Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Flower Etiquette

Flowers are great gifts for practically any occasion, but there are some basic rules of flower etiquette.  This is a small list I compiled to help you know how to send what you are trying to say.
Red Roses: Red roses are always a great gift for
for practically any occasion or for no occasion at all. Indeed the power of “I love you” behind long stemmed red roses given to a significant other is a winner for any occasion, and is especially powerful when given for no occasion at all. The red rose signifies “romantic love”, so it may be a bit much in some cases. However, most will find that red roses are a consistent winner.  I always suggest to match the quantity to the relationship.  Send to many roses after a first date and you might scare them away. 

Yellow Roses: Yellow roses are the flower of friendship. They are a perfect gift for a co-worker or sibling. However, they might be too timid to express romantic interest. They do not express the romanticism of the red rose.  If you are ordering from another state, it is always appropriate to send "The Yellow Rose of Texas" for any occasion.

Pink Roses: Pink roses are the flowers of secret love. They are a perfect medium between the friendship of a yellow rose, and the romantic love of the red rose. They express a secret love, and should not be mistaken purely as a friendship gift like the yellow rose.

White Roses: White roses are the flowers of innocent love. They are ideal for family members and family occasions, even funerals.  Recently all white rose arrangements have become very popular.  They look absolutely stunning with eucalyptus and fern.

Carnations: Carnations are the flower of fascination. They are an ideal flower to give to a romantic interest that has not yet blossomed into a relationship.  Carnations are also one of the most fragrant flowers a florist has.  The color variety is wonderful.  Also, a carnation will stay beautiful a very long time.  For a cute, yet inexpensive arrangement carnations with daisies is the way to go.

Orchids: Orchids are the flowers of love and beauty. They can be given for practically any occasion to practically anybody. Orchids are universally appealing flowers that do not carry significant meaning for most occasions.

Daisy: Daisies are the flowers of loyal love. They are a perfect flower to give to a mother on Mother’s Day, or for any occasion.  Daisies come in a variety of colors and with fresh water and proper room temperature, will last a long time.

Lily: The Lily is the flower of purity and sweetness. It is an ideal flower to give to a niece or daughter.  Usually on one stem of a Lilly there are multiple blooms.  So when you are at the florist you can tell how fresh the Lilly is by how many blooms are open.  With proper care a stem can last quite a few days as the blooms continue to open.

Chrysanthemum: The Chrysanthemum is a flower of friendship, so it will go well on any occasion, but may not be ideal for expressing romantic interest.

Flowers are great gifts, and it is difficult to do too much wrong when getting flowers for anybody. But if you follow the etiquette noted above, you will be able to express yourself better with flowers.

Sympathy Etiquette
How do I know what is appropriate when ordering flowers for a funeral?
Sympathy tributes vary region to region, so it is best to ask your florist what he or she recommends. Sometimes a florist will know what the family has ordered or what other tributes are being sent, and can create something for you that will be a nice complement to the other flowers. The florist should also be familiar with any restrictions the funeral home or cemetery might have. Some funeral homes are very strict on the size of the arrangement and more specifically what kind of container it can be in.

I have seen a lot of different styles of floral arrangements at funeral services lately. What is best? How do I order a “special” design?
Highly personalized sympathy tributes that depict an aspect of a person’s essence are a growing trend. If the deceased was a man who loved the outdoors, perhaps a tribute incorporating branches and natural materials would be ideal. If the deceased was an avid gardener, a tribute with a collection of garden flowers may be a perfect choice. Be prepared to give the florist a few hints about the person you want to memorialize. If you prefer to send a design that is more a reflection of your style, be sure to communicate that to the florist. Most flower shops will have photos of traditional sympathy styles for you to peruse.  On my website I try to incorporate some of my own photos of items we have made.  Most florists now carry a wide array of things that can be incorporated into an arrangement.  Items such as, crosses, angels, tapestry, hunting and fishing, sports and numerous other ideas.

Is it okay to send flowers to the family’s home? If so, when is it appropriate to send them?
Absolutely. This is a wonderful way to express your sympathy and is a common trend. Some people choose to send flowers to the home immediately while others prefer to wait a week or more. There are no rules. Flowers can be a very comforting reminder during the grieving process that friends haven’t forgotten.  It is appropriate any time to send items to the home.  This is usually done if you are a close intimate friend of the family.

