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Have you ever noticed your bouquet of Oriental Lilies smelling more sweetly in the evening as you relax? That's because of a fragrant compound called linalool--most lilies emit it, and often more intensely in the evening. This little fragrant compound is extra-special because it boasts aromatherapeutic benefits. The fragrance of flowers, specifically Oriental Lilies, is one big way we can decrease stress and increase feel-good feelings.
Our sense of smell has the ability to trigger neurological and chemical responses in the body, and a single scent can calm our minds, lift a lethargic mood, or help us tackle a stressful task. So what is it about certain smells that have that effect?
A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2009 shows that the floral-scented compound, linalool, has a positive effect on stress-related changes in the body. In the study, the inhalation of linalool not only reduced chemical changes to stressed-out immune cells in the bloodstream, it also calmed hundreds of genes which go into action during stressful situations.
Back to lilies....a different study completed by the American Society for Horticultural Science showed that linalool is one of the major scent components of Oriental Lilies (as well as their hybrid counterparts, i.e. OT Hybrids). This isn't so odd, considering that researchers claim our ancestors have used the practice of inhaling floral and herbal aromas to lower stress, fight depression, and induce sleep for centuries. It seems people have been using flowers to feel better for quite a long time.
Aroma and Appearance
In addition, not only do lilies aromatically mollify stressful feelings, they also come with the added benefit of being visually gratifying. Another study (this time conducted by Harvard Medical School) has shown that the presence of flowers adds has an overall positive effect on our well-being. The study found that just the presence of flowers in one's home could have a positive effect on a wide variety of feelings such as less anxiety and depression and enhanced relaxation, energy, and compassion.
Oriental lilies have always been prized for their beauty and aroma, and now, we have the science to know why. Yet another great reason to give yourself or others flowers--what a beautiful way to calm down and feel better! Next time you (or a friend) are going through a stressful time, find yourself big, fragrant bouquet of Oriental Lilies, and reap the mental and emotional benefits of Lily Aromatherapy.
Learn all about Antique HydrangeasRead More
The National Garden Bureau has declared 2016 the Year of the Delphinium.
Delphinium, also known as larkspur, are stately spikes of eye-catching, bell-shaped blossoms in astounding shades of blue. They are one of the few flowers that are naturally blue (in addition to iris and hydrangea), which makes them especially unique and eye-catching. The name is derived from the Greek word delphis (meaning dolphin), a reference to its shape's resemblance to the bottle nose of a dolphin.
Delphinium is native to the Northern Hemisphere; historically, it was used by Native Americans and European settlers to make blue dye, and in the United Kingdom, it was the primary source for ink. Seems like even the earliest humans couldn't resist delphinium's true-blue color.
Delphinium is grown in warm regions, and prefers plenty of sunshine, loamy soil, and some wind protection, and some varieties (such as the dark blue Belladonna) are exceptionally hardy and easier to grow than others.
Delphinium can grow to heights of 4-5 feet tall, and are often harvested with stems lengths of 36 inches. By cutting them so tall, one can maintain the dramatic, statuesque beauty of the flower which adds a bold, vertical element to cut flower arrangements. Its florets open progressively along the stem, creating an ever-evolving show for the viewer to enjoy.
Delphinium is a very versatile flower. It looks great in wildflower, au natural arrangements; its framework blends well with pastoral design and its blue hues highlight focal yellows and muted whites beautifully.
Its long stems also work well in elegant, polished arrangements. There is a showy vitality to delphinium, and it brings graceful luxury and an exquisite boldness to centerpieces.
And, of course, these tall beauties look absolutely stunning gathered together in monochromatic bunches.
Add true blue novelty to your life with Delphinium, the 2016 Flower of the Year.
Matricaria, also known as Chamomile or Feverfew, is one of the most cheerful, adorable botanicals around.
These daisy-like and button-shaped flowers hail from the Aster Family, and come in a variety of forms.
