Gardening

Lapageria Rosea Chilean Bell FlowerLapageria is a monotypic genus meaning there is only one unique species of this fantastic plant.

The National Flower of Chile it is known to festoon the trees, shrubs and natural areas in Chile making a spectacular sight.

It has been called the "aristocrat of climbers", one of the "greater glories' of climbers and one of the most beautiful of all flowering climbers. Certainly plant collectors and horticulturists want to obtain and grow this plant, not just one but as many as possible.

As an aristocrat it is fitting it was named after Empress Josephine de la Pagerie of France and was pursued by Napoleon and married him. She was a keen gardener particularly with roses.

Interestingly Lapageria belongs to the family Philesiaceae which includes only two genera Lapageria and Philesia making it a member of one of the smallest flowering plant families. It was introduced into cultivation in Europe at Kew Gardens in 1874.

To grow this plant well one needs to understand what conditions it likes best and how it grows in its native habitat.

Strong, wiry, slender, twinning stems grow from underground rootstock and these stems may reach 5 metres long and of course need some support because in the wild they climb over nearby plants and trees. These stems are supported by a strong root system which needs unrestricted soil conditions. It grows best in a cool place with deep, moist acid soil, well drained and with lots or organic matter and mulch.

It like humidity, moderate summer temperatures, needs sun but dislikes long exposure to very hot bright sun. Best if it has some partial shade in the sunniest part of the day. It will not tolerate heavy frosts either. So choice of position is critical.

Along these long wiry stems alternate, leathery semi glossy, deep green, heart shaped, 10cm, evergreen leaves with 5 prominent veins appear.

Spectacular rosy crimson flowers with white spots may appear in late spring, summer and autumn. These distinctive, beautiful, bell shaped flowers air about 8cm long with six long, heavy, waxy petals hang singly or in clusters from leaf axils on the upper part of the plant. Flowers usually appear on old wood rather than new and last for several weeks.

Traditionally there have been two colours, rosy crimson the actual species, and pure white Lapageria rose 'albiflora'. Today there are many shades and named cultivars grown in the world. Many have been raised in the USA. Some plantsmen recommend growing these two varieties together.

The flowers are followed by yellow green, oblong, fleshy fruit (technically called berries) and inside amongst the sticky pulp are ovoid shaped seeds.

As a single species which has its main flower colour as red the cross pollination of flowers which have slight or significant colour variations can lead to new forms being grown. Even the long known white variety will not produce white off spring from seed. However in recent years there has been a range of colours produced which are interesting and in future we may see some more.

The flowers have to be cross pollinated from another flower or plant in order to set seed.

When harvesting seeds they should not be allowed to dry out and when sown will germinate in about 13C after about 5 weeks.

Like many plants once grown from seed we may still have to wait 3 -5 years for the new plants to flower. Layering of special coloured forms using strong stems is another way to increase the number of plants, but it is slower.

Japanese GardenThe Key Elements of a Japanese Garden

Japanese gardens are growing in popularity nowadays. This can be attributed to its graceful combination of plants, water and rocks all meticulously arranged to invite a sense of calm and tranquility. If you're looking to build your own Japanese garden at home, here are important principles you should keep in mind:

1. Your stone layout sets the foundation

As Ancient Japanese mythology puts great importance to mountains and stones as the foundation of the earth, the Japanese consider this as one of their most important principles in designing their own zen gardens. They believe that stones form the frame of the garden and if they are properly arranged, the other parts of the garden should automatically arrange itself. If you're just in the process of designing your Japanese garden, some ideas include incorporating raked gravel around islands or laying out uniform-sized gray river rocks to create a stream bed.

2. The water serves as the basis of the whole garden composition

Water is considered an essential part of every Japanese garden, as it symbolizes the steady and continuous flow of time. Elements of water in the Japanese garden are evident in their pond installations and thin water strings flowing through rocks, as well as in rocks, gravel and sand where water seems to have run dry to symbolize the passing of time. It might be a good idea to introduce falling water or bamboo fountains in your garden design to complete the Japanese garden flavor.

3. The architecture must help design a path

As the Japanese culture put a lot of significance on life being a path, its gardens are designed to take guests through a carefully designed path. On top of keeping with tradition, the main function of the path in Japanese garden design is the unification of all garden elements. They also put significant importance in designing architecture that complements the path. These are usually made of natural materials such as wood, stone and metal.

Traditional Japanese garden architecture includes pavilions, stone lanterns and wells. You can make your own tea house in the middle of your garden by using bamboo. You can even add your own personal touch to your garden by adding stone water jars or bamboo garden fences to give the impression of lightness and grace.

4. Use plants to create the background

Every Japanese garden is designed in a way that plants always obey the stone layout. So, instead of letting the plants dictate how you want your garden to look, always keep in mind your stone layout in selecting the plants that will soften the lines and create the background. You can select different kinds of garden plants to complement your stone layout from evergreens and conifers to blooming trees and shrubs, all the way to local hardwoods and perennial forest flowers. Don't be afraid to prune the trees in order to echo your garden's architectural design and create subtle reflections in water.

Apart from the minimalism of Japanese gardens, what most people do not realize with the design is that it attempts to illustrate the unique relationship between man and nature. Man should always improve nature, by showing its essence, and not by pressuring it to its needs. If you only keep this in mind, you'll be able to design a Japanese-style garden that not only complies with its aesthetics but also its founding philosophy.

 

OrchidsSelecting flowering plants for indoors needs your thorough investigation as to what are the basic requirements to grow flowers in your home to give the best possible result to succeed. In order not to waste your efforts in growing some indoor flowers, I have identified these indoor plants for your guidance.

Top 8 Ideal Indoor Flower Plants

1. Orchids. Considered as one of the largest group of indoor and outdoor plants from among the favorite flower collections. Waling-waling which is considered one of the most beautiful of the orchids species is only found in the Philippines. It's beautiful flowers attracts flower enthusiasts to include in their pricey flower collections.

