Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Make a Proper Jack-O-Lantern and Roast the Seeds


Its that time of year! I’m sure we have all been thoroughly unimpressed with our pumpkin carving skills. This video demonstrates a clear and effective way of how to carve a pumpkin. The result is awesome! Also pumpkin seeds are a bonus. Learning how to cook them is essential for a nice fall treat after carving your pumpkin. Check it out.

predator-pumpkin

How to make Rainbow, Multicolored Roses


RS-Rainbowrose1

Rainbow roses, with their exotic, multi-colored blossoms and individually colored petals, are both attractive and unusual. For crafty do-it-yourself types, home-made rainbow roses can be given to friends or used as decorations for special occasions. What’s best, they can be made at home using standard materials that many people already have onhand.

 

Materials

Gather the appropriate materials before beginning your rainbow rose project. What you don’t already own should be easy to track down from local stores like florists, grocery stores, craft stores and big box retailers.

Essential Materials

  • Hand-held pruning shears or scissors
  • Bucket
  • White or cream-colored roses (preferably freshly cut)
  • Box cutter or pen knife
  • Ruler
  • Several tall glasses
  • Food coloring
  • Spoon
  • Tape, twisty-tie or string

Optional Materials

  • Tray (for containing the dyed water and preventing spills)
  • Gardening gloves (to prevent injury from thorns)
  • Rubber gloves (to prevent dye from getting on your fingers)
  • Rags (for cleaning spilled colored water)

Obtaining Roses

Freshly cut roses are best for this project because the capillaries in roses die quickly after being cut, influencing the rose’s ability to take in water. In other words, waiting a long time after cutting the flower will result in less dye reaching the blossom. This in turn results in weaker colors, and in some cases, the roses will not take in any water at all.

If it is not possible to get roses from your own yard or a friend’s garden, buy roses from a reputable florist. Roses from florists are often treated with preservative or conditioner to keep the flowers fresher for longer.

If you obtained your roses from a store, trim an inch off of the stems before beginning this craft project, then place the roses in a bucket of warm water while you prepare to begin your project.

Some tips for cutting fresh roses:

  • Cut flowers in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Look for long, straight stems that are strong and wide enough to split into many pieces.
  • Bring out a bucket of warm water and put the stems of the roses directly into the water after cutting.
  • Once indoors, re-cut an inch off the stems while the bottom of the stems are still in water. Exposure to air causes inner the parts of the stem to die.

Process

Rainbow roses are easy to make at home in just a few simple steps.

  1. Choose the colors that you wish to use to dye the roses. There must be a corresponding glass for each color.
  2. Fill each glass with 500 ml of warm water, and put 50 ml (or more) of food coloring in the water. Stir the water with a spoon to mix in the food coloring. Note that using more food coloring will lead to a darker, more saturated blossom.
  3. Add two teaspoons sugar and two teaspoons vinegar to the warm water. This is meant to increase the flower’s ability to take in water and will produce more deeply saturated colors in the petals.
  4. Select the first rose. Cut the stem of the rose to 40cm in length, using the pruning shears or scissors. Note that shorter stems will cause the roses to absorb water more quickly and the blossoms may become darker faster.
  5. Use the box cutter or pen knife to split the bottom of the stem into several different parts. The incision in the stem should start approximately half way up the stem. An easy way to ensure the cuts are clean and even is to make a series of short, separate incisions in the stem of the rose, then connect the incisions with a longer, straight cut.
  6. Place the rose into the water, with each section of the stem dipped into the colored water. This sounds simple, but getting the rose to stand up straight under these conditions can be trickier than it sounds. To keep your rose upright, try taping the rose to the glass. Better yet, if placing multiple roses into the glasses, try tying the roses together at the stems with a twisty-tie or string.
  7. Leave the roses to sit for at least 24 hours. The longer you leave the roses standing in the colored water, the darker the blossoms will be. Leaving the roses in the food coloring for multiple days may result in very dark roses, but be careful that your roses don’t dry up and wilt before you’re able to enjoy them.
  8. Remove the roses from the water when they are as dark as you want them to be. If desired, cut off the split portion of the stem.
  9. Place the rainbow roses into a vase. If the stems are noticeably damaged, you may wish to place the roses into a ceramic vase, rather than a clear glass vase.

Tips

  • If you’re hoping for darker colors in your roses, try this project again with shorter stems, and increase the amount of time that you leave the roses into the colored water. Do this multiple times, trying different stem lengths and with different amounts of dye in the water, until you’ve perfected your technique and found a way that works best for you.
  • Wear gloves at various stages of this process to prevent your hands from getting dyes or injuries from thorns.
  • To avoid stains, do not attempt this project on a table cloth or wooden surface.
  • This project is suitable for children as young as 8 years old, with adult supervision. Do not allow children to handle the pen knife.
  • As a variation of this project, roses can be dyed to a single color by leaving the stem intact and placing the rose in warm water that has been dyed with food coloring.

Keeping Your Roses Fresher Longer

Place your rainbow roses in a cool room without much exposure to sunlight. Roses will deteriorate and dry out more quickly when exposed to warm air and sunlight. If you wish to keep your rainbow roses for many days, try placing the vase of roses into the refrigerator at night, then remove the vase during the daytime when you can enjoy them. Consider using flower conditioner or preservative to keep the flowers fresher for a longer period of time.

Rainbow Rose Uses

Of course, rainbow roses make excellent mother’s day gifts and beautiful birthday presents as well. Use rainbow roses to decorate your home at holidays, for graduations or any special occasion.  Rainbow roses make creative and unique props if you’re staging a room for an open-house event, and they make excellent conversation pieces as well.

