Flowers and Foliage: The Lost Language

Frangipani

Flowers And FoliageIn the mid 1800s, when someone created a bouquet, they created a message too. The message wasn’t written in a letter or on a card, but in the flowers and foliage that made up the bouquet.

Flowers and foliage had meaning, for those who where educated at the time. Combinations for different bouquets conveyed different messages that where understood by those in the know.

The mythical origins of the language explains that they came from Turkey where a French painter wooed a Harem girl. He took her back to France as his wife where she taught European women to speak with flowers and foliage to their lovers. The Europeans then taught everyone else.

There are plant message that are pretty obvious, like a lemon branch can mean zest or vigor, or a Venus Fly Trap could mean deceit or danger.

Some meanings are obvious if you know the Latin name for the flower, like the Daffodil. In Latin it’s called a Narcissus, named after a very vain deity. Egotism is represented by the Daffodil.

The more interesting are the counter-intuitive ones, like say a Cactus. To some, it symbolizes warmth. Since it grows in a warm climate, it became a round-about symbol for warmth and sun . The prickliness is ignored.

It’s interesting to note that some meanings are different than meanings we commonly accept today, such as for the Shamrock. It does not symbolize luck, but instead means lightheartedness.

Mistletoe, the holiday favorite, did not originally mean it’s time to smooch. It means “I surmount difficulties”. Maybe the difficultly of getting someone to smooch you or vice-a-versa was the difficulty. Just sayin…

One plant meaning is still commonly known. The Olive Branch is the universal symbol of peace. And you do still hear people say someone is as solid as an Oak. The Oak symbolizes bravery.

While the language of flowers and foliage is a dead language today, the dictionaries for this language still exist and inspire the more romantic, or devious, among us. If that includes you, here are some suggestions.

  • A bride’s bouquet of Blue Violets and Forget-Me-Nots surrounded by Ivy promises a faithful and true love within marriage.
  • A Cabbage Rose and Lupines sent ahead by a date means the person will arrive as an ambassador of love, voracious for your company.
  • To head off said ambassador you present them with a bouquet of Acacia Leaves and Orange Blossoms declaring that you are quite chaste (concerning them) and offering up friendship.
  • Someone who’s too bashful to tell you in person would send you Peonies and Variegated Tulips to tell you that you have beautiful eyes.
  • Watch out for an Oleander Branch with Lavender around a Tuberose. Someone could be trying to tell you to beware and to distrust dangerous pleasures.
  • But Hollyhock with Sweet-Peas means someone has ambitions for delicate pleasures.
  • A sweet arrangement is Buttercups with Daisies and Magnolia, communicating a childish, innocent, love of nature.
  • Even sweeter is Honeysuckle, meaning generous and devoted affection.
  • At a time of loss, Pansies with either Red Poppies, Marigolds or Pine Branches tell a person of your thoughts for them of consolation, despair and pity.
  • But if the person mourning responds with Mimosa and Elm branches, they’re telling you they’re still sensitive yet coping with dignity.
  • Decorating your doorway with Oak Branches would signify your hospitality to your party guests as they arrive.
  • And a gift bouquet for your party host of Sweet Basil, Parsley, Mint, and Sage will not only make the food more flavorful, but also send good wishes for the festivity, and praises the host for their virtue, especially their domestic virtues.
  • The earthy combination of Grass and Wheat stocks means there’s an expectation of big riches.
  • Sending a heart-breaker some Lettuce Leaves with Hydrangeas and one White Rose Bud so they’ll know you consider them a cold-hearted, boaster who’s heart is ignorant of love.

oak leafI’ll leave you with an Oak leaf with an Olive Branch, or the wish that you’re brave enough to seek peace where you now have strife.

Plants That Keep Giving

Florists Cineraria

Flowers and plants are always welcome as gifts, but no time is better than the Christmas and Winter Holidays. Plants can so liven up a room…and what better gift can you give than something that inspires happiness and peace?

