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Archive for 2007

Forum Magazine Review

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

We got a very nice review in the-upcoming edition of Forum magazine of which I got a preview eThe Forum Magazine ReviewThe Forum Magazine Reviewmailed to me today – featuring one of our fabulous affiliates in New York City called LMD Floral Events.Other than the Penthouse Forum, whom I sadly admit would hardly be calling me, I did not know whatthis Forum was until their very nice travel editor, and Donald Charles Richardson called me. I suppose there are so many magazines around these days that it is impossible to keep up with all the niche ones,so I don’t mind sounding stupid when I say to editors – “Huh? What? Sorry, No…Never heard of it.”Anyway – turns out that this Forum is this very high-end magazine that is printed twice a year and distributed only to its own advertisers such as Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco or Stanley Korshack in Dallas who then turn around and send it to their best customers. It is one of those B2B and B2C magazines and ya’ll thought those terms were web induced.Donald is just the sort of guy one wishes all editors were like though – with his friendly, baritone voice and worldly, but easy-going manner. I felt I was talking to a best-friend-of-a-friend’ kind of thing. The sort of person we used to say, ‘like an old shoe’ but as we baby boomers are aging that description does not imply the warm and cozy it used to and often is received as an insult, so I am learning not to use it anymore.Actually – I do not know why ‘old shoe’ is interpreted as an insult these days – maybe because people think old shoes ought to be thrown out? Whereas back in the day, old shoes were the best especially if they were hand-made. My husbands grandfather used to have his custom made and they would last for 30 yrs! So ‘old shoe’ used to mean, comfortable, ages well, good looking, well-made, classic – all those good things that I am trying to get across about Donald.I am going to try and get better about this Blog thing but one, I can’t find a voice I want to settle into because some days I am mad, some – dumb, others I can be both bored and boring, and on down the emotional line and they say you are supposed to have one voice. Well, who has that? I am a multifaceted, mercurial person hiding behind a professional façade! The other reason is what David Weinberger describes, “these niche publishers are finding that all of their content is miscellaneous,” or what Warren Buffet says about all this blogging, “At the end of the day we only have one pair of eyes.” Being an eco-freak, I hesitate to add to the web detritus even though they say it is just in the clouds – heck that is what they said about car exhaust and look what happened.Can’t you just imagine it? The eco-hazard of the future will be all these web musings distilled into 1’s and 0’s coming after future generations in swirls of uncontrollable mental pollution!Anyway – here’s the nice piece. And Donald, thanks!

A Full Serving of Fruit…and Nuts.

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

Feel that nip in the air? Not yet? Well, wait a week or two and you’ll be reaching for your favorite sweater and raking piles of leaves from the lawn. Now that summer’s blooms have had their day and the abundance of autumn weighs in, why not steal a bit from the groaning board to mark the season? A laden branch is a beautiful thing. Consider these delicious options…Pomegranates: Stuff of myth, the pomegranate so tempted Persephone that she ate a bit of one and caused her annual banishment to Hades’ dark underworld for six months each year. It’s easy to see why – this ruby fruit is beautiful inside and out. Whether in a decorative spray or individually worked into an arrangement, this ancient fertility symbol is fall personified.Pears: Not just for partridges to perch on, a branch of blushing miniature pears brings a mouthwatering note to any grouping of seasonal flora. Fill a large glass cylinder with fat green Bartletts and tuck in tall sticks of cinnamon – it will be hard not to reach for one to eat. When you’re tired of the arrangement – simply add red wine, sugar, and poach till tender!Persimmons: Whether heaped in a rough stoneware bowl or still on the stem, it’s easy to see why these glossy orange fruit are such a popular subject in Asian art. They glow as if lit from within, and their curious calyxes look carved from jade. Pair them with bright branchesleaves and gnarled branches for a sculptural combo. Later, the slow-ripening fruit will make delicious muffins…Quince: Looking like a cross between a pear and an apple, this hard, gnarly specimen is thought to be the true fruit that lead to the Original Sin. Whether biblical fact or fiction, its sweet, heady scent alone is enough to lead one astray. Pile them in a Limoges tureen with walnuts in the shell or place a branch with leaves and fruit on the mantel. Now, take a deep breath; it’s autumn in Paradise.Other fruits on the vine that look great in the vase are figs – like the photo here from House Beautiful’s September 2007 issue – bittersweet, snow in summer, lady apples and baby pumpkins. We love pretty.

