August 2010 Newsletter

Flower Magazine: Written with You in Mind

Summer 2010 CoverWe cannot say enough positive things about flower magazine. It was founded in 2007 with people just like you in mind. Instead of being a magazine that is strictly geared to the floral trade audience of florists, growers and wholesalers, this magazine is written for the “flower enthusiast.”

Great Stories & Photos

Each issue is published quarterly – following the seasons: Spring, Summer Winter and Fall and features fantastic photos from events like garden shows, showcase weddings, interior designers and private gardens. Articles are written for the casual floral designer and for more serious flower arrangers like you. The 2010 summer issue features two weddings, a how-to article, some great flower-inspired products you can purchase, a tour of the Memphis Botanical Garden, a visit with an artist who uses flowers to inspire his artwork and more.


In Every Issue – A Variety of Floral Topics

Summer 2010 Cover

Flower Shop: Features products like vases, flower activities and other fun gardening tools
Outside In: Interior designers share how to arrange and place flowers for your home
Artist in Bloom: Artists profiles who capture the beauty of flowers and plants in their work

Summer 2010 Cover
Summer 2010 Cover

Flower Show: Get inspired by exquisite arrangements made by top-notch floral designers
Flower Power: Botanical garden tours
Not So Prim Rose: Penned by Rose Bush, Flower Magazine’s own irreverent columnist
Wedding Flowers, Favors & Food: Unique details and designs from seasonal weddings
Design School: Step by step floral designs
Summer 2010 Cover

In addition, readers can find out what’s going on in the innovative world of flowers through an events calendar featuring information on lectures, flower shows, and design courses across the country. Because there are a ton of articles and not many advertisements in this magazine, we highly recommend subscribing to this great magazine. All photos in this article are copyrighted by flower magazine.


Floral Food vs. The Competition

Flower Food

Last month in our July Newsletter, we talked about how we always recommend that our students use commercial floral food for flower arranging. We are often asked if home remedies work and so we promised you a case study on home made floral preservatives, plain water and commercial floral food.

We gathered some of the recipes from the Web, but also referred to a book, called Did you know….? Wise Words & Advise for Gardeners and Floral Designers from Members and Friends of National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc. Copyright 2007.

We purchased a dozen red roses at the local grocery on a Sunday afternoon. They passed our usual rigors of inspection: firm bud base, pretty closed blossoms, all layers of the petals visible, and perky greenery.

We picked six that were most similar, removed the greenery below the water line, trimmed a few thorns, but really took the care and treated each the same. However they were all about to jump into different floral conditioning cocktails.

We used tap water that we let sit on the counter for a few hours in a container in order to let most of the chlorine evaporate out of the water and then made these six different mixes.

1) Plain Old Water

2) Commercial Powdered Floralife Crystal Clear Floral Food and Water

3) Sugar/Water
1 quart water
1 Tablespoon sugar

4) Lemon Juice/Bleach/Sugar/Water
1 quart water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 quarter teaspoon bleach
1 Tablespoon sugar

5) Vinegar/Bleach/Sugar/Water
1 quart water
2 T white vinegar
1/2 tsp. bleach
2 Tablespoons sugar

6) Aspirin/Penny/Water
¼ cup warm water to dissolve Aspirin – then fill vase with water
1 Aspirin
1 penny – before 1982 – The copper in the penny acts as a fungicide to prevent fungus growth on plant stems. Remember, pennies minted after 1982 are mostly zinc with a thin copper coating, so look for one dated prior to 1982.

The roses were out of direct sun or drafts, all had the same water level and we have not changed their water. Roses mixtures are listed below in the order from left to right. For example: Plain Old Water is on far left and Aspirin/Penny/Water is on far right.