Is it still appropriate to send flowers if the death notice mentions a charitable donation?
Yes. Because flowers help say what is often difficult to express, they are always appropriate and in good taste. Flowers also play a functional role, adding warmth to the service and providing the visible emotional support that the family needs during this time.

Is it acceptable to send roses or flowers in a glass vase to the funeral home?
From an etiquette standpoint this is perfectly acceptable; however, some funeral homes have rules about certain types of arrangements. Your florist will be familiar with what each funeral home allows.  In Tyler, we do not deliver glass vases to the funeral home.

If several of us want to go in together for funeral flowers, how do we sign our names so the family knows how to thank us?
When groups go in together on flowers, the arrangements can be very special and make a larger showing. There should be room on the floral enclosure card for several names, but if there’s not enough space it is best to sign as a group, such as “The Girls in Accounting” or “The Smith Family.” Include a contact name and address on the card so the family knows who to thank.  We have recently started asking for the acknowledgement address to put on the card.  This makes it so much easier for the family.

Where did the tradition of sending funeral flowers come from?
Flowers have always played an important role in burial traditions because of their soothing qualities. In ancient cultures, floral and herb essences were used to anoint the bodies of the deceased and aromatic flowers and greens were displayed.

Is it appropriate to send a plant to the funeral home? If so, will the funeral home send it to the family after the service?
Yes, it is appropriate to send a green or flowering plant. Some funeral homes will deliver plants or flowers to the home if specified. In some cases, the florist may make arrangements to pick up the plant after the services and deliver it to the family. Otherwise, the funeral director will simply notify the family members that they may take the plants with them after the service. Check with your florist to see what is customary for your area.

If I want to place a tribute in or on the casket, what should I do?
This tradition is usually reserved for family members or special loved ones. Ask the family before ordering anything for the casket. Your florist can offer suggestions for other special tributes.

What is appropriate to send for a cremation?
A tastefully designed floral tribute adds beauty to any type of memorial service. It is common for the family to have an arrangement designed for display with the urn. Because cremation is quite common in an increasing number of regions, many florists will have specific suggestions.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring in Tyler-The Azalea Trails

If you did not grow up in Tyler you may be wondering what is an Azalea Trail, or an Azalea Belle?  In Tyler we have celebrated the spring show of beautiful blooming plants for 56 years.  We have a queen, a parade, a tea and numerous other events.  Many festivities and much hoopla are enjoyed surrounding the trails.
Historic home tours are my favorite.  Families that live on the trails open their homes to hundreds of people.  Allowing us a brief glimpse into their home, a docent tells the history of the neighborhood and their home.  There are many historical places on the tour.  Typically, the houses are close together and you can walk from one to the other.
Timing is everything for the trails.  From year to year the weather is always a major event.  We all hope that for the 3 weeks of the blooms there will be no wind, hail or other damaging weather.  I have seen all kinds, and then the poor plants are pitiful with their blooms barely hanging on.

Below is a link that gives all the details for dates and times of the trail.  There are many special events that you can enjoy.

This is a group photo of the Azalea Bells.  They provide much to the atmosphere of the trails.  Dressed in Victorian era gowns, they smile and wave with their fans while the tourists are passing by.  All the little girls want to get their picture taken with the "princess".

Our shop is located right off one of the starting points of the trail.  We have been at this location since 1940, so we have seen every year.  It has been amazing to watch through the years.  The residents on the trail take great pride in their yards.  It really is like walking through a garden paradise.

Azaleas and other blooming plants do very well in East Texas due to the high humidity and lots of sunshine and our winters being somewhat mild.  They need to be planted in well drained soil.  You can use pine straw on top of the roots under the bush to protect the roots from drought and frost.  Your most important step in planting azaleas is to make sure the soil is ready.  Use a garden soil and add plenty of peat moss, or finely ground pine bark mulch.  Their favorite spot is in partial sun.  Too much afternoon sun and it will scorch the leaves, too little sun and they will not bloom.  There are numerous kinds and colors to choose from.  With a little shopping around you should be able to find something that fits with your garden perfectly.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Excessive Spring Rain

Well, this spring in East Texas we are dealing with excessive rain.  I have been wondering what happens when the ground and plants can no longer soak up all this water.  Will it damage the yard, the flowerbeds?  During seasons of drought we have to replace a lot of outdoor plants when they die.  So now the question is, will plants die due to excessive moisture?