In her book "The Orchid Thief", Susan Orlean described an orchid show and the dazzling variety of flowers in all colors and shapes. Some are breathtaking, some are strange, and some border on downright ugly.

2. Begonias. Some species of begonias thrives outdoors, but most are ideal for indoor growing. They are hardy plants and does not demand too much care as long as the amount of water is sufficient for their growth process. There some other varieties of begonias, they includes the trailing type or the bushy type. Others are free flowering with attractive flowers and the foliage varieties that gives beauty of their attractive foliage.

3. Anthuriums. This attractive flowering plant originates in the jungle before it was domesticated in the nursery. It boasts as one of the most striking plants in the world. Anthuriums favors a humid climate, with sufficient heat, enough moisture, good sunlight requirements and good soil rich in organic materials. Most species of anthuriums are attractive with their different kinds of flower colors.

4. African Violets. These plants are compact and free flowering with a wide variety of flowers and colors. You should keep them grow healthy by proper watering, exposing to high humidity and controlled light to keep them flowers bloom all year round to provide with a continues supply of flowers.

5. Poinsettias. This plant is considered as the most popular indoor plant in the world, because of its meaningful characteristics as a symbol for Christmas. There are newly introduced varieties of poinsettias that includes the pink and white variegated colors, an addition to the most popular red color.

6. Bromeliads. They are grown for their beautiful foliage and flowers. Sometimes they are called urn plants, and most of them grows in rosettes of strapped leaves that form a central water-collecting cup. It's hard to bring bromeliads to bear flowers, but there are some new developed type that blooms and sometimes lasts for several months before they died down.

7. Hibiscus. This plant is the most favorite of home gardeners because of its easy propagation techniques. It is popular for its dizzying array of flower colors with its different flower of single and double forms. Hibiscus tolerates in warm climate, light exposure and high humidity.

8. Desert Cacti. This is featured as the most beautiful flower of the world when in full bloom. Many varieties of cactus are usually good collections as house plant in an array of flowers that decorates the homes. Desert cacti tolerates with enough sunlight and just enough water supply.

Happy gardening.

 

The Power of Flowers"All the flowers would have very extra special powers" This is a quote from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Flowers have been a symbol of peace and love throughout the ages. From the "Flower Power" movement of the 1960's, when activist and young pacifist Jane Rose Kasmir was photographed planting a flower on the bayonets of guards at the Pentagon during a protest against the Vietnam War on October 21, 1967. A Moment in time that would go on in American culture and heritage to reflect a moment of peace in a time of war, symbolizing a new type of passive resistance, coined by Ginsberg's 1965 essay titled How to Make a March/Spectacle. During the late 1800's a woman rejecting a suitor might send him yellow roses. During world war one a man leaving for a battle overseas might give his girlfriend forget-me-nots. Most people remember that red roses mean "I love you," but floriography itself has been largely forgotten, a Victorian practice where particular types of flowers meant different things.

In some cases flowers may have a more grim representation such as calla lilies at a funeral. Recently evidence of flowers dating back to the prehistoric period have been discovered through 'Flower Fossils'. Archaeologists uncovered skeletons of a man, two women and an infant buried together in soil containing pollen of flowers in a cave in Iraq. This association of flowers with the cave dwelling Neanderthals of the Pleistocene epoch is indicative of the role of flowers in burial rituals. Analysis of the sediment pollen concentrated in batches, implied that possible bunches of flowers had been placed on the grave. Closer examination of the flower pollen enabled scientists to identify many flowers that were present, all of which had some therapeutic properties.

That's right, before we had the local drugstore pharmacy with it's many colorful cough syrups to aid our aliments we relied on flowers. Flowers like calendula for aches and pains or hyssop for a sore throat. Today you might be able to find Ecanechia at your local pharmacy. Although most of the immunity boosting qualities of this flower comes form it's roots, it is a healing flower all the same. For the most part healing flowers are a thing of the past. That is of course if you are excluding one of today's most controversial flowers, the cannabis or marijuana flower. This highly debated flower is said to aid in a number of ailments such as chronic pain, depression and stomach upset, just to name a few. Although some states have legalized cannabis for medical use, it's distributors and the patients that have come to rely on it's healing properties are under the constant scrutiny of not only our federal government but the state elected officials whom continue to argue the validity of this flowers power.

Some flowers are just plan good to eat. Take the Squash flower. This bright and brilliant flower carries a buttery flavor of summer. Simply saute lightly and sprinkle a little salt and there you have it. A delicious snack that's also beautiful. And you you have never had dried blueberries and dark chocolate with fresh and fragrant lavender, then you just don't know what you're missing. Dandelions which are commonly referred to as weeds are sweetest with a honey like flavor when they are picked young. Next time you make a salad or rice pilaf try adding some dandelion flowers and greens.

Creating an eye catching edible flower garden is rewarding to all the senses. Flowers as an edible addition, bring lively flavors, colors, and textures to salads, soups, casseroles, and other dishes. Eating flowers is not as exotic as it may sound. The use of flowers as food dates back to the Stone Age with archaeological evidence that early man ate such flowers as roses. You may not want to eat flowers if you have asthma, allergies, or hay fever. You'll want to be sure to only eat flowers that have been grown organically so they have no pesticide residue. I find that it is best to collect flowers in the cooler part of the day like in the early morning after the dew has evaporated, or late afternoon. Some common edible, annual flowers that are easy to grow as well as tasty, include a number of herbs and vegetables that have edible flowers in addition to other edible parts. Calendula/pot marigold (Calendula officinalis) comes in yellow, gold, or orange flowers with a tangy, peppery taste. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) has flowers in shades of white to red, with a watercress and peppery flavor. These flowers are also used for their ability to help protect other plants in your garden from pests. Tuberous begonias (Begonia x tuberhybrida) have white, pink, yellow, red, orange or multicolor flowers with a citrus flavor. Radish (Raphanus sativus) has yellow, spicy-hot flowers very similar to the yellow flowers of bolted mustard greens. If you love the bitterness of arugula then I suggest you try the flowers that pop out at the end of the growing season. These white and brown flowers are a beautiful addition to salads. one of my favorite uses is sprinkled with fresh parsley over roasted mushrooms. Flowers of perennials and herbs offer a broad range of flavors too. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) have white, lavender, or purple flowers with a strong onion flavor perfect for floating on soups. Red clover (Trifolium pretense) has sweet-tasting, pink or red flowers.

