I always look forward to autumn because it’s a time to design flower arrangements with some unusual, vibrant foliage. One of my favorites is croton. It is a bold, tropical foliage with variegated leaves of yellow, red and green. In addition to the drama they create, croton leaves are long lasting in flower arrangements. They can be used as a collar to enhance other blooms in the design or you can submerge them for another interesting effect. The leaves are on the shorter side; if you need length, you can attach them to long picks. However, make sure the bottom of each leaf is in a water source.
Croton is also known as Codiaeum which probably came from Greek meaning “head; the leaves were used for wreaths.
Croton is available as a potted houseplant–a unique hostess gift during the fall season, especially at Thanksgiving. Crotons need a very brightly lit location so they can maintain their bright colors. They enjoy a western or southern window location. These plants prefer evenly moist soil and a humid environment; you can create the latter by misting regularly.
Croton Leaves with Tulips and Safflower
Croton Leaves with Sunflowers
Croton Leaves with Gladiolus
The fresh floral arrangements above were designed by Beach Cities Blooms.
I am sure you will enjoy Beach Cities Blooms’ October eNewsletter.
Late last spring, my husband helped me realize my dream of seeing the flower fields in Holland. Keukenhof Gardens on the outskirts of Amsterdam is a huge venue of about 80 acres. It was opened to the public in 1949 and has been hosting huge crowds, especially in the spring, ever since.
Keukenhof is devoted to all things floral, and it is the world’s largest exporter of bulbs (@80% of the world’s bulbs). Forty million bulbs are planted every year. Tulips are the number 1 export; all of the tulip bulbs are planted in the fields vs. greenhouses. (Cut tulips are grown in greenhouses.) We were able to take a launch out into the tulip fields which were colorful and plentiful. However, due to the cold and wet this spring, the tulips were not as extravagantly abundant (e.g. fields upon fields of varying colors).
Naturally, being Holland, there was an old windmill which we climbed up to get another magnificent view of the flower fields in the distance.
Any lack of color in the fields was compensated for by the many fanciful outside exhibit areas and 5 large exhibition auditoriums. One exhibition area housed orchids, another tulips, another roses, another exotic flowers and plants, etc. Planted flowers on the grounds included masses of: daffodils, crocuses, hyacinth, muscari and, of course, tulips.
The Mildred Mathias Botanical Gardens are just a jaunt down the 405 at UCLA. Enter at Tiverton for parking.
It’s a lovely area in which to stroll, commune with nature and enjoy its bounty, and to reflect.
The gardens comprise 7 acres and are located on the southeastern corner of the campus. They were opened in 1929.
The Botanical Gardens contain a lathhouse for teaching and research which was completed in the northwestern corner of the garden in 1952 and the Nest, an outdoor classroom with bench seating. Also on the grounds are: a recycling stream and ponds; a permanent experimental garden; plants from the tropics and subtropics, especially those with magnificent flowers, e.g., the Bignoniaceae; and special collections, including Malesian rhododendrons, the lily alliance, bromeliads, succulents, cycads, ferns, mediterranean-type shrubs (e.g., chaparral), and native plants of the Hawaiian Islands.
The gardens are free of charge and open to the public on Monday thru Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, the gardens are open from 8:00 a.m. to 400 p.m.
You can view greenhouses galore for a fabulous floral experience, BUT you do have to go to Brussels. King Leopold II of Belgium had the greenhouses built during the period 1874 to 1905 on the grounds of the Royals’ estate in Laeken which is just north of Brussels. The complex covers 6 acres and includes neoclassical rotundas, domes and galleries.
There are a number of glass greenhouses in the complex. The first structure that was built was The Winter Garden greenhouse. Its central feature is a glass dome with 36 metal beam supports. This greenhouse features palms, ferns and flowering plants. The Congo Greenhouse is filled with subtropical vegetation, such as: palms, rubber plants and ferns.
A geranium gallery offers geraniums (of course!), fuchsias, heliotrope and abutilon flowers . This gallery leads to the Azalea Greenhouse which boasts a spectacular variety of azaleas in all hues. Other structures include the Mirror, Diana, and Maquet greenhouses. Visitors can also take a walk through the lovely, park-like grounds with views of Brussels in the distance. Seen from the entrance to Laeken is the chateau complex where many members of the royal family reside.
As you can imagine, this is an extremely popular destination for locals and tourists alike. It is open for a few weeks each spring when the flowers are in full bloom. It’s a must stop in Brussels as in addition to its beauty, it offers a much-needed respite from the activity of the busy city.
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It’s amazing what people can do given LOTS of flowers, time, and a patriotic spirit! Just in time for July 4th– a beautiful flag created from seedlings in the Vandenburg Air Force Base area near Lompoc, California.
The flag is 740 feet long and 390 feet wide. It utilizes the official dimensions of our country’s flag. It has the distinction of being the first floral flag that has five pointed stars. Each star is 24 feet in diameter and each stripe is 30 feet wide.
So how many flowers did it take for this creation? It is estimated that there are over 2 million flowers, many of which are white Larkspur.
In this same area, there are reportedly over 9 miles of flower fields that extend to the Pacific Ocean.
Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer is the name of the world’s premier fresh flower and plant auction and distribution house located on the outskirts of Amsterdam. It is also the fourth largest building in the world. Nineteen million fresh flowers are auctioned every day from this site which covers 247 acres. You can visit Aalsmeer and see it in action from a catwalk that traverses the warehouse. You will see tons and tons of flowers in every shape and hue, a highly efficient logistical system including the use of Segways for getting flowers destined for a particular buyer from Point A (purchase point) to Point B (distribution area), the auction rooms where the flower buying process has become increasingly more computerized, and quality control/testing areas.
Flowers sold during the daily auctions at Aalsmeer are grown in a variety of countries, including: Kenya, Cambodia, Ecuador, and other European countries. The flowers that are purchased there are destined mainly for Russia, China, Japan and some to the United States.
The flowers pictured below represent a very small portion of the total number of flowers in the Aalsmeer warehouse on any given day. Aalsmeer is open to the public. It’s a fascinating experience to take the self-guided tour!
My husband and I strolled through Keukenhof Gardens outside of Amsterdam this past spring. It is a magnificent venue for all things floral. In addition to numerous outside displays of crocuses, tulips, and daffodils, they boast five pavilions full of exhibits which typically feature one type of flower, e.g. orchids, tulips, roses, etc.
This picture of a fellow visitor with a bunch of jaunty yellow daffodils stuck in her backpack captured my imagination and camera.
More images from the Gardens to follow soon. . .
Please enjoy a leisurely reading of the April 2013 edition of my eNewsletter.