The Art of Giving

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Dear Reader, I Repeat: Pay AttentionIn my first post about the art of giving gifts, I told a tale on myself. I wrote about a simple gift – given to me by a near stranger – a gift subtle and powerful enough to spin me into full blown infatuation. I explained that the gift in question – a little bouquet of peach-toned roses – mimicked a flower I wore when I met the man who eventually gave me the present. The fact that he remembered the rose behind my ear a year later, and when we met again handed me a dozen identical blossoms, knocked me for total loop.Commenting on my post, a reader responded: “So the secret is peach-colored roses. Thanks for the inside information!” On reading the comment, my immediate response was, “D’oh! Men!!!” Okay, so my knee-jerk sexist response did nothing to further the cause of better gift-giving, but I had to wonder how he had managed to miss everything I wrote besides “peach-colored” and “roses”.So I say to him, “Yes Leonard, the secret to giving me a gift 20 years ago was peach colored roses.” But that said, one woman’s blindingly romantic rose may be another woman’s prosaic poison ivy. There is no one-size-fits-all present. Everyone’s taste is distinct. If anyone, male or female wants to give a gift that truly hits the mark, they need to pay attention to the target of their gifting.In the case of Carlo, my observant Italian friend, we spoke only briefly when we first met, but he was interested enough to remember the color of the flower in my hair, and rekindled the feeling of our first meeting with the bouquet he later gave me. The next time you have a floral gift to give, a bit of reflection and observation will set you in the right direction. Does this person dress in sharp, chic clothes? Here is a candidate for a simple, sophisticated arrangement. Have you seen her reading romance novels? Does she adore Jane Austen? A bouquet of old-fashioned roses or lilacs will do the trick.Is his home or office done in stark mid-century Modern or antique Asian? Orchids, my friend, send orchids.Without the clue of a flower behind my ear, Carlo would have had to conjecture carefully from other signals to give a gift as moving as the one he presented to me. But those signals come through loud and clear for all those interested enough to listen and pay close attention.

Fun Flower Quiz

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Everybody loves flowers. We love smelling them, looking at them and giving them
to people we care about. But how much do you know about flowers? Well, take
the quiz and let’s find out! Score a 9 or a 10 and you’re really up on your flora.
Score five or less and you’ve got some studying to do. Good luck!

1. What is the national flower of the United States?
a. Rose
b. Tulip
c. Bluebonnet
d. Carnation

2. What is the fear of flowers called?
a. floraphobia
b. stamenophobia
c. anthrophobia
d. there’s no such thing as fear of flowers

3. In cooking, tulip bulbs are sometimes used in place of what?
a. Potatoes
b. Sugar
c. Garlic
d. Onions

4. From where do nearly 60% of all USA grown fresh cut flowers come from?
a. Alabama
b. New York
c. California
d. Hawaii

5. What is the world’s largest flower?
a. Titan arum
b. Rafflesia arnoldii
c. Sunflower
d. Magnolium leonardii

6. What is the world’s smallest flower?
a. Hydrania
b. Wolffia
c. Miniature cherry blossom
d. Clivia miniata

7. What are the best selling cut flowers in the world?
a. Carnations
b. Roses
c. Tulips
d. Daffodils

8. About how many species of begonia are there?
a. 13
b. 130
c. 1,300
d. 13,000

9. The Peach Blossom is the state flower of which state?
a. Indiana
b. Delaware
c. Georgia
d. Kentucky

10. Which is not another name for snapdragons?
a. Calves’ snouts
b. Lion’s lips
c. Toad’s mouth
d. Monkey jaws


1. The ROSE is the national flower of the United States. It was signed into law
by President Reagan on October 7, 1986 in a ceremony that was held, of course,
in the White House Rose Garden.

