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TIPS and TRICKS

February/March
   


Any day now, daffodils will be peaking their heads up and when they are almost open, bring them into the house to enjoy as they open. Also every florist will have plenty available at relatively low cost.

They are wonderful arranged in a simple glass or crystal vase. Do not mix them with other flowers as the sap coming from the stems will cause other flowers to wilt. However if you want to arrange them in a foamed container, there are a few little tips that work very well and can be easily mixed with other flowers. Since the stems are hollow, it is often very difficult to push them into the foam without smashing the end of the stem. A simple trick is to purchase chenille stems (pipe cleaners) in any color. These are available in any craft store. Cut them into sections about 3" long. Cut the flower stem on a straight cut rather than an angle to your desired length. Slide the full 3" stem inside the hollow stem of the flower. Holding the chenille stem through the flower stem, gently slide the stem into place. If the foam is at all resistant, take a pencil and make a simple hole to slide the stem in being careful to make it short enough that the original flower stem has access to the water source.

These work very well in simple arrangements or gardens. Be sure to constantly provide plenty water to the foam as daffodils drink lots and lots of water everyday. Enjoy the beautiful spring flowers!

 


Holiday

November/December
Holiday  


A quick way to decorate the name tags with a personal touch for each dinner guest is to take a simple small glass (available for very low cost) filled with peppermint sticks and use a small Oasis ball with the bottom quarter cut off. Place several layers of a clear kitchen wrap to cover the top of the candy from moister before you place the ball on top of the glass. Insert a ring of holly around the bottom of the ball and fill the top of the ball with about 10-12 red carnations. Guests love the personal touch and often take them home.

These can also be used in wine glasses or a mixture of assorted glassware for a centerpieces with votive candles interspersed. It's a quick way for a unique centerpiece that will last a very long time by just replacing the shriveled carnations. To water the ball to keep the flowers fresh, simply remove the ball, flowers and all, and hold it under the kitchen faucet. When the ball is completely soaked, allow it to grip dry slightly on a paper towel and replace the ball on the glass. To store, remove the ball and refrigerate. Do not refrigerate the candy as it will become very sticky and the colors will run from the moisture.

For a buffet table. use a much larger and taller containers and mix assorted sizes for interest. The Oasis balls come in many sizes and can be used on tall glass cylinders that are available in most craft stores.

Another option is to fill the glass with cranberries, and use a burgundy carnation or use it for other holidays by filling the ball with the appropriate colored nuts, etc. and use the appropriate colors for the holiday

 

 

May/June

Peonies make a wonderful choice to enjoy as fragrant bouquet or a classic centerpiece on the dinner table. These flowers were used by all of the First Ladies I worked for again and again. My flowers came to the White House "ant free" as they were commercially grown. But if you are using them from your garden, there is one small little problem - ants, lots of little ants.

Ants are often thought to encourage the buds on peonies to open, but they have found this is not true. Small amounts of nectars produced on the buds attract ants.

Cut your peonies when the buds are very "pregnant" and color is showing on each bud. Often times if you cut peonies too soon, the buds will not continue to open.


Peonies

Box

The easiest way to remove ants is to find a cardboard box with a lid that is large enough to hold your peonies. I recommend you do this outside as the spray will be very strong. With one side of the lid closed, spray VERY heavily the inside of the box with ant spray. Immediately place the peonies into the box and close the lids. Do NOT spray the flowers directly. Leave the box closed for a couple of hours. The spray does not hurt the delicate petals and your ants will be gone. Shake off the flowers, recut the stems and place into luke warm water. Arrange them in your favorite glass vase. There you go, a simple gorgeous flower arrangement.


It may take a day or so for the peonies to fully open but you can enjoy watching the transformation from a bud to a beautiful delicate flower. They should remain fresh and fragrant for several more days.

 


 
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