With the RHS Chelsea Flower Show just around the corner we thought we’d take a look at some gardens made famous by exciting myths, legends and religious beliefs. Read more
This year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show is shaping up to be one of the most spectacular in its long history. Over the years the trends of Chelsea have inspired the very latest gardening and floral trends and 2012 looks to be no exception.
The rain doesn’t look like it’s going to let off any time soon – but that’s good news because it makes it easy to save water should the drought continue through summer.
Here are our top tips on how to make the best of this natural resource:
Interflora UK has launched a campaign to promote its mobile ordering service ahead of Mother’s Day next Sunday, following its recent appointment of Manning Gottlieb OMD.
Interflora and MG OMD have created a series of interactive flower displays for London commuters to promote its mobile website and three hour delivery service.
The experiential builds will include large flower arrangements alongside big canvases with QR codes for commuters to download and experience how easy it is to order flowers through the mobile site.
People are also encouraged to tweet @MercuryMan, Interflora’s Messenger God, to explain why their mum deserves a bespoke bouquet worth £1,000.
The displays will be at Euston, Liverpool Street, Paddington and Waterloo from 8 March until next Saturday (17 March).
Interflora’s Mercury Man will be out and about at the London stations and around the city promoting the giveaway by handing out cards and flowers.
Michael Barringer, marketing director at Interflora, said: “It’s great to see Mercury brought to life in the run up to Mother’s Day. Mercury Man will be out and about in London this week and then out visiting other parts of the country across 2012.
“With so many special occasions occurring every day of the year, it’s fair to say that even after Mother’s Day Mercury Man will always be on hand should the great British public need his help.”
This experiential activity follows Omnicom media agency MG OMD’s recent appointment to Interflora UK’s £1m media planning and buying account.
According to the expert florist, Karen Barnes, Head of Floral Gifting at Interflora, it’s all about vintage in spring 2012. Antique-style containers filled with soft, pastel shades of pink, blue, yellow, green and cream are going to be gracing homes across the country.
Combining a vintage look with a refreshing twist, flowers for this spring will be elegant and beautiful, giving your home a clean, light feel. The best way to pair both vintage and refreshing is to choose simplistic and clean flowers, such as spray roses or tulips, and display them in antique china vases or ceramic cups.
You can also use teapots, decorative watering cans, biscuit tins, and anything else with that vintage, lived-in look. Vintage style flower arrangements are typically quite large and fill the container completely. Don’t be afraid to stick with just one colour in your arrangement; simplicity is the key here.
Below we’ve listed a few of our favourite flowers that will fit in perfectly with your vintage theme:
Roses – these gorgeous flowers come in a variety of shapes and colours and are readily available all year round. For the vintage look choose flowers in shades of cream, peach and pink and go for a larger, English rose variety such as Gertrude Jekyll or Othello, to make a really eye-catching arrangement.
Carnations – you can find these wonderful flowers with a stylish two-tone effect that looks great when displayed in a dainty china teapot or vase. The white variety with the red edge and the deep purple with cream are particularly delightful and you can mix and match whichever colour combinations you prefer.
Calla Lilies – for a more elegant and simplistic style, choose a few white calla lilies, arranged with a little green foliage, and display in a clean, white vase. The unique shape of this lily makes it a wonderful, stylish addition to your home and it will also give off a fresh, aromatic fragrance as well.
The winner of this year’s International Garden Photographer of the Year 2012 was Magdalena Wasiczek with her picture of a sweet pea entitled ‘Upside Down’.
Born in 1973, Magdalena is from Trzebinia, Poland and is a graduate from Jagiellonian University in Philology. When describing the winning photograph, the judges commented on the “subtlety and balletic simplicity of this picture.”
Andrew Lawson – International Garden Photographer of the Year judge said; “The brimstone alighting on a sweet pea is a fortuitous event, brilliantly seen. The butterfly and the flower are the perfect complement to each other. The outlines of the insect’s wings are continuous with the lines of the flowers; and the patterning on its wings picks up an echo of the pink colour of the flowers.”
The competition is now in its sixth year and is open to all levels of skill; from amateurs to professionals. Photographers from all over the world are invited to take part and there are no restrictions on the type of camera, or the techniques used to produce the finished image.
The judges plan to select around 100 finalists whose photographs which will be printed to exhibition standard and shown at major exhibitions during 2013.
International Garden Photographer of the Year categories include;
- The Beauty of Plants
- Beautiful Gardens
- Wildlife Havens
- Breathing Spaces
- Bountiful Earth
- Trees Woods Forests
- Fragile Landscapes
- Greening The City
The Silene stenophylla has entered the record books as the oldest plant to ever have been regrown.
