Floral Inspired Easter Decorations

Easter is just around the corner and presents the perfect opportunity for a weekend of ‘crafting’. Create Easter-themed decorations to spruce your abode, entertain over the holidays, or as an activity to amuse your kids, with our eggs-ellent ideas and inspirations below!

Pretty Pastel Decorated Easter Eggs    Gorgeous Decorated Easter Eggs

DECORATING EGGS – THE BASICS

One. Prepare the Egg

To boil or not to boil? You can decorate hard boiled eggs, however if you’d prefer your craft project to not have an ‘eggs-piry’ date so to speak, we recommend draining their yolk and scrambling that part for breakfast!

Note: If decorating eggs with small children, hard boiled is probably a safer option. Less breakage, that sort of thing. For a rather useful guide to dying eggs with little kids, check out these tips on UK blog ‘No Twiddle Twaddle’.

Two. Choose your Design Purpose.

Place your decorated Easter eggs in rustic terracotta pots and baskets, mossy bird nests, egg cartons or simple egg cups to make cute table centrepieces for a party.

Eggs for Easter Easter Nest   Decorated Easter Eggs in Carton

Or string them together to create a sweet garland for hanging along a feature wall.

Suspending decorated eggs from a tree branch to create an ‘Easter Tree’ looks adorable too. So many options for a lazy Sunday afternoon session…

Easter Eggs    Easter

Three. Choose your Design ‘Look’

Hand died, hand painted, spray painted, decoupaged, tied…. We have created a beautiful mood board on Pinterest with all sorts of floral inspired Easter decorations.

Easter egg ideaas

How to Dye Hard Boiled Eggs

What You Need

Hard-boiled eggs
Paper towel or newspaper
Bowl or cup deep enough to completely submerge an egg
Tongs, egg dipper, or slotted spoon
1/2 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Liquid food coloring (about 20 drops per color)

Method
  • Start with cool hard-boiled eggs.
  • Protect your surface by covering with a sheet of newspaper or paper towel.
  • Fill container with the mixture of water, vinegar, and food coloring.
  • Place egg on spoon and dunk, turning occasionally so both sides get color. Keep in liquid for up to 5 minutes, leave in longer for a darker hue.
  • Carefully remove the egg and set aside to dry, voila!

Hand Died Eggs    Dyed Eggs

How to Prepare ‘Blown’ Eggs
  • Wash and dry a raw egg.
  • Insert a long needle into the large end of the egg to make a small hole. Twist the needle as you push it into the eggshell as far as you can while still grasping it.
  • Use the needle to make a slightly larger hole in the small end.
  • Push the needle into the center of the egg and move it around to break the yolk.
  • Hold the egg over a bowl with the small end down.
  • Place your lips over the hole at the large end of the egg and blow firmly until all the egg comes out the hole at the small end.
  • Rinse out the egg by running a thin stream of water into the larger hole.
  • Blow out the water the same way that you blew out the egg.
  • To dry the eggshell, prop it up in a dish drainer with the large end facing down.

Easter eggs & flowers

Excited? Here are some handy websites for further ideas and instructions on decorating Easter eggs:

http://www.brit.co/40-easter-eggs/

Now get cracking!

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Tulips Got Talent

Did you know that tulips can dance? Yes, you read correctly. Tulips ‘dance’. When those straight up-and-down soldier stems are popped into a vase they naturally turn into graceful tulip-ballerinas, bending, stretching and curving in all directions.

We like to call it ‘dancing in their vase’. Unlike other flowers, cut tulips actually continue to grow in length when placed in water. Their stems grow upwards, causing them to bend and bow in the vase in a special ‘tulip dance’.

Tulips   Tulips in vase

There is a scientific term if we really want to get to the nitty gritty of the tulip dancing phenomena… Known as ‘phototropism’, the ‘dance movement’ occurs as the stems grow upward, while the large flowers respond and grow towards the light. (1)

And while we’re bursting with facts here, tulip flowers open wide during the day and close at night. You just never know, tidbits of information like this can be supremely handy for Pub Trivia!