2. The fear of flowers is called ANTHROPHOBIA. Symptoms include
breathlessness, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations, sweating and madness.

3. In cooking sometimes tulip bulbs are sometimes used to replace ONIONS.

4. More than half of the cut flowers grown in the United States come from

5. The largest flower in the world is the RAFFLESIA ARNOLDII. It is found in
Indonesia and can grow three feet across and weigh fifteen pounds! When in
bloom the rafflesia emits a smell similar to rotting meat, which attracts flies for

6. The WOLFFIA is the smallest flower in the world. It is a type of duckweed. A
bouquet of a dozen plants would easily fit on the head of a pin!

7. The best selling cut flowers in the world are CARNATIONS.

8. There are about 1,300 species of begonia. And if you are one of the many
people addicted to growing these beautiful flowers you are known as a begoniac!

9. The peach blossom is the state flower of DELAWARE. The flower was
adopted in 1895 because of Delaware’s reputation as the “Peach State,” having
over 800,000 peach trees at the time. Did you pick Georgia? Gotcha!

10. There are a lot of colorful names for snapdragons, but MONKEY JAWS is
definitely not one of them!

The Magic and Meaning of Herbs

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

We have seen that flowers have their own language, with secret meanings based on the type or even the color. For some, a woman’s heart might leap with joy upon the receipt of a dozen red roses from the object of her desire, because red roses represent romantic love. But send her a bouquet of yellow roses and you might create a different reaction altogether. Yellow roses represent friendship, which can be a lovely thing, except perhaps if the recipient had something a little more intimate in mind!

Did you know that herbs, too, have their own meaning? For example oregano represents happiness, as it should. After all, have you even once been unhappy while eating a slice of pizza? It should also be no surprise that chamomile, a favorite tea, represents comfort and sage stands for wisdom. And the Cowardly Lion would have done well to exchange his bravery medal for a bunch of fresh thyme, which represents courage.

The belief in the power of herbs goes back to ancient times. People believed that strong smelling herbs would help to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. And so brides began to carry flowers and odoriferous herbs on their wedding day, a bouquet that might include chives and even garlic. Imagine carrying a nice bunch of garlic as you made your stroll down the aisle—I wonder why that particular tradition never caught on?

Herbs are not just benign plants that smell nice (or not so nice) and have secret meanings. For thousands of years folklore has valued herbs for their magical properties. In India people were often buried with basil, believing that the herb would be their ticket into heaven. During the Middle Ages it was believed that a spell cast by a witch could be repelled by wearing a charm made of dill leaves. Dill leaves were also burned to end thunderstorms. In ancient Greece it was believed that if you anointed yourself with marjoram you would dream of your future spouse, and by planting it in graves you could assure eternal peace for the deceased.

In ancient times it was believed that sprinkling rosemary around your house would bring good luck. Students also often wore a braid of rosemary around their heads to improve performance on their exams. So remember, whether you want to dream about your future spouse, score big on your upcoming SAT’s or are just looking for the nerve to tell your boss a thing or two, there is a herb out there just waiting to help!

Fine Florists often incorporate seasonal herbs in their arrangements but be sure to give a day’s notice for any specific herbal message you might have in mind.

Fleeting and fragile blossoms

Friday, August 17th, 2007

While many of nature’s most fragrant flowers are widely available and generally sturdy, some of the sweetest blooms are here for a minute and almost untouchably tender. Still, for all their fragility, they’re worth the velvet glove treatment for their poetic beauty.
Lily of the Valley: Lovely miniature bells on luminous green stalks, these are truly one of spring’s cutest shoots. Their characteristic bright scent and pure white shade make them a natural for wedding bouquets. Send a vintage cachepot full of the growing blooms to make Mother’s Day an-old fashioned delight, and nothing makes a more dapper, romantic boutonniere. But heads up – even the smallest bouquet is commands a larger budget!

Chocolate Cosmos: These dusky blossoms, the color of fine, bittersweet chocolate, add a cosmo.jpgbit of mystery to any bouquet. Their dark, velvety shade hits a striking noir-ish note, softened by their simple, daisy-like form. Though they don’t broadcast their cocoa-y perfume, nuzzle a bloom and you’ll get a clear whiff of the stuff that truffles are made of.

