Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holiday tips and tricks

Pine sap, which turns your hands black after it has dried, can be removed easily with hand sanitizer applied generously and wiped off with a paper towel before it dries on your hands.  Olive Oil is another liquid you can use to remove the sap. 

Change the water in your vase of cut flowers and greenery daily.  Especially those vases with pine sap, this is important.

Poinsettias are NOT poisonous.  Yes, if you eat it, or your pet eats it, it will probably make your stomach upset. 

Mistletoe IS Poisonous..to humans and animals...as is holly berries.

Centerpieces should have water added daily as well...this helps keep the oasis foam wet and keep your greenery looking fresh.  You can even spray the evergreens with water if you want.  Keep centerpieces away from heat, flame, and dry rooms.

Panty hose are great for adding the shine back to your decorative candles. Slip hose over your hand and run your hand over the candle.  Voila!

If you have a candle in your centerpiece- do not leave a burning candle unattended.  Clip any greenery that may interfere with the candle once it burns down.  Don't burn the candle down all the way, use only during a dinner then extinguish the flame. 

Poinsettias brightly colored "flowers" are actually brightly colored bracts, or leaves.  The actual "flower" is the yellow circular flower in the center of the bracts.

Flowers DO have a freezing point....32 degrees...do not place any fresh flowers in the freezer...EVER.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Orders

Only a few days left to order your Holiday arrangements for delivery all next week!!
We will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so next week is the last week to get orders placed and delivered anywhere in Frederick and Clarke counties!  Sometimes the best gift for someone who has "everything" is a fresh flower arrangement...for a side table, centerpiece or to brighten up their apartment or assisted living room!  Order today!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12.12.12 Weddings!

Today is the very special 12.12.12!  Lots of weddings about town today and everywhere in the US.  I had 2 weddings today, both very different.  The first is shades of purples:
 This bride actually constructed her bouquet of all brooches and brought me additional brooches to accent her attendant's bouquets.  I love the brooch idea and I think it works best when you keep the brooches either in a similar color scheme or theme.  The silver and crystal brooches worked well with the cool purple and lavender shades in this bouquet.  Lisianthus, Stock, Alstroemeria, Roses and Maine Blue Limonium.
The second wedding echoed the winter season:
The attendant carried white Freesia, Roses, Stock and accents of deep red Hypericum berries with fresh local evergreens
for the Bride:
Red Roses, white Stock, white Freesia, deep red Hypericum berries and fresh evergreens. ( The important thing to remember with red and white bouquets, to use various shapes of flowers, otherwise a polka-dot effect will be present in your pictures!)  I think this turned out very well.
                                             Congratulations on your wedding day Ladies!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When a floral designer marries...Part 2

I've had the pleasure of decorating the gorgeous mantle in the GW Hotel Ballroom several times, and every time is different.  For my wedding I opted for and arrangement to flank either side of the mirror, and several low cylinders with roses and floating candles in the middle.
Red Kangaroo Paw, Red Mokara Orchids, Red hanging Amaranthus, Black Magic roses, maroon carnations in a clear glass urn, the arrangement is handtied and is simply placed into the vase on site.

Low Centerpiece of Roses, red Ti leaves,Leucadendron, accent of silver around top of cylinder vase.
I was able to "test drive" a new product available to me for the wedding.  LED submersible light strands.  The strands are flexible and perfect in this application. 
Did I mention I like simple?!  Cupcakes from Frosted Crumbs, serving trays by GW Hotel...easy and hassle free for me!
The silver and lavender flower shaped broach was my late Grandmother's.  A big thank you to my cousin for finding it and gifting it to me on my wedding day :)  

(All photographs courtesy of Julie Napear Photography. A big thank you to the other vendors:  Flowers by Snellings, George Washington Hotel, Stephanie Novak Artistry,  Frosted Crumbs Bakery)


