Tag Archives: Tips
We’re now in Holy Week in the Orthodox Church with Palm Sunday today and the lead up to Easter in full swing. The latest possible date for Easter in the Orthodox calendar means that in Cyprus we’re assured good weather for the festivities of Easter Day and the local youths are already getting in high spirits for the midnight bonfire on Easter Saturday.
The shops are full of Easter gifts; from chocolate to a variety of porcelain animals, but amongst the fattening and tat there are beautiful flowers that would make a special Easter gift for the person you love.
A trip around Cosmea Gardens flower shop in Larnaca shows that the floral year is definitely in full swing. There are beautiful gerberas in a wide range of colours, local and imported roses.
I’ve made a note to visit Agros soon to discover the damask rose beds and try some of the wonderful rose products there. May is the time when the petals are carefully picked and you need to be there very early in the morning if you’re going to help as a willing volunteer.
Back in the florists, you’ll find plenty of lilies and I’ve noticed of late, the use of arum lilies in the bouquets. This is quite apt for, although not a true lily, the arum lily is often referred to as the Easter Lily. The true Easter Lily; lilium longiflorum is strongly and beautifully scented and is used at Easter because of its almost translucent whiteness, a sign of purity representing the risen Christ, cleansed of the sins of the world he took to Calvary.
I like alstroemeria in bouquets, especially the white ones whose speckled throats are tinged with yellow and green, or the pink ones with white throats. I almost always steer clear of the garish orange ones which either get lost in an equally garish yellow and orange creation or which look completely out of place in any other bouquet.
For the background to an Easter bouquet, I’ d avoid the bear grass which is now definitely going out of fashion and instead use the broad leafed greenery like phormium tenax or, as a nice complement to the white flowers, use some silvery eucalyptus. Don’t forget the gypsophila which hides any unsightly stems and you’ll have the perfect Easter gift.
Now, before you write all this down and head for Cosmea Gardens, you may want to consider asking them to do all this for you. A lot of us are quite competent flower arrangers but if you’ve not got the time, or the patience to make a professional job, why not leave it to the experts. You can get simple bouquets from €20 or go wild with a spectacular arrangement for up to €50.
Ordering online is simple and with delivery all over the island and abroad available at almost a moment’s notice, you can at least say you chose the flowers you sent this Easter.
Whatever you do, have a happy and joyful Easter – Χριστός Ανέστη αγαπητοί φίλοι.
Posted: Apr 28, 2013 01:57:11 under Arrangements, Bouquets, Celebration, Easter, Floral Gifts, Flower Care & Advice, How-To's, Plants, Random Ideas, Special Event.
Tags: Arrangements, bouquet, Cosmea Gardens online, Cyprus, Easter, flowers, friends, gifts, happiness, holiday, send flowers to Cyprus, spring, Tips.
It wasn’t until I was doing a science lesson with the children in my class this week that I found out another fascinating use for flowers.
The subject was chemistry and the topic acids and alkalis. Nothing there so far to give you a clue but read on…
We were looking at how you can tell whether a liquid was an acid or an alkali and the experiment suggested the use of plant dye and in particular; red cabbage.
Eager to see how this worked and whether it would work with other plant dyes, I collected several from the garden and set about adding acids and alkalis to them. I was amazed at what happened.
Red Hibiscus flower water turned emerald with the addition of an alkali and deep purple with the addition of an acid. Rosemary flower water went pale pink with acid and pale blue with alkali whilst onion skin water started pale yellow and turned a vivid ochre colour with acid.
Eager to find out more I googled it and was fascinated to find out that acids and alkalis have been used for over a century to help make and stabilise dyes.
The key element in the equation is called anthocyanins which is the chemical that gives flowers their red and pink colour. Hibiscus is the main flower that shows the presence of the anthocyanins and the different levels give the different colours from the pale blue to the deep red by way of white, yellow, orange and red.