The top two varieties--white and yellow button matricaria--have no petals, hence the name "button." The bottom two varieties resemble miniature daisies; white cushion matricaria features little white cushions with layers of petals forming teeny tiny fringe, while white daisy matricaria has layers of white petals surrounding a bigger, yellow center.
Growing Practices for Matricaria
While Matricaria responds well to sun and heat, too much light will stunt its growth. Matricaria is a summer-blooming flower, and the long days of sunshine will make them bloom quickly and beautifully. If matricaria is grown during winter, you will need to provide a sufficient amount of heat. This can be done by growing the crop in hoop houses covered with plastic.
Matricaria's Healing Properties
An added benefit to growing Matricaria is that much like its Chamomile Tea counterpart, the crop has beneficial properties, except instead of soothing a sore throat or aching belly, Matricaria crops restore essential nutrients in the soil.
Matricaria is a key player in soil health and works well with crop rotation. Rotating out other crops and replacing them with Matricaria for a year will amend the soil, restore nutrients, prevent physarum (a type of soil mold), and improve the total amount of flowers one can get from every crop. Beneficial and beautiful!
Matricaria is cheerful filler that provides immediate color, volume, and delicate texture. It is fun to use in bouquets; its earthy, wildflower look adds a rustic and summery element to arrangements, making it a popular choice for outdoor, garden, or country-style weddings.
For even more Matricaria Design Inspiration, check out the Matricaria Bouquets Pinterest page. It is brimming with images and ideas for gorgeous Matricaria arrangements.
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If you live in the cool Northwest region of the United States, chances are you have spotted one of summertime's most beloved shrubs in your town--giant orbs of blue, pink, white, and lavender stretching skyward from big, leafy branches. Oh, Hydrangea!
he genus "Hydrangea" is represented by over 11 species of varying bloom shapes, but the cultivar most often used in cut flower arrangements are the globose heads of H. macrophylla (affectionately referred to as "mopheads"). This highly decorative, bulbous form was born in the coastal areas of Honshu, Japan, developed extensively in Europe, and was introduced to the United States well over a century ago.
These immense and billowy flower heads are made up of multiple florets which boast long-lasting color. And the varying colors of Hydrangea are fascinating! Yes, different cultivars will give us clear blues, vivid pinks, pure whites, shades of frosty lavender and coral—but their color and intensity can vary depending on the acidity of the soil or water that is used. Aluminum sulfate will reduce the soil's pH, causing a hydrangea to produce blue and lavender blooms, while a higher soil pH will give us vibrant pinks. It is even possible for some cultivars to produce different color blooms on one plant! (Further on in the growing season, hydrangeas' coloration gets even more interesting, giving us the marbled tones of Antiqued Hydrangeas).
Soil pH aside, the most important element to growing long-stemmed, giant blooms is temperature and light. H. macrophylla originated in the temperate maritime climate of coastal Japan, which bodes well for flower farmers in Coastal California. Hydrangeas love a coastal setting, where cool breezes dissipate the heat. Heat and too much sunlight can be a problem for these blooms, as they are sensitive to drooping from heat stress.
Hydrangeas look stunning as focal pieces in wedding bouquets, or as voluminous color in large, upscale arrangements. They're fun and versatile blooms, giving you the creative freedom to build what you like.
Did you know there are over 110 different species of the lily family? In fact, new varieties and hybrids are constantly under development. One very special mix, the OT Hybrid (also called an Orienpet), has been making quite the name for itself, and demand for this particular flora keeps climbing higher and higher.
An OT Hybrid is a breed created by crossing Oriental and Trumpet lily types. These hybrids were originally developed to bring a more diverse color palette to traditional Oriental lilies. Before OT Hybrids, all Oriental lilies were white or pink, but these new OTs capture the wonderfully warm reds, oranges, and yellows of Trumpet lilies, with the shape, durability, and longevity of an Oriental. These flowers maintain a delicate citrus-green scent, which is pleasantly light and not as powerful like some of their more aromatic sisters.