I researched this idea and came up with the following answers.  What I discovered is overly wet ground and air causes diseases via fungal and bacteria pathogens.  The first signs you might notice of plants with these problems are black spots on leaves and decay on the plant.  Also affected will be the pollinators.  The pollinators are what produce flowers and allow for fruit to be produced.  As the plant shows signs of these problems it will begin to wilt and look sick.

anthracnoseThis is an example of spotting due to excessive water.  Anthracnose fungi is a disease of evergreen trees.  If this disease is not stopped it will affect the whole tree and possibly lead to the death of the tree.  If you notice this, create a drainage area for your trees if possible.  

This picture is an example of Powdery Mildew.  Sunlight and heat will kill this fungus. There are some types of chemicals and oils you can use to kill it.  Such as Neem Oil, Organic Fungicides with bacillus subtillis, and sulfur.  The need to be applied when you will have 24 hours of no rain.
The good news is most plants are in the just waking up from dormancy stage.  Because of this, they do not have much foliage and a lot of the fungus type diseases need foliage to attach to.   The best thing for your flower beds would be to have them in a raised bed.  This way the plants are always in a great drainage situation even in the worst of rainy weather.

If you find yourself in a situation where your plants are drowning during this spring you can create a quick drainage route for your bed.  You need to determine which way the area of your yard drains that you are having problems in.  Once there has been a heavy rain, go outside and determine which way your yard naturally drains.  For the time being, try to divert the excess water away from the flowerbeds with a small trench or large pvc pipe.

Most likely you will not have any long term bad effects from the moisture we have had this spring.  It seems to have been spread out over the days enough to allow for drainage.  If you do see negative effects attend to your plants immediately to ward off any long term damage.  I am sure this summer when it is dry and hot we will wish we had some of this rain.  In the meantime, watch your plants carefully and help them make it through this season.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Holiday Countdown

     Here we are, one week from Thanksgiving again.  I hope you have your menu ready and are on your diet now so that when the big day is here you can eat a lot!  We are getting ready this week for a busy next week.  Usually this time of year people are sending their loved ones something festive for the holiday such as a cornucopia or a beautiful centerpiece for the table.  This is a cornucopia on the left that I  made using artificial fruit with fresh flowers.  It really brightens up a room with the Thanksgiving theme.
Fall Harvest Cornucopia in Tyler TX, The Flower BoxGraceful Glow Centerpiece in Tyler TX, The Flower Box
     If you receive an arrangement for the holidays you will need a few helpful tips to help keep it beautiful as long as possible.  Most importantly, water.  Fresh flowers will not last without water.  Make sure and water your arrangement at least once a day. At home, I add one cap full of bleach to a gallon of water.  The bleach keeps the bacteria from growing, but will not harm the flowers.  Be very careful though and use the bleach sparingly.  Depending on how warm your environment is, you might need to water twice a day.  Find a spot for your arrangement and leave it there, if possible. The less it gets moved around the better.  Fresh stems are fragile when they are bumped and jostled around.  Make sure there are no heat vents blowing directly on your flowers.  The warmer the air, the faster your flowers will age.
     As the arrangement begins to age you can pull out the old flowers and rearrange the remaining flowers to manage the bouquet.  This will give your arrangement the effect that it is not aging as fast.  Fresh flowers are easy to move inside the bouquet.  Simply, pull out the stem clip it then put the stem back in the oasis or green foam.
     Hopefully these tips will help you keep your flowers beautiful.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and that you will consider adding some fresh flowers to your home to welcome your guests.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Florist's Point of View

