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A View from the Potting Shed

Fri, Jan 28th, 2005
Posted in Commentary

OK men, now that I have your attention here is a reminder that Valentines Day will soon be here...Buy Fresh Flowers for Your Sweetheart!

Now is not too early to think about Valentines Day flowers. A tip to the wise if you intend to give the traditional red roses, the sooner you order them, the better. Just about everyone knows that red roses symbolize love. Due to the demand roses can be rather pricey at holiday time. One way you can save money shopping for roses is to purchase medium or shorter stemmed roses over the premium-priced long-stemmed roses. Its unusual to see a vase tall enough to actually accommodate long-stemmed roses; the first thing a person usually does when receiving such roses is cut several inches off the stems in order to arrange them. Why pay for those extra inches that will be discarded anyway? If it looks as though a dozen roses will break the bank, consider giving three instead. Mimic the three stone diamond ring theory, one each to represent your love in the past, present and future! Accompanied by babys-breath and delicate green foliage, they will still be a luxurious gift.

Tips to Make those Valentine Flowers last!

When we give our sweethearts flowers we want them to last as long as possible. Fresh flowers are really a treat in the winter. Here are some easy tips to get most from those beautiful Valentine blooms:

Keep the flowers protected from the cold temps of Minnesota in February outdoors. Keep them under wraps and rush them to and from your warm car.

Be sure your vase is truly clean. Scrub it well to be sure to remove any leftover buildup from previous uses.

Ask your florist for and use a packet of floral preservative in warm water, according to directions.

Gently remove any leaves that will be under water; if they are left on the stems they will quickly rot and make the water bad shortening the live of your flowers.

Recut the stems at an angle, so they wont rest flatly in the bottom of your vase. Use a sharp knife rather than a scissors that might compress the stems. Crushed stems can not easily take up water. Cut the stems under running water to prevent air blockage of the freshly cut tissue.

Keep your flowers out of direct sunlight, if possible and in a cool place. When youre not around to appreciate them, put them in the basement or anywhere in your place that is cooler. Except for orchids, the cooler you keep cut flowers (without freezing, of course) the longer theyll last.

Alternatives to Red Roses for Valentines Day

Here are some suggestions as alternatives to roses; other cut flowers, flowering potted plants, and for those of you with a truly practical bent, tropical houseplants. A foliage plant which can be dressed up for the occasion with foil, ribbons, and a valentine ornament, will last for years in a home or office, so long as your choice doesnt demand terribly bright light. Mixed bulb gardens in containers bring a longer lasting springy touch to the holiday and have become very popular in recent years.

If youre less concerned with the plants longevity, you may opt for one with showy flowers, instead. Youll find azaleas, begonias, chrysanthemums, kalanchoes, and cyclamens, among those expected to bloom for several weeks. Hibiscus plants blossom indoors under bright light, then stop until theyre put outside for the summer. And the newer African violet hybrids that are very popular bloom off and on, year-round.

Roses in colors other than red are always an option. In addition to roses, there are many dazzling different cut flowers available, from cheery spring tulips, daffodils, and iris to exotic anthuriums, gardenias, and birds-of-paradise. Youll find graceful spider mums, stems of sweet-scented lilies, sprays of delicate orchids, and spicy carnations. Also mixed bouquets have become very popular in recent years.

But when all is said and done, remember theres something very romantic about one perfect rose. You neednt spend a fortune to say I love you with flowers.

Along with the flowers, chocolates are also much appreciated and easily shared. Your local stores have a good selection of fresh candy filled hearts. Look for the quality Abdallah brand. They are Minnesota made!

Valentines Day will soon be here, dont miss your chance. PLAN AHEAD this time around! To quote my high school football coach who said it long before Nike Just Do It!

Master Gardener Course to be Offered in Winona!

For those of you that may be interested, the U of MN Extension Service Master Gardener Core Course will be held in Winona Fridays & Saturdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 18th - March 12th. This will be the only classroom offering of this course in our region for a number of years. To find out more information contact your County Extension Office.

Lori Slindee is a Volunteer Fillmore County Master Gardener who lives in Harmony, MN. Information for some of this article came from a conversation with Paula Fischer, owner Harmony Greenhouse and University of MN Yard and Garden News newsletter.

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