Growing Great OT Hybrid Lilies
In order to grow quality OT Hybrids, you must ensure the plants receive sufficient heat and light throughout the entire growing cycle. OT Hybrids require at least 16 hours of light a day in order to form their thick, sturdy stems.
In addition to plenty of light, OT Hybrids also need cool (but not cold evening) in order for saturation of color in their petals. Coastal climates are often the perfect environment to grow lilies.
Two of the original Sonatas were Yelloween and Shocking -- these two have proven to be tried-and-true varieties and are still being offered today. Not only that, there are an array of varieties which circle back to the traditional Oriental palate, with pink and purple tones such as Table Dance, Timezone, Candy Club, and African Lady.
The history of white oriental liliesRead More
The plant is endemic to western Australia and the scientific genus is Chamelaucium. The flowers are small and have five petals and ten stamens. A large amount of blooms grow on each woody stem, making this one of the ideal filler flowers for the floral industry.
If you look in the center of the blooms you see a little cup of fragrant wax. It smells of pine and wax, which is used innature to attract pollinators. For floral professionals this scent is a great bonus, since many filler items don't have the added dimension of scent.
Lisianthus is not one of the traditional standards of the floral industry, but over the last decade it has been gaining popularity at an amazing rate.
Lisianthus’s delicate, unfurling trumpet-shaped blooms of white, purple, cream, peach, pink, or bi-color fully capture the ever-popular wildflower esthetic. Its dainty buds continue to open along the smooth, green stem, giving the viewer a continual show and making it perfect in progressive bouquets.
Lisianthus is native to the warm, dry prairie regions of the Americas, and the particular variety that we grow—Grandiflorum—has been bred to be a long-lasting cut flower. The name Lisianthus comes from Latin, Lysis meaning “dissolution” and Anthos meaning “flower.” Those who cite its origins as a prairie flower see it as a token of old-fashioned values and sensibility. Others see its Greek name and believe lisianthus symbolizes an outgoing and divisive nature.
Lisianthus needs a lot of heat and light to grow tall and flower. They do well in warm, covered hoop houses and greenhouses. They also like very dry soil, so it is important not to let the soil's moisture level become too saturated (the nature of the plant is to have very deep roots, making it more susceptible to soil-born diseases).
Lisianthus is a very popular as a wedding flower. Designers especially love the fact that Lisianthus has both a long vase life and long stems (2 weeks and 24 inches, respectively). Its length gives height and visual power.
The round, delicate, unfurling blooms add elegance and mass to arrangements, and its florets work wonderfully in boutonnieres and corsages. Its prairie flower look makes it ideal for country-style, au natural, and wildflower arrangements, and its aesthetic screams "American grown."
What's the story behind French Tulips? Well, French tulips are in the group Single Late Tulips (SLT) but most SLTs are not considered French.
Most French Tulips are mutations of the Single Late variety named Mrs. John T. Scheepers. This is the big, bright, yellow tulip which many growers refer to as “The Mother of all Tulips.” It has been cultivated for centuries and this exact variety was officially introduced in 1930. It is named after Rose Dorothy Heywood, who was the wife of John Theodore Scheepers. Mr. Scheepers founded the firm of John Scheepers, Inc., which revolutionized the bulb industry in America. He is renowned for the creation of mass plantings for gardens and making the tulip the central spring motif. For this achievement in popularizing the Tulip, he became known as the "Tulip King". His horticultural introductions, which included prized tulips, lilies and dahlias, made him an outstanding figure in the field of horticulture. Mr. Scheepers passed way in 1938, and he left an amazing legacy which we still feel today.
These tulips were originally grown and picked in the south of France, in the Cote d’Azur region. This led to the name French Tulips, when they started being exported.