Violets (Viola odorata) have violet, pink, and white flowers with a sweet to slightly sour flavor which in my opinion makes them a perfect candidate for candying. Here's how:

In a bowl, beat two egg whites with a wire whisk just until frothy. Place sugar in another bowl. Taking one violet at a time, pick it up by the stem and dip into egg whites, covering all surfaces. Gently dip into the sugar, again being sure all of the petals, top and bottom, are covered. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets; snip off stems. Using a toothpick, open petals to original shape. Sprinkle sugar on any uncoated areas. Dry in a 200° oven for 30-40 minutes or until sugar crystallizes. Gently remove violets to wire racks with a spatula. I like to use an ultra thin fish spatula for this. Sprinkle again with sugar if violets appear syrupy. Cool. Store in airtight containers with waxed paper between layers.

Even trees and shrubs produce edible flowers. In the spring as weather starts to get warmer I love to open my bedroom window and fill my room with the sweet smell of orange blossoms. This citrus honey smell can be captured by throwing some fresh flower buds in a jar of sugar. The longer the flowers sit in the sugar the better flavor you will get. Apple trees have these cute little white and/or pink flowers with a floral to slightly sour taste. While plum trees have somewhat similar pink to white flowers but with a mild flavor, like flower nectar. A personal favorite of mine is Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) which features white, yellow, pink, or red flowers with a honey-like flavor. I have only ever seen them red. When I was younger we lived in Arizona for a time. This is where I first discovered these sweet treats. Although I generally wasn't allowed sweets, these little hidden ruby treasures were a sweet secret worth keeping.

Unfortunately there are some common flowering plants that you should avoid eating like hydrangeas. Although hydrangeas are not edible they are still quite amazing. Hydrangeas have a unique quality. Their beautiful colors are determined directly by the soil you plant them in. That's right the more acidic the soil is deeper blue your hydrangea will be. Now a true white hydrangea will always remain white. For the most part hydrangeas do not thrive in pots. These bushy flowers have a root system that will usually out grow out of a pot in just one summer. However I have herd that if you put your potted hydrangeas over dirt area the roots will just grow right out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot and straight down into the earth. The first year that the hydrangea is growing in the pot, normal watering is required, as you would any potted plant. But the second year, the roots should begin growing out the drainage holes and into the ground. Don't move the pot, the better the plant becomes rooted into the ground, the less it needs supplemental watering. If you must move the plant or give it away, just cut the roots off right under the pot, and the hydrangea should transplant very well.

A dramatic front yard flowerbed provides a constant stream of color. Look for flowers that are bright and fragrant. Including vivid hues, like asters, spray mums, alstromeria and Monte casino asters, for example will help attract birds and butterflies and other pollinators to your garden. Add plants that offer vertical growth, such as sun flowers. Remember the rule of three, always try to group three of one plant at a time for visual consistency. Planting one flower in a variety of colors can make quite the visual impact. However if you are a fan of a more minimalistic and clean look, just by simply putting large groups of a similar flower or similar bloom color can offer not only breath taking view but also a more fuss-free garden solution.

Some of us have some more difficult challenges when it comes to space for our gardens. However even if you live in a high rise condominium with little more than a balcony you can still enjoy a potted flower garden. The first step is selecting the right plant for the right pot. This will make all the difference in your container garden. I Look for plants suited to the area the container will be located. For example does the space have full sun or is it under a tree, or in the shade of another building. A porous pot, like clay, allows water to evaporate, and is better suited to a drought-tolerant plant like succulents or ecanechia. Plastic containers obviously retain more water. So in turn they are better suited to flowers that require consistent moister like cardinals. Invasive plants are best planted alone where they can be controlled or as I like to say "free to take over". Select plants that will share a pot by keeping heights varied to allow each plant a chance at sunlight. Also if your grouping potted flowers choose flowers that will thrive in similar conditions. You can make a dramatic statement, with a container with a single type of plant. Floral shops commonly have blooming azaleas, mums, gloxinias and cyclamen that give a beautiful and brilliant burst of color. You can pot these plants in a variety of containers. Set pots in baskets or a vase to cover the plastic containers they come in. Most floral shop flowers are considered 'temporary' because all of their energy has been focused on one big showy bloom. What a waste. Garden annuals, such as geraniums, petunias and begonias provide continuous blooms throughout summer. Remove wilted flowers promptly to encourage reblooming. When garden annuals are planted in a container as a single plant or in a group of the same plant they provide a mass of color. I find that grouping pots together of single plants gives depth, variety and interest. I also enjoy using containers that have an array of colors and shapes. However I have seen in my neighborhood a front porch container garden with different types of green and white flowers all in shiny glazed white pots. The pots are all different sizes as are the plants. I think the over all look is clean and chic. Another smart move is to plan a container garden that will transition from season to season. For instance, start a container garden in late fall by layering bulbs with varied bloom times such as tulip, daffodil and crocus. Nestle a container-friendly perennial in the center like, sunset hyssop or try adding a trailing variety to the edge. Perennial canna, day lily and hibiscus all do well in mixed containers. As the shoots from bulbs emerge in spring you could even add annuals between the shoots. For interest that spills into fall add plants like daylilies. I really like daylilies because they are rugged, adaptable, vigorous perennials that endure in a garden for many years with little or no care. Daylilies adapt to a wide range of soil and light conditions. They establish quickly, grow vigorously, and survive winters with little or no injury.