This is how most of our Gerbera Daisies are delivered from our supplier.  In water and in vertical cardboard trays to help prevent damage. 
Once we remove them from the shipment box we have to take them out, one by one, recut and place them in a bucket of preservative with a tray lid on top.  The lid on top of the bucket allows each stem to stay upright and in water.  The "high-maintenance" handling on both ends of the supply chain, plus the lack of growers is attributing to the higher cost of Gerberas per stem then what we once experienced.  And it's pronounced ger-ber-a just like the baby food with an "a" on the end.  They come in 2 sizes, standard and mini.  The price is generally the same for either size ironically.  Color range is very broad, with mauve/lavender shades coming on the market.  No black or blue shades.  Availability is year round. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas Tree hunting

This is my Thanksgiving table.  Nothing too ornate, nice china, ivory table cloth with silver and gold accents, and of course tangerine childrens' cups!  The centerpieces were....
Alstroemeria in clear glass jars.  I'm sure that comes as a surprise to a few people, but sometimes simple is best.  I did 5 jars running the length of the table.  Just a small touch to enhance the table without taking away from the focus... eating and conversation!  Like the jars?  They're glass spice rack jars sans lids....literally a last minute what-do-I-have-multiples-of-for-the-table.  See, Alstroemeria IS pretty! 

That weekend found us at one of the local tree farm's in Frederick County, Clouse's Pine Hill Tree Farm.

We didn't cut the biggest tree on the lot, but if left up to my kids' decision, it would've been one of the 10' tall varieties.  If you've never gone to cut down your own tree it's a fun family experience.  It doesn't take long to cut the tree and they supply carts to wheel it back up to the shed for measurement and loading.  If you are looking for a tree to plant after the holidays are over they have the equipment ready for digging!  Don't feel like visiting the farm, they have a tree lot in town. 
All of our winter greenery for the flower shop is cut locally as well, ensuring that all your centerpieces are made with the freshest greenery for the longest lasting arrangements.  We've done this for several years now and have seen a dramatic difference in the longevity of local greenery versus greenery shipped in from out of state.  Buying Local yields better results.  :)

Friday, November 9, 2012


EEEeeeek! Thanksgiving is 13 DAYS AWAY!!!!  It's amazing how time flies.  Throughout the retail industry Thanksgiving seems to be left behind and the focus is more on Black Friday and Christmas.  Although those are important in their own right, lets take a break from present-pressure and relax and enjoy Thanksgiving!  It's supposed to be a holiday about celebrating those close to you, whether they be friends or family.  Take a deep breath, unplug yourself for a little while.  Shopping can wait, your To-Do's  can be put off another day.  Enjoy the people most important.  Face to face or over the phone. (Literally over the phone, texting doesn't count!) 
You may wonder why, a retail florist, would seem to dissuade you from shopping.  It's simple really, the holiday season becomes such a crushing weight of burden, of shopping, lists, too many demands and too little time that I see more and more customers overwhelmed and not truly enjoying themselves.  Do I want you to shop local ? Of course.  But more importantly I want everyone to slow down.  Life is precious and can be cut short in an instant. 
Being in the retail industry, Most retail workers see upwards of 80+ hour work weeks preceding the holidays.  The best part of Thanksgiving is when we close the shop and I can spend those precious moments with my family.   When I finally get to "slow down" and enjoy the holiday how it was meant to be enjoyed.  And be Thankful that I have so many great people in my life. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

