Category Archives: Plants

History of Flowers Arrangements

We all love flowers, how they can transform any room, how they smell, how they can make us feel. But who thought to put flowers in an arrangement? Why do we arrange them the way we do today? Where did the various styles come from? Lets explore the history of the flower arrangement.

It’s truly fascinating when exploring the history of flower arrangements, it was the ancient Egyptians that actually started arranging flowers. Egyptians were decorating with flowers as early as 2500 BCE and regularly placed cut flowers in vases and in highly styled arrangements. Flower arrangements were also used for burials, processions and simply to decorate their tables. Flowers used during this time were selected according to symbolic meaning and with an emphasis on a religious meaning.

The Greeks and Romans also used flowers and herbs for decorations. They didn’t commonly use vases but focused on using garlands and wreaths. They used a lot of plant based materials such as, olive branches and terracotta. It was also common for them to toss flower petals on the floors and beds. The most popular foliage used by the Greeks and Romans were acorns, oak leaves, ivy, parsley and laurel wreaths. The laurel wreaths were presented to winners of ancient Olympic competitions and in the home they symbolized a military victory. And just like the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans often used flower petals on the floors but and also at banquets.

The Chinese have a history of flower arrangements as well, dating as far back as the 207 BCE to 220 BEC in the Han era. Flowers were a component of religious teaching and medicine. Practitioners of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism would place flowers at their alters, a practice that dates back to 618 to 906 CE. During the Byzantine Empire (500-1453 CE) contributions to the flower arrangement were made as well. This would typically include a cone shape design. The foliage was also placed in chalices and urns, which were usually decorated with brightly coloured flowers and fruit. And the flowers that were commonly used in their arrangements were, lilies, cypress, coronations and pine.

Now lets take a look at what Europe was doing around 1100 CE. This was when it was popular in churches and monasteries to use flowers and plants for decoration. During the middle ages monasteries had gardens with pharmaceutical products needed for “cures.” They often had associations applying to a spiritual bases as well as a medical one. During the Renaissance you would see flower arrganmnts represented in paintings, they were a very impressive and popular art form.

Now if we want to skip ahead a little we can explore what they were doing during the Georgian and Victorian eras. These eras are when arrangements were becoming even more popular. And they were also much more formal, symmetrical and tightly arranged with a variety of flowers. Oriental design was also very popular and influential because of trade. Small handheld arrangements were common during this time and they were called tussie-mussies. Their purpose was to help mask the smells of the street, since they didn’t have proper drainage systems. People would carry these small arrangements with them as they walked around the city.

During the Victorian era it became fashionable to have flowers in the home. Large masses of flowers were placed closely and tightly into containers to create compact arrangements. These arrangements were asymmetrical and stacked tightly together. There was no defined style, they were often unplanned using many different colours. The tussie-mussie was still popular during the Victorian era to provide relief from the odours of the city. At the end of this period there were attempts to create proper arrangements, which became an artful skill/profession in Europe.

Finally we come to the Italian Renaissance, a period which helped to give an extra boost to the art of flower arranging in Europe. During this time there was a wide variety of arrangement styles that began to develop. By the 15th and 16th centuries, flower arrangements were much more common and a large variety of materials were available to make containers such as, marble, heavy Venetian glass and bronze. Flower arrangements made during this time also had a focus on creating colour contrast. Some popular flowers included, Lilies, pinks, iris, jasmine, pansies, French marigolds and rosemary.

Flower arrangements still serve many of the same purposes today as they did then. They are used for decoration, celebrations, memorials and sometime simply making someones day a bit brighter. We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief history on how it all began. Flowers hold a lot of emotions and can invoke emotions, they are beautiful and wonderful to have around. There doesn’t need to be a reason to have them in your home, it’s simply enough to just enjoy them everyday. 

 

The Bromeliad Plant

There are over 3000 species of the Bromeliad Plant, from the pineapple plant to succulent plants and even Spanish Moss.

Bromeliad Plant in Wicker - 2067

Bromeliad Plant in Wicker – 2067

The Bromeliad is mostly found in South America with the most varieties found in Brazil. Because of its ability to flourish in dry to desert like climates, to the rainforest and even in mountainous regions, they grow from South America all the way to northern Virginia.

