31 May 2011

Poisonous Plants

There are a number of common poisonous plants and flowers which can be found growing in the countryside, in woods and gardens. These plants are not to be eaten and you should always wash your hands once you’ve picked them!

The most common poisonous plants are listed below:

Daffodil – The bulbs of a daffodil can cause an upset stomach so whatever you do don’t eat them! The stem is also poisonous

Iris: The tubers are particular poisonous but the whole plant can cause a nasty stomach upset and discomfort

Foxglove: These plants are highly toxic and can seriously damage the gastrointestinal system as well as the cardiovascular system

Buttercup: The juice from a buttercups stems can cause irritation to the skin and also upset the gastrointestinal system

Deadly Nightshade; As the name suggests this plant is extremely toxic and mustn’t be eaten
Hyacinth: Again this plant will cause a nasty stomach upset – It is also important to note that the bluebell is in the same family

27 May 2011

Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous Plants obtain nutrients by trapping and digesting various insects, some have even been known to digest small frogs and mammals. Carnivorous plants are commonly found in bogs and marshes where there is plenty of nutrients.
There are five basic ways in which carnivorous plants trap their prey:

Pitfall Traps: Leaves are filled with digestive enzymes that enable them to trap their prey
Flypaper: Leaves are covered in glands that produce a sticky mucus
Snap Traps: The leaves are hinged and snap shut as soon as their trigger hairs are touched
Suction Traps: highly adapted leaves that suck in prey with a bladder that creates an internal vacuum
Lobster Pot Traps: They have twisted tubular channels that lure its prey – these channels are lined with glands and hairs
The Venus Fly Trap is the most famous and renowned carnivorous plant. Their traps often grow big enough to catch wasps, flies, spiders, slugs and daddy long legs. There is only one species but they come in many different shapes sizes and colours. They are not very large plants and should be grown in pots that are placed in water trays. It is important to use soft water for example rainwater as this encourages strong growth. You should never fertilise the plant through the root system however one can feed the plant live insects during the growing season – live wax worms and meal worms are ideal meals. Do not feed them dead insects as this will cause rot.

26 May 2011

Health Benfits Of Flowers

It is a well- known fact that flowers make people happy. Now however research has been conducted at top educational institutions that shows the behavioural and emotional benefits of flowers and plants. Research in America for example has confirmed that flowers might be the perfect antidote for people who do not consider themselves morning people. Research conducted at Harvard University found that participants in the study felt more positive and energetic after looking at flowers in the morning.

This research has also been applied to the workplace. In today’s economy it is essential for businesses to gain a competitive edge. One of the key’s to gaining a competitive edge is a productive, positive workforce. Research has suggested that by simply adding flowers and plants to the workplace can have a positive impact on productivity and enhance creative performance which could mean the vital difference between mild and great business success.

Flowers when given as gifts say a lot about the people sending them. According to Rutgers University research has exposed that people who send flowers, in comparison to other gifts, are portrayed as intelligent, caring and successful people.

23 May 2011

The Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show has played an integral part of the British cultural and social scene for almost 150 years. It is an annual festival that lasts five days each year towards the end of May. It exhibits a variety of plants, exotic plants and gardens designed by celebrities and up and coming designers. It is held in the gardens of London’s Royal Hospital. It is one of the most famous and well known flower shows in the world.  
It all began in 1862 when London’s Royal Horticultural society held its first spring show. It took place in Kensington and featured exotic plants from all over the world. This continued and gradually it started to build up a loyal audience. In 1912 they decided they needed to find a new location and it was decided that the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea was the most appropriate. The show grew larger and more successful each year until the war broke out which caused some interruptions, however by 1979 the crowds were so large the attendance was restricted. Today more than 150,000 visit the show to find out the latest trends in horticultural and floral design.

19 May 2011

The Lisianthus

The Lisianthus is a herbaceous annual plant that is found in warm areas of the United States, The Caribbean, Mexico and northern America. There are 3 species of Lisinathus and they range from 15-60cm tall – they are large funnel shaped flowers. They are available in many different colours frim white – cream, pink to mauve and blue-violet. 