Red & white tulips

So next time you see a bunch of straight-stemmed tulips with small tight heads, be rest assured that once you peel off their snug wrapping and place them in water, their stems will droop, curve and bend, while their heads will grow larger as they open. No need to fret. This is perfectly normal. Graceful even. In our world, beautifully artistic!

Caring for Cut Tulips

Tulips are thirsty little critters. To make sure your cut tulips last as long as possible, either top up the vase or change the water daily to maximise vase life.

Handy Tip: Place tulips in a clear vase so you can keep an eagle eye on the water level!

Before arranging them in a vase, cut around 1/4 inch off their stems at an angle with a sharp knife or pair of scissors. This will help open up the tulip’s ability to ‘suck’ water inside, so to speak.

Peel off any leaves that may be submerged in the water, to prevent them from rotting and causing the flowers to go limp.

Tulips

Make sure your vases has been thoroughly cleaned with warm, soapy water to remove any bacteria.

Fill vase with cool water, and your tulips will thank you! Tulips do not like warm or hot water.

With proper care, tulips should open and last from three to seven days. Keep away from sources of heat (including direct sunlight, radiators, lamps and television sets). (1)

Tulips in nested basket    Pink blush tulips

The Perfect Tulip Vase

There is an art to making the tulip dance perfectly, and that is in the choice of vase you display them in. A tall vase that is at least half the height of the tulip stems when you bring them home is perfect. If you choose a shorter vase, your tulip stems will bend over more, which does look beautiful, but may shorten the vase life of your tulips.

Vibrant Tulips    Tulips in blue vase

Also make sure the vase provides enough room for each stem to ‘breathe’. If the tulips are ‘crushing’ each other it is more likely to create premature petal dropping.

Handy Tip: Back in the ‘days’ it was recommended to place a copper penny in a tulip vase to increase their lifespan. As it’s not so easy to get your hands on these nowadays, we recommend using ‘flower food’ supplied by florists. (2)

Tulips are currently in season and at their best. Enjoy them while you can! Tulips make beautiful gifts for mum on Mother’s Day too. Check out our gorgeous gift wrapped pink tulips for mum.

References

1. http://gardening.about.com/od/craftsanddecor/qt/TulipCare.htm

2. http://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-Fresh-Cut-Tulips

Poisonous Flowers & Pets

If you have a curious cat or a cheeky puppy at home, bear in mind that some bouquets may contain poisonous flowers to pets and should be placed in spots they cannot reach.

Below are a few common flowers we all love to display in the home that are toxic to cats and/or dogs. It’s not about never enjoying these particular flowers again, but being wise to their potential dangers and exercising common sense when displaying them.

LILIES

We have listed this first due to their common use in bouquets  year-round, as well as the fact they are extremely toxic to cats. According to the RSPCA, even ingesting the smallest part of any of the lily plant may cause intoxication and death, despite the best treatments by vets.

If you own an indoor cat, make sure to place lilies high up, in areas that they do not jump, or are not allowed to go. Keeping a spray bottle of water at hand to spritz the cat if they go near them may be a good idea.

Toxic lilies include Asian, Day, Easter (November), Gloriosa, Peace, Oriental, Stargazer, Belladonna and Tiger.

CYCLAMEN

An extremely popular plant for gifts during the cooler months of autumn and winter. Any part of the plant (especially the tubers and roots) is mild to moderately toxic to both cats and dogs if ingested.

Cyclamen plants

CALLA LILY

The Calla lily expels a mild to moderate toxicity unlike the other lily types listed above, and can impact on both cats and dogs.

Calla lily     Calla lilly Cally lily

DAFFODILS

Fun loving daffodils are an extremely popular cut flower come spring, however can be mild to moderate in toxicity for both cats and dogs if any part of the bulb, flower or leaf is ingested.

Daffodils    Jonquils in pots

Now not all cats and dogs are avid flower nibblers and vase sniffers. However, regardless of whether your bouquet contains toxic or non-toxic blooms, it’s always a good idea to try and train your pets into leaving your vases and pot plants alone, just to be on the safe side.