Flowering Bulbs are an easy way to add splashes of tropical color to your garden. You can get flower bulbs from tall stately Gladiolus to highly fragrant Oriental Lillies. Plant them as a border or in containers. Once they are grown you can even cut a few and create a beautiful and fragrant bouquet for the home or office. Bulbs require little garden space which is one of the reasons they are so great for the urban gardener. Bulbs can be planted in annual or perennial flower beds, among shrubs, under trees, and in practically every area of the landscape. They will even thrive in a pot. With careful scheduling, you could have flowering bulbs in bloom in the earliest parts of spring, and they will last until the first freeze in the late fall. I have found that the best bulbs come from reputable businesses, so I would check your local nursery. You want to be sure to make your selections at local sources as soon as the bulbs are offered for sale. I usually start looking after new years. Select large, firm, plump bulbs or roots. Do not purchase any that are bruised, blemished, or soft. During their dormant season, tulip, narcissus, and most other bulbs with a protective covering of dry scales can be stored for several weeks prior to planting, if necessary. However more fleshy bulbs and roots like lilies need to be planted immediately after purchase.

All this talk of flowers makes me want to get some for the garden right now. Planting flowers in the heat of summer seemed like a good way to end up with a bunch of dead flowers. Until I can across 'summer flowers'. Flowers that thrive in the warmer summer months. Aster is a loved garden plant. It possess outstanding flower heads and the variety blooms, coming in an abundance of colors. Another fun verity I tend to find here in California is the prehistoric looking Bird of Paradise. Bird of Paradise is known by the individual bloom, resembling a vividly colored flying bird; it is used in landscaping quite frequently in my neighborhood. It is a tall brightly colored eye catcher. Gerbera flower is a dream for almost any gardener. This hearty flower is valued by its bright multiple colorings. This ornamental sunflower would be a welcome addition in any garden as it is the fifth most used cut flower in the world.

I absolutely love fresh cut flowers in the house. They can brighten up a room and perfume the air. Now when I am choosing cut flowers I tend to look for something that will last in jar of water. As you may or may not know cut flowers can be very pricy. I can not tell you how many of my girlfriends have broke the bank getting the flowers they wanted for their weddings. When it comes to a cost conscience flower that will stand the test of time, newly discovered (to me) the Alstroemeria, or Lily of Peru is my new personal favorite. These flowers have an exotic look. Beautifully spotted and marked perennials alstroemeria, are lily-like flowers with deep, thick roots. They grow two to three feet tall on strong, branched stems. Each trumpet-shaped flower is an inch or two in diameter. Flowers come in pink, rose, purple, yellow, cream, orange, and white and are spotted or streaked with contrasting colors. At my local farmers market these flowers are found in the three dollar bucket. With little more than sugar water these flowers have lasted for over a week in my house. But when it comes to fragrance I am a sucker for aster lilies. Although they are generally a little price than Peruvian cousins these aromatic beauties don't cost near as much as they look like they do. I like to buy them closed so that they will bloom at home. These gorgeous flowers will generally live for about a week. However if we are talking longevity, fragrance and price I have found nothing better than lavender. I love these versatile flowers. They look just as magnificent fresh and alive as they do dry. They have a sort of clean floral smell which is why I suppose you'll find lavender in soaps, deodorants and potpourri. I also enjoy lavender in some foods as well as teas. I can usually find them at the farmers market come June. Once a year I like to get a fresh bunch for potpourri and use last years dried out ones in cooking. Or put some in an old sock and tuck it away with winter cloths and blanket to keep everything smelling fresh While it is being stored.

Not all flowers for the house need be cut. There are a variety of excellent indoor flowers. My personal favorite is my bromilliad. The hot pink and lavender flower makes it look like it was plucked right out of the fantasy jungles of the Avatar movie. This flower collects it's water in sort of cup at the center of the plant. The first time it flowers you should get only one flower shooting form the center. When the flower dies you simply cut the whole thing back and another tube like spiral of green will be birthed out for the bottom. Then you will have two blooms and so on. Another common house flower is the African violet. These soft, puffy, little vibrant flowers are a deep violet color. African violets are easy to grow for the beginning gardener, yet offer a wide range of cultivars to satisfy the serious grower. African violets adapt well to typical growing conditions found in the home. Because of their small stature, they also adapt well to limited space gardens such as those in apartments with just a few windowsills. My mother kills most house plants. She typically will look for something that is hearty and low maintenance. The one flower I remember her not killing as a child was a peace lily. This waxy looking flower was a survivor in our household. With that said I just sort of assume if my mom could manage to keep this flower alive for years than anyone could do it. If you want something a littler more challenging I have always loved orchids. I have found that these flowers thrive in the bathroom. They love the steam form your shower. These flowers need special food, soil, pots and much more so I would not suggest these plant for the novice flower gardener, but hey we all got to start somewhere huh. I can say I had no experience when I bought my first orchid in 1998 but everything I learned I learned along the way.

It doesn't matter if they are in your house or in the yard, in a pot with soil or in mason jar with river rocks and water. Flowers have been a central part of our humanity throughout the ages. A symbol of love, a symbol of peace flowers have played an integral part in our lives and our history. That is why we would like to take a moment to remind you to stop and smell the roses.

 

Flowering PlantWhen it comes to the plant kingdom, flowering plants are the most developed plants and flower is the base for their sexual reproduction. When they get pollinated, the fruits and seeds result. Finally, they also get spread through animals and wind in order to spread the plants. In order to attract animals and birds to facilitate pollination most flowers have become attractive and there are others that have fragrances.