When a floral designer marries...Part 1

I recently remarried in August and deciding on flowers for my OWN event was even more stressful then planning my client's weddings.  Why?  Because I knew the expectation for the wedding flowers was pretty big.   For example, If you went to Betty Crocker's house for dinner and she cooked a bad meal, you wouldn't be real impressed now would you?  I had plenty of color and flower choices at my fingertips, but it was hard to narrow down my decision.  I love ALL colors  and pretty much any flower.  The other factor? I didn't want to work myself to death for a small wedding just to impress people but still wanted things to have my style and be beautiful.  After I got my dress, and the wedding was booked for the beautiful George Washington Hotel, going vintage seemed to make sense.
I chose to go bold and dark.  The roses in my bouquet are actually "Black Magic"...a very dark velveety maroon rose...(this is why a good photographer is a MUST)  Julie (Julie Napear Photography) was able to bring all the subtle colors of my bouquet into sharp focus.  Dark red Dahlias, dark purple mini callas, dark red Ti leaves, red Leucadendron foliage, red Kangaroo Paw, chocolate cosmos and accents of Lavender (herb) are all beautifully captured. ( All photos in this blog are courtesy of Julie Napear Photography www.jsnphoto.com)
I wanted interest in the boutonnieres so I covered cardboard with fabric, wrapped with silver bouillion and added the red mokara orchids. 
I love simple, clean lines and high drama.  This is the lobby piece.  The lobby in the GW hotel is HUGE with high ceilings and marble.  Dark purple callas form a grid over "Black Magic" roses. 
Simple and funky for my sister-in-law who's still in high school.  Red aluminium wire, red glitter accents and white dendrobium orchids.  The wire is very flexible and can be bent around any size wrist...and it's alot prettier than the standard elastic wristband!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Luxembourg Royal Wedding flowers

Royals don't marry often, and when they do, it is hard to find great pictures of the flowers!  I have scoured the web looking for the best pics from several sources so here they are:
This is a pic of the happy couple at the reception prior to the civil ceremony.  The bouquet is pretty but I would've have liked to seen something more interesting.  Especially because the white flowers are overshadowing the pinks and other pastels.  Mixing white flowers with any other color is always tricky because white is the brightest color, your eyes are drawn to it automatically leaving the rest of the bouquet...well, lacking. 
This is a stunner of a bouquet.  Beautiful, simple...and expensive! White phalenopsis orchids are still on the exotic side of the orchid spectrum.  The cascade style compliments the dress perfectly and is designed more narrow and doesn't overpower the dress or the bride. 
Ceremony flowers for the Cathedral in oranges, peaches, ivories and whites.  Pretty traditional on the style but it IS a royal wedding so it's to be expected.   Mostly roses, lilies, alstroemeria and a few other flowers. 
Ugliest flower girl dresses EVER.  The color is pretty, and there are various ways to rock the aqua/mango colorscheme, but this is NOT it.  Maybe they're traditional garb, but the rest of the wedding party looks pretty modern.  I'm assuming, because I don't know, that the attendants don't carry flower bouquets because they have to carry the royal length train.  Love the dress color and style on them.  The flower baskets....heavy and boring.   A fully soaked block of oasis floral foam weighs at least a pound, add in flowers, basket, greenery....that's a lot of weight to carry around.  I'm hoping these are handtied bouquets just situated in those baskets without the aid of foam for the little girls' sakes. 
That's the way to fill a big ceremony room!  Holy cow that's alot of baby's breath and greenery!  I can only imagine how many hours the designers went without sleep to get this all done.  Literally. 
Here's a side view to get a better perception on just HOW much work and flowers were involved to make this cathedral gorgeous.

The car is even decorated....and I'm not sure but that looks like green hydrangea and white hydrangea blooms.
Look above this couple's head!~!! WOW.
I really have no words...that's a TON of roses in the background.  Would love to see the "Before & After" pics of this room if they exist.
I almost missed the centerpieces in this picture...mainly because they're smooshed between the mirror and table.  Granted there are a ton of flowers in the room already, but personally, I feel the centerpieces are a little lack-luster. 
There was a small pic of the civil ceremony bouquet, but it wasn't very clear so I didn't post it.  If I find a better pic I'll add it in later!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gas, Economy, and Retail Prices