The first time you make rainbow roses, you’ll likely make mistakes. This is a project you’ll try several times before finding a method you’re comfortable with.

Most Popular Centerpiece Options for your Wedding – Wedding Planning For The DIY Couple


We have composed a list of our most popular selling vases. This is from our sales data, and have found the following vases to be the best options for centerpieces.
5. Designer Vases
These vases don’t have a static shape. They have curves, lips, often times a bottle neck, usually round, and are offered in an abundance of colors.rose vase
Our clients typically go this route when on a tight budget. You can get some beautiful high quality vases for very cheap. A good example of this would be our 8″ rose vase. This is a very popular option being only $2.99. It

can fit a good amount of flowers. This amount will depend on the size and type of the flower, but could fit 2 dozen roses fairly easily. A slightissue you will run into with this vase is that it can be top heavy. You will need to cut the stems fairly short and don’t use flowers with big heavy blooms.
Another option from this category would be the 6.5″ gathering vase. Similar to a cylinder vase and priced only at $3.85 is another reason why this is a popular item. This vase will be less top heavy then the rose vase mentioned above, but is also more of a minimalist centerpiece option. This item will fairly easily fit 2 dozen roses.

4. Martini Vases

martivi vaseFun. Creative. Unique. Just some words to describe this option for your tables. Moderately difficult to work with if you will be placing flowers with stems in this piece. Typically our clients will fill with water (colored or not), sand, vase gems, flower blooms, fruit. This item comes in a wide range of sizes with the smallest being 12” tall and the tallest being 32”. The most popular size is the 16” martini vase. This size seems to work well on most tables. Not too big, not too small.

Tip: To keep up the martini theme, use 16” on your tables and the 32” as a floor piece in entrances, hallways, etc.

3. Bubble Bowls
Sometimes known as fishbowl vases. These are a great option for lower centerpieces. Works well with most flower types. You generally do not have to worry about this item being top heavy. This bubble bowlis another great item for a bride on a budget. Our top selling bubble bowl being the 8” is priced at $6.87. This item will range in sizes of 6” to 16”. These measurements refe how wide the item is at its widest point (where it bowls out). Sometimes our clients will actually create an aquarium as a centerpiece with these. Adding rocks/pebbles, plants, aquarium decorations are a great way to add unique centerpiece to your wedding. We recommend the use of fake or plastic fish, because accidents do happen and no one wants any fish casualties at their wedding.

2. Cube Vases
cube glass vaseThis is a steady top item for us. Brides love them, because they are affordable. Designers love them because they are easy to work with. Guests
love to take them home. We love them because they are easy to ship. This items features thick walls and thick bases. They are very durable. The shape allows you to fit a relatively good number of flowers in them. They range from 2” up to 8”. The 5”x5”x5” clear cube vase is our most popular cube, priced at $4.25 per piece. A major benefit of this item is that it is not top heavy. You can create big arrangements without the worry of it being knocked over if someone bangs the table. Which we all know can happen fairly easily at weddings that feature an open bar. We offer this item in glass and ceramic. Colors are available in clear, gold, silver, black, white, red, green, brown. Most popular material by a wide margin is glass. Most popular color is clear, with black following close behind.

1. Cylinder Vases
The most popular item with our clients for centerpieces, since we started our business. On any given day we can have 25,000+ pieces in inventory.cylinder vases This item comes in many different sizes. Heights ranging from 2” up to our tallest being 40”. Widths ranging from 2” to 8”. It can sometimes be a daunting task figuring out which size to go with. Ultimately it is up to you and the look that you want to go with, but our most popular cylinder vase is our 4” x 16”. That is a 4 inch diameter and 16 inches tall. This vase works for a number of reasons. Very affordable at $8.75 for a fairly large piece. Can fit a completely adequate arrangement in the 4” diameter and are able to feature long stems. The height seems to work with most table sizes, but most commonly used on tables with 8-10 people. Often filled up with sand, rocks or vase gems about 1/3 of the way. This adds some color and range to the centerpiece and also helps keep the flower stems in place.

Designing your own artificial floral arrangement


Buying a pre-made artificial floral arrangement is easy. Finding a floral arrangement that’s exactly what you want is the hard part. While you could certainly stand by a florist’s side, pointing out the flowers and accessories you would like to include, why spend extra money to have someone else’s hands put together a floral arrangement for your home or event? You don’t have to be an expert to create a beautiful arrangement yourself. You just have to follow your own tastes and your natural artistic instincts.

Starting from empty

Starting your floral arrangement is a ‘Chicken or egg?’ scenario. Which comes first, the flowers or the vase? The answer depends largely upon which feature is more important to you. Do you have a specific container in mind – like a metal box or decorative piece – that blends in with the decor of a hard-to-match room, or do you just want to create a centerpiece of roses or callas?

Whatever your top decorating concern, start there. Just keep in mind, if you choose an unique vase, like a 31.5” tower vase, it will limit some of your flower options.

colorwheelOnce you choose your vase, start choosing flowers that complement it and each other. If you need some help, consult a complementary color wheel to help with flower-pairing. Or work from the flowers to the vase, keeping in mind that white flowers look striking against dark vases, and clear vases work with any color scheme.

If you don’t know where to begin, browse floral arrangements online. You’ll get great design ideas from other people who have shared their floral works.

Filling the vase

Silk flowers are mostly beneficial due to their long lives over fresh flowers, but they also offer some decorating advantages. While stones or marbles can be used in vases with fresh flowers, they get dirty from the water and organic matter, and must be cleaned regularly. In a floral arrangement, stones or marbles used to fill vases need to be cleaned only when too much dust gathers on and between them.