It seems that people have been using plant dyes for millennia with the ancient Britons using woad to dye their faces blue to scare off attackers whilst Navajo Indians dyed their clothes ochre using onion skins.
Today, traditional craftspeople are beginning to use the old dyes for making traditional clothing and whilst the dyes give only a pastel tone they can further lose their brightness unless the dye is fixed. Various unsavoury substances have been used in the past to fix the colours, especially in the tanning industry where in certain parts of the world, animal urine is still used! Thankfully in more civilised countries the material is prepared with something called a mordant that is typically alum, or aluminium hydroxide. The chemical has a dramatic effect on the colourfastness of dyes.
All this serves to remind us of the importance of colour in the flowers we grow, pick or buy. We may choose reds for lovers, yellows for cheerfulness, white for purity or death but the colour can be so much more important than that.
For now though, if you’re selecting a bouquet for a friend or a loved one, think carefully about the colours they like but also for the meaning of the colours and spare a thought for what those colours may mean to a textile worker or dyer. Whichever you choose, you’ll know that when you buy your flowers from Cosmea Gardens, they’ll use only the freshest flowers which will last well and with their vibrant colours brightening up the home and lives of the recipient.
Posted: Oct 14, 2012 18:31:20 under Arrangements, Bouquets, Flower Care & Advice, Random Ideas.
Tags: Arrangements, bouquet, Cosmea Gardens online, flowers, plant dyes, Plants, Tips, wild flowers.
Although the weather is noticeably cooler, I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas, so it’s time for some tips on how to make your home look effortlessly festive.
I love poinsettia plants and although there’s a myriad of colours to choose from these days, I still love the ones with the red bracts. You can spice them up by putting them in a festive looking container or simply get a terracotta pot, paint it green and then when dry, daub some wood glue in patterns such as bells, snowflakes or Christmas trees around it and press on some contrasting glitter. Don’t forget to bung up the drainage hole before putting the plant in it or you’ll have a soggy mess on your table!
If you want to keep the pot plain, then a quick squirt of spray-on glue over the leaves, followed by a dusting of silver glitter gives an instant effect.
If you can get hold of any evergreen foliage, it doesn’t have to be holly or ivy, make up a wreath by intertwining the stems and tie in red or gold ribbon in bows, add small Christmas decorations or small sprayed pine cones – there are hundreds in Cyprus at the moment – then hang it on your door or over a fireplace.
Finally, if you can’t afford one of the really expensive real Christmas trees this year which, to be honest, won’t survive long in the Cypriot climate, buy an Araucaria, otherwise known as a Norfolk Island Pine, which looks exotically similar and which will grace your garden afterwards. A 1.2 metre specimen in a pot can be bought for around 20 euros, less than half the equivalent for a Norwegian Spruce. Check out Cosmea Gardens for their range of festive plants and have a Plant-astic Christmas this year.
Posted: Nov 13, 2011 17:26:34 under Celebration, Christmas, Decorative Ideas, Flower Care & Advice, Holidays, How-To's, Plants, Random Ideas, Special Event.
Tags: Christmas, Cyprus, decoration, flowers, friends, gifts, holiday, Plants, Tips, Tropical.
I’ve never been in Cyprus in May or June before so this year is a new experience for me. Last weekend my wife and I went over to stay in Ayia Napa for a few days and she kindly drove. This gave me the chance to look around at the countryside, gradually dessicating in the strengthening summer sun but what amazed me was the beautiful sight of the Oleander bushes planted by the Cypriot transport authorities in the central reservation of the motorways.
I’d tried growing an Oleander at home in the UK with no success at all so to see the magnificent display here was breath-taking. It made me think of them as the Cypriot equivalent of the UK’s rhododendron displays.