Sweet Peas: Like a little flutter of silk, the lovely, ruffled sweet pea tells us summer is near. These girly flowers are sweetness personified, from their silk hanky delicacy to their bee-dizzying perfume. Imagine a bundle of pink and purple blooms in a milk glass vase set on a farm house table, and you’ll get a good idea of their girl-next-door appeal.

Gardenia: Billie Holliday wore them in her hair. Screen sirens of the 30’s pinned them to gardenia.jpgtheir furs. Prom queens wore wristfuls of them as they danced the night away. Curved like sculpted ivory into a bas-relief blossom, gardenias are fragile, evocative flowers.

Set afloat in a shallow bowl they’ll tint the air with a honeyed, pervasive perfume. (Try drifting a few in a warm tub as you soak, and feel like Cleopatra). And though they may be tender and bruise at the slightest touch, they’re worth the star treatment for their creamy beauty and sultry scent.

The Language of Flowers

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

We all know that red roses denote passion and white ones symbolize purity, but did you know that during the Victorian era there was an entire language of flowers? It was a time when people could not or would not express their feelings verbally, and so flowers became a substitute form of communication.

It is believed that lists identifying the meaning of flowers were first published in Turkey. From there the lists traveled to France, and eventually to England and the United States. The language of flowers, or “florigraphy” reached its peak in the 19th Century and many flower dictionaries could easily be found in print at this time.

Which could create a bit of a problem. After all, there are only a few flowers which have retained the same meaning for hundreds of years. For example, a red rose has always stood for love while a narcissus has long been the symbol of egotism. But for most flowers in Victorian times the meaning could vary, depending on which flower dictionary you happened to be using. It’s easy to imagine the complications that might arise if two lovers who were deciphering the meaning of a fresh bouquet happened to be using different flower dictionaries!

And there were often other problems when one tried to speak in the secret language of flowers. There is a story of a French woman who sent flowers to her lover to express her deep feelings. Unknown to her, however, her husband understood the meaning of her floral message and attempted to drown his dallying wife in the Seine. Fortunately her lover came to her rescue and couple ran away together and lived happily ever after.

Today it may be difficult to find a flower dictionary, but the meanings of hundreds of flowers are readily available on the Internet. A daffodil still sends the message, “you are the only one,” while a gardenia is telling that special someone that she “is lovely.” Sometimes the message for a specific flower can vary simply with the color. A purple hyacinth says, “I am truly sorry,” but a pink one denotes playfulness.

So just because we happen to live over a century after the close of the Victorian era doesn’t mean that we can’t still send coded messages to loved ones through the secret language of flowers. It remains a beautiful and romantic way to express your feelings. Just make sure that both of you and your beloved are obtaining the flower meanings from the same website!

Lei Lady

Monday, July 30th, 2007

I have a friend—let’s call her Jeannie. Now Jeannie, like many of us, has a hobby. No, she doesn’t collect stamps or write poetry. Jeannie’s hobby is David Cassidy. Cassidy, you may or may not recall, is the former teen heartthrob and member of the 1970’s television singing group The Partridge Family.

Today David Cassidy is 57 years old and appears periodically in performance venues around the country. The songs Cassidy sings may change, as does the location of the concerts, but one thing remains constant: Jeannie is always there for the show. And so is her lei.

About ten years ago Jeannie decided that she would present a flower lei to David Cassidy during each of his performances. And we’re not talking about some inexpensive ring of dried carnations or, heaven forbid, a string of plastic flowers. No, for each concert Jeannie orders a fresh lei made up of the most beautiful and fragrant orchids flown in directly from Hawaii. She first bestowed a lei on Cassidy over ten years ago, and recently traveled across the country to give him #38.

Jeannie always gets excellent seats for these concerts, and so is only a few steps from the stage when it comes time to give her gift. Cassidy for his part is always obliging, bending down so Jeannie can place the lei around his neck. The rewards vary: sometimes Jeannie receives a smile from her idol, while other times she shares a hug or even a kiss with the performer.