For a fresh-flower look, acrylic water provides an alternative to other fillers, and, once dry, it won’t go anywhere and will need only occasional top-dusting.Silk Flower arrangement

Generally speaking, the bigger and more elaborate an arrangement is, the more expensive it will be, but that doesn’t mean you have to restrict your arrangement’s size to keep costs down. If you are looking to save, closeout items are an ideal place to get started. By sorting through low-cost items first, and working your way up the price chain, you should be able to create an arrangement exactly like you want for the fraction of the cost of visiting a florist.

Meaning and symbolism of the peacock feather


Peacock feathers have captivated us humans for quite some time. Their stunning and unique beauty has done more than please our eyes but they have enriched our souls and ignited our minds. Many cultures hold the belief that such a dazzling feather, so easily discarded during their annual molt, must be a sort of gift from an enchanted beast.

Feng Shui

The belief that the peacock is the earthly manifestation of the Phoenix, means that it’s most prize possession, it’s feathers, hold much power. The presence of shimmering mesmerizing color and the “eye” that adorns each feather is considered promote luck, enhance one’s protection, and boost awareness. Of course their uniqueness is also thought to symbolize beauty, love, and attraction. This is the reason peacock feathers are often recommended in Feng Shui as a cure for being single and help attract a desirable mate.

Egyptian Mythology

From the earliest recorded times, peacocks were parts of royal collections. The Phoenicians are believed to be the first to have imported peafowl to Egypt. It is not surprising that the beautiful plumage made it a desired object for kings and the aristocracy, and to own a peacock became a royal monopoly. To possess even a small feather could only been as the result of a theft and the penalty for being caught with a feather was death. Because of the peacock’s assumed incorruptibility, the bird became a symbol of immortality and resurrection. This, in turn, led to the custom of the feathers being used at funerals, meaning that the deceased person was not really dead, the spirit survived and eventual rebirth was assured. It was even thought that the presents of the feathers actually helped in the life hereafter. This custom had a side effect. The feathers now became closely linked with death and people, forgetting the original association with immortality and rebirth. People started to dread the presence in their home of peacock feathers as they spelled death; they were no longer an assurance of life ever after but an omen of doom.

Greek and Roman Mythology

In popular Greek and Roman mythology, peacock feathers were considered all seeing. This belief was perhaps enforced by the myth of Argus. Legend has it that the eyes of the peacock were those of Argus the hundred-eyed giant. He was a loyal servant of the Goddess Hera. She transferred the eyes of her servant to the tail of the peacock so that she would always have ‘an eye’ on Zeus, her unfaithful husband. When she realized Zeus had been with the maiden Io, Zeus cleverly turned Io into a cow to conceal her from Hera. When Hera saw through the disguise she requested the cow as a gift, and Zeus could not refuse her. Hera implored Argus to keep watch over Io, so she could not be changed back to human form and be with Zues. Zeus then sent Hermes to recover Io. Hermes knew that he could not escape detection from Argus’ 100 eyes so. He began to play sleepy lullabies on his flute and soon Argus’ eyes closed and he fell asleep. Hermes then cut off his head. When Hera found Argus, dead and headless, she removed his one hundred eyes and placed them on the tail of her favorite bird, the peacock. The peacock became sacred to both the Greek and Roman civilizations, which treasured it as the guardian of their temples, wifely virtue and conjugal rights. Only priests were allowed to handle the beautiful bird and any other ordinary person doing so could be put to death for such a sacrilegious crime. Possession of even one peacock feather defied sacred tradition and therefore, to have such a feather at home would create bad luck.

Hindu

Peacock feather are prominent in Hindu mythology. The feather and the bird appear in many Hindu stories and myths. The bird itself is said to have angel feathers, a devil’s voice and the walk of thieves. Several gods and goddesses are depicted at riding the bird, but Krishna was said to have worn the feathers of the peacock in his hair. Today many gurus use peacock feathers to deliver the blessing called Shaktiput to their disciples.

And it doesn’t end there. Many more religions and cultures have placed special significance and power in the peacock feather. Muslims, Ancient Japanese Mythology, many ancient and modern Chinese traditions and even Christianity all recognized the symbolic stunning beauty of the peacock feather.

 

To view our selection of peacock feathers, check out: http://www.wholesalefloral.com/Peacock_Feathers_s/96.htm

How to Grow Roses


How to Grow Roses

Roses are some of the most sought-after flowers you can grow. The flowers have a light perfume that will fill your garden with a pleasant scent. These symbols of passion have been bred to thrive in almost any environment with just a bit of care.