Gas prices 10 years ago were approximately $1.60/ gallon!  Just like every other industry costs have gone up.  The floral industry is no different.  Carnations are around $1.10 to $1.45 depending on supply and color.  10 years ago....much less.  Rising fuel costs and transportation costs effect everything.  Here's the background on what it takes to get flowers from fields to your door.
 Flowers start their journey from fields in South America, Europe, Canada, and California.   They have to be planted, watered, fertilized, possibly outside, possibly in greenhouses depending on the type of flower and climate.  Then paid workers must harvest flowers and pack them for shipment.  Don't forget the grower's water, electric, packaging, employee taxes, benefits and other assorted costs.  Then flowers are shipped either by plane or truck or both depending on their destination.  Fuel costs are tacked on plus handling fees.  Then wholesalers must receive and redistribute the flowers.  This involves more lighting, cooling, employee costs.  Distribution to retail flower shops accumulates more fuel costs.  From the retail end, we receive the flowers in boxes, must re cut them and put them in the proper chemically treated water.  (Chemicals $ + Water $ + employee hours + cooler electricity $ = Final Retail Price)  This is just for single stem flowers you would purchase out of the cooler and take with you wrapped up to arrange yourself.   If you want those same flowers arranged?  Labor fees for the designer to arrange them + container price.  Delivery?  Delivery driver salary, gas, mileage, annual maintenance on vehicle, tires, etc.  It all adds up and no one is getting a free pass.  I'm outlining all of this because I think that sometimes it is easy to overlook or be unaware of every step it takes to get those beautiful blooms from Origination to Destination. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 13th Wedding weekend

 I really fell in love with the flowers and colors with this past weekends' wedding.  This is the bridal bouquet of the purple kale, the beautiful orchids, gorgeous 'Milva' roses accented with red/orange hypericum berries...it was definitely one of my favorites.  These are a few pictures I took with my phone, so the colors are not done the justice they should have, looking forward to getting the photographer's pics to share soon.
 Cake layers accented by flowers of the wedding.

 The GORGEOUS George Washington Hotel Ballroom Mantle... I love decorating this mantle and have done so for many weddings, events and shows.  Every time is different from the last.  This bride in particular gave me the freedom to decorate it with enough product to showcase the mantle and mirror effectively. 

 The table linens were fun and and the color is a very pretty orange (again, the difference between a phone pic and a photographer's camera is vast)
 A close up of one of the centerpieces.  Orange and purple are great fall colors!
The bride's lanterns surrounded by groupings of flowers connected by bear grass.  This is one way to get the circular feel of a flower wreath without the heaviness of an actual "wreath" or "halo" of greenery.  It was simple, clean and lightweight. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blue Thistle

This thistle is a beautiful blue color and is perfect for added texture and color in any bouquet.  Read the excerpt below for additional information:
Eryngium is a genus in the family Apiaceae of about 230 species of annuals and perennials with hairless and usually spiny leaves, and dome-shaped umbels of flowers resembling those of thistles. The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution, with the centre of diversity in South America. Some species are native to rocky and coastal areas, but the majority are grassland plants. Common names include Sea-holly and Eryngo, the former typically being applied to coastal species, and the latter to grassland species.
The flowers are clustered in tight umbels, with a whorl of spiny basal bracts.
Eryngium maritimum is a perennial plant native to Europe and often found on sea shores. It produces a basal rosette, from which grow flowering spikes with stiffly spiny foliage and stems. These can reach around 50 cm in height. It is often grown in gardens for its metallic bluish flowers and upper foliage. The basal foliage is a very conspicuous pale grey or silvery green, from which the stiff, lightly branching flowering stems rise up.
Related species are grown as ornamental plants in gardens, and these may also be called "sea holly", though the majority are not associated with littoral (sea-shore) habitats. Among the best known of these is Eryngium bourgatii (illustrated), a perennial with stunning green, prickly foliage marbled with silver. The flowers, which appear in summer, are cobalt blue, and appear very attractive to bees. The plant is 30 to 60 cm in height. Other commonly grown ornamental species include Eryngium alpinum, E. variifolium, E. tripartitum, E. bromeliifolium, and the biennial E. giganteum. (information courtesy of Wikipedia.com)
Erynigum thistle in a recent bridal bouquet last month.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Not-so-common Centerpiece