Day one – No change (Sunday)

Summer 2010 Cover

Day two – (Monday)
Plain Old Water – No Change
Commercial Floral Food and Water– Starting to open
Sugar/Water – No Change
Lemon Juice/Bleach/Sugar/Water – Starting to Open
Vinegar/Bleach/Sugar/Water – No Change
Aspirin/Penny/Water – Starting to Open

Day three – (Tuesday)

Summer 2010 Cover
Plain Old Water – No Change
Commercial Floral Food – Starting to open
Sugar/Water – No Change
Lemon Juice/Bleach/Sugar/Water – Very Open
Vinegar/Bleach/Sugar/Water – No Change
Aspirin/Penny/Water – Starting to Open

Day four – (Wednesday)
Plain Old Water – No change – flower not opening at all – Greenery loosing perkiness
Commercial Floral Food – Opening nicely – Keeping a nice shape – Greenery holding strong
Sugar/Water – No change – Flower not opening at all – Greenery loosing perkiness
Lemon Juice/Bleach/Sugar/Water – Flower open – Neck drooping bit – Greenery good
Vinegar/Bleach/Sugar/Water – Not opening at all
Aspirin/Penny/Water – Stalled and greenery limp and turning yellow

Day five – (Thursday)
Plain Old Water – No change – flower not opening at all – Greenery loosing more perkiness
Commercial Floral Food – Opening nicely – keeping a nice shape – Greenery holding strong
Sugar/Water – No change – flower not opening at all – Greenery loosing perkiness
Lemon Juice/Bleach/Sugar/Water – Flower open – Neck drooping – Greenery good
Vinegar/Bleach/Sugar/Water – Not opening at all
Aspirin/Penny/Water – Stalled and greenery limp and turning yellow

Day six – (Friday)

Summer 2010 Cover

Plain Old Water – No change – flower not opening at all – Greenery limp
Commercial Floral Food – Still opening nicely – Keeping a nice shape – Greenery holding strong and neck is strong
Sugar/Water – No change – flower not opening at all – Greenery loosing perkiness, neck drooping.
Lemon Juice/Bleach/Sugar/Water – Flower open – Neck drooping – Greenery fading and petals are getting limp
Vinegar/Bleach/Sugar/Water – Not opening at all – Neck drooping
Aspirin/Penny/Water – Stalled and greenery limp and turning yellow, neck drooping.

And the Winner is…..Flower Food!

As you can tell from the results of our test, our trusty recommended Flower Food with water combination is the clear winner. Notice that it allowed the flower to drink the most water and the flower opened the most. The greenery remained perky and fresh throughout the week. The next best bet would be just plain old water if you don’t have flower food – but change the water often. The flower won’t open, but you won’t have it droop or get wilted.

Real Simple magazine did a similar experiment with Tulips in an article titled:
Keep Cut Flowers Fresh.


Leo Florascope – 23 July – 22 August – Sunflower


About Florascopes

For years, astrologers have linked personality traits with the night sky. A fun book called Florascope: The Secret Astrology of Flowers offers a different take on your everyday horoscope. This is meant to entertain and if you are so intrigued, buy the book! It makes a great gift.

Sunflower (Leo) Traits

If you are a Sunflower (or Leo) you friendly and adore being center stage. Sunflowers are so confident, have stunning hairstyles and have a strong sex appeal. Sunflower’s good looks and love of humor attract many admirers. Sunflower children are cheerful, sunny and never seem to run out of energy.
Sunflowers get along well with tulips, roses, tiger lilies, passion flowers, lotus and other sunflowers.
Sunflowers include Neil Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Julia Child, Bill Clinton, Henry Ford, Madonna, Steve Martin and Martha Stewart.

About Sunflowers – Botanical Information

Known also by Helianthus, sunflowers are native to South America, but were cultivated early for food in North America. When in the bud stage, the flower heads follow the sun across the sky. This is called “heliotropism.” Once the buds have bloomed, the stems stay static and don’t “follow” the sun anymore.

It’s edible!

The flowers, seeds and oil are are edible. The seeds can be eaten whole, without the shell or made into sunflower butter as a substiute for peanut butter. The oil is a cheaper alternative to olive oil and some types contain a higher level of healthy monounsaturated fats in their oil than even olive oil.