  1. Choosing your Roses – Shrub and landscape roses are disease resistant and ideal for beginner and seasoned gardeners alike. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, but you should consider a popular variety, as top species are prized for their beauty and hardiness. Daydream, Starry Night and Knockout roses are good places to begin your search. The Daydream rose is a compact bush available in pink and yellow, growing no more than 2 feet high. It does well in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones four and five. The Starry Night rose is a brilliant, white flower that grows up to 6 feet high and thrives in USDA zones six through nine. The Knockout Rose is a popular variety that produces showy flowers ranging from red to pink in color. It is very hardy in USDA zones four through 13.
  2. Selecting the Planting Site – The correct planting location is the most important factor when you are growing roses. If you are outside of your species’ ideal planting zone, set up an indoor location so the roses do not get too cold at night. The area must provide about six hours of direct sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoons. To prevent disease and encourage moisture evaporation, the planting site needs good air circulation. However, roses cannot tolerate high winds. Space rose bushes at least 3 feet apart if you are planting multiples. Choose a location away from other trees and shrubs, as they will compete with the roses for light and nutrients. The roses need well-drained soil to prevent root rot. Test your ground by digging a 2-foot-deep hole and filling it with water. The water should drain within three hours. If you are planting the roses in a container, pick one with drainage holes in the bottom. A 15-inch planter should suffice for most species. Avoid placing your roses beneath a gutter or roof, as water droplets can damage their petals and cause disease.
  3. Soil Preparation – Roses are not picky about the type of soil they grow in. A high quality, general potting mix will keep most species healthy. If you are planting the roses in the ground, dig a 2 feet deep and 1 foot wide hole. Fill the bottom of your planter or hole with 1 inch of medium-sized gravel to prevent water buildup, and then add about 6 inches of your potting soil. Do not add more soil until you have planted your roses.
  4. Planting Roses – Roses grow best when planted in the spring, after the last frost has passed. This gives their roots an entire season to stabilize before winter arrives. However, roses can tolerate planting during the summer and early fall as well. Gently remove your roses from the container, if they have one, and brush dirt from the root ball with your fingers. Place the plant in the center of your hole or planter and fill in around it with potting soil. Create a mound of potting soil around the base of the main stems to protect the roots.
  5. Watering and Nutrients – Roses need regular and generous water to grow. How often you must water your roses will vary, but their soil should always remain moist to the touch. Avoid getting water on the roses’ leaves or petals, as this can cause disease. To retain moisture and provide your roses with nutrients, they need a layer of mulch. Spread 2 inches of mulch atop the potting soil once in the spring and once in the fall. Chipped oak, pine needles or shredded bark are ideal choices. Fertilizing your roses keeps their flowers brilliant. Select a fertilizer designed specifically for roses and add it after the plant grows its first set of bushy leaves. Fertilize the roses again after their first bloom.
  6. Winter Care – Caring for roses during harsh, cold temperatures is the surest way to bring them back next season. After the first frost, cut the plant back to 18 inches high with pruning shears and tie the stems together with twine. This protects the plant from severe damage caused by winter winds. Loosely pack 1 foot of soil around the tied stems to insulate the plant and its roots. Top the soil with straw for added protection from the cold. When spring arrives, watch your roses closely and look for new growth. After the plant begins producing leaves, remove the straw, potting soil and twine to allow it to receive sunlight. Add a new layer of mulch and begin watering your roses as usual to help them recover.
  7. Pruning Roses – Pruning keeps roses healthy by controlling the plant’s growth and preventing it from expending energy unnecessarily. Wait until after removing the winter protection to prune your roses so frost does not damage the cut areas. Pick a sharp set of pruning shears and sanitize their blades with rubbing alcohol to prevent disease. Cut away dead stems as close to the plant’s base as possible. Observe the plant and cut off any stems that rub against a larger stem, as this contact can create infection. Finish the pruning by trimming the roses to the height and shape you prefer, cutting away only what is required. Do not prune the roses again until the following year to prevent damaging the plant.

Tips and Warnings

If you would like to cut roses for decoration, take the flowers just before they bloom. Make a diagonal cut across the stem, at least 4 inches down, and place it in a glass of water. The flower will open in a few days, creating a beautiful centerpiece or gift for a loved one.

Once you have started them, roses are easy to maintain in proper conditions. In some cases, roses might grow too well and take over a garden. If this happens, you must dig at least 6 inches deep and cut the stem off here. Repeat the process each time it returns.

If you notice any black or rotting areas on your roses, cut the affected stems away immediately and treat the plants with disease-killing spray.

All materials required to grow roses are available from plant nurseries and garden centers.

Planning a Garden


A beautiful garden can be a welcome addition to any home. Besides providing curb appeal and visual charm, a garden can give you satisfaction, a worthwhile hobby– even lunch! It does take maintenance, however. Before you embark on any gardening project, there is a certain amount of planning involved. Then, once you have finished your preparing and planting, you will have to stick to a weekly schedule of pruning, watering, and weeding to keep your plants lush. However, as long as you know what you are getting into and do your research well ahead of time, it should be a manageable and enjoyable task.

Ten Questions

Before starting a garden, the aspiring green-thumb must ask themselves ten questions about the project, the area, and their own goals. Once these are answered, you can head to your local nursery to get materials and get started!

1. What type of garden do I want? Are you looking to grow your own herbs and vegetables? Will this be a significant source of produce for you, or just decor? Decide whether you want to grow food, flowers, or both.

2. What kind of look do I want? Take a walk around your neighborhood and get a feel for which homes have landscaping that inspires you. Are you drawn to the wild, uneven, or almost overgrown look? Do you like the orderly lines of trimmed hedges and pruned rose bushes? Will you build a raised garden for your vegetables, or plant them in rows in a patch?

3. What are my soil conditions? Soil can be chalky, dry, clay-like, rich, acidic — much more complicated than you would expect from a handful of dirt. If you are not comfortable analyzing it yourself, shovel up a few scoops and go by a nursery or garden store near you. Their experts will probably be able to tell you about your soil, and which plants will be happiest growing in it.

4. What kind of sunlight will I have? The three main categories are direct sunlight, partial sunlight, and shade. The amount your garden receives is determined by the hours of sun a day. Anything under four is considered shaded, while anything over eight is quite sunny. Some plants are hardy enough to make it with very little sunlight, in fact, certain flowers cannot handle burning sun for too long. By understanding your light conditions, you lessen the risk of drying out your plants.