Though the scientific need of a flower for a plant is its reproduction, most often they are used by people for decorative purposes. Use of flowers for such purposes has been practiced from ancient times. They are used for decorating homes day to day and also on events such as weddings. Often, they are used for religious purposes also. Rituals, medicine and food are the other purposes served by flowers.

If you look at a flower carefully you will find several parts. Normally it will be located at the end of a short stem. The outermost part is the calyx. It is the one encloses the bud. Normally, it has five lobes and is of green color. Next is the corolla that has the petals. Then you have the stamens that consist of stalks and filaments. Finally, the innermost part of the flower is there. It is called the Gynoecium and it has the carpel on which pollen has to fall for the flower to be pollinated. At its bottom you get the ovaries.

Unlike animals, plants are not able to move in search of mates. Instead, they attract insects and animals to get their flowers pollinated. Most flowers produce honey in order to attract insects. When insects go in search of honey in a flower the pollen will fall on them and when they go to another flower they pollinate it without their knowledge. There are also some flowers that have developed mechanisms to get their pollination done through air.

There is the possibility of cross pollinating flowers in order to produce bigger and more attractive ones. Also it is used for the creation of hybrid plants. Very often this method is used for the development of high yielding varieties of rice paddies. In addition to that any kind of plants that cannot be budded has to be developed only through cross pollination under controlled conditions. For this type of cross pollination a high quality flower has to be chosen. Pollen also needs to be collected carefully for the purpose.

Flowering PlantsFlowering plants have grown on every continent on earth. These plants make up nearly ninety percent of the plant kingdom. The total number of unique species is over 230,000, and many species in the tropics have not even been named yet. Over the past one hundred and thirty million years, flowering plants have grown in nearly every habitat to be found on earth, from mountain meadows to dense forests, from freshwater marshes to fertile grasslands, and from alpine summits to sun-baked deserts. Some of these plants even live underwater, and have adapted to salt water.

Seagrasses are the hardy plants that can live at the edge of the sea and even underwater. They include nearly fifty species. Almost all flowering plants produce a flower or bud of some type, even though in some families, the flowers cannot be seen by the naked eye. Some cultivars and grasses don't appear to produce flowers even though they have vestigial flowers.

The three most populous families of flowering plants contain the highest number of species. The legume family, the orchid family and the sunflower family are the three with the most species within them. Heads of flowers within the sunflower family come in sizes that extend from very small to very large. And orchids come in many different colors, sizes and shapes.

Some of the largest categories of the nonwoody flowering plants include asters, geraniums and orchids. On the other end of the species, the members of the largest woody plant groups include acacia, passion fruit and figs. All of these have members of their families that number in the hundreds or thousands.

All of the many thousands of flowering plant types were given scientific names by the botanists who discovered them. Scientific names are often brought down from Latin or Greek languages, and they are spelled with the letters of the Roman alphabet, regardless of where they are found. Plants of the flowering variety also have common names, as well, usually describing an aspect of their shape, or a person who helped discover them, or words that describe where they are grown. But sometimes the common names seem to have no meaning at all.

Some flowering plants don't have green leaves, and they live as parasites on the roots and stems of other plants. They take amino acids and sugars from the host plant, in order to grow. Some of these combinations make up the most bizarre-looking plants ever.

There are different types of flowering plant species all over the earth, from snowy mountains to barren deserts to underwater meadows. These plants all share one thing in common, and that is the ability to flower under whatever circumstances they find themselves in.

 

Cold Hardy Flower BulbsBuying flower bulbs to plant and grow is an exciting experience that begins in the fall and continues through the spring. Dutch flowering bulbs are usually delivered to American ports by the month of September for fall planting. Major Dutch bulbs offerings include Dutch Amaryllis and African Amaryllis; daffodil bulbs and the famous, Tulip bulbs.

Amaryllis flower bulbs grow the showiest blooms and are pre-cooled to force fast flowering in 3 weeks after containerizing. Dutch bulb importers of Amaryllis offer a larger variety of selections and more bulbs to tempt the buyers. The African growers of Amaryllis bulbs appear to be enslaved to the Dutch Amaryllis importers distribution network, however, the African flowers that emerge on the Amaryllis stems are superior in many respects to the Dutch Amaryllis. The African Amaryllis blooms appear to offer clearer colors, more compact flower stalks, leaves that grow as the flowers appear, and more numerous flower stalks and grow from smaller bulbs. The large array of bloom colors from amaryllis includes red, pink, lavender, orange, yellow, white, green, maroon, red stripe, white stripe, pink stripe, and bi-color. Double numbers of petals on Amaryllis flowers are fast growing to be very popular choices to buy, since the petal count is increased to 12, instead of 6 that grow on most Amaryllis bulb flower stems, looking very similar to a huge carnation flower.

Daffodil flower bulbs are important Dutch bulbs for fall planting, because of their reasonable market cost, the ease of planting, and the growing of flower stalks in the Spring in various colors of yellow, white, orange, and the rare pink daffodil. Daffodil bulbs are easy to naturalize to bloom again every year.

Tulip bulbs are a native flowering plant of Turkey, but long ago tulips were hybridized on a large commercial scale by Dutch bulb growers. The cost of Dutch tulips has not always been inexpensive to buy, but tulip buyers today still love the spring flower colors of red, pink, orange, yellow, blue, purple, white, and bi-color. Cities and government organizations anxiously buy tulip bulbs in huge numbers during winter seasons to grow in beautiful landscape displays for the Spring.

The Canna lily rhizome has been long considered to be tropical in nature, with very little cold hardy resistance. The early American botanist and explorer, William Bartram, wrote in his book, Travels, in 1773, the discovery of Canna indica in Alabama near Mobile, "Canna indica is surprising in luxuriance, presenting a glorious show, the stem rises six, seven, and nine feet high, terminating upwards with spikes of scarlet flowers." Bartram also discovered the native Canna flaccida, growing near Fort Frederica, Georgia, located on the Island of St Simon's. Canna lily colors are broad, red, white, pink, lavender, orange, yellow, speckled, bi-color and others. Some Canna flower growers plant cannas with variegated leaf forms that are striped with red, green, yellow, white, and pink. Dutch distributors of canna rhizomes still flood retail box store, garden centers with "Victorian-age" canna bulbs of poor quality; varieties that had declined, "run out", 50 years ago, and they should have been discontinued and not presented to buyers at a garden center nursery.

