Aldona at Large: Say It With Flowers

I love fresh flowers in the house anytime, but never more so than at this time of year. When I was a young married woman with young children, I budgeted $10 a week for flowers, which I would buy on Friday.  I would create a large bouquet using mostly cheap greens and filler and just a few inexpensive blooms. It was a way to welcome the weekend, and the finishing touch to a newly cleaned house.

You don’t have to wait for a special occasion or for someone else to send you flowers—just go out and treat yourself. De moi, à moi.

If you’re not fussy about ethically sourced blooms and shopping at top-notch florists, the good news is that you can still buy flowers cheaply, sometimes in surprising places. Believe it or not, the apricot-bronze Alstromeria and roses pictured above were picked up at the No Frills store a stone’s throw away from where I live, and where, if you hit it on the right day, you can find decent though basic bouquets. This one set me back $10.

(Tip: Unless you’re buying flowers from a reputable florist, it’s a good idea to check for freshness. I gently touch the blooms to make sure they’re firm, then lift the bouquet out of the bucket and examine and smell the end of the stems. If they look slimy and/or smell pond-like, it means they’ve been hanging around too long. Walk away.)

For another ten bucks, I also picked up these Stargazer lilies, which came with salal (stiff but useful filler leaves from the West Coast), a few fern fronds and a bit of everlasting. Just like gardenias and other highly scented flowers, the scent of Stargazer lilies isn’t for everyone as it’s quite strong and clove-like. Right now, though, it’s just right. I close my eyes, take a deep whiff and imagine I’m in a sultry tropical paradise. Maybe like this:

Ahhhh. That’s better.

Happily, after the hiatus due to last year’s parking lot project, there are more flowers to look forward to very soon because the Southern Ontario Orchid Society show and sale makes its welcome reappearance here at the TBG on Feb. 16 and 17. Believe me, seeing our buildings stuffed full of the most gorgeous orchids is a sight that will gladden your heart. Bring your wallet. You can find out more here.

I’m also really looking forward to Get the Jump on Spring, which takes place on Saturday, February 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Well, sort of. This year, in a weak moment I agreed to speak, which I rarely do anymore. (Others would tell you that you can’t shut me up.) My topic is “Strategic Gardening,” a vague-enough title that gives me plenty of leeway to think hard about what I want to talk about. It may turn out to be a cautionary tale of 40 years or so of horticultural blunders and how to avoid them.  “Egrets, I have a few, but then again…”

And before you know it and not a moment too soon, it will be time for Canada Blooms.

Last week, our Nancy Eaton Director of Horticulture, Paul Zammit, along with Creative Director Jenny Rhodenizer and Resource Specialist Stefan Weber organized a painting party to repurpose donated, used dressers and armoires as storage and display units for our booth and pop-up shop at Blooms. Jenny came up with the idea, and all the pieces have been painted a shade of grey as a base and then sparkled up with metallic paint. They look great! Thanks go to staff members and volunteers who stepped up to prep and paint this furniture. And remember, if you buy your Canada Blooms tickets in advance you can save $3 at Garden Shop or right here online.

We’ve Gone Potty

Thanks to a generous donation of surplus bulbs from a supplier and a fun idea from Paul, the staff spent a bit of time potting up amaryllis bulbs and are having a competition to see whose amaryllis blooms first, blooms longest, is largest, is prettiest (we have no idea what colour these are) and so forth. Of course, growing conditions vary as some folks have a sunny window while others have no natural sunlight at all so it may not be a fair contest, but who cares? We all have the pleasure of watching something beautiful come to life at our desks.

Things That Frost My Britches

Tree rustlers! One day, when we were both out on our front walks shoveling snow, my neighbour Mary came over to tell me that someone had cut down the red oak sapling in her front garden. “This is the fourth one we’ve lost,” she lamented. The police told her that there are tree rustlers who go around chopping down saplings to make twig furniture. Um, call me crazy, but isn’t the whole point of twig furniture to forage for and repurpose fallen branches, not whack down healthy young trees? And don’t get me started on those ugly, stumpy, birch log amputees that seem to be the fashion in so many winter containers these days. Gee, I wonder where they’re finding all those “fallen” birch logs? Steer clear.

Things That Make Me Happy

A few days ago, I was rummaging around a favourite consignment store and came across this weird and wonderful shadow box, which, judging from the faded silk background material, might be Victorian. Some may thing it’s creepy to admire these captured butterflies, moths and beetles. But I think it’s a lovely kaleidoscope of graceful winged creatures preserved forever maybe more than 100 years ago.

Think what you will, gentle reader, but don’t let anyone clip your wings or pin you down. And have a Happy Valentine’s Day. Here’s a fun little present to explore on a cold winter’s day:

I’ll see you back here in a couple of weeks.

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