5. Am I building or starting from scratch? Maybe you bought a house with untrimmed hedges, weeds that have spread out of control, and a smattering of perennial flowers. A little love and care can give you a good start on a fresh garden without ever having to go to the store (except for gloves and trimmers of course.) On the other hand, if you hate what your yard looks like now, or if you have dry soil or a rock garden, you will most likely need a lot more supplies to get to a presentable state. Which brings us to our next question…

6. How much money can I spend on this project? If you’re planning to take on gardening as a serious hobby, you can buy exotic flowers, an array of peppers and leafy vegetables, potting soil, fertilizer, soil aerators — the whole works. Struggling college students or new homeowners may feel more comfortable starting with a window box or a small herb garden. You can invest very little money and still have a lovely patch of land to come home to.

7. How much time can I invest in my garden? All the money in the world will not make a bit of difference if you do not have time after work to water your flowers. Can you prune and maintain a rose bush? Or should you start with some hearty petunias or ivy and see how it goes?

8. How big is my ideal garden? When shopping for plants, you will want to have a good idea of how much space in square feet you plan to plant in. Many flowers have a note on the tag indicating a quick or slow growth rate. This should help you gauge the amount needed to fill an area. Vegetables will often have a similar reference guide, letting you know how much space each plant requires. You do not want to over-crowd, but you also want to make sure you are not left with huge empty patches of dirt between sparse flowers.

9. What are my most significant challenges? Whether you consult a gardening book, a magazine, or an expert in your neighborhood, you should be aware of problems that could arise. Do you have a beloved pet that has digging issues? Are any of your current plants sick? Though it seems strange to think of plants as contagious, a single orange tree suffering from greening could infect new plants of many varieties and waste your investment.

10. What is my primary goal? Overall, what do you hope to achieve by starting this garden? Many new gardeners are looking for a hobby to keep them occupied. Others, overwhelmed by their busy lives, are hoping to create a sanctuary where they can become lost in the simple pleasures of watering and weeding a few times a week. Are you trying to live “greener” by making some of your own food? Could you eventually see yourself sharing the fruits of your labor with friends and family, or even selling flowers or veggies at a local farmers market? Having a clear concept in mind keeps you from getting overly ambitious, and gives you a concrete goal to work toward as you begin to work. Once you have mapped out your plan and jotted down simple answers to these ten questions, all that remains is preparing your space, shopping, and maintaining your new garden throughout the year.

Preparing

Before you go to the store, get your yard ready for the garden. Cut the grass, and use a turf-builder or fertilizer to make sure it is coming in thick and healthy. Blow or rake leaves to let sunlight and moisture get to the soil. Clear the garden area of rocks and twigs, and if necessary do some watering. If you are not quite ready to invest in a built-in sprinkler system for your home, twenty dollars or so will get you a hose and an oscillating sprayer. Plan to spend at least one week getting to a base level of health in your lawn, depending on if you need to include more complex preparations like aerating or weed killing.

Shopping

Once you have done the research and the legwork, it’s time to hit the stores. You can shop at a local nursery or a big box store like Walmart or Home Depot. Bear in mind, though, that small, family-owned businesses are more likely to take the time to personally help you to plan your garden. As an added bonus, they may be familiar enough with the soil and climate conditions in the area that they can help you address any of your unanswered questions at this point. Consider how important these issues are to you in comparison with price and selection, and the ability to get a wide variety of supplies at one place.

You’ll almost certainly need to get a bag of potting soil or fertilizer. Read the back of the bag carefully; your knowledge about the size of your garden and conditions of the space tell you all you need to know when choosing. Next, select your plants. For flower gardens, you’ll want to consider aesthetics and life cycles in addition to the factors we’ve addressed so far. Choose flowers you find beautiful. A variety of heights, shapes, and colors makes for a more visually striking garden. Play around with non-traditional flowers and more common varieties, such as posies, sunflowers, or impatients. Think about how often you will want to replant.

For vegetable gardens, think about the produce that often makes it onto your grocery list. Then consider your skill level. For rookies, a tomato or pepper plant can be very forgiving. It produces fruit often and can handle a little bit of neglect or accidental ill use. Rosemary and basil are good starter herbs; they can even be grown in a kitchen window or patio in pots, then planted outside once they are a little stronger. Once you feel comfortable, expand into cabbage, spinach, or berries. Ask the employees at the nursery which plants do best in your area, and during which seasons they should ideally be planted.

Once you have your plants, soil, and fertilizer, make sure you have a watering can, gloves, and any supplemental supplies suggested by your guides. Many gardeners swear by glass watering bulbs that control the flow of water to potted plants. It is a great way to prevent over-watering new plants, not to mention getting a feel for the amount of water each plant will need.

