. Gardens are much more earth-friendly and sustainable this year.
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  10. Bring character to your space – gardens these days are becoming personalized, transformed beyond a lawn and border of flowers and trees. Homeowners are introducing unique water features, sheds, play houses, decks, gates, arbors — whatever you can imagine.
    whimsical-playhouse-garden-playhouse-garden-design_12188Purchasing many of these custom items can very expensive but if you are just a little bit adventurous you can learn to build just about any wooden item or structure you like.

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at these trends. If you’ve found inspiration for a project this year, please let me know. I’d love to year from you!