The term “Single Late Tulip” comes from the fact that this variety blooms after all other varieties of tulip. The single late tulip class (class 5) incorporates Darwin Tulips, old Breeder Tulips, Cottage Tulips and Scheeper Hybrid Tulips. The borderline between these former classes, due to hybridization and mutation, is no longer as obvious as in the past. Blooms are large, shapely and available in an immense range of colors, perched on long, strong stems.
The challenge for the flower grower lies in the conditions needed for optimal results. French Tulips can’t be pushed, they are a very stubborn variety. Standard tulips are a lot more accommodating in their growth patterns--a grower can turn up the heat in a greenhouse to bring them to harvest sooner, andcan also adjust light levels to dictate height.
French Tulips will not stand for this! They will not tolerate the big glass greenhouses, they prefer to be in a hoop house, much more exposed to Mother Nature’s whim than a normal tulip. Once in the hoop house a grower has little control over the growing process.
The wonderful thing about this process is that it leads to stunning tulips, bursting with personality. The stems are big and strong, the blooms are large and egg shaped. The foliage is a rich green color which sets off the bright flower.
Viburnum is one of the first shrubs to flower in the spring. In fact, in flower and garden circles, it is not spring until you have viburnum!
Viburnum is extra special because its growing season is one of the shortest--the season typically spans the month of April. Viburnum is also known for its color change during the season (which I'll explain in detail below). They first bloom in a vivid lime green color and then turn to ivory-white puffballs as they mature in the sunshine.
You may hear Viburnum blooms also referred to as Snowballs--this is because their mass of tiny blossoms give each bloom-head a spherical, puffy shape.
Viburnum Green to White
Viburnum is famous for its color change from green-to-white, which signifies the progression of the season. For example, right now (the beginning of April) the crop is a charming green color. This fresh look is known as early-season viburnum; it looks stunning on its own (a veritable spring forest with long stems and full, lime-green heads), and also works wonders as a focal piece in spring bouquets, adding color and a field-to-vase aesthetic to any home or bridal arrangement.
Late-season viburnum is another visual treat. As viburnum flowers mature and receive a few weeks of full sunshine, the young, green viburnum develops into a brilliant white.
White snowball viburnum has an exquisite and classical appearance--its long stems and multiple florets still brings the wildflower aesthetic to arrangements like early-season green viburnum, but it also boasts an elegant cleanliness that can only be achieved with white.
Regardless of whether you opt for early-season green or late-season white, this heady bloom and its wonderfully long, wooden stems makes it the perfect floral complement for wedding bouquets, Mother's day arrangements, or any quintessential spring gathering. But you better hurry, like spring, viburnum season passes in a beautiful flash.
Parrot tulips (Tulipa gesnerana dracontia) are like regular tulips, but boast bold, serrated petal edges which give them a ruffled appearance. This ruffled look along with their brilliant, variegated colors, and their beak-shaped buds resemble their showy, tropical namesake, the parrot.
The most often asked question about these attention-grabbing tulips is “How do they do that?” How do the petals gain the fringe, the curly edges, and the wavy texture that makes them so unique?
The very first parrot tulips were accidental mutants of various classic tulip varieties, which made their first documented appearance during the 17th century in France. Due to their weak stems, they did not catch on as popular cut flowers until a couple centuries later.
In the early 1900s, breeders were able to reproduce the desired genetic abnormalities of fringed, curly petals AND strong stems, which led to a parrot tulip renaissance. Now there are several varieties, each with their own unique coloration and performance. They look amazing on their own, and their extravagant shape makes them excellent focal pieces in mixed bouquets.
Parrot tulip bouquet design and tutorial by Dress This Nest.
Cotinus, a dark, decorative branch is better known by its common name, "Smoke Bush" (or Smoke Tree). This name comes from the deciduous shrub's late-season appearance, when its wispy, airy flowers fade into a pearl-white color which literally resembles puffs of smoke. Most flower farmers harvest the branches before the plant flowers, so don’t expect any wispy smoke from them.