Fall is one of my favorite seasons.  I love all the colors that nature inspires, and all the beautiful products available to me this time of year.  This is a centerpiece I did a few years ago, but I think the use of colors and the groupings of materials really make this centerpiece a statement.  Far from the traditional long and low centerpiece, this isn't so over the top abstract either. The top view:
Votive candles worked in between groupings for light and interest, pinecones for texture, chrysanthemums sheltered by the rest of the focal flowers....still one of my favorites!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Lavender Fall Bridal bouquet

Love this week's bridal bouquet.  Purples, lavenders and hints of whites.  October is one of the busiest month's for weddings, and we are definitely busy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Infidelity, Anonymity orders in a flower shop

    Infidelity orders...This occurs many times in the course of the year in a retail flower shop.  More often than what people realize.  That scene from "Valentine's Day" where the the husband buys flowers for his wife and his mistress...commonplace business transactions for florists, jewelers, etc.  
It's unfortunate but it boils down to being just a business transaction in the floral industry.  If the Florist takes any action to notify the "wronged party", they face possible lawsuits.  It's an ugly side of business but it's a part of the business day regardless if we (the florist's) like it or not.
The humorous side?  When someone forgets that their current wife is the joint account holder on the debit/credit card they used to purchase flowers for another women.  (or vice versa)
    Anonymous senders pose much the same headaches if not more so.  Why?  Because Murphy's Law declares anytime someone receives flowers from an unknown source, their mind automatically draws a blank.  Or they assume the worst- they have a stalker. Even if they should know it's simply their husband or boyfriend sending the flowers, 9 out of 10 times the recipient will call asking who the sender is.  When the sender doesn't want to be known, we cannot disclose that information.  No amount of begging or pleading will alter this.  Again, liability reasons.  If you have a legitimate stalker issue- call the police.  If a policeman shows up at my shop, then and ONLY then, will I release the sender's info.  I don't enjoy enforcing this policy, and have had numerous people yell at me over the phone because of it.  I don't enjoy being yelled at either, especially when I've done nothing wrong. 
   If you receive flowers either anonymously or from someone you don't wish to receive flowers from, don't hand them back to the delivery person.  We are simply the messenger service, we've been hired to make and deliver flowers..that's it.  You wouldn't throw a letter back in the mailman's face just because it's from someone you don't like would you?  Our suggestion, if you really don't want the flowers, give them to someone else to enjoy.  A neighbor, your child's teacher, drop them off at a nursing home or hospital.  The flowers should be enjoyed by someone, even if it's not the intended recipient.
   The main reason I posted about this subject?  No matter who I've come into contact with, no one ever believes situations like "Valentine's Day" really happen in real life.  They do.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dressmakers and Colors

One of the biggest aggreivations of coordinating colors with clients is the millions of names dressmakers come up with for colors.  So many women were coming in saying "cornflower" blue dress....which I think of as this:
This is a deep almost navy/cobalt colored flower. It sometimes available in a lighter shade.  Imagine my confusion when I showed the bride ribbon samples in this color for her bouquets and she told me I had the wrong color.  This is cornflower according to a well known bridal company:
hmm...yes it IS a shade of blue but in person the dress is even lighter....so, we floral designers just smile and silently curse the wedding dress industry for the constant miscommunication they cause.  Don't even get me started on "Victorian Lilac".....there are probably 10 different shades of lilac...
The best solution I've come up with and encourage brides/clients to do this...go to the local Home Depot/Lowe's, etc and go to the paint section.  Play with all the strips of paint samples.  This is the best way to group different colors together.  Ignore the names on the samples.  Bring the samples in along with actual fabric swatch of dress.  This helps ensure everyone is on the same page and the same color scheme- no matter what it's called.