Keeping your cut flowers as fresh for as long as possible is easy with this list of tips.
First, choose a clean vase or container for your arrangement. For hard-to-clean narrow-necked containers, simply add dried beans or coarse salt to the vase with water and swish. Here in limestone land (alkaline), I use some vinegar to rid the vases of white spots (calcium).
There are other options to using a vase, florist foam (called florist oasis). If the blooms are of a taller variety, a disk of chicken wire pushed into the neck will help hold them straight. Rocks, pebbles, or florist colored-jelly balls can help hold stems upright also.
The best time to harvest flowers from your garden is in the early morning when moisture is at it’s highest. When purchasing flowers from the store, never place them in a rear-window of a car, a windy location or where the sun hits them. Wrapping them in damp newspaper or paper towel will help them stay hydrated.
Aside from trimming off all leaves that could potentially be in the vase water, it is always good practice to trim at least an inch off the stem before arranging, if possible, cut under water. In addition to these two practices, here are some special treatments for some floral arrangement favorites:
Clemantis = Pour boiling water over the stems, then place them in cold water. Another choice would be to dip them in champagne for a few hours before arranging in vase. (Drink leftover champagne… 😉
Daffodils = Cut them in bud or barely open. Fill the hollow stems with water and plug with a small amount of cotton. This works for all hollow stemmed flowers. (delphinium, amaryllis). Don’t put other flowers with them, they give off chemicals harmful to other flowers.
Dahlias = Never cut in tight bud, as they will not open.
Poppies = Harvest while still in bud. Sear the base with a lighter or by dipping in boiling water.
Gladioli = Cut when lowest floret is opening, and remove a few of the top buds.
Hellebores & Lilacs = Smash or split the stems before arranging in vase. This technique works for all woody type flowers.
Lilies = Harvest while still in bud. As flowers open, trim off anthers to prevent the pollen from staining anything nearby.
Marigolds = When re-cutting stem, trim exactly at a node (where the leaf meets the stem). Condition the flowers before adding them to the main arrangement by setting them in a vase for an hour with a tablespoon each of sugar and bleach.
Pansies = Submerge flowers one to two hours in tepid water to revive. They also fair better when a few leaves are left on.
Peonies = Cut them when the buds are half open and coloring. Slit the stems one to two inches to aid with water uptake.
Tulips = Add a few drops of vodka to keep them from drooping. I like to add some vodka to my drink, too.
Clearly, arranging cut flowers could lead to getting tipsy 😉 Be safe out there!!
Nothing brings a smile to my face faster than a sip from a dirty chai latte! However, I’m not a big fan of the high cost or shoddy attempts some coffee shops make… I’ve literally see some pour it out of a box! The horror!
I finally started experimenting with making my own dirty chai latte. It took a few tries, however I finally tweaked it to amazing.
I found all of the ingredients at Amazon.
This is your basic chai tea recipe. It can be made in many ways. Mixing a teaspoon or two in hot water is the easiest way to make it, however it packs a powerful punch.
I make mine in my Mr. Coffee!
I use 3 teaspoons of chai mix for an eight cup pot. I also add two tablespoons of espresso to the filter.
After brewing, add your favorite sweetener and creamer. Done!
If you’d like to make the recipe fully out of powdered ingredients, continue with these.
Chocolate Chai Mix: Add 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa along with dry milk powder to the latte blend above. Follow serving directions above.
Chai Shake: Blend 1/8 cup Chai Tea Mix, 1/2 cup milk, and 2 cups vanilla ice cream in a blender.
White Chocolate Chai: Add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped premium white chocolate to your cup of Chai Tea Mix.
When designing wellness gardens (or any garden for that matter), I prefer to use plants that tantalize all 5 senses.
Although most gardens look pretty, many don’t offer more than sight for sense stimulation.
The purpose of a wellness garden is to distract people from their current issues and to make them feel better. When senses are distracted by sights, sounds and smells, the mind can be easily swayed to relax and live in the moment.
Here are a few of my favorite plants, listed by the sense they arouse.
These plants are all long blooming or have large blooms.
These plants all smell wonderful, some have scented foliage.
These plants may need a bit of outside stimulus to create noise.
These plants are all edible and safe to eat. (Click here for more edible flowers)
These plants all have interesting textures or have other interesting sensations.
Stop for a moment. Consider just how valuable this present moment is. This moment is all there truly is.
The concept of practicing mindfulness involves focusing on the present situation and staying in that state of mind. This can mean awareness of your surroundings, emotions, breathing or enjoying each and every step of a really nice hike. Research in recent decades has linked mindfulness practices to a staggering collection of possible health benefits.
When the mind is left to itself, it wanders through all kinds of thoughts, including bad thoughts expressing rage, depression, revenge, self-pity, sadness… When we pander to these kinds of thoughts we reinforce those emotions in our hearts and cause ourselves suffering. For the most part, these thoughts are about the past or future. The past no longer exists and the future isn’t here yet. The one moment we actually can experience is the present moment, and it seems to be the one we spend the least time in.