Gardeners have been using Cotinus for years, and it has been bred extensively to grow in various shapes, sizes, and colors.The most popular is the "Royal Purple" cultivar--the burgundy-purple sheen on the upper side of each leaf is paired with a silver-green underside. Toward the end of the season (and as you can see in the photos), each leaf is framed by a bright red, almost iridescent, edging. Unique AND breathtaking!
In the wild, cotinus is found on the warm hillsides from Southern Europe to Northern China. In North America, you can find it in sunny valleys where full sun and warmth abounds.
Cotinus has an incredible growth rate, and stems can be harvested starting around the first of June, continue to through summertime and into fall, usually stopping by the end of October. At the end of each season, the shrub should be pruned down to the ground, and from the following early spring to the end of fall, it will shoot back up to 10+ feet.
Cotinus is considered a dream to grow--it is drought-tolerant, extremely resilient to pests and fungi, requires minimal fertilization, and performs magnificently!
The dark coloring of cotinus makes it a very versatile piece for floral design--it can act as a dark background element, stand out as a tall, eye-catching focal, and it looks great mixed with strong colors.
Its palette of purple, burgundy, and scarlet with bright red edging and silvery green undersides and can really bring out warm pinks, oranges, yellows, and reds.
Whether it's early in the season or late, the leaves of Royal Purple Cotinus are vibrant and richly hued, and there's always a glint in the dark foliage. The bright veins and edging really makes the dark and dramatic leaves sing.
Ornamental kale is part of the mustard family (genus brassicaceae) and is a very close relative to cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Even though it is related to edible vegetables, ornamental kale is for decorative purposes only (don't eat it!).
You'll find that most flower farmers and designers call ornamental kale by its genus, “brassica,” and other folks will simply call it “cabbage.” All names are acceptable and interchangeable.
Whatever you choose to call it, brassica isn't a new crop to the flower industry, and in the horticulture world it is very established. What is new about this crop; is that now flower designers and consumers can get this traditional cool weather crop year-round. The colors that are most in demand are the white, lavender and purple.
In order for the kale to "color up" you need cool temperatures at night, which makes it an excellent fall and winter crop. However, there are plenty of cool-weather locations to farm brassica year-round. For example, if farming ornamental kale near the coast, summertime often brings cool, foggy morning AND evenings, which make for excellent brassica growing conditions.
Brassica’s current widespread popularity can be attributed to its natural, “Farmer’s Market” type feel. People are loving simple arrangements that look like the elements were gathered from a backyard garden or a roadside stand. Brassica has that warm, earthy feel, as well as a the popular “back to the land” element, with bulk, lovely color, and intense texture of a more upscale botanical.
Hypericum is an ornamental superstar, which features colorful berries on a compact shrub. The plant itself is a perennial botanical, sprouting golden blooms in the spring, which fall off to reveal elliptical berries come late summer.
Hypericum Growing Conditions
Hypericum is best grown in open fields during the summer, when the days are long and warm. Hypericum farmers typically prune while they pick, allowing the plant to rest and regather nutrients for the following season.
The "classic hypericum" look has always been a leafy branch with dark-hued berries. Now, after years of breeding, it's available in many other colors ranging from pale green to dark red.
Hypericum berries are long-lasting, retaining their color for weeks, which make them ideal additions to a wide range of floral arrangements. And, as you can see in the photos, the plant has multiple berries per stem, which makes it a great accent botanical as well as a bright focal piece in your autumn decorating palette.
The smooth and shiny berries provide an interesting and modern textural contrast, which has shown to be highly desirable.
A Floral Riddle: What flower originated in North America, was domesticated by American Indians, commercialized by Russians, and then finally returned to North America for hybridization and commercial farming over 100 years ago?
If you guessed Sunflower you are correct (and observant!). And you get bonus points if you guessed Helianthus (From the Greek: Hēlios, "sun" and anthos, "flower").