Ginger lily rhizomes grow flowers with fragile, delicate blossoms - many looking like miniature orchid flowers. The foliage of Ginger lilies is interestingly variable, growing in colors of green, yellow, maroon, and stripes of yellow or white. Interest in planting ginger lilies has surged in 20 years, because of the realization that many ginger lilies are cold hardy, surviving temperatures as cold as zero degrees F. The foliage and the flowers are pleasantly aromatic.

Daylilies are actually not bulbs but rhizomes, but are sold extensively as daylily bulbs. Thousands of named varieties of Daylily bulbs have been easily hybridized by legions of backyard gardeners and the selection improvement and flower quality is absolutely astonishing. The improvement has resulted in growing double flower daylily, miniature daylily, cold hardy daylilies, and compact clumping or large clumping daylily plants. It is staggering to realize all these many colors - red, white, yellow, orange, purple, pink, and bi-color originated from an original native plant -a seedy, yellow daylily growing wild on the forest edge.

Crinum Lily bulbs offer to an adventurous hobbiest or gardener an antique garden bulb selection that has been reintroduced as improved crinum clones by the brilliant inductiveness of chemist, Lester Hannibal of Fair Oaks, California. Lester Hannibal back crossed and intercrossed many native crinum lily species to offer the gardener an excellent, cold hardy crinum, an "interspecific hybrid", that can be grown as far North as Philadelphia, PA, zone 6, and to survive intense freezes of below zero temperatures. Many of Lester Hannibal's crinum flower hybrids were a re-creation of obsolete but popular commercial crosses that were made by Cecil Houdyshel in the 1930's, but largely improved upon from the original "Powellii" forms with clear, white and pink colors, an increase in the number of flowers in the umbel, extended flowering periods, an eliminatio of drooping flowers, an intensification of fragrance and early flowering after sprouting from the germination of the seed. The "milk and wine" crinum lilies were named, because the flowers were white (milk) and wine striped colors. Crinum colors are burgundy, red, pink, white, greenish-yellow, and orange. Crinum bulbs increase by growing into clumps of multiple offsets from the central mother bulb, or by planting the seed of some cultivars or species.

-Rare, Hard-To-Find Flower Bulbs of Merit- Many rare minor flower bulbs are unavailable to buy anywhere, except by possibly exchanging plants with collectors and hobbiest. The Amazon lily, Encharist grandiflora, blooms with six white, daffodil like petals, and a green or glowing yellow cup radiating from the center. This delicate flower can be remembered from days past for its wonderful charming fragrance. The Bird of Paradise is known for the two tropical forms, the Strelizia reginae, the most common: brilliantly colored flowers with orange, red, and blue glaring blossoms; and the Strelizia nicholae that grows large, showy, white flowers. The Blood Lily, Scadoxus mutliflorus, forms baby-head sized globular flowers with red filamented petals and radiate fragile threads of red that are affixed to the to the center of the bloom, great for container culture. The Red Butterfly lily, Odontonema strictum, won the perennial plant award of the year in Florida in the year 2000, and butterflies and hummingbirds flock to visit the fiery red spikes, beginning in mid-August and continuing until the first hard freeze. The Calla lily, Calla palustrus, has been hybridized with many other Calla lily species to grow into many splendid colors, but the new hybrids are not as popular as the white, fragrant, winter-blooming, Calla aethiopica; and the yellow calla, Calla aethiopica. Clivia lilies, Clivia minata, are choice heavy shade-requiring plants that produce gigantic clusters of orange flowers, cup shaped, with a yellow throat, and often will re-bloom two or three times from large bulbs.

The Gloriosa lilies, Gloriosa rothschildiana, a climbing vine that clothes itself with recurved, star-like flowers that are favored and admired by florists and flower arrangers, because the blooms last so well. The Inca Lily, Alstomeria aurantiaca, has become naturalized in America, as an escaped bulb from the tropical jungles of Peru. The Alstromeria flowers last well as a cut-flower, and waxy, greenish-red funnels begin blooming vigorously in the spring. Lycoris are a charming group of flower bulbs that called "Spider Lily", and they bloom in floral colors of pink, yellow, white, and red, Lycoris radiata, which is the most widely grown. The Pineapple Lily, Eucomis bicolor, grows into flowers that are shaped like miniature pineapple fruits in colors of white and rusty-red. Scilla flower bulbs are grown in large numbers as bedding plants, many Dutch varieties are small and make good cut flowers, but the best cold hardy Scilla is the Scilla peruviana that forms and grows into glowing, purplish-blue flowers that either grow as well as bedding plants, or containerized plants. Voodoo lilies, Amorphophallus bulbifer, are strange and bazaar leafy bulbous plants, both in leaf and flower, with a suggestive look of snakes, cobras, and other vermin that may be lurking beneath the leopard-spotted menacing leaves. Zephyranthes are called "rain lilies", and softly bloom in colors of pink, Zephyranthes grandiflora; yellow, Zephyranthes citrina; white, Zephyranthes atamasco; and a mind-numbing number of Zephyranthes bulb mongrels that are distributed by a retired breeder in San Antonio, Texas, who apparently has nothing better to do, than paralyze all the worlds earnest taxonomists into the task of assembling the records of his Mexican-American bulb-children lineage into a staggering Encyclopedia publication.

 

flower Care TipsEverybody loves receiving flowers, but people often hesitate to purchase a beautiful bouquet for themselves. Generally the misconception that flowers will last only a few days tends to drive most prospective buyers away.