Maintaining
You did it! You’ve plotted your plot, dug in the dirt, and your new garden is looking just the way you want. To keep it thriving, it’s important to constantly consider the soil, moisture levels, sunlight, and weed control. The soil should take care of itself, but some plants can be a little taxing on dry earth, so be prepared to fertilize up to once every couple of months. You can do this naturally with a compost pile, or pick up a large bag of commercial fertilizer to keep on hand. Moisture is a huge factor in the growth and health of plants. Plan to water twice a week (maybe when you take out the trash). Window boxes and hanging pots have slots at the bottom which make it almost impossible to use too much water, but once plants are in the ground you want to avoid drowning them. Check the soil with a pinky finger and adjust based on weather conditions. You may not need to water for a while after a heavy storm, but flowers surviving a drought will need near daily watering. Sunlight conditions are unlikely to change, but do a check on overhanging branches every three months. You may need to trim back. For some low-lying plants a thin layer of fallen leaves can actually serve as a natural fertilizer and shield from the elements, for others it can mean almost instant death. Keep things clean accordingly. Finally, every gardener must contend with weeds. They can quickly choke out a garden and tarnish a beautiful landscape. Like fleas on a dog, you can opt for a scheduled chemical blast or try to keep up by hand. Weekly pulling up of rogue weeds can work just fine, as long as you pull up the whole root and the problem does not become overwhelming. Once weekly is also a good schedule for pruning bushes and hedges; you will not believe the benefits of a simple trim. Start with dead branches or overlong stems, and use clippers to make a clean cut. Within days you should see new green sprouts coming from the dry brown wood you cut. By continuing to prune, you can grow a rose bush or holly hedge exponentially into a flourishing plant.

Garden planning is hard work, and the process is unique for each person and area. Take into consideration the environment you will be gardening in and remember, the beauty of a garden is that nothing is permanent. If a flower simply fails where it is planted, you have the opportunity of choosing a new one and learning from your mistakes. Often your garden will take on a life of its own and bless you with unique surprises. Be prepared to slowly expand your garden as you become more comfortable, eventually including plants you would never have dreamed of cultivating– you may never have even heard of them before you embarked on this journey! Above all, take your time and enjoy the process.

Start a Retail Florist


No matter what the occasion is, everyone loves to receive flowers. Even when someone is sad, they find it hard not to smile when they see a bunch of flowers delivered to their door. Flowers are sent as gifts to convey a variety of messages, such as “Congratulations,” “Get Well,” “I’m Sorry” or “I Love You.” Flowers are also used on a daily basis to decorate offices, hotels and homes. Plus, seasonally, during Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and Valentine’s Day there is a boost in floral sales around the world.

Starting your own florist business is one way to be your own boss and to artistically express yourself. Not only will you be able to enjoy the benefits of working for yourself, you can also feel a sense of satisfaction that you are creating something that will make someone smile. To succeed as a florist you must not only have the creative talent to make breathtaking displays, but you should also have some business sense, enough materials to get you started and a great support system backing you up. The support you get from your friends and family will help you both physically and emotionally prepare for your grand opening. Their continued support will help you and your business long after opening the doors for the first time.

Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you successfully open a new retail florist business.

Know What You Want

Before you start making plans for your blooming retail floral business, you need to sit back and determine what type of floral business is you want to work. There are so many different types of floral businesses out there for you to choose from. For example, some florists only offer services to businesses, while others only cater to brides-to-be. Smaller floral shops have been opened in hospitals offering cheerful “Get Well” arrangements that are easy to take care of and small enough to fit in a hospital room. There are also full-service florists, which are the most common ones out there, that offer everything florally possible, including items for weddings, funerals, gift giving, balloons and delivery service.

Another thing to consider is what types of products and services you would like to offer your clients. For example, will you be offering complete arrangements and are they custom-made or pre-made? Or will you be offering single flowers or bouquets? Another question to ask yourself is if you will be offering a silk floral line as an alternative to customers who do not want real flowers. Make a list of everything you want to offer and who your target clientele will be. This will help you when it is time to write up your business plan.

Name Your Business

After you have decided what type of services you want to offer, you will need to come up with a name for your retail floral business. You can keep this as simple as your first or last name, such as “June’s Floral Shop” or make it unique such as “Seaside Flowers.” The name you choose should be something that is easy to remember. This way customers will be able to easily remember you when they need to order their next floral arrangement. The name should also be something you like, because you do not want to have to go through legal channels just for a name change.

Knowledge is Power

Now you have a business name and an idea of what services you want to offer, so it is time to educate yourself. Spend a day or two going to other floral shops in your area. Find out what your competition is offering, ask questions about the services they offer and the prices for each one. Make notes of the customer service they offer and how they handle your questions. This will give you an idea of prices in the area and how other floral shops are presenting themselves to the community.

You will also want to learn simple business-related items, such as bookkeeping, buying, selling, managing costs and marketing. A good knowledge of customer service practices is a necessity of operating your own floral business. If you do not already have these skills you can check with local business organizations and community colleges to see if they offer any classes on how to operate a business and dealing with customers.

Well, it goes without saying, that if you plan on opening a floral business, you should be knowledgeable about the floral and garden industries. This knowledge will help you with your floral design, storing, proper handling and nutrition of flowers. You must know the different types of plants and flowers there are and how to take care of each one. This information is important because you can not only use it within your business, but you will also be able to answer any customer questions about their flower purchase or plants they have at home. Customers are more likely to return to your floral shop in the future if you are able to give them answers to the questions they ask.

Purchase some flowers, practice making arrangements and take lots of photographs. The more you practice the more sample pictures you will have to show your customers. Also, if you practice ahead of time you will get a feel of what it will be like to make a lot of arrangements and if this is the business you truly want to get into.

Make a Business Plan

Now onto the business plan. Your business plan should include everything your want your business to be, what is needed to get it there and how you are going to implement the plan. Important items to include in your business plan are your target demographic, your budget, division of costs and profits and things you will need. A well written business plan can help you get a loan to cover all or just a portion of your start-up costs. Lenders like to see what you plan to do with their money and how you plan to make the money to pay them back.

Part of your business plan is the budget, which will include how much money you need to pay rent, buy supplies, pay for advertising, pay employees and all other costs related to your business. The start-up costs for a floral business can run between $10,000 to $50,000. Actual start-up costs will depend upon the location you choose to open your floral shop and how much inventory you need to get started.