They are incredibly popular cut flowers. They are often used in bridal bouquets as they are very simple and when mixed with delicate roses look absolutely stunning. They are also becoming popular in the ornamental market where Japan and New Zealand are leading the way.

Lisianthis are very symbolic and because of this they are very popular gifts. For example they are often sent as thank you flowers because they represent appreciation – they are also given as romantic gifts as they symbolize a deep rooted romantic attachment and they are also given to represent appreciation for a friend.
Lisianthus are available all year round and when cared for properly can last in a vase for upto 12 days. You should always cut the stems under water and remove the foliage underneath. It is also advisable to feed them with commercial flower food that you can buy from your local florist or garden centre.

18 May 2011

The Heather Plant

Heather is an evergreen branching shrub that blooms in late summer. They come in a wide range of colours ranging from pink, white, purple and mauve. Heather is found mostly throughout Western Europe and also in parts of Siberia and Northeaster North America. It is seen as iconic of Scotland which is where it largely grows.

Heather is a very popular ornamental plant in the garden. They prefer sunlight and well drained acidic soil and can be planted anytime the ground is not frozen. When planting heather you should ensure the soil contains compost or processed manure as this will encourage strong growth. The soil must also be well drained.
Caring for your heather plant is fairly easy as they are not very high maintenance. They should be pruned every year, this should take place immediately after flowering and as a result you will see additional flowers the following year. You should fertilize the plants – especially if their colour is poor or they are not growing well this is a good indication that they require feeding. The best time to feed a heather plant is in late spring or late winter.

17 May 2011

The Meaning Of The Black Rose

The black rose does not exist in nature but they are created in laboratories. Rose genes are manipulated through cross breeding which give the rose a black appearance – it is actually a very dark shade of red, maroon or purple.

The meaning of the black rose is controversial. Black is a colour that is normally associated with death and darkness.

It is thought that the meaning of the black rose evolved from dark origins. In the Victorian era the black rose was typically symbolic of tragedy and grief. They were often used to symbolize death at funerals, they portrayed a message of dislike and disdain amongst rivals and they suggested impending doom.

They are rarely given as a gift to a lover because they stand for tragic love. They symbolise the end of something which could be an idea, relationship or career. A single black rose can signal the death of a relationship. They are not always associated negatively however, on the positive side, sending black roses to someone they can signify a devotion that is so strong and rare like the flower itself.
What do you think of the black rose and its meaning? Would you send black roses?

16 May 2011

The Cactus

The Cactus is part of the plant family Cactaceae. They are succulent plants that can live in extremely dry areas and survive long periods of drought. They are native to the Americas (North and south) but can also be found on other environments – sub tropical, tropical and are also commonly found in deserts. There are about 2,000 of cactus plants – they vary lots in shape, size and height. The largest ever cactus plant recorded was 19.2 metres and the smallest grows to a maximum diameter of one centimetre.

Cacti have numerous adaptations that can allow them to live in extremely hot and dry areas. These adaptations allow the plant to collect water very effectively and store it for an extended period of time. They conserve this water which minimizes water loss from evaporation.
Instead of having leaves like most plants the cacti have scales or sharp spines (modified leaves). These scales/spines are very good at containing water and do not lose it through evaporation like regular leaves. The spines are great protection against predators.

Cactus plants are used for a number of different reasons. They can be eaten – the stems of some species are fried and then eaten. Some are used for construction purposes as wood and in some places they are used as fences to keep animals in or fend off unwanted visitors. They are also used for ornamental purposes. They make a great gift especially for men. They can also add an exotic feel to your garden or anywhere in your home. Just watch out for their spines!

13 May 2011

The Calla Lily

The Calla Lily is a herbaceous flowering plant that is native to Southern Africa. They are tall plants ranging from about 1-2.5 metres in height and their leaves are approximately 15-45cm long.

They produce very large extravagant flowers and are often grown for ornamental purposes and also for cut flowers. They are also very popular wedding flowers because of their stunning shape and fluted cup flowers – they very much resemble a champagne glass. Another reason they are popular wedding flowers is because the Lily is associated with purity and pureness and for that reason they are starting to compete with the rose in popularity for Bridal bouquets. Although most people are familiar with the white calla lily they also come in several bright colours which also look fantastic in the garden or as cut flowers.