Poinsettia

pointsettiaLegend has it that the first poinsettia bloomed on Christmas Eve. Hundreds of years ago, Franciscan priests used them in Nativity festivals. We enjoy their rich green leaves and bright red bracts as living Christmas decorations.  Poinsettias are wonderful gift plants, easy to keep alive, providing a fiery display during the grey days of winter. Actually, the red petals are colorful bracts framing tiny yellow blossoms. Newer varieties come in pink, white, and mottled shades, and usually grow to 3 feet (90 cm). To get a plant to bloom for Christmas, give it fourteen hours of uninterrupted darkness daily starting at the end of September.  Poinsettias grows best with high light with a temperature of approximately 60° to 85°F (15° to 29°C) and an average humidity of 25% or more. Can tolerate 35°F (2°C) without damage. Keep the potting mixture moist, but plant can tolerate some surface drying without damage.

Special Notes: Re-pot if plant becomes too large for pot, using well-aerated potting mixture containing 50% or more organic matter.  In addition, if tips and edges of leaves turn brown; raise humidity.

Jerusalem Cherry

jerusalem-cherryThe Jerusalem Cherry is the common name of a colorful little plant that is also known as the Christmas pepper. However, it is neither a cherry nor a pepper (its Latin name means “false pepper”), but a poisonous relative of the eggplant.  So long as children or pets don’t try to eat the marble-sized red, orange, or yellow fruit, the Jerusalem cherry can be a cheery gift for a winter birthday. It flowers from July to September and produces its fruit during November and December.  The cherries may cling to the plant for two months or so. Save the seeds for gift plants next Christmas.  Jerusalem Cherry grows well in high light with a temperature of approximately 60° to 85°F (15° to 29°C) and an average humidity of 25% or more. Can tolerate 35°F (2°C) without damage. Allow the surface of the potting mixture to dry out between watterings.

Special Notes: Pinch back tips of new growth to stimulate bushiness. Re-pot if plant becomes too large for pot, using well-aerated potting mixture containing 50% or more organic matter.  Also, if few flowers appear, move to higher light. Check for spider mites on undersides of leaves; if present, spray with appropriate pesticide.

Florist’s Cineraria

senecio-cinerariaCineraria is a Cinderella present with a real color kick. These are bright and bushy little spring-blooming plants with deep green leaves covered with white, blue, or purple hairs, and immense clusters of velvety daisy like flowers.  The blossoms may be white, pink, red, blue, or purple, with blue or white centers and rings of contrasting colors-a real rainbow for a sunny windowsill. Plant them annually-they’ll show off their best colors and you’ll be able to pick your presents literally! These plants require cool, temperate conditions for continual growth.Florist’s Cineraria grow best with high light with a temperature of approximately 50° to 70°F (10° to 21°C) and an average humidity of 25% or more. Can tolerate 35°F (2°C) without damage. Allow the surface of the potting mixture to dry out between watering.

Special Notes: Re-pot if plant becomes too large for pot, using well-aerated potting mixture containing 50% or more organic matter.  Also, check carefully for spider mites on undersides of leaves; if present, spray with appropriate pesticide.

Choosing the Perfect Market Umbrella

Market Umbrella

Whether you want a classy, sophisticated, or even a fun look, a market umbrella can be a great addition to practically any indoor or outdoor space. You can use a market umbrella outdoors to provide extra shade, comfort, and style or use indoors as an unconventional accent piece.

The versatility of a market umbrella makes it one of the most popular styles of umbrellas available today. People all over the world have discovered the practicality, functionality, and style of  market umbrellas, using them in their homes, yards, and even businesses.

What Type of Market Umbrella is right for me?

When selecting a market style umbrella you will have to decide between a wood or aluminum frame in addition to choosing from an array of colors and fabrics. Knowing the difference between the two frames will help you choose the right umbrella.

