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As winter eases up on its seasonal duties and we stand poised at the cusp of spring, the Fresh Cut Flower of the Month Club dives into the spirit of things by bringing you flowers that epitomize the magnificent sunsets and cool breezes of those picturesque days to come. Our bouquet this month will help bring the spring in with a beautiful assortment of roses, spider mums, hydrangeas, and hypericum berries
This month we take pride in sending you a truly regal flower, the Orange Mambo Spray Rose, which is a delicate yet commanding portrayal of the genus Rosa. Most of us prize certain rose varieties for their color or combinations of colors, their fragrances (although some have no fragrance), the shape and size of the bloom, and their hardiness. The miniature rose spray is a petite version of the floribunda class of roses. They are renowned for hardiness, continuous prolific blooms, exotic colors and textures, and clusters of delicate blossoms. The Minis have a unique form with 3 to 6 small blooms per stem.
According to All About Roses, Ortho Publishing Co., species of the genus Rosa have been identified almost everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, as far north as Alaska and Norway, and as far south as North Africa and Mexico. Fossilized plants over thirty million years old have been linked to modern rose species. Molecular biologists, who use DNA molecules to estimate age, can trace roses back some 200 million years!
As civilization began to develop, many legends took root. It is written that Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers, was the first to crown the rose as Queen of all Flowers. Aphrodite presented a rose to her son Eros, god of love, and the rose became a symbol of love and desire.
The first cultivated roses appeared in Asian gardens more than 5,000 years ago. In ancient Mesopotamia, Sargon I, King of the Akkadians brought "vines, figs and rose trees" back from a military expedition beyond the River Tigris. Let's put this into perspective: that was over two thousand years before Christianity began! And we thought rose trees were a new thing!
Roses were introduced to Rome by the Greeks, around the dawn of Christianity . During feasts, young men and women in Athens adorned themselves with crowns of roses and danced naked around the temple of Hymen to symbolize the innocence of the Golden Age.
There are several types of Mums, this one in particular being the Spider Mum. What sets this one apart is the disk florets are completely concealed, and the ray florets are tube like with hooked or barbed ends, hanging loosely around the stem. Chrysanthemums had been cultivated in Chinese gardens for more than 2,500 years before they were first exhibited in England in 1795. The ancient Chinese named the Chrysanthemum ("chu hua"), to be their official flower for October, and also the official badge of the Old Chinese Army. Mums were considered one of the four Chinese noble plants… along with bamboo, the plum, and the orchid, and therefore the lower class Chinese were not permitted to grow them in their gardens. Visiting Buddhist monks brought the chrysanthemum to Japan in AD 400. Japanese emperors so loved this flower that they sat upon chrysanthemum thrones, and kikus chrysanthemums in Japanese, were featured on the Imperial Crest of Japan.
Even today, the chrysanthemum is a symbol of the sun for the Japanese, and the orderly unfolding of the mum's petals denotes perfection. One of their traditions is to put a single chrysanthemum petal on the bottom of a wine glass to sustain a long and healthy life. This popular perennial's name is derived from the Greek chrysos (gold) and anthos (flower). In Italy, chrysanthemums are associated with death, so don’t give an Italian girl friend a bouquet of chrysanthemums!
Hypericum (hy-PEERI-cum), which is commonly known as St. John’s Wart, originated from China and the Himalayas but was first cultivated in the United Kingdom in 1594 due to its medical characteristics as an antidepressant. This particular type of hypericum, Mystical Red Star, is bred specifically for the berries and can be available all year round. In your garden, they will have bright yellow flower blooms in the spring and big clusters of glossy berries in the fall. However, in the proper growing conditions they can have berries anytime of the year.
Whether you call it Lemon Leaf or Salal, so much in the Pacific Northwest depends on this leafy plant, yet few people ever notice its prevalence. This versatile evergreen with spoon shaped leaves flowers in late May or early June, and produces berries in autumn. Native peoples have feasted upon its berries for centuries, elk and deer continue to thrive on its leaves, and today, whole families can purchase houses and cars from the wages earned gathering the foliage for florists.
A member of the Ericaceae family, Lemon Leaf (also known as Salal) is related to wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) and creeping snowberry (Gaultheria hispidula). It grows as shrubs, two to three feet height in full sun, but five to ten feet in shade. Salal loves moist forests throughout the northern coastal mountain ranges - from southern California to northern British Columbia. It grows well in acidic soil, such as a redwood forest, and once it takes hold, it sets roots deeply into the soil and thrives.
The shrub often grows in clumps. As you can see, the leaves are alternate, evergreen, and the leaf margins are "saw-toothed." The flowers are tiny, candy-pink, urn-shaped flowers that hang along reddish or salmon-colored racemes. They turn paler, almost white as they age. The fruit is a dark purple berry, and it tastes somewhat like a blue berry. Historically, the leaves were eaten raw to suppress hunger, heartburn, or diarrhea. The reddish-blue to blackish berries may be eaten raw, or cooked. Salal berry jam and wines are quite popular. In recent years, this plant has become a staple of florist shops across North America because its glossy dark green, leathery leaves go so well with florist bouquets.
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