Calla lilies last a long time as a cut flower as long as you keep in water that is changed regularly. They are generally displayed in a tall glass vase and are an elegant addition to any counter or table.
To ensure Calla lilies last as long as possible make sure they are placed away from direct sunlight and areas of intense heat. You should also ensure that you re-cut the stems & clean the container every four to five days.

11 May 2011

Bird of Paradise Flowers

The scientific name for these flowers is Strelitzia Reginae and they are native to South Africa. The Bird of paradise is a large tropical herb with a spectacular blossom. Long stemmed flowers emerge with a stunning red or purple border. The plant can reach up to 5 foot high with a 2-3 feet width, they have very large leaves which range from 30 – 200 cm long and 10-80 cm broad – and resemble that of a banana leaf.

Birds of paradise flowers are extremely dramatic as an ornamental display. They are great for cutting and individual flowers last for about a week. Even when they are not in flower they still look incredibly stunning. Placing a single stem in a tall slender vase looks fantastic – select a stem that is about to bloom and fill the vase two thirds with white stones (coloured stones will divert attention) make sure you change the water once a week and the bloom should last for approximately 3 weeks.

The bird of paradise flower cannot be grown outside in the in the UK this is because they prefer warmer conditions – they require a minimum temperature of 10 degrees. In winter these plants should be kept in dry conditions however in summer they should be fed lots of water. They flower in spring and early summer.

10 May 2011

The Lily

The Lily is native to the northern hemisphere and has been cultivated for over 3,000 years. It is an incredibly popular flower, popular types include the tiger lily, the oriental trumpet lily, the rubrum lily, the calla lily, the Asiatic and oriental lily. The lily, in particular the white lily, symbolises chastity, virtue and purity.

It has has many symbolic meanings all over the world – for example to the Chinese, lily means "Forever in love". In Greek poetry, the lily stood for tenderness and Feng Shui believers hold the lily as an emblem of summer and abundance. It is also a significant symbol for Christians because it suggests purity – as a symbol of purity associated with virgins the lily became known as the Madonna Lily.

With its strong symbolic meanings the lily has often been associated with having strong medicinal values. In china lilies were served as lucky charms and some were convinced that they were capable of averting the evil eye. One historical account suggests that people were interested in lilies because of their anti-toxic powers and their ability to cure depression. In addition in Europe lilies were often used as a remedy against disease and illnesses right up to the beginning on the last century.

Lilies are a beautiful gift for anyone because of their strong symbolic meaning. They also look fabulous in the home and have a beautiful scent – however watch out for their pollen as it stains clothes and furniture etc. To avoid these stains pick the stamens out of the middle of the just opened flower head. This will also prevent the petals themselves becoming stained.

9 May 2011


Lupinus is commonly known as Lupins or Lupines and belong in the legume family. There are between 200 and 600 species and there is a large degree of diversity between many.

Lupins are very popular ornamental plants in the garden – for example the rainbow Lupin and the garden Lupin are very common. They have very characteristic and easily recognisable leaf shape – they have soft grey to green leaves and many of the species bear thick silvery hairs. Some species are often referred to as quaker bonnets and bluebonnets because of their shape. Their pods contain several seeds.

Lupins prefer a lime-free, well drained soil that is not too heavy – they do not like direct sunlight but will flourish in a sunny spot. You must plant Lupins when they are young so that they can develop a great root position, you should also plant away from trees.
The growth range for these flowers is immense, ranging from just under 1 foot tall to almost 5 feet tall. Not only do they look fabulous in the garden Lupins can also be cut and brought inside to brighten up your living space. When cutting your Lupin you must remember to:

·    Cut the stem at an angle with a sharp, non-serrated knife and cut at least two inches off them
·    You should place the stem in a vase filled with warm water straight away after you’ve cut them
·    Cut the stems regularly – about once every 3 days

6 May 2011

Sweet Peas

The sweet pea is native to the eastern Mediterranean region from Sicily to east Crete. They are an annual climbing plant and can grow to a height of 1–2 meters.