  • Aluminum Market Umbrella: If you choose an aluminum market umbrella, you will probably have a tilt option that enables you to adjust the direction and position of your umbrella.
  • Wood Market Umbrella: An umbrella that has a wood frame will most likely use a pulley system to open and close. Typically, a wood market umbrella does not have a tilt option.

A Note About Fabrics

Outdoor Fabrics

Cabana Outdoor Fabrics by Perennial

As you shop for a market umbrella, you will quickly discover that there is a large selection of fabrics. Be sure to choose fabrics that are UV, weather, and fade resistant. Consider fabrics for your market umbrella that will keep you cool as well as stylish.  For instance:

Caring for your Market Umbrella

Despite the fact that a market umbrella is built to withstand most weather conditions, it is always a good idea to close your umbrella while not in use. To keep your umbrella looking like new, you may even consider purchasing a cover for it.

Patio Furniture – A Backyard Must-Have

Outdoor Furniture

Every backyard or deck needs patio furniture, especially if you enjoy outdoor entertaining. The right patio furniture enables you to spend quality time in your yard, relaxing, eating, or talking with family and friends.

Selecting the right patio furniture

When shopping for patio furniture you will have to decide whether you want to mix and match individual pieces or purchase furniture that is sold as a set. Patio furniture sets are convenient because they often include a table and chairs for one price. However, purchasing individual pieces of patio furniture lets you create an individual look for your home.

The next decision you will have to make when purchasing patio furniture is what type of material you want.

  • Wrought Iron: Patio furniture made of wrought iron is as beautiful as it is durable. Typically, wrought iron furniture features distinctive curves that give it an appealing and contemporary look.
  • Cast Aluminum: Also very durable and resistant to rust is patio furniture made of cast aluminum. Typically, cast aluminum patio furniture is a bit cheaper than wrought iron patio furniture and fairly comparable in quality.
  • Wood: Patio furniture made of wood also is an option. Wood patio furniture is comfortable and perfect for barbecues.
  • Plastic: Incredibly low maintenance, plastic patio furniture is family-friendly and very durable.
  • Wicker: Known for its elegance, wicker patio furniture often is treated to endure the elements, but is better off in a covered setting like a sun-room.

How much does patio furniture cost?

The cost of patio furniture varies based on a number of factors, including material, size, and style. As you budget for patio furniture be sure to consider any accessories that you might like such as umbrellas.

To protect your investment, make sure the patio furniture is designed for outdoor use and inquire about maintenance. Proper care can help keep your patio furniture looking like new for years to come.

Chaise Lounge Styles

Madame Récamier by Jacques-Louis David

Straight from Shangri La, chaise lounge chairs offer total comfort and full adjust-ability. Sit up and read or lie flat to soak up some sun. Whatever you wish, the chaise lounge chair is at your service.

Beach chairs beware!

One key feature of chaise lounge chairs is you can relax in any position you wish. Sit up and gaze into the sea. When the time is right, fold the chaise lounge beach chair flat and lie on your stomach or back. Relax and get that perfect tan you’ve been waiting for.

Several sensuous styles

rattan chaise lounge

Rattan Chaise Lounge

Chaise lounge chairs come in styles the fit your special needs. For enjoyment at the pool or lake, consider a choice from these select models:

  • Folding chaise lounge: Lightweight and portable, these beach chairs provide the attention you deserve. A collapsible model that does not lie totally flat, this model still adjusts to three comfortable positions.
  • Mini chaise lounge: Sit close to the sand with this beautiful beach chair! Adjustable to four positions including flat, choose the exact comfortable angle for you. Be sure to take advantage of towel racks and other convenient features.
  • Sling chaise lounge hammock: No trees required. Completely free-standing, this portable beach chair is great anywhere you go!
  • Ergonomic chaise lounge: No position is uncomfortable on this magical chair. Made to alleviate aches and pains you never knew you had.
  • Floataway chaise lounge: Hanging from decks or trees, this chair is up in the clouds! Spread your body out with arm and foot rests. Weightlessness is that easy.