Flowers add such an incredible atmosphere to any room. Here are a few tips used by florists that help ensure bouquets stay looking fresher for longer.

When purchasing flowers

Quality is the most important factor to consider when buying flowers. Therefore it would be advised to purchase your flowers from a reputable florist. Not only do they have the knowledge and experience to handle flowers properly, but they will also be able to prepare the bouquet for you to make the conditioning process a little bit easier. This includes little things such as ridding roses of thorns or including a special flower food sachet that has been scientifically proven to help extend the flowers' lifespan.

Although you might have to pay more for better quality, it will show at the end of the day when the flowers last longer, proving to be well worth it. But purchasing quality flowers is not enough, conditioning is vital if you want to make sure that your flowers last longer.

Flower growers have created harvest programs that need to be followed by both florists and the customer in order not to break the life chain of the flowers. Without following these basic flower care steps, you will ultimately shorten the life of your flowers.

Conditioning

Conditioning flowers correctly extends your flowers' vase life. There are a few do's and don'ts that you need to follow to make sure you get the best value for what you paid for.

If you are unable to put the flowers into a vase quickly, and the flowers start to show severe signs of water stress, simply submerge the whole flower, including stem and head, into lukewarm water for about 15 minutes. After that you can start conditioning the flowers for the vase.

You can start the conditioning process by making sure that any buckets and the vase you put the flowers into are disinfected. Bacteria loves dirty containers and will shorten your flower's life span.

While busy conditioning your flowers, place them in fresh clean warm water that contains flower food. Using warm rather than cold water is better for your flowers because it contains less air, limiting the chances of any air blockages in the stems.

While preparing the flowers for the vase, make sure that you use a good sharp knife rather than a pair of scissors to cut the stems. A knife will give a good clean diagonal cut which will prevent any damage to the water conducting cells in the stem. Although this might seem difficult to do, this technique is easy to master and is much easier and more efficient than a pair of scissors.

It is best to cut approximately 2cm off the stems at an angle under water. This will accelerate rapid water uptake. The excess foliage that will be below the water level in the vase should be removed. Also clean the stems of the flowers to get rid of possible existing bacteria to help prevent rotting and further development of bacteria once the flowers are in the vase.

Make sure you use a non-metal container or vase to arrange your flowers in. Add lukewarm water and add flower food before you start arranging the flowers in the vase.

Once you've arranged your flowers beautifully, make sure to place the flowers out of direct sunlight or heat and away from any droughts. Although flowers love light and even temperatures, they do not react well to droughts.

Top the vase up daily with fresh water. Should the flowers start to droop, simply re-cut the stems using a sharp knife. If you have purchased roses, and they start to droop at the head, simply re-cut the stems and place them in deep water for approximately an hour.

After you have followed these easy steps you will be able to appreciate your flowers for much longer, knowing that your flowers are worth every cent and more!

 

Maintenance FlowersTips for the beginner Gardener

Not all Garden flowers are created equal there are some easy grow easy care flowers that go above and beyond the call of duty, that bloom for months at a stretch. Every sensible Gardener should try to make these types of flowers the foundation of his/her flower garden. When you have areas of color you can rely on each season, you have extra time to invest in feature or specimen flowers that often require more specialized attention. Here are some tried and tested long blooming flowers for your home flower garden.

Rudbeckia (some times referred to as Black-eyed Susan) Perennial Flowers

USDA Zones: 3 - 9 - Bloom Span: 3 Months mid Summer- Mid Fall
Full Sun-Partial Shade
Rudbeckia flowers make themselves at home anywhere and many are native to many parts of North America you often see their bright yellow flowers growing along the banks of highway ditches. These flowers like well-drained, somewhat poor soil and full sun. Deadheading will extend their blooming period, a bonus is the fact that cut Rudbeckia flowers will last a long time in water so make excellent cutting flowers for the cutting garden and to bring into your home for vase displays. Their flowers are attractive to butterflies and bees and their seeds can be eaten by birds during the winter months. They are relatively long lived plants that require very little maintenance and are true easy care flowers, Rudbeckias can be easily multiplied by division. There are many varieties of hybridized Rudbeckia flowers but my favorite and most hardy is Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm", which are native North American wild flowers. Plants form upright bushy clumps offering a very generous display of brown-eyed, golden-orange daisies from midsummer through the fall. Plants may be easily divided in early spring and transplanted to other garden areas where their bright cheery flowers may add color to a more dreary spot

Veronica spicata (Spike Speedwell) Perennial Flowers

USDA Zones 3 - 9 - Bloom Span: 3-4 Months
These flowers start blooming in the spring and keep going all the way to the first frost. The genus speedwell includes a broad range of flowering plants, but Veronica. spicata is the most popular form chosen for most garden environments. It forms a low growing dense mass of dark green foliage from which arise its flowers in narrow upright spikes, many varieties are available bearing flowers in shades of blues, reds, pinks, whites and purples. Removing the faded flower spikes will keep the plants flowers in blossom for much longer. Drought tolerant, Veronica prefers a well-drained soil, excellent for cutting; the flowers are a favorite with butterflies. Clumps should be pruned hard if they get floppy and divided if they become bald in the center; time to divide these flowers is in the fall or early spring.
My favorite- Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue'

Nigella (Love-in-a-Mist/or sometimes love in a puff) Annual Flowers

The Nigella flowers are delicate, feathery, often blue-flowers but can be obtained in shades of pink, purple and white, an annual, displaying delicate fern like foliage and attractive unusual eye-catching seedpods. They self-seed readily and to my mind this feature along with their incredibible beauty is why these flowers deserve inclusion as an easy care low maintenance flowers .They Come into bloom very quickly, if successive sowings are made every two or three weeks in the summer months by saving some of the previous years seed rather than allowing them all to self sow and merely scattering the seed on the soils surface, you will ensure a continuous supply of beautiful and unusual flowers all summer long, Nigella does well in warm or cool areas but prefers a slightly moist soil. you could not find easier to grow flowers ,I seldom rave over annuals to tell the truth there are only a few that I give garden space to but love in a mist is one of them they're a must have flowers for any new gardener.
My favorite-Persian Jewels (seeds) that include flowers from all Nigella's color ranges.