If you would like to learn more about potentially toxic flowers and plants for pets, an extensive list can be found by clicking here.

References

http://www.rspcansw.org.au/learn/pet-hazards/toxic-plants-for-pets

Caring for Cymbidiums: ‘The King of Orchids’

Pronounced “Sim-bid-iums”, the Cymbidium is considered orchid royalty.

Affectionately known in the florist industry as ‘cymbids’, these exotic ‘King of Orchids’ come in an amazing variety of colours, from burnt orange, buttery yellow, gold and rich chocolate, to burgundy, white, rose pink and lime green.

Pricier than most, the cut Cymbidium flower can provide anywhere from two to three weeks of enjoyment, actually making them excellent value (potted plants can last even longer). And as annuals, potted Cymbidium orchids will re-bloom year after year if our simple care instructions are followed.

Now some of you may be reading this who have not had any success in the past getting your Cymbidium orchid to re-flower. But according to the Australian Orchid Nursery, something as simple as moving your plant to a position of higher light can encourage it to come into bloom. [1]

Check out some of these unusual varieties below!

Did you Know?

A healthy well-grown orchid will produce flowers spikes every year and a plant ten years old can produce from 10 to 20 flower spikes. [2]

The Perfect Location

Cymbidiums do not like full sun, heavy winds or direct frost. Ideally, potted Cymbidiums should be positioned in a warm and airy spot that receives bright, but not direct, hot sunlight, and preferably raised off the ground (for example, on a table or feature chair on a covered verandah with a north facing aspect is just right). Set your compasses!

Pink cymbidium

The Australian Orchid Nursery provides these excellent tips to determine the perfect spot:

1. The sun moves higher in the sky in summer so watch shadows to find a suitable position. Hot sun (Over 30c) will scold your leaves.

2. Most of our foul weather comes from either the south-west (cold winds) or the north west (hot winds) so keep this in mind when positioning your plant.

3. Certain trees and shrubs are great for placing your orchids under. Most gums and wattles are fine as are other evergreens as long as the canopy is not too thick. If you place your hand above the foliage and find there is a light shadow then the light is perfect. Evergreen trees that may be great in summer may become too dark in winter, so you may need to relocate plants depending on season.

4. Cold glasshouses, and plastic or fibre glassed roofed shade houses produce the best results. Similar results can also be gained from under the eaves or covered patios but watch your watering, as these tend to be dry positions.

Pink cymbidiums in vase

The Cymbidium orchid does need to be watered year-round. They may survive if left to dry out for a long time, but will not flower well the following year or two.

To gauge when your plant needs water will depend on what the soil looks like in the pot. If the top looks moist, than watering shouldn’t be necessary. If the pot is cold or has moisture on it, you may get away without watering it for another day or so.

Ideally use the following as a guide:

Summer: Two to 3 times per week. Daily or twice daily in hot weather.
Autumn: Once to twice per week. Slightly more often if warmer.
Winter:    Once per week or two if under cover. Possibly not at all if in the rain.
Spring:    As for autumn.

Hot Tip! Bring flowering plants under cover to maximise the flower life, but do not forget to water the plant more often, as flowers use up far more water than the plant would normally use.

If you have a little spare time on your hands, overhead misting with a water spray gun during extra hot spells will help keep the air around your orchids humid and tropical. If you are fortunate enough to have an orchid growing area outside, you could even install an inexpensive polypipe misting system for those very hot days.

 Cymbidium orchids in vase

What to Feed?

For lazy gardeners, apply slow release plant foods in spring (Osmocote plus is recommended). For best results try the addition of liquid fertiliser at recommended strength a few times in warmer months.

For avid gardeners, the best results can be achieved by using any of the following liquid fertilisers following strength: Aquasol, Johnson’s, Thrive, Campbell’s or Peter’s  (1 teaspoon in 5 litres water). This is applied with a watering can weekly during the warmer growing season from September to May. Mark it in your calendar so you don’t forget!