Sunflower: World Traveler
As mentioned in our riddle, the sunflower’s wild ancestor is native to North America, and it was the American Indians who first domesticated it into a single-headed plant in order to harvest the seeds. However, they also saw the value and beauty in the plant for non-food uses as well. According to The American Society of Agronomy, they used all parts of the versatile plant to make dye for textiles, oil for skin and hair, and they even used the sturdy, dried stalk as building material. The plant itself, along with its seeds, was widely used in ceremonies.
Eventually explorers took this exotic flora back to Europe, where it was adopted and commercialized in Russia. Why? It just so happened that sunflower oil was one of the few fats allowed to be consumed by Orthodox Russians during Lent, and its demand shot up! Only in the last 150 years has the sunflower returned to North America as a cultivated crop, and it was here that hybridization techniques were utilized to give us the beloved ornamental sunflower that we offer today.
Chasing the Sun
When farming sunflowers, one needs to be cognizant of one thing--sunflowers love sun. And lots of it. In fact, they love the sun so much that their heads will follow its path as it passes across the sky. These large, vibrant blooms also like consistency and hate stress, so an environment of warm, long days and comfortable nights will give sunflowers the weather conditions that keeps them happily reaching for the sky. Sunflowers are typically planted in field rows, where they have room to stretch and soak up as much sun as possible.
The first thing a sunflower forms atop its stalk is its center. From there, it begins building its petals, and as soon as one petal begins to raise its vibrant head, it signals that the sunflower is ready to be picked.
After picking, the freshly cut blooms should be hydrated and then shipped while they're still closed, in order to prevents possible damage. Once they arrive to their destination, the first drink of water will help them open up and flatten out into their iconicshape. They can be shipped wet or dry, with or without foliage, which makes it easy for designers to have their aesthetic pick of the litter.
In addition to the classic yellow-petal-black-eye sunflower, there are several specialty sunflowers available for seasonal spice and color variety, such as Teddy Bear Sunflowers (super soft, multi-layered petals), mahogany-rimmed sunflowers, and red sunflowers.
So whether you desire the classic black-eye sunflower, its red-hued sister, or teddy bear cousin you can let the sunshine in, no matter where you are.
"Can I touch it?"
This is THE Dianthus barbatus question. Looking at the photos, I'm sure you can see why. Dianthus barbatus (aka Green Ball or Green Trick) looks like a self-contained diorama of a mossy forest (and yes, it is as soft as it looks).
The history of Dianthus dates back to over 2000 years, making it one of the oldest cultivated flower varieties. Greeks and Romans revered the plant, using its flowers for art, decor, and to build their iconic garlands. Two millennia later, Dianthus is still highly desirable. Just four years ago, two new varieties of Dianthus barbatus--better known as Green Ball and Green Trick--have been made available to the flower market.
These two new varieties provide bouquets with a never-seen-before texture and aspect. They are round, focal, and green, made up of soft filaments sitting atop a strong carnation-like stem. The difference between the two is simply size--Green ball has a diameter of 6cm or larger, while Green Trick is categorized as smaller than 6cm.
Dianthus likes warm, temperate weather. However, too much heat will kill it, so dianthus growers need to maintain a perfect balance of light and shade, warm and cool. During summertime, shade cloth is often used, and during winter, they go into hoop houses with plastic coverings to keep the warmth in.
It takes an average of 10-12 weeks from planting until the beginning of harvest, but one can usually tell when the plants are ready because the green heads are full, rotund, and soft in appearance. This means the plant is mature and prime for picking.
Dianthus ready to be picked
These excellent cut flowers look great in table arrangements and do well accenting other colors. They are easy to incorporate, and they introduce a unique shape, color, and texture to any arrangement. In addition, the lush blooms are incredibly long-lasting (up to 4 weeks!). Mix them into woodsy, whimsical, rustic arrangements or pair them with elegant callas, hydrangeas, and lisianthus for an elegant feel.
Add another level to your floral creativity with the versatile and verdant "flower of the gods," Dianthus!