Monday, December 28, 2009

Tournament of Roses

What is New Year's Day without the Tournament of Roses Parade? I never miss it. Though the other acts are interesting, the floats are everyone's favorites, not just for the fanciful designs, but for the sheer volume of flowers used to achieve those designs! I especially like this past winner for it's use of roses.

I once read that the parade floats utilize so many flowers, they are responsible for two-thirds of Holland's GDP!

The first Tournament of Roses was staged in 1890 in Pasadena, CA., by transplanted Easterners who were eager to showcase the mild weather of their adopted home. (In other words, they were bragging that they weren't knee-deep in snow!). In those first few years, it expanded to include such oddities as ostrich races and bronco busting.

Today's floats now feature high-tech computerized animation and use exotic materials from all over the world. A few floats are still made by volunteers working to benefit their organization, but most are now made by professional float building companies, and can take up to a year to reach completion.

It's not the only parade on New Year's Day, but it's surely the reason this one is called "The Granddaddy of Them All"!

At Bloomers, we can't build you a float, but we can definitely create something beautiful for your New Year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A New Florist for the White House

I can't imagine a more exciting, or more stressful job than being the head florist at the White House. After 30 years, Nancy Clarke retired earlier this year, and Laura Dowling was tapped to become the new White House Florist. Her job will surely be a much different one than that of past Official Florists.

The White House has employed a 'bouquet maker' since the time of President Buchanan, in the 1850's. However, it was 1961 before Jackie Kennedy arrived and created the Office of the White House Florist. A bit of trivia: Jackie's oddest request of her florist was that strongly-scented flowers be used, to help combat the smell of tobacco prevalent throughout the White House!

Before taking over White House duties, Laura owned her own floral studio in Virginia where she specialized in designs that leaned towards French-country style. She regularly traveled to Paris to study with top floral designers and has been featured on tv and in magazines. Clearly, she is no slouch, and will no doubt bring a much needed freshness to the White House!

Having a younger, more modern President and First Lady in office means even the flower arrangements need to be of the moment. Michelle Obama favors hot colors, and for a recent dinner with Indian guests, even included produce in some of the designs. She is also fond of dogwood branches and white orchids.

Before you cry out that the government is 'wasting' money on flowers everywhere, know that to cut expenses, long-lasting ferns are now used throughout the White House, especially in areas that are not generally seen by the public.

Typically, the White House florist will 'get by' with a staff of 3, but that number is augmented with special helpers when needed. Nancy is charged with creating floral arrangements for the Oval Office, the private residence, public rooms, workspaces, hallways, and when in use, Camp David and Air Force One.

You may not need quite as many arrangements as the White House, but it's not too late to call Bloomers for beautiful flowers in your home this holiday!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy reading this one.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pleasing Poinsettia

It's that time of year again...when a trip to any grocery store, discount store or garden center yields giant displays of that ubiquitous holiday plant-the Poinsettia. Love 'em or hate 'em, they are here to stay. Fortunately, great strides have been made in the cultivation of the Poinsettia, and we no longer have to 'settle' for just red. Instead, we now have mottled, bi-color, salmon, peach, white, ivory and pink to choose from. (Sometimes they are even blue, or sprayed with glitter!).

By decree of Congress, December 12 is National Poinsettia Day, marking the death of Joel Robert Poinsett, who was US Ambassador to Mexico. He took cuttings of the plant and shipped them to his greenhouse in Greenville, South Carolina, propagating them and distributing throughout the country.

The name Poinsettia means "Very Beautiful", and when grown properly, they certainly are! Native to Southern Mexico and Central America, they often grow to 10 feet high. In Mexico, they are known as "Flores de la Noche Buena", or "Flower of the Holy Night". Though the bracts do make a lovely flower, they don't work well as a cut flower because of the milky sap.

Remember that Poinsettia is poisonous-so it's important to find a home for it out of the prying hands of children or curious Rover. If your specimen arrived wrapped in foil, be sure to either remove the foil entirely, or punch holes in the bottom, to assure drainage. Nothing will assure a quick death like sitting in water! Otherwise, give your plant full sun during the day, but total darkness at night. The leaves shouldn't come into contact with cold windowpanes, and keep your plant away from hot or cold drafts.

It may sound as though the Poinsettia is a high-maintenance plant, but it's really not.
Though we usually treat Poinsettia as a toss-it-after-the-holidays plant, given the right circumstances, you could have bloom well into March or longer. (My giant salmon-colored beauty lasted until October of this year!)

Check out this Poinsettia bush found in Hawaii!

Remember to call Bloomers early and order your holiday floral gifts, such as Poinsettias!