There are many different types of sweet peas – the main types are listed below:

The Spencer sweet peas
The most popular type of sweet pea – it is a modern large flowered strain, also known as the English sweet pea. Available in a wide range of colours and has a very sweet scent.

The grandiflora sweet peas
Dating from 1880 and 1910, it was the grandifloras which first gave the sweet pea its popularity as a garden flower.

The dwarf sweet peas
Dwarf sweet peas like plenty of sun, well drained soil and make look fantastic when displayed in tubs and hanging baskets.

The acacia leaf sweet peas
They are solid bushy plants with much heavier foliage than the normal sweet peas, they make a dramatic statement in the garden.

Sweet peas are an incredibly popular flower because of their beautiful and unique scent. The intensity of their scent varies according to a number of factors including rain, time of day and the age of the flower.  They are great to send as a gift and look fabulous in bridal bouquets. They are available from May through to July.

5 May 2011

Summer Plants

Wondering what plants would be perfect for the home this summer? We recommend three plants in particular that not only look fantastic but don’t require a huge amount of attention and care:

The Phalenopsis Orchid or the Moth Orchid is the ultimate floral home accessory and a wonderful focal point to any occasion. They thrive in a centrally heated homes –they need to be in temperatures of at least 15C (60F) during the winter and can sustain up to 28C (82F) during the summer. Phalaenopsis like light but do not put them in direct sunlight or they will die. They should be planted in a pot with special orchid soil that you can buy from your local florist or garden centre. Water once every 10 - 14 days during the winter months and weekly or more during the summer.

The Stephanotis Plant is one of the most popular house plants because of its incredibly powerful and sweet smelling blossoms. The plant likes to climb and is usually trained to grow around trellis in a pot or up a wire. The Stephanotis plant is native to the tropical island, Madagascar and therefore thrives in humid conditions. Place the plant in a tray of water and gravel and avoid the roots from sitting directly in the water – Place in bright but indirect light.

The Jasmine Plant is another plant that is known for its absolutely beautiful scent which in turn is believed to ease stress and relax muscles. They can be planted in almost any soil type but you must ensure that they are placed in a sunny spot as they love sunlight. They require watering about 2 or 3 times a week in the summer months and we advise feeding the plant with fertiliser in early spring and late autumn.

4 May 2011

The Royal Wedding Flowers

The wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton took place on Friday April 29th, 2011 in front of a global audience of around 4 billion people. All eyes were on the bride to be and what she would be wearing – the question on everyone’s lips was who designed the dress and what flowers would she be carrying?

We had predicted that the flowers would be very simple and traditional in style – with whites and greens as main colours. The wedding flowers - from the bouquet to the amazing avenue of trees at the abbey reflected a love of unfettered natural styling, compared with the formality and protocol of the day. Wonderful green foliages were the star, providing texture and freshness they were accessorised with delicate white blooms like the bell shaped soloman seal.

Lilly of the valley was a wonderful choice for the bouquet reflecting the exquisite and delicate lace on her dress and kept the proportions elegant and modern. The same flower was used in buttonholes and in Pippa Middleton's hair.

What did you think of the flowers?

3 May 2011

Rose Petal Macaroons

Following on from our delicious recipe last week - here is another one guaranteed to make your mouth water.

225g            Almond flour
225g            Icing sugar
175g            Egg whites
225g            Sugar
10 drops      Red food colouring
suitable amount    Rose water essence

1.    Sift almond flour with icing sugar.
2.    Whisk egg whites slowly until soft peaks form.
3.    Gradually add sugar and continue mixing at high speed until firm peaks form.
4.    Add red food colouring and rose water essence to meringue. Mix.
5.    Fold egg whites into almond flour and sugar mixture. Fold until all whites dissolve. This mixture should be shiny. Pipe on paper to make circular shapes.
6.    Leave it cool for several minutes before baking at 150C for 8-10 minutes.
7.    Serve with raspberries and rose petal infused tea granitee.

Have a go and let us know what you think!