Are you an Autumn or Winter bride? Lucky you! Cymbidium orchids look gorgeous in bouquets, buttonholes and centrepieces…

Scales & Snails

We can’t blame pests for wanting a piece of these babies, given how gorgeous they are! We suggest to use snail bait, particularly after rain and when the flower spikes first protrude. If your plant starts to become limp and lifeless, you may have spider mites. ‘Mavrik’ will keep these 8-legged sap-sucking creatures under control.

Lastly, scale is a difficult pest to kill that sucks the sap from your orchid. These tiny, tick like insects can be removed with the likes of Antiscale, but must be applied to both upper and lower surfaces of the leaves.

Simply stunning. A beautiful example of perfection with these bridal posies featuring Cymbidium orchid blooms…

And Finally…When to Re-Pot?

In nature, Cymbidiums grow as epiphytes with their roots exposed or in decaying timber and leaf litter. To simulate these conditions in pots, a number of specialty potting mixes for orchids are available.

Re-potting should be ideally done every two to four years and is best indicated by the plant bulbs filling the pot or the plant not growing well over the past year. A healthy plant should grow one to two new bulbs each year from each bulb that grew the previous year. When re-potting, the roots should be teased apart to remove old potting mix and then dead roots are to be removed.

A plant has three types of bulbs:

Old back bulbs without leaves: These bulbs are not important to the plant and act as a reserve food supply for
emergencies.

Old bulbs with leaves: These bulbs support the new growth and may produce flowers for a number of years
depending on the variety.

New leads or bulbs: These are the youngest bulbs on the plant and it is from these that the flowers and most new growth comes.

Special Tip: Keep your orchids off the ground. This keeps worms, slaters, slugs and snails out of the potting mix. These creatures break down the mix and cause it to become soggy.

Stay tuned for the arrival of Cymbidium orchids on the Flowers for Everyone website  – the plants make perfect gifts for men and women for any occasion.

Reference:

The Australian Orchid Nursery

Our Top 3 Office Plants

Ten hours of sleep… Excellent!
Morning jog? Well done to you!
Multivitamins washed down with carrot juice? Check!

Staying mentally and physically healthy is vital to your work performance. So what else can you do besides getting enough sleep, exercising and eating well?

Plants. That’s right. Putting plants on your desk at work.

Plants in the office   Beautiful looking plants for the office

More than just ‘decoration’, placing from one to three plants on your desk at work has been scientifically proven to directly promote good health, performance and wellbeing. [1]

This is because certain plants have the unique ability to filter toxic indoor air pollutants released from the likes of plastics, computers and copiers.

Worth investing in, given these nasty little pollutants contribute to a rather inconvenient loss of concentration, headaches, eye, nose and throat problems. [2]

Are you are currently suffering from any of these above health symptoms? If you can rule out the need for eyeglasses, and cannot blame common allergies or alcohol indulgence, then you may just start to see improvements in your health by turning your work station into a mini garden oasis.

Relaxing with plants   Plants brighten the office

Here are our top three office plants for the office that, according to NASA [3], are even fit for filtering air in space stations.

CHINESE EVERGREEN

Chinese Evergreen    Chinese Evergreen

A super resilient air cleansing superhero, the Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) is also known for its centuries-old luck-bringing reputation [4], in addition to its rapid capacity for effectively removing those aforementioned nasty indoor air pollutants. [5]

PEACE LILY

Peace lilly    peace lily for the office

The Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) makes the top three for its lush green leaves, elegant white flower, and ease of care. This plant requires low amounts of natural light and literally ‘talks’ to you – when its leaves droop simply give it a drink and it will salute you before your very eyes. NASA thinks it cuts a dashing figure in space too. [6]

ZANZIBAR GEM

Zanzibar Gem     Zanzibar Gem for the office

We selected the Zanzibar Gem (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) in part for its fabulously exotic name, and in part for its dislike of over-watering. [7] Tolerating low levels of light, this glossy green number will filter your indoor air whilst adding a little ‘shangri-la utopia’ to your office. [8]

So there you have it! A natural and aesthetically pleasing way of styling your work station while improving your health and well-being at the same time. Relatively low initial investment for worthwhile long-term gain, that’s for sure.