     I have been thinking a lot lately about Black Friday.  When did this happen?  When did consumers decide this was a great idea?   I am sure the employees of the giant corporations do not receive any benefit from being at their appointed station at some crazy hour of the night.  I have not even mentioned the battle for the on-line shopper.  On my Amazon account they have been advertising for weeks. Trust me, those random on-line businesses have no interest in you or if what you bought is what you wanted.  My thought is what if all those shoppers shopped locally in the East Texas area.  Think back to 1975, the choices were limited as to where you would buy your gifts.  The Flower Box and The Flower Market were both flourishing businesses then.  
     One of the things I try to tell people about my job is the relationships we have with our customers go beyond the surface.  We have all been working here for years and years.  We have sent baby door bows to the hospital and we have made wedding bouquets for that same baby years later.  When you shop locally your community benefits from the bond of friendship.  A florist is not the only store that could tell this story.  Think of a baker that made the wedding cake, the baby shower cake, and then the wedding cake for the baby.  Our customers are more like family, they have known us since we were all young. Haha.  

     These are pictures of both shops in the mid 1970's.  This brings back a lot of memories for me.  Who would have ever thought all these years later I would be working here all my adult life.  
     I know as a consumer in today's world it might be hard to believe, but we enjoy seeing our customers. When they call or come by the shop there are always the obvious questions of "how have you been?" etc.  We love to celebrate with them, we also mourn with them.  Some of our customers have been coming to The Flower Box since they were in high school and going to their senior prom in 1950.  I guess what I am trying to convey to you is not all purchases can be made on a random internet site.  Yes, I have a website and I receive a lot of orders through it.  But, at the same time I have many many customers call from my website to discuss what they want to purchase.  You see, a floral purchase is special.  It is different than just ordering a blouse off of a website somewhere.  When you purchase flowers, the designer is going to convey your feelings into a special bouquet.  This cannot be bought off a website after someone in a foreign country has handled or mishandled your order.  The foundation of my job is to take your words, your thoughts, feelings, ideas and emotion and put that into a physical form for the world to see.  Whether you purchase roses, plants, tapestries, angels, a cross or something you imagined and we created, it is special to you.          When you purchase from a local florist, bakery, pharmacy etc you know you are in good hands because you have a relationship with them.  
     A picture on a random website does not always mean your local florist can create what a computer generated.  This generation of flower buyers have been tricked.  A computer can produce an amazing picture.  Our real life flowers have flaws, spots, in other words they are not perfect.  Please take this into consideration when you receive a bouquet that I created after you ordered from tim buck two.   I try my best, but I am no comparison to computer perfection.
     This holiday season as you are gathering your presents please consider shopping local.  There are a multitude of shopping adventures withing a 100 mile radius of Tyler.  You would have the most unique gifts under your tree.  We could create the most beautiful centerpiece for your table.  The main thing is you would create a relationship with people in your community you would have never met through a computer screen or on a black Friday mad rush.  You will stimulate the East Texas economy, you will help local families provide jobs for the community.  There are numerous reasons to shop local.  My favorite one is so we can meet you and celebrate all the upcoming events in your life.  Consider shopping local this coming year as much as you can.  We do not need to send our $$ to foreign countries so they can pay their phone operators a meager portion and then the corporation keeps the rest.  I hope if you read this you can understand a little more about our mission here.  If you can imagine it, we can create it.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Remembrance Day Poppy (Nov. 11)

     Remembrance day, also known as Armistice day is celebrated November 11 of each year.  Originally this day was set aside to honor the soldiers who died in WWI in the European campaigns.  The poem "In Flanders Fields"  describes some of the worst fighting in Europe.  The end of WWI hostilities came on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the Treaty of Versailles was signed.  In America we honor living veterans on Veterans Day which coincides on November 11th.  Congress changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954.  A WWII veteran petitioned Congress to have a day to honor all Veterans.  His name was Raymond Weeks.  He hosted the first Veterans day celebration and continued to hold an annual celebration until he passed in 1985.

     This poem made the pinning of the poppies a tradition for years.  The bright red poppies that grew wild in the fields where the hardest fighting had taken place bloomed every year.  For four consecutive years the flowers were so trampled by the fighting that they could not bloom.  When they were able to return to blooming we are told that there were more blooms than anyone had ever seen.  They were first used by the American Legion and then the tradition spread across the world.  The poppy symbolized the soldiers memory of war and the blood covered fields.