Now I wondered whether I could do a display of Oleander in the house. I chose a selection of branches from a white and pink Oleander, being careful to wash my hands afterwards as the sap is extremely poisonous. The result was stunning and lasted nearly two weeks. The benefit with Oleander as a cut flower is that it has its own framing greenery, you can just put it in a vase and off you go. Being a semi-hardwood stem, you’ll need to break up the ends first with something heavy but then afterwards you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful display.
I was completely knocked out of the water though by a much simpler and elegant arrangement from my wife who simply took some wasted blooms and put them in a white china cup – so much for the years of study…..!!
if you haven’t got access to any Oleander, you can buy plants cheaply from florists and garden centres such as Cosmea Gardens. Don’t take too much off the plant in the first year though – you don’t want to ruin it!
Posted: Jun 06, 2011 18:07:18 under Arrangements, Bouquets, Decorative Ideas, Flower Care & Advice, How-To's, Plants, Random Ideas.
Tags: Arrangements, bouquet, decoration, flowers, oleander, Plants, summer, Tips, using wild flowers, wild flowers.
Some weeks ago I ordered a mixed bouquet of flowers from Cosmea Gardens for my wife for our anniversary. When they arrived they were beautiful as ever but I noticed a special touch they done in pushing little clear gemstones on pins into the centre of some of the red roses. It made them look extra special, the deep red of the flowers and the sparkle of the stones.
The flowers lasted well over a week, surprising in the early summer warmth we’ve had but, inevitably, they began to wilt and die. However the flowers that lasted the longest were the red roses with the crystals in them. These lasted a good five days longer than the rest of the roses and one is still going now, three weeks on. Intrigued, I spoke to one of the ladies I’ve got to know quite well at the shop and she explained that it’s air bubbles that get trapped in the flower stems that prevent moisture and food getting to the flowers making them die. By pushing the pins into the heads and the stalk, as well as making them look pretty, it lets the air escape and the flowers last longer.
You can now picture me pushing pins into the flower heads of gypsophila, antirrhinum, etc! The flowers I’ve found it works best with are the roses and gerberas although it looks prettiest in the roses. You can buy the pins from many garden centres or florists including Cosmea Gardens – give it a go and see how much longer you can enjoy your flowers for.
Posted: May 14, 2011 07:02:16 under Arrangements, Bouquets, Decorative Ideas.
Tags: Arrangements, bouquet, decoration, flower pins, flowers, food, gifts, Tips.
I actually now have time to be able to look around me now my life isn’t so stressful and it’s amazing what I’ve been missing.
We had a barbecue today in a beautiful garden full of stunning colourful flowers but my wife wasn’t happy! Every time she sat back, or reached for a bite to eat, it was like crossing a motorway for the number of bees that were flying by or buzzing around her. She postulated that it would be a stress free, enjoyable barbecue were it not for the bees and wished that there weren’t so many flowers there that kept attracting them. I thought about it and said that yes, were there no flowers there’d be no bees but equally, were there no bees, there’d be no flowers and wouldn’t that make for a dull world. Another friend ventured that it was her getting in the way of the bees, not the other way round and that if she was careful to let them go about their business then they’d be unlikely to bother her. A few moments of deep breathing later and she began to ignore them and they, her. Everyone happy then and a wonderful afternoon was had by all. Help make the world a beautiful place by encouraging pollinating insects – and even birds! – into your garden. Choose scented, bright flowering plants from Cosmea Gardens and you’ll be doing your bit too!
Posted: Sep 25, 2010 16:13:44 under Flower Care & Advice, Plants, Random Ideas.
Tags: flowers, scent, Tips.
I looked out over the balcony of our apartment the other day to see the neighbours below us had made an arrangement on their balcony. It was difficult to see well from above but what caught my eye was the way they’d used driftwood from Lara Bay to set their arrangement. It was a sun-bleached, very weathered piece of driftwood that had obviously been the roots of some faraway tree that had toppled into the sea. It was nicely twisted and had an erosion widened split in a wide part of the root that lent itself perfectly to holding a low vase. From this they they had splayed out deep glossy green strap-like foliage which contrasted beautifully with the bleached wood and then arranged beautiful zinnias with their fiery tones highlighted against the green. It looked fabulous, almost like a beach campfire. I ran to get my camera, desperate to get what would have bneen an awkward shot that wouldn’t have done it justice but as I returned I found they’d taken it in out of the sun!