Although mindfulness can be done anywhere, wellness gardens are generally a great place to practice, due to their design attributes. A well-designed garden will have all kinds of sensory input, nooks to hide in and a general respect of presence from others. (Like an outdoor library)
Do you have any other techniques you use to practice mindfulness?
Please let me know in the comments!!
Designing a garden with edible flowers is not only pretty to look at, but delicious to eat. It also makes the garden safe for clients that may not know eating random flowers can be dangerous.
Growing edible flowers in your garden is easy and so beautiful, that they can be grown in your front yard! Growing them yourself also insures that pesticides were not used (they will alter the flavors), as florist trade flowers are usually sprayed and roadside flowers may be tainted with automobile fumes.
Alcea rosea – Hollyhock ~ Full of vitamins
Aquilegia canadensis – Columbine ~ Refreshingly sweet
Borago officinalis – Borage ~ Taste like cucumbers
Calendula officinalis – Marigolds ~ High in vitamin A & C
Campanula persicifolia – Bellflower ~ Sweet
Centaurea cyanus – Cornflower ~ Stunning garnish
Cercis canadensis – Redbud ~ Acidic in taste
Dianthus – Cheddar Pinks ~ Taste like cloves
Gladiola – Lettuce-like
Hemerocallis – Daylilies ~ Have a chestnut flavor
Hibiscus syriacus – Rose of Sharon ~ Great garnish
Nasturtiums ~ Has a peppery bite
Lavandula – Lavender ~ Clean and flowery tasting
Lonicera japonica – Japanese honeysuckle
Monarda didyma – Bee Balm ~ Minty
Oxalis corniculata – Yellow Wood Sorrel ~ Pleasant sour taste
Rosa spp. – Wild Rose ~ Petals & fruits (hips)
Sambucus canadensis – Elderberry ~ The flower clusters make a nice tea
Solidago odora – Sweet Goldenrod ~ aromatic, anise-flavored
Syringa vulgaris– Lilac ~ Sweet and fragrant
Tilia americana – Basswood ~ The leaf buds and flowers
Trifolium spp. – Clover ~ Taste like honey
Viola, spp. – Violet ~ The leaves & flowers
In addition to the fruits, squash plants provide edible blossoms. Male flowers supposedly hold the most flavor. Many find dipping them in a tempura batter or lightly sautéing them delightful.
There are also many blossoms for the salad bowl such as; nasturtiums, arugula, okra, chives, basil, marigold, fennel, mustard or bee balm. Many fruit salads benefit with pineapple sage, rose, violet, lilac or pansy blossoms.
Candied decorations are easily made by collecting roses, pansies, violets or other edible flowers. Evenly brush a light coat of lightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with superfine (not confectioners) sugar. Let dry on a bakers rack or screen and store in a tight-lidded container.
As daylilies start to fade, harvest them and place in a vegetable steamer until just wilted. Toss with a little butter and Parmesan cheese for a great appetizer.
Ice blossoms are a beautiful way to dress-up drinks and punches. Fill an ice container half-full of water and freeze. Add flowers carefully, then add a teaspoon of water on top, being careful not to move the blooms. After they freeze, fill balance of tray.
Scented sugar is easily made by layering scented geranium leaves, such as lemon, rose, chocolate or mint within a sugar bowl. Using this sugar is great in ice teas and baking.
To make a tasty spread for bread or crackers, fold calendula, nasturtium or arugula blossoms into soft butter or cream cheese.
Do you have a favorite edible flower that didn’t make this Midwestern list?
Do you have any favorite flower recipes you’d like to share?
Please leave them in the comments!!
An inclusive wellness garden? There’s been a lot of buzz around the word ‘inclusive’ lately. What does it mean? Well, since researching the topic, I’ve found it can mean many things! And be something that can be hard to retrain yourself to notice. You must learn how to include whatever was being excluded, in whatever their inclusive project is.
Clearly for me, it was designing gardens that are not just accessible to all, I wanted them to be inclusive to all. So if a facility is labeled accessible, doesn’t that mean its inclusive? No, it doesn’t.
Merriam-Webster defines accessible as: ‘able to be reached or entered’, which is what having an accessible entrance means. Thus, if a person who uses a wheelchair is able to get into a garden because of a ramp or a curb cut out that has been strategically placed near the entrance, that’s accessibility. A garden that is inclusive goes far beyond the basic idea of people being able to just enter it.
In an inclusive wellness garden environment, people with or without disabilities mobilize around the garden in the same way and utilize the equipment and amenities inside of the garden, equally. A garden that has accessible or adaptable equipment but isolates that activity in a corner of the garden, is not an inclusive garden. A garden that has no plants that smell or no auditory additions is not an inclusive garden (to the blind). I think you get the point, however when you’re able to walk, hear and see, these things can get overlooked.
Please add any thoughts or challenges you have had either while visiting a garden or perhaps designing one to be an inclusive wellness garden.