With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, here are a few tips for getting the freshest and most beautiful flowers from your local florist.

  1. TRUST..the floral designer to do what they are trained to do.  Let your designer be inspired to bring out the natural beauty in each flower. Encourage them to be creative and design a unique bouquet for you.  Some of the worst bouquets come from trying to make flowers that look like a photo.  Photo’s should be used as a general guide for style, but NOT used to make an exact duplicate of an arrangement.   Flowers are art..so let your designer be an artist.  It’s what they love doing!  Floral designers love giving flowers a voice!
  2. Give your floral designer your general guidelines, the color palette, your style preferences, and any favorite flowers of the recipient, and your budget.  Remember that delivery and tax are always added on after the flower price, so make sure you clarify the bottom line.
  3.  Always ask what is FRESH and IN SEASON this week.  Flowers are grown by farmers and farming is seasonal.  Farming is dependent on weather, supply & demand, transportation issues. Flowers are grown all around the world, and there is nothing that adds stress for a florist more than having their roses stuck in the airport on Valentines week, due to a winter storm somewhere in the country.  Be flexible, have patience, and plan on ordering extra early to make sure you have choices and options. Remember it’s winter, and many types of flowers are not available in the winter, unless you are willing to pay for the OUT OF SEASON price.  Most florists are happy to order out of season flowers in for you, but you need to plan ahead in order to have it available when you want it.  Allow at least 10 days for your florist to bring in your “out of season flowers” for you.

Love this video of Bob Rivers attending to his Bee’s   Bee’s are so important to the flower industry, and I can’t believe how much this impresses me! I wish I could be this fearless, but alas, it’s not going to happen.

Thanks Bob, we need more of you!

Recently I became aware of this organization which is doing a lot to eradicate poverty and promote trade standards in the agriculture business around the world.  I feel pretty good about what they are doing.  You can read their mission statement  here: http://www.fintrac.com/ You can also ready more about them here too:  http://tradestandards.org/en/Partner.6.asp

Take for example, pesticide use.  I have spoken with many growers, who live in other countries, who laugh at the idea that we can have flowers from the jungle without the use of pesticides. They really laugh when I talk to them about my “green ideas” and how they can put them into practice.  They tell me that I do not understand what it is like to live in a tropical jungle.  I guess I can’t argue with that, since I’ve never lived in a jungle.  :>)

I’ve come to realize that what is most important to me, is how people are treated, and how safe the products that they use are for me and the consumer to handle.  I’ve learned from experience that I have to use something to fight the slugs in my garden, and it’s my responsibility to find a way to do it that isn’t going to harm the environment, or me.

I admire this company for putting so much money into making the global agricultural economy better for us all.

With the demand from consumers for organic fruits and vegetable and plants, the American Chemical Society released exciting new research on essential oil pesticides.  It’s all the spices we know and love, rosemary, thyme, mint, clove, lavender, basil, bergamont, and a dozen other oils from exotic plant sources, they are being called “killer spices”. Murray Isman, Ph.D of the University of British Columbia is one of the researchers testing plant essential oils, and who has found that they have a broad range of insecticidal benefit with regards to agricultural pests. Studies show that many farmers are having success with some organic crops  against aphids and mites.   Some of the research also is showing promise in the home as well, by providing repellants against mosquitoes, flies, and roaches.   These new organic pesticides have some extremely helpful benefits, they are safer for farm workers, and they do not require the excessive state regulations that chemicals do.  While this is exciting news, there is still a lot of research to do and some shortcomings still to work on. These natural killer spices are not as potent as conventional chemicals.  The essential oils also evaporate more quickly, and tend to fade quickly in the sunshine, so they are more labor intensive for the farmer, since they have to be added more frequently. The next phase of research will involve finding ways to make these natural pesticides last longer and become more potent.  The future certainly looks bright with regards to organic farming!

I went to an interesting BBQ this evening, my friends just returned from a trip to Uganda and they had a small party to share the pictures and tell stories with their friends & family. It was a fascinating evening filled with conversation and lots of awesome pictures. I wish I could share some of them here. One of the guests at the party was a lady named Maggie Josiah, she did a lot of speaking and shared her stories about her life in Uganda. She is an incredible artist as well as a woman dedicated to teaching sustainability in Africa. The parent corporation to her effort is: www.inveneo.org/?q=cornerstone

I liked her perspective about teaching sustainability, not just helping with money and giving hand outs. Does anyone ever function very well under handouts? To me education is the answer.

She has a blog and a website, you can read more about her and what she is doing here….http://www.tiptopwebsite.com/maggiejosiah Changing the world, one person at a time!

I usually refrain from discussing politics and religion, because it always gets people riled up, ( actually this probably comes from watching my great aunt hit my father with a skillet one time during a heated political discussion during a family dinner ) I’ve alway been reminded by  my family to never discuss politics or religion,  but in this case, no matter whether you are a religious person or a non religious person, it’s worth the risk to me to say that  you have to admire the pure dedication & drive this woman has exhibited, and the excitement that comes from knowing one person that is making a difference in the world!  Actually I know many, but this really made me feel good!

“The opening of the seed vault marks a historic turning point in safeguarding the world’s crop diversity,” says Cary Fowler, executive director of the Rome-based Global Crop Diversity Trust, which led the project. “Crop diversity will soon prove to be our most potent and indispensable resource for addressing climate change, water and energy supply constraints, and for meeting the food needs of a growing population.”

Read more about it here: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=seeds-of-future-agriculture-enter-doomsday-deep-freeze