To try something similar, go for a walk on a remote beach and you’ll usually pick up something of use but if you’re not the energetic type, call into Cosmea Gardens where as well as beautiful flowers they’ll usually have supplies of driftwood to help you on your way.
Posted: Sep 07, 2010 16:24:41 under Arrangements, Decorative Ideas, How-To's.
Tags: Arrangements, flowers, Tips.
This week I’ve bought some of yet another of my favourite flowers – Gerberas. They are so bright and bold. If a flower is red, then Gerberas are scarlet, if a flower is yellow the Gerberas are sunshine! The problem is that Gerberas don’t last long in arrangements and many florists wire them to keep them in shape. I came across an idea the other day for arranging them and included it in the video that accompanies this blog. I haven’t bored you with it all but have included a photograph of the finished arrangement.
Posted: Aug 19, 2010 20:21:19 under Arrangements, Flower Care & Advice, How-To's.
Tags: Arrangements, flowers, Tips.
It’s time for a rant now! I’m fed up seeing Chrysanthemums being abused by flower arrangers. They are used as fillers in bouquets and then arrangements or they are horrifically misused, tightly packed together in ‘pictures’ or to spell out words.
I was reminded of this misuse today when walking past queued traffic and specifically a hearse which had a tribute spelling out ‘DAD’ in chrysanthemums. As a tribute, they might as well have painted the words on a piece of card for all you could tell they were flowers and backing up the disaster was a 3D rabbit-like creature made out of pink and white chrysanthemums tightly packed together around a frame.
Chrysanthemums can be such beautiful flowers and make stunning displays without resorting to dyeing them and packing them into such arrangements. My father used to grow specimen chrysanthemums in a range of colours picking them in early winter or at Christmas and the arrangements my mother did with the feathery ball shape flowers were stunning.
So, look at these pictures now of specimen chrysanthemums and show their true beauty and usefulness to the world! In season, these beautiful flowers are available from Cosmea Gardens.
Posted: Jul 26, 2010 19:04:49 under Arrangements, Bouquets, Flower Care & Advice.
Tags: Arrangements, flowers, Tips.
Thought I was in trouble today! My wife was in hospital for a small operation and I dropped her off at the hospital but then couldn’t stay as I had agreed to fit a new kitchen in my parents’ home and I’d left them with no water and no cooking facilities. So I asked Cathy’s mum to wait for her and bring her home. The warning signs came from her mum when she asked me if I was going to collect her. Suddenly I got the message and dropped what I was doing to go and collect Cathy. On the way I thought about how I could repair any damage and of course the best way is flowers. Now here comes the million euro question….. How much do you spend? You could spend the same large amount each time but I think that you should match the cost to the occasion. If you spend the same amount each time then there’s no specialness in each occasion. So when it’s just a weekly ‘I love you’ then go for small but vary the bouquet each week. When it’s birthdays or other occasions then spend a bit more and avoid the everyday bouquets. When you’re in trouble weigh up the cost with how much damage there is to limit.
I learn long ago that women pick up the messages that flowers give, not just the type of flower but how much it costs.
Have you ever been in the situation where a woman in a shop comments on the flowers you’ve bought by saying ‘What have you done wrong?’ This is a key indicator that women realise the value and reasons behind the gifts of flowers. Choose wisely and spend wisely! And if you can’t decide what to get or how much to spend ask the people in the know at Cosmea Gardens.
Posted: Jul 22, 2010 20:20:50 under Bouquets, Flower Care & Advice, Random Ideas.
Tags: flowers, gifts, Tips.