In Floral Design

Sunflowers look great in large bunches either in tall vases or in low vases. They look well mixed in with other yellow and orange flowers in the fall. Sunflowers should be purchased when the blooms are still slightly closed if you want the blooms to last a long time. The yellow petals can be removed to create a “brown” flower for a very modern and current floral design. See photo from an event we did using pink, white and “brown” flowers that we created by removing the petals from a sunflower.

brown flowers

Flower Arranging Book Review

Book: Succulent Container Gardens

Succulent Container Gardens: Design Eye-Catching Displays with 350 Easy-Care Plants

by Debra Lee Baldwin

If you’ve been following our blog or come to any of our classes in the past year, you know we love succulent plants like Echeverias and Aoeniums. If you want to have a garden that is low maintenance and does not need a lot of water, we recommend designing with these wonderful plants.

If you are looking for inspiration on how to start your own succulent garden, this is a perfect book for you. Debra Lee Baldwin is the author of two books on succulents and is working on a third.

First, she walks you though how to pair plants with pots. Next, she talks about what plants do well in pots and how to feature succulents in other designs like wall pots, topiaries, hanging baskets, wreaths and floral designs. She also covers essentials like how to plant, care for and propagate these versatile cacti.

We think it’s a great book – especially if you want to use some succulent plants in your floral designs. We’ll be offering a design class at The Huntington Library this fall – just in time for Thanksgiving, where we’ll combine fresh flowers with succulents to create a
long lasting centerpiece
that will look gorgeous on your harvest table.

Floral Tool – Paper Maché Containers

Flower FoodWe believe that great containers are not made of silver, ceramic or fine china, but instead, water tight, inexpensive and low key. Flower Duet thinks that the flowers are the showcase in an arrangement, not the container. How great it is that a container that is made of recycled paper will hold water and floral foam, without leaking. There are two main companies based in the USA that make such a product: Keiding and Western Pulp.

About Keiding Keiding was the first company in the United States to design and manufacture paper maché containers for floral arrangements. Mr. Andrew Keiding, a chemist by trade, started making paper maché flower pots in his kitchen in the 1920s. He sold these floral containers, made from old newspapers and wax, to local churches. He then found there was such a demand that he applied for a patent in 1934 for this type of container for nursery plants and floral containers. Their containers are made from 100% post-consumer papers and are recyclable, can be composted and biodegradable.

About Western Pulp Western Pulp came along a bit later and tackled the need for a western based operation to take care of the florists who were complaining about paying too much for freight for such lightweight containers so Ralph Chapman opened Western Pulp in Oregon and started manufacturing paper pots for the west coast folks.
Here is the beginning of a magazine article about Western Pulp titled “Jackpot from Paper Pots.” Science and Mechanics, 1954.
“Starting with a bushel of old magazines and $250 for homemade experimental equipment, Ralph Chapman created a $100,000 industry, the largest of its kind west of the Great Lakes. Like most people with a new idea, Ralph was told the “days of golden opportunities” were gone and if it hadn’t been done before, it was obviously no good! But the idea of turning old magazines into cash was too good to stop, and Ralph Chapman didn’t discourage easily” Read entire article
The pots we know today are pretty much the same as they were in 1954, however recently Western Pulp has introduced a new line called ReCreations. This product has been welcomed into the floral industry as a new and innovative product. The pulp has been molded in a way to mimic columns and elegant containers, and in such an array of sizes and natural colors, like Basil, Straw and Bark.
Flower Food
As per Western Pulp – “ReCreations are made with recycled paper, each ReCreations container is infused with ingredients from the earth, from pale flecks of Field Straw to richly textured Natural Bark to the verdant hues of Fresh Basil.” We used the Straw-colored ReCreation containers at our most recent Tropical workshop at the Huntington Library, we delivered the bridal bouquets in them at the wedding we did over last weekend and we are planning to use the Bark-colored ones for our Sunflower Topiary in
September’s Class at the Huntington.

Usage Tips:

  • Aside from standing on their own, they are a great liner to pop into a basket or for Grandmother’s Silver bowl which may not be water tight nor would you want it to have floral foam residue on its insides.
  • You can also use hot glue to attach moss to the outside of a paper container to create a unique organic look – see photo below from a wildflower wedding we did in the summer of 2009.
  • Don’t re-use the paper maché pots. They most likely harbor bacteria from the floral arrangement that was housed inside and will keep your next arrangement from lasting a long time.