The Bromeliad only flowers once. But don’t despair…. Once your plant has grown all its leaves and is finished flowering it will start producing “babies”- called plantlets, offsets or pups. The Mother plant will survive a couple generations then she will die off. The little plant babies grow out at the base of the plant and will feed off the Mother until it has grown its own roots and can then be replanted to thrive on its own. Kind of like your kids….but these pups aren’t allowed to come back and live with their Mother after college! 🙂

Bromeliad

Very popular house plant in Hawaii, seen at City Mill, Hawaii Kai

At first, they said the Bromeliad was only suitable for greenhouses but because of its ease at adapting to home conditions it is becoming more popular. It’s best to grow your Bromeliad in well draining soil but the Bromeliad can also be grown mounted on boards and logs. When it comes to watering your plant it is recommended that you water the soil weekly in the growing season and less water in the winter months, as this is the rest period for the plant. If your plant is mounted it will require watering more often and throughout the year. It is not necessary to water the central cup in regular household climate. This is only necessary in a desert-like environment.

If you are trying to get your Bromeliad to flower, here is a tip that might work. Place your Bromeliad and an apple in a plastic bag together for 10 days. The apple will produce ethylene gas while decomposing which is said to help with the blooming process. Be sure there is no water in the central cup before attempting this.

Weather is getting chillier….

Pick up a Bromeliad today, to help keep the winter blues away.

Taking Care of an Orchid can be a Little Tricky

There is always a fascination with the orchid plant. With so many different varieties their beauty and elegance is so diverse. All different shapes, sizes and even scents! Yes, scents. There is even one that smells like chocolate. Perfect substitution for the waist line!

Regal Orchids

Regal Orchids

Mother Nature really put in a lot of time and focus when creating the orchid. Their delicate petals and markings differ from one variety to the other and look as if the best artists in the world got together and hand painted each one.

Taking care of an orchid can be a little tricky. There is a fair share of you out there that are orchid whisperers and have no problem getting them to bloom and flourish in all their exotic glory. The rest of us however have had our struggles… to say the least.

Phalaenopsis Orchid Plant Lavender or White

Phalaenopsis Orchid Plant Lavender or White

With all the feedback and research we’ve received, this is what we recommend. When it comes to watering your orchid, there are 2 methods.

  1. A quarter cup of water once a week.
  2. Place 2 ice cubes-that’s right, you are not seeing things. 2 ice cubes on top of the roots/soil and just let them melt into the plant.

Also, the best way to remember to take care of your plants is to pick a day of the week to water. This way you know when Friday comes around you know it’s time to water. And you might as well do it around cocktail hour since you’re getting the ice cubes out anyway.

One last thing, when the all the blooms fall off of your orchid plant cut the stems off about 6 inches up from the leaves and KEEP WATERING THE PLANT. The blooms can come back with light, fertilizer and some TLC. As long as your leaves are green you are still in the game!

Enjoy & Good Luck!

The Many Faces of Love Lies Bleeding

Photo of Amaranthus caudatus flower

Amaranthus caudatus aka Love-Lies-Bleeding

We’ve found a flower to feature in August that could very well have a multiple personality disorder, but sounds like a Bon Jovi song title; Love-Lies-Bleeding.

This beautiful plant is also known as Amaranthus, Amaranth, Tampala, Tassel Flower, Flaming Fountain, Fountain Plant, Joseph’s Coat, Love-Lies-Bleeding, Molten Flower, Prince’s Flower and Summer Poinsettia and they have the same amount of uses, if not more.

These rope-like, brightly colored red, or purple flowers hang from tall, upright branching stems and have breathtaking, deep red or green tassels. The cascading flowers were one of the staple foods of the Incas and is now known as the kiwicha in the Andes. To this day, people around the world toast the Amaranth grains much like popcorn and mix it with honey or molasses to make a treat called alegra, which means joy in Mexican Spanish. North Americans are rediscovering the nutritional property of the grains, which is considered a “super-food” and a “complete protein” when boiled and can be used as a substitute for either rice, or oatmeal with a “cream of wheat” consistency. In Africa, China, Greece, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet the edible greens (which are likened to taste like spinach), herbs and grains are consumed daily.

Love Lies Bleeding was used to provide comfort to those suffering physical and psychological pain, by helping them to move beyond their pain and to seek out a greater spiritual awareness. In doing so, it is believed that the person would experience a shift within their soul from suffering to compassion for others, as documented in the story of St. Francis of Assisi.

The botanical name Amaranthus is Greek and means “one that does not wither” or “unfading flower”. They last longer than most flowers once cut and can be easily dried to extend your enjoyment time. As cut flower arrangements, they will last 7 to 10 days in a vase and at least 10 days if hung upside-down for drying. They make beautiful border flowers in the garden.

A beautiful plant with many unusual names and extraordinary uses; Love Lies Bleeding will add color, conversation and comfort to any garden this summer.

Until next time,

Ken Bolt

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