Find a Location

Some things to consider when looking for a place for your floral shop are location, convenience and accessibility. Think about the neighborhood where your shop will be located and make sure it is a safe one. You will also want to look to see if it is both accessible from the street (with plenty of parking) and from the sidewalk. This will ensure customers can get to your business not matter if they are driving or walking by.

Your business location should have plenty of display window space in the front of the building and enough space inside to accommodate your floral needs. The inside of the building should equipped with a sink, a walk-in cooler and lots of storage space. If the building does not already have these items, you need to make sure there is enough space to have them installed. You will also need to have enough space for a work station, a retail section, a display cooler and a storage cooler.

Finally when looking at a location, consider any expansion possibilities. If you buy the building, check to see if there will be enough room to expand the building as your business grows. Or if you are renting, ask the landlord if there is a possibility of expanding into a space adjacent to your floral shop.

Stock Up

Sit down and make a list before going out and buying everything you need for your floral business. Things you will need to purchase include flowers, flower supplies, decorations, office supplies and business supplies. The plants and flowers can be purchased from a wholesaler or local grower. Try to find a reputable wholesaler, especially one who stands behind his products and offers a money back guarantee. A good wholesaler is one who will let you look at the product before you buy it. Some wholesalers also hold seminars and classes to show florist what is new on the market, the latest floral trends and new techniques.

You might want to purchase floor mats for your work station to keep your feet cushioned while working. Your work area should also have large trash receptacles and be fully stocked with all of the floral designing tools you need, including floral foam, baskets, vases, Styrofoam, ribbon, floral tape, wire, holiday decorations and any other items you will need to make bouquets and floral displays.

For the office you will need to stock up on a variety of supplies, such as pens, note pads, order forms, care tags, a computer, phone, fax machine, copier and calculator. You might want to consider getting a 1-800 number with multiple lines coming into the business. Other supplies you will need to get started include a calendar, business cards, fliers and a website.

In the beginning keep your inventory of all supplies — business and floral — limited to only what you need. Remember, you can always add supplies to your business as it grows.

Service Sign-Up

Sign up for all of the services you need to properly and smoothly run your floral business. To help with ordering you will need to sign up with FTD and/or Teleflora. All businesses need shipping services, which are available through UPS, USPS and Fed Ex. Consider signing up for a business account with each of these companies. Sign up with a bank or credit service so you can accept credit cards from your customers.

Get Licensed

In order to legally open your doors as a florist you need to have a business license, tax identification number and permits. Check with your local county clerk for a listing of all legal requirements needed to open your business.

Bank Accounts

Sign up for a business bank account at a local bank. This account will be used to pay business related expenses, pay employees and to purchase more flowers. If desired, you can also sign up for a business credit card that can be used to make all inventory purchases.

Get Insured

Insurance is needed to help protect both you and your business. Should someone come into your store and get hurt, you will need the insurance to cover the injury and ensure you do not lose your business. Check around with local insurance agents and get written quotes for the type of business protection you want. You will also want to ask your insurance agent what the state and local insurance laws are and make sure you get the coverage required.

Hire Employees

Though you may want to start out small, you might want to still hire an employee or two to help you out. Even if you hire someone to answer phones and help customers and another person to handle deliveries. This will ensure you have the time to work on orders, displays and running the business side of things. As your business grows you can always add more staff as needed.

Though he may not be a direct employee, you might want to look into hiring an accountant. He will take care of all of your business taxes, deductions, payroll and help with a budget. If you are not good at keeping records, this is one person you will need for your business to be successful.

Advertise and Market Yourself

Your advertising can be as simple as getting a space in the local yellow pages and running a small ad once a week in the newspaper. Other methods of advertising can include local radio stations, magazines, television stations and other publications. Since advertising can get costly, there are others ways of promoting your business.

Sign up with the local chamber of commerce and start attending networking luncheons, dinners and coffee. These networking sessions offer members a chance to meet other members and talk about their businesses in front of others. You can also network with other wedding related businesses, such as bridal shops, local restaurants, caterers, photographers, DJs, hotels, country clubs and other wedding-related services. Offer to set up a display for their business in your shop if you can do the same in theirs.

Another advertising method is to leave your mark around town. Ask local businesses if you can leave your business cards or brochures there for customers to see. Offer to do the same for them in your shop. You can also hang your brochures on community bulletin boards. Carry your business cards with you everywhere you go. This way you can hand them out when you see someone who is in need of your services and also drop them in drawings. Drawings can not only get your name out there, but you might also win a free lunch.

Online marketing is the way of today. Set your floral shop up with a website and promote it on all of your printed material. Set you business up with a Facebook and Twitter account that you can use to list upcoming specials, post photo samples and have a way to communicate with your customers. You can also write a blog for your customers to read on a regular basis. Things to include in the blog are how to take care of plants and flowers, what are the best flowers to give for a certain occasion, wedding trends, upcoming specials at your shop and how to create your own bouquet. Customers will love your online tips and will call or come in your shop when they have other questions that are not answered online.

Advertising is just like stocking up on supplies. Only advertise when and where your budget allows in the beginning. You can always add to it and expand your advertising range as your business succeeds and grows.

Open House

You have your location selected and it is filled with lots of inventory, but business is not as booming as you hoped. Let everyone in the community know you are open for business and the services you offer by hosting an open house. Pick a night when people can come in, take a tour of your floral shop, meet you and your employees and have some snacks and drinks. Send out press releases to all local media, including newspapers, radio stations and television stations. Offer a thank you package to everyone who comes to your open house, which can include a flower and a coupon.