Any day at the beach is relaxing. Make yours divine with a chaise lounge beach chair, and feel comfort in an unbelievable light!

Image: Madame Récamier by Jacques-Louis David

Are You Looking for a Charcoal or Gas Grill?

Gas Grill

Statistics show that 81% of all U.S. households own a barbecue grill. The numbers are almost split evenly, with slightly more than half owning gas grills and about 47% charcoal. Both will adequately grill a burger, but the charcoal vs. gas debate remains a heated one.

Fans of charcoal say that the smoky flavor enhances the taste of your food and swear by the simplicity of the charcoal grilling experience. (Charcoal briquettes, lighter fluid, and a little patience while the coals heat up are all you need to grill a juicy burger.)

Those who favor gas grills do so because you can begin cooking within a few minutes of firing up your grill. To fully explore the argument of charcoal vs. gas, read on.

Charcoal grills: fire the old-fashioned way

Charcoal Grill

Charcoal Grill

Outdoor charcoal grills are traditionally round or oval shaped, and are made of coated steel to prevent rust. Some charcoal grills are also decked out with convenient side trays and wheels so they can easily be moved around the patio.

The charcoal briquettes sit on a rack inside the bowl below the actual cooking grate. Lighter fluid is the most common way to light the charcoal, however, you can also use a chimney starter charcoal grill that uses newspaper to light the charcoal.

Be sure to evenly distribute the coals so that you achieve even heating throughout the grilling surface. Once the fire is lit, the coals should be ready for cooking in about 15 minutes.

Gas grills: flame at the touch of a button

Gas grills use either liquid propane or natural gas as fuel. Because of their complex design and use of mechanical parts, gas grills are generally more expensive that charcoal grills. The most popular materials used in gas grill construction are cast aluminum and heavy gauge #304 stainless steel because they retain heat well and are non-corrosive.

Higher-end gas grills are often “double walled,” which means that the hood is made of two pieces of steel or aluminum with a small air gap in between. Often, gas grills come with a stand or wheeled cart but are made to fit into a permanent frame or counter top space. These built-in gas grills are popular in outdoor kitchens and patios and have the same cooking performance as grills you see on carts or pedestals.

Choosing between a charcoal and gas grill is largely a matter of convenience and personal preference. Deciding which one makes better-tasting food? That’s the hard part.

History of Adirondack Chairs – A charming past

adirondack-chair

In a little town called Westport near Lake Champlain in the Adirondack mountains the Adirondack chair was born. Nearby Blue Lake, NY is home to the Adirondack Museum, which preserves the history of Adirondack chairs.

Trial and error

A man named Thomas Lee had a large family who spent time outdoors, but they didn’t have reliable outdoor seating option. In 1903 Lee finally got fed up and started experimenting with his own design. On the lawn in front of his family’s house, he built and tested chairs until he had the final product, and Adirondack chairs were born.

Harry Bunnell

HC Burnell Adirondack Chair

HC Burnell Adirondack Chair

The first carpenter to produce the chair was Harry Bunnell, a local Westport man to whom Thomas Lee took his design. While Lee mostly wanted the chair for his own family’s enjoyment, Bunnell saw opportunity for a market in the summer’s many visitors to the mountains.

The Adirondack chair quickly became popular all over the region. Bunnelle experimented with new designs in different sizes as well. His first chairs were made of hemlock, painted brown or green, and signed by the carpenter himself. Those original Bunnell Adirondacks today sell for up to $2000, up from the original four bucks he charged in the early 1900s.

The Adirondack story continues

The Adirondack chair is at the core of today’s favorite outdoor American furniture. The Adirondack chair style is now seen in other pieces of furniture as well, including porch swings, garden benches, and rocking chairs. Some things are too good to go away, and Thomas Lee and Harry Bunnell’s Adirondack chair design is one of those things!