Over the years others have tried to imitate Jeannie by coming up with unique items to give to Cassidy. Some have given him an item they knitted or a specific stuffed animal. But so far nothing has caught on except for Jeannie’s leis and she has become something of a minor celebrity, at least among the David Cassidy crowd.

Jeannie has photographs of David Cassidy wearing each of the leis she has given him. She has met with him several times and is on a first name basis with most of his band. She has traveled extensively in order to attend the concerts, which has allowed her to broaden her horizons by seeing parts of the country and meeting people that she would never have known existed. All this because she one day decided to give a necklace of fresh flowers to her musical hero David Cassidy.

Now that’s Flower Power!

floral lei

Scents and sensibility Part 2

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

If you want to make a lasting impression with your gift of flowers, it’s a good idea to follow your nose. Scent is the oldest and most primitive of the senses, directly and inextricably connected to memory in the most basic part of the brain. This explains why the smell of gardenias instantly transports you to your favorite aunt’s house (she always had one or two floating in a bowl) or why a whiff of lavender zips you to that lovely little hotel in Provence. Make a few memories of your own with these beauties:

Lilies: Say “lily” and you’ve said a mouthful. These heady blooms may be trumpet- or star-shaped, demurely scented or knock-out powerful, and appear in a range of colors from purest white to rather lurid purple. In this broad field, a serious standout is the big, white Casablanca. A luscious diva of a lily, it sports star-shaped, hand-span blossoms and while it looks chaste, it packs a positively lascivious perfume. Musky and deep with a whiff of dead-ripe plum, it conjures odalisques and opium dreams. These blooms make a perfect boudoir bouquet – on their own or paired with something suggestive [note: like a Black Magic rose? Another dark, voluptuous bloom? Voluptuous peonies or slinky, sultry, long-legged French tulips – or cleaned up a bit with early spring’s blooming branches! ] they define sultry.

Magnolias: Found among the fossil remains of prehuman history, these enormous blooms are the oldest living flower on earth. The giant alabaster flowers grow quite slowly, so it is unusual to find them in arrangements. More often the glossy, dark-green leaves are used, a florist’s favorite for their dramatic color and shine. The blooms themselves are pungently scented, delivering a powerful wallop of citrus and honey; with these, a single blossom will fill the largest of rooms. But this heady southern belle is only one of many forms of this species. We’ll reveal more about other members of this fragrant family in a later posting.

Scents and Sensibility

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

In the plant world, blossoms get their pollinating done by being the showiest posies around. Bees and other buggy propagators are drawn to the most visible blooms. In the human realm, a bright, striking arrangement is a good way to make a splashy first impression. But if you want your gift to leave a lasting memory, it’s just as wise to follow your nose. Scented flowers give another dimension to floral arrangements, the subtle (or not so), subliminal power of perfume. Don’t know where to start? Sniff these…

Garden roses: While long-stemmed roses are too often called upon to do Cupid’s work, most of these hot-house blooms are as leggy and insipid as a super model. From faintly fragranced to positively scentless, their beauty is merely stem-deep. Meanwhile, their less-flashy and often short-lived cousins – the full-bodied garden roses, are as sweetly perfumed and old-fashioned as the girl next door. These heavy, drowsy blooms waft truly heavenly scents, their fragrances rich with tea and spice and “rose” to the tenth power. A bedside bouquet of these will definitely bring sweet dreams.

Tuberose: These long stems of small, creamy blooms carry a perfume that packs all the charm of a grass-skirted Tahitian maiden. Their scent is heavy, honeyed, tropical – with a vague, curious note of zinc oxide at the end. Potent and delicious, it only takes a couple of stems in an arrangement to perfume an entire room.

Freesia: Freesias come in a delightful array of shades from bridal white to deep, rusty orange and magenta. Growing in delicate sprays of small, tulip-like blossoms, they bring a bright, citrus and honey scent to mixed bouquets – they’re gorgeous paired with roses and lavender. Beware of the mass grown grocery store varieties though – often these have no scent and if they do it might be of sneezie pepper.

More scents and sensibility to come.