Lunar New Year Flower Traditions – Year of the Rabbit
by Kit Wertz
This will be the third year in the row we help The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif. celebrate the Chinese New Year in collaboration with their exquisite Chinese Garden that is undergoing a further expansion as we speak. We will hold a class to teach our students all about the folklore behind giving flowers to celebrate the Lunar New Year and what each flower symbolizes. The main point of offering flowers for the new year is to offer good luck and prosperity.
Traditional Chinese New Year Flowers
The traditional “three friends” of the Chinese New Year are bamboo, pine and plum blossom. The bamboo and pine symbolize longevity since they are green all year round and very hardy plants. The plum is emblematic of perseverance and purity. The five petals of its flower make it an auspicious plant because five is a sacred number in China. In this instance the five petals represent the Five Blessings: old age, wealth, health, love of virtue, and a natural death.
Color is important, too, during the new year celebrations. Red and gold are traditional colors and we will be teaching a class that uses gold roses with some red accents. Here are the last two designs we taught at The Huntington. The photo at left features the three friends and the one at right in our classes section features gold and red colors along with traditional pussy willow, kumquats and a symbolic firecracker string made from horsetail. Pussy willow and citrus fruit are also giving as gifts during the new year.
This year celebrates the year of the Rabbit. People born during this year are cautious, gracious, tender, artistic, a good friend, elegant, reserved, self-assured, shy, compassionate, lucky, and flexible. They also can be detached, moody, superficial, self-indulgent, opportunistic, stubborn. Come to the class on Saturday, February 5, 2011 and learn more about how to get luck in this new year – the year of the Rabbit – and learn a new design we’ll be debuting for the class.
by Casey Schwartz
In Mid December I received an email from Mayesh, our favorite wholesale flower vendor in Los Angeles, announcing its first ever
National Open House and Design Contest. The contest was open to floral industry professionals who were registered with Mayesh and were in good standing. I thought it would be fun to give it a go. I shop at all three Mayesh operations based in Los Angeles, however I am the longest customer of the warehouse based by LAX.
We were given three choices of flower combinations, containing several different flowers and had to use those flowers only. We could supplement with $10.00 of added greenery and $10.00 of props and supplies. Our container could not exceed a $10.00 wholesale price. The contest was focused on Valentines Day, and for added twist, red roses were not part of any of the boxes.
I gave it my best shot and did a new design that I have been playing with, and called this one “The Road to Love.” As you can see from the first container in front, the flowers are bursting forth in a kaleidoscope of color and texture…just like a new love. The middle container shows love growing and maturing. The last container shows a step ladder of pink roses – symbolizing how as a relationship matures, so does the feeling of love as it keeps climbing toward the sky. See the photo above of my design.
The day of voting arrived and just by luck of scheduling I had a student named Maria who traveled all the way from Egypt that week to take an intense collection of custom private floral design lessons from me. She had already mentioned that the designs are not that varied in Cairo and to see such talent and diversity was breathtaking and inspiring. I, too, was amazed at the talented designers that I share Mayesh with and noted that every design was as unique as the artist.
There were over 240 contest entries from every location across the country, a popular vote of guests and customers crowned a local winner at each location. Each local winner then moved on to compete nationally with the grand prize winner earning a free trip to Los Angeles or Miami.
First prize went to a designer in Cleveland and it was actually one of my favorites. Here are some of the images of the contest.
by Kit Wertz
If you like arranging flowers, chances are you appreciate a beautiful garden. There are some exciting new trends in gardening that you can do at home – even if you have very little space and a not-so-green-thumb.
Trend 1: Native and drought-tolerant gardens
As gardeners become more eco-conscious, we’ll continue to see the removal of green lawns being replaced with more native and drought-tolerant plants like succulents, native shrubs and grasses. These are both very easy to grow for any gardener whether you are a full-time enthusiast or part-time type gardener.
Trend 2: Edible gardens
Growing your own vegetables or herbs is also a big trend. Partly due to the poor economy and expense of organic veggies, many consumers are turning toward their own backyards, decks and windowsills to provide some fare for the dining table.
Trend 3: Vertical gardens
Many urban planners are looking to solve the future food shortages with vertical gardens that can be housed in cities. Many of these architectural concepts are not only viable, but welcome changes to our concrete jungle landscapes that are prevalent in today’s big cities. Food would be grown in hydroponics chambers. Water would be recycled. Orchards would be three or four stories above ground. You can learn more about vertical gardens in the book by Dr. Dickson Despommier, The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century. See the “vertical” hanging succulent garden below.
Trend 4: Container gardens
Container gardens will be more sustainable with fewer annual flowers and more fruits, vegetables and perennials.
Trend 5: Cut-flower gardens
As with the ousting of annuals from your garden, you’ll do better to plant perennial flowering plants and shrubs that can double as a cut-flower garden.
2011 Garden & Flower Shows
To see some of these trends, go to a garden show near you. Febuary and March are when most garden shows happen, so don’t miss out. Here are the more well-known garden shows in the United States:
March 6-13, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
April 15-17, 2011 in Orlando, Florida
Feb 24-27, 2011 in Hartford, Connecticut
February 24-27, 2011 in Providence, Rhode Island
March 16-20, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts
March 24-27, 2011 in Mobile, Alabama
February 25-27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia
March 30 – April 2, 2011 in New Orleans, Lousiana
March 3-6, 2011 in Dayton, Indiana
March 4-6, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona
February 23-27, 2011 in Seattle, Washington
March 23-27, 2011 in San Mateo, California
returns in 2012 to Los Angeles, California
March 4-6, 2011 in Del Mar, California
The Beginner’s Guide to Edible Herbs: 26 Herbs Everyone Should Grow and Enjoy by Charles W.G. Smith
To go along with the new trends in gardening we talked about in this month’s newsletter, we thought it best to review a book about how to grow and eat herbs. This book outlines common and not-so-common herbs that you can grow yourself in your own garden or windowsill.
There is an overview about growing herbs in the beginning section and then each chapter focuses on one herb. For each herb, Smith writes about the history of origin, instructions on how to grow it and harvest it, and folklore associated with the herb. The author also outlines extensive uses of the herbs including medicinal and culinary and details how to preserve the herb for later use. Each herb has a chart for what parts of the plant to use and how – whether to use the petals or leaves of an herb. There are also a ton of mouth-watering recipes for the herbs from teas, pestos, soups, ketchups, drinks and cookies.
We teach an herb wreath class each year at the end of the summer season. Herbs are great addtions to bouquets and all types of floral arrangements. They add some wonderful texture and scent to a bouquet. Below is are two of our herb wreaths we teach. Grow some herbs for your floral bouquets at home. Good choices include lavender, mint, rosemary and thyme.
Sparkling gems, decorative wire, and wire collars add whimsical flourishes to floral arrangements and bouquets. You can stick the pretty pinheads right into a flower head to accent its beauty. You can wrap wire around a bouquet to add sparkle and pizzazz. Or, use the ready-made wire collars to add elegance and a rich look.
You can add all of these ideas to a design to add more value for your customers. The Oasis brand – the same folks that bring us our preferred floral foam – also makes a plethora of these types of floral accessories. Get more ideas on how to use them at their website.
Photos above are from the Oasis website.