Another alternative to hosting an open house is to host a bridal fair at your floral shop. Invite other wedding-related businesses to join you on a Saturday or Sunday. Have a space in your shop where each vendor can set up and showcase their services. Everyone involved can share in the duties of the fair. For example, have the caterer bring some food, let the DJ take care of the music and have the photographer take pictures to send to the newspaper with a press release about the event.

Hopefully these tips can help you get your new floral business off to a great start.

Beach Wedding Themes


The beach wedding represents a more casual take on an event that can sometimes be too formal for everyone to enjoy themselves. Consider these following theme ideas, or combine them with your own tastes, to create a beach-themed wedding that is truly representative of you and your beloved as a couple.

 

Pirates

What’s more fun than a pirate-themed wedding? Pirates have been all the rage since the release of the movies featuring one Johnny Depp. With bottles of rum — empty or full, your choice — leather boots and fancy hats, there’s no better way to ensure that everyone involved remembers the wedding. Rocks draped in fishnets, seaweed and starfish add a natural touch. Photos can be taken in front of a pirate ship backdrop, if you wish. Finally. the happy couple themselves can dress as a pirate king and queen or a pirate and his captured hostage. There’s so many ways to have fun with this idea, you’ll never stop laughing.

 

Pearls

Brides often wear pearls on their wedding day, but have you ever considered doing an entirely pearl-themed wedding? Not only can pearls adorn necks and wrists, but both white, pink and black variants are available. Extend the theme by including clam shell-shaped decor, which can easily hold place cards or simply serve as finishing touches. Pearls can adorn lighting fixtures, chairs and tables at the reception, too. Faux-pearls are ideal for lining the aisle and chains or sprigs of pearls can be added to the bride and bridesmaids’ bouquets.

 

Flip Flops

Many beach weddings occur sans footwear. However, this is a great way to show your laid back demeanor by wearing flip flop sandals, sometimes known as thongs. Couples can pose in adorable photos in their shoes and guests can even be provided with flip flops to slip into before the ceremony. Some companies even offer custom printing on flip flops, so these can become a take-home gift with the names of the lovebirds and the date of their wedding on the shoes. The straps can even be adorned with tiny seashells. The women especially will enjoy comfortable sandals, rather than painful pumps which they kick off halfway through the reception. Alternatively, you can provide your guests with tiny flip flop key-chains as parting gifts.

 

Simple Elegance

Sometimes simple is best, and it’s easy to pull off when you’re married by the ocean. Elegant beach weddings often include a simple flowered arch, under which the new bride and groom say “I do.” Bridesmaids can stand up in pastel colors. Sundresses are always popular, while lace variants that are a throwback to olden times are also appropriate, especially if paired with colored, lace parasols. The gentleman can wear matching ties, flowers or cummerbunds to tie the theme together.

It’s easy to pull off this look with simple hairstyles for the women. Loose braids or the inclusion of flowers or ribbons are perfect feminine touch but not so cumbersome as to require a lot of maintenance. Flowers are not only a natural accessories, but you can use them to decorate tables and chairs, too.

 

Casual in Khakis

Beach weddings are the perfect occasion to wear khakis. The less-stuffy wear is ideal for the sand-strewn and sometimes windy locations. Another positive is that sand and khakis match, so it’s much less obvious if the material sticks to your pants. If you’re ultra casual, you can even opt for comfortable yet tactful khaki shorts. Khakis work well with white button-down shirts, and this look will never detract from a bride in a stunning white dress, which can be more casual itself. The look helps set the tone for a beach bedding and is comfortable enough to wear during the reception, too!

 

Going on a Cruise

The cruise wedding theme is perfect if you’re actually headed to a cruise with your honeymoon. You can decorate tables and chairs with life preservers and similar props. Captains hats are functional items of apparel, but would also look cute as centerpieces. if you’re a fan of less traditional seating, you can arrange chairs and tables so that it appears your guests are sitting aboard life rafts.

 

Hula in Hawaii

Who wouldn’t want a hula wedding? Grass skirts, flowered leis and outlandish shirts are staples of this kind of wedding. Bikinis, even with coconut cups, will never be out of style. As evening falls, you can light tiki torches to light the way to an entertaining receptions. Classic Hawaiian music and drums will only add to the ambiance of your special day as well. Decor can nod to coconuts, volcanoes and, for your reception, you can have a raucous luau complete with fire dancers and roasted pork.

 

Sports Themes

Anyone who is active in seaside activities can appreciate a sports-themed wedding. Seaside ideas include scuba diving or surfing. Perhaps consider a fishing theme for the landlubber who enjoys spending the weekends on a dock by the lake. Real or miniature equipment for all of these sports can be used as decor. Who wouldn’t laugh if the bride and groom made their vows in scuba gear and then jumped into the ocean for a quick dip? This is the type of theme that is also suitable for sailing aficionados and water skiers. Canvas sales are a great way to decorate a large area with ease.

 

Seaside Refuse

Unfortunately, many of our world’s beaches are strewn with trash, but have you ever considered working that element into your wedding theme? Pieces of glasses are often worn smooth by the water, and artists will scavenge the beaches for these items. They can be crafted into jewelry for the bride and female participants or used with beads as part of centerpieces. Driftwood is perfect when you want a more natural beach-side wedding, and there’s always plenty of discarded fishnets to be found. This idea is perfect for the Eco-conscientious couple. Even if you simply want to incorporate some of these ideas into another beach theme, you can’t go wrong.

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