Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Wreaths

The Holiday season has arrived, as has the yearly race to decorate everything that doesn't move. Downtown Wilmington was quick to install festive street wreaths the first of November!

The wreath is a popular and traditional decoration, generally fashioned from evergreens, which appropriately enough, stand for "strength of life".

A wreath hung on your home's door is a welcoming touch for visitors, and your style can be as simple or as elaborate as you'd like.

I'm particularly fond of the fragrant balsam wreath, and since moving here from New England a few years ago, have made it a yearly tradition to order one from L.L. Bean in Maine. As soon as it lands on my doorstep and that fresh scent wafts up around me, the holidays have arrived and I am transported back to a time when Christmas meant cold and snow and long drives to be with family.

Wreaths made completely of berries are attractive, too. But a caution: if your wreath is made of particularly tasty berries and is accessible to birds, it will be snacked upon! Best to display it in a protected area instead.

If you'd like to do something a bit different than a traditional wreath, consider a Kissing Ball. These have become very popular in the last few years as porch decorations, and adding lights makes them even more festive. Originally made only of holly, they were hung from the center of a doorway, and tradition called for every person passing underneath to be kissed. Now they can be made from anything: evergreens of all kinds, ivy, berries, even nuts!

Magnolia wreaths are traditional in the South. I love how this one has incorporated pomegranates, musical instruments and sheetmusic ribbon to accent the two-tone magnolia leaves. So elegant!

Coincidentally, my home state of Maine is also the home of the world's largest wreath maker- the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington. For years, Merrill Worcester and his crew have made the trek to Washington DC to lay wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery on Wreath Laying Day, December 12. During this holiday season, let's not forget to take a moment and remember the men and women who have given their lives for us all.

And when you're out scouting holiday decorations, remember to support the merchants of Historic Downtown Wilmington and the 3/50 Project.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blooming X-Rays

I was intrigued recently when I heard about an artist and her novel approach to recycling. Julia Barello first starting out making jewelry and displaying it on an X-ray attached to a light box. But before long, she had moved on to turning the X-ray film itself into sculpture.

Mounted on steel pins as multi-piece installations, these works are not immediately recognizable for what they are...but closer inspection reveals the shading, and the change between opaque and translucent areas. These are real X-rays!

Initially, every piece was cut by hand, with Xacto knives, and fittingly, scalpels. Now they are laser-cut especially for her at a special facility.

Julia could easily have used acetate sheets and achieved a similar effect, but she felt it was important to 'see' the body on the X-rays. Once you realize what you are looking at, you're at once fascinated, and perhaps even a bit awed, that someone would turn this particular medium into art.

The installations measure from a few feet up to 15 feet across, and Julia uses varying lengths of pins to achieve a layered effect. Attaching each 'flower" at only one point causes them to move gently when people pass.

Now that hospitals are moving towards digital imaging, Julia's concern is that at some point, she will no longer have access to her medium. But for now, we can all enjoy her new way of recycling...and a great way to permanently add flowers to your environment!

Here's one of her great jewelry pieces...

See some of Bloomers Floral Designs real florals here

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hydrangea Memories

When I was a kid, it seemed like every friend's grandmother had fussy bunches of preserved Hydrangea in the house- faded and usually covered in dust.

So for years, there was no love lost between me and Hydrangea. Until the first year I vacationed in Chatham, Massachusettes on Cape Cod and was surrounded by masses of gorgeous blue Hydrangea blooms. Let me tell you, I was smitten from that point on! I even bought a bush while I was there, in a vain attempt to get the same effect at my home in Vermont.

I say "in vain", because back then, I was unaware that the PH of the soil was responsible for the blue (or pink) color of the blooms. Now that I have more gardening experience under my belt it's not a mystery anymore, though I can't say I have much more luck with Hydrangea bushes in general. Their water needs are just more than I can manage.

Still, I love them as a cut flower, and brides do too, as they are at the very top of the wish list, from casual to formal weddings. This is one versatile bloom! Hydrangea is available year-round, and in a range of colors. In the language of flowers, Hydrangea means 'perseverance'- how appropriate for a wedding flower!

If you are fortunate enough to have a big bush of Hydrangea at home, take time to bring some inside and let them dry slowly. Every one of them will dry to a different color, some to a rusty brown, some retaining a bit of the blue, but all will be gorgeous. Once dry, you can use artificial flower foam to construct a wreath, like this one.

Or if you have a great weathered urn like this, fill it simply, and let the Hydrangea act as an accent to the container, rather than being the star of the show.

On a recent trip to Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, I was introduced to Hydrangea "Big Daddy".-and I was hooked all over again!

Thinking of Hydrangea for your upcoming wedding? Call Bloomers for more ideas!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Flowers

Have you noticed? It's November already and Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Along with travel plans or menu planning, you no doubt have a hundred other things to think about besides flowers. Let's see if I can answer some of the most common questions that I receive at Bloomers.

Why do I need flowers on my Thanksgiving table? Flowers add a note of luxury to any event, no matter how large or small your gathering. Flowers convey to your guests that you cared enough to make this event extra special.

Which flowers are appropriate for my Thanksgiving table? Your particular style will come into play here. Casual? Formal? Country? Victorian? This time of year allows for so many great floral choices! Mums, fall-toned roses and calla lilies, berries of all colors and types, hydrangea, sunflowers, ornamental kale- all would make great additions to your table decorations. You could tailor the colors to your dishes and linens, or let the centerpiece stand alone as a focal point.

How large should my Thanksgiving centerpiece be? Some things to consider: Will your centerpiece be on the main table or perhaps on a sideboard? How large is your table? How many people will be seated at it? Size matters. Too small and it will be lost; too large and your guests won't be able to chat.

This large basket is great for an outdoor gathering where it can have pride of place.

How early should I order Thanksgiving flowers? Your florist will be busy at least a week before Thanksgiving, not just for centerpieces, but with holiday events in general. Be kind! Call as far in advance as possible, to assure we can order just the right flowers for you. Having your centerpiece arrive a few days ahead will help you plan your table layout, as well as allow the flowers to 'settle in" and look just perfect on the big day!

How long can I expect my Thanksgiving flowers to last?
As with any flower arrangement, lifespan depends on many things, such as freshness of flowers when purchased, conditions in your home, and varieties of flowers used. Some are just naturally longer lasting than others. But in general, you can expect at least 5-7 days for most centerpieces from a quality florist. That's longer than your turkey leftovers will last!

Are candles in my centerpiece a must?
Not at all! A traditional Horn of Plenty centerpiece is always appropriate, as are simple wreaths, perhaps filled with small gourds. Candles do add a certain something, and if you don't have room for a true centerpiece, consider making your candlesticks the star of the show, worked with flowers, like this pretty pair.

Why not make a Bloomers floral creation part of your holiday this year? Remember we can also send flowers anywhere!