Image result for red poppy picImage result for red poppy pic  Image result for red poppy pic

     This link will take you to an online store that you can buy poppy seeds.  It also explains the difference in different kinds of poppies.  They are native to Europe and North Africa, but I'm sure you could get some started here.
     I can remember as a child different organizations selling felt or paper poppies to wear on your lapel. These ladies would be outside of the grocery store with their table selling all the paper and felt flowers they had made.  We would always purchase some and proudly wear them on Veterans Day.  Wouldn't it be to get this tradition started again.  On Tuesday November 11 we could all wear our poppies.

Image result for felt red poppyThis is a picture of a felt red poppy.  If you look on Google or Pinterest I'm sure there are numerous tips on how to make these.

     This year on Veterans Day let us all take a moment to honor these men and women who fought for our freedom. Shake someone's hand and tell them Thank You.  Also, take a few minutes to learn about the meaning behind this day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A "Fresh" Bouquet

     As I go around Tyler I look in the flower coolers at various stores.  I'm not necessarily looking at the design of the bouquets, but at the freshness of the flowers in the bouquet.  Sometimes I see beautiful flowers, sometimes I see bouquets that have been there a few days and sometimes I even think "those are going to lose all their petals before they get home".  This last scenario is what gives buying flowers a bad name.  With proper care your bouquet should last quite a few days.  But if you buy it when it's next to dead, they won't last but a few hours.  The flowers and bouquets always have a perishable shelf life.  Typically this is 4 to 7 days in optimal temperatures.  In a display cooler they should be kept at 45 to 50 degrees.  This is not always easy to do with people opening the doors and the age of the cooler, it might not be able to keep cool with demand.  There are ways you can tell if the bouquet is fresh, medium, or gone.  

     1)  The water should be clear and not have any thick sediments in it or have a smell.  All vase arrangements will have things floating in the vase due to the stems of the flowers.  But, it should not look like pond water.  You can hold the flowers in the vase and pour the old water out daily.  Then immediately add new water.  Even if you put the "flower food" in the water it will still need to be changed daily.  

     2)  The stems on the flowers should be crisp.  When you look at the arrangement or the bouquet of cut stem flowers the stems should be free from slime, and the leaves on the stem should be green.  If the flowers are old the stem will be flimsy and beginning to smell and be slick and the leaves will be starting to curl and turn black.(Gross, I know!)
     3)  The actual bloom of the flower should be attached to the stem securely if you touch it.  It should be full of color and look more like a bud than a full blown flower.  The bloom should not be transparent.  If you can see the veins in the bloom it is old.  If the individual petals are not full of color it is old.

     Having fresh flowers in your home is always a great idea.  Just be sure that you are getting the best quality for your money.  Of course I would recommend going to your local florist.  We all sell stems of flowers or bouquets already made for you to choose from.  
This star gazer lily is just at it's peak.  It will only last 2 days or so.  The bloom is fully opened and the pollen has turned to dust on the stem.  You can pull the pollen off to keep the dust off the blooms.
And this star gazer is on it's last hurrah.  The petals  probably fell off right after this picture was taken.
This is a picture of a beautiful stem.  This has the three stages you are looking for...fully open, slightly opened  and closed.  With proper water the buds will bloom and this stem will last a week or more.

     These are just pictures of one kind of flower, but the above mentioned rules will work on any flower.  When you are choosing your bouquet, take a few minutes to look at the whole arrangement, front and back.  Make sure what you are buying is fresh and going to last you a few days.  Notice if the floral department looks like a worker has not been in the area for days.  If the area is in disarray, they are for sure not taking care of the flowers.  Most stores that provide flowers and plants do not have an employee that knows how to care for flowers or plants.   A florist has fresh arrangements to choose from in their cooler all the time.   My turnover in my cooler is quick, so my arrangements are always fresh.
     I hope this has helped some when you are about town trying to find a fresh bouquet of flowers for your home.  With a little caution and focus you can find flowers in an European hand styled bouquet or a bouquet in a container that should last quite a few days.  Once you find a store that consistently sells fresh flowers, you will have won half the battle.