Day lily /Tiger Lily/Ditch lily/Hemerocalis fulva (Perennial Flowers)

The omnipresent Day Lily, found almost everywhere in North America, or at least it is if you live here in Ontario as it is one of the most beautiful of Ontario's wild flowers. a profuse propagator by means of tuberous roots. Transplanting is best in spring or fall, water generously after transplanting .They do not mind overcrowding, as a matter of fact these flowers look their best when in bloom in a large, close knit mass planted groups forming patches of bright orange flowers here and there, dotted around the garden .These wild flowers are incredibly easy to grow just try and stop them. They are at home in nature, or as a back drop or foundation flowers for your home garden. These Day lily's require little to no attention. they provide summer and fall interest and once established are a tall impenetrable ground cover I under plant and inter plant mine with other bulbs that display their flowers when the Day Lily is not blooming, they prefer moist to wet soils, but will grow anywhere sun or shade ,only two years ago I established a large patch in what was largely gravel just off my back patio That's why they grow so well in and near ditches hence one of there common name Ditch Lily, always seems a little insulting to refer to beautiful large star shaped orange flowers by such a demeaning name. Fertilizer is not necessary, except in the poorest of soils. These flowers do not need winter protection and once established, thrive and increase year after year.

 

How to Care for Fresh FlowersFlowers are beautiful and professionally designed bouquets are especially attractive. Flowers can also carry huge sentimental meaning because they are often given as gifts from people close to us. So it's little wonder that we would want to extend the life of our flowers and enjoy their aesthetic and sentimental beauty for as long as possible.

With proper care and attention most flowers will last around 7 days with some varieties lasting for as long as 14 days. Here are some practical steps to help extend the life of your cut flowers.

Get flowers into water

After only a short time out of water flowers will begin to dehydrate. Therefore it is essential to get flowers into a vase or container of water as quickly as possible. When you first get the flowers home use warm water, not cold or hot, as this is the quickest way to rehydrate the flowers. Warm water will also promote opening of the blooms as most flowers are shipped with the blooms in a closed or tight stage.

Technically speaking the optimum temperature is 37.5C (99.5F), which is roughly body temperature. At this temperature air bubbles, which may have formed in the stem, tend to breakup. Also water that is warmer than the surrounding air is more readily taken up by the flowers.

Change the water regularly

Try to change the water every two days. The flowers should be well hydrated by now so you can use cold water instead of warm. This helps keep the flowers cool which is a key part of keeping flowers in good condition.

Use flower preservatives

Each consignment of Affinity Flowers comes with a sachet of flower preservative. Flower preservative contains two main components, carbohydrates and anti-bacterial additives.

The carbohydrates act as food which helps to sustain the flowers. The carbohydrates will also stimulate flower heads to open quicker. This is handy when you're trying to open flowers that usually ship with tight blooms like lilies.

The bactericide component inhibits bacteria developing in the water. Bacteria laden water will cause flowers to deteriorate quicker. Bacteria is also a problem because it can block flower stems and hinder the uptake of water. If left long enough the bacteria will also discolour the vase water and produce an unpleasant odour.

Simply empty the contents of the flower preservative sachet into the vase water.

If you don't have flower preservative you could add 1-2 drops of bleach to the water instead. The bleach will act as an anti-bacterial just like the additives in commercial flower preservatives.

Remove leaves that will be under water

This is important as leaves that are below the waterline will deteriorate quickly and become a breeding ground for bacteria. If you have a professionally arranged bouquet you'll find that the leaves have already been removed by the florist. But flowers bought loose or unarranged might still have leaves low on the stem.

Trim the stems

Take a pair of scissors or a sharp knife and trim 2-3cm (1 inch) from the bottom of the stem. Try not to crush the stem while you're doing this. Cut the stem on an angle to increase the surface area exposed to the water. Cutting on an angle also stops the stem sitting flat on the bottom of the vase and blocking water uptake. Once cut immediately place the flowers into water.

Water is sucked up the stem like a straw. If there is anything blocking the straw then it will impede water flow to the head. Over time the end of a stem can become blocked with impurities from the water and bacteria. Also, if a flower has been out of water for any period of time, air will be drawn into the stem which will block its ability to draw water.

Some florists recommend cutting the stems underwater which prevents air being drawn up the stem.

Re-cut stems every two days or when you change the water.

Keep flowers cool

Flowers should be kept in cool conditions. Keep them away from direct sunlight, heaters, lamps and other heat sources. Also try not to leave flowers in a hot vehicle when transporting them. This is why specialist flower delivery couriers have chilled storage on-board their vehicles.

Each variety has its own optimal holding temperature but the ideal temperature for most flowers is a chilly 4-5C (39-41F), about the temperature inside your refrigerator. Obviously these aren't ideal temperatures for people but if you really wanted to extend the life of your flowers you could place them in the refrigerator overnight or if you were going to be away for an extended period.

Keep flowers away from fruit

Fruit and vegetables produce ethylene gas which is detrimental to flowers. Carnations and Delphiniums are particularly susceptible. Try to keep flowers away from fruit and vegetables to keep them in good shape.

Similarly domestic gas is also damaging to flowers. There is a story of a flower grower who found it difficult to keep cut flowers on his farm. He suspected his gas supply may have been the cause and a check by a specialist confirmed he had a gas leak on his property.

Keep daffodils separate

The sap exuded from the cut stems of narcissus varieties like daffodils is detrimental to other flowers. No other flowers should share the same water with daffodils or any narcissus varieties.