The seeds of the plant were discovered after a research team uncovered fossil burrows hidden in ice deposits in north-eastern Siberia. It dates back 30,000 to 32,000 years and the burrows were also found to hold the bones of large mammals, such as mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, bison, horse and deer.
“The squirrels dug the frozen ground to build their burrows, which are about the size of a soccer ball, putting in hay first and then animal fur for a perfect storage chamber,” said Stanislav Gubin, one of the authors of the study, who spent years rummaging through the area for squirrel burrows. “It’s a natural cryobank.”
The burrows were firmly cemented together and often totally filled with ice, making any water infiltration impossible – creating a natural freezing chamber fully isolated from the surface. The researchers believe the results of this experiment could prove that permafrost serves a natural depository for ancient life forms.
“We consider it essential to continue permafrost studies in search of an ancient genetic pool, that of pre-existing life, which hypothetically has long since vanished from the earth’s surface,” the scientists said in the article.
Svetlana Yashina of the Institute of Cell Biophysics of the Russian Academy Of Sciences, who led the regeneration effort, said the revived plant looked very similar to its modern version, which still grows in the same area in north-eastern Siberia.
In 1990 the Plants For Clean Air Council and Wolverton Environmental Services, Inc. began to co-sponsor research that continues to expand upon the earlier NASA research (1989). Fifty houseplants were tested for their ability to remove various toxic gases from sealed test-chambers.
Because formaldehyde is the most commonly found toxin in indoor air, the ability to remove this substance from the air was used as the standard for rating these plants. Formaldehyde has provoked more public, regulatory and scientific controversy during the past 15 years than any other substance.
Numerous sources of formaldehyde are present in the buildings we inhabit. It is found in various resins and is used to treat many consumer products, including refuse sacks, paper towels, facial tissues, fabrics, permanent-press clothing, carpet-backing, flooring-coverings and adhesives. Formaldehyde is released by gas cookers and is found in tobacco smoke. It is also used in building materials such as plywood, chipboard and panelling. Both plywood and chipboard are used extensively in the manufacture of domestic and office furniture and fittings.
Numerous adverse health problems have been ascribed to formaldehyde exposure, ranging from well-documented effects such as eye, nose and throat irritation, to more controversial claims including asthma, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and neuropsychological problems. Although evidence of cancer formation is unequivocal, the extrapolation of these results to humans has been controversial.
One concern voiced by those sceptical of these findings centres around the belief that if plants continually absorb toxins from the air, once absorption capacity is reached, the plant will die and release all of the toxins back into the air.
To address these concerns, the ability of the Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) to remove formaldehyde released from sections of panelling was tested. Two chambers were used in these experiments. The first chamber held a Lady Palm and two sections of panelling made from urea-formaldehyde resins. The second (control) chamber held only two sections of panelling and a beaker of water, to help equalise the humidity levels in the two chambers. Plant transpiration naturally increased the humidity in the first chamber.
The Lady Palm not only removed formaldehyde fumes, but its removal rate improved with exposure time. Interestingly there was no apparent damage to the plant. This phenomenon indicates that plants play a major role in delivering airborne toxins to microbes living around their roots, which can then break down the toxin. The adaptation of microbes to this task is the key to houseplants becoming better fighters against air pollution.
According to a study by Dr Tove Fjeld of the University of Agriculture in Norway, indoor plants can help to reduce symptoms of fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold related illnesses by more than 30%.
The study goes on to state: “Professor Dr Tove Fjeld and her team of researchers conducted a series of studies to ascertain whether the presence of living indoor plants could improve office workers’ health and reduce incidents of minor illnesses and ailments.
The participants were employees at a hospital radiology department. Each placed commonly-used foliage plants into containers onto a window bench and in the back corner of their office for a period of approximately three months. All worked in single office rooms which were identical with a floor area of 10msq and a window covering most of the outer wall. The participant was then required to complete a questionnaire across various stages of the research period.
The key findings highlighted that complaints regarding coughs and fatigue were reduced by 37% and 30% respectively, and hoarse throat and dry or itching facial skin each decreased approximately 23%. If the symptoms were clustered, a significant reduction was obtained.”
So there you have it; keeping a plant in your home or office can significantly improve your health and get to back to feeling 100%, so what are you waiting for? Head over to our list of the best health-boosting plants and bring some sunshine into your life today.
Every one of us has had days when we get to the office and wish that we had stayed in bed. A lack of motivation, no creativity and a general feeling of fatigue can all make us less than enthusiastic about getting to work.
However, recent research has shown that flowers and plants in the workplace can increase creativity amongst employees. We recommend putting a vase of flowers in your reception area, meeting room or on your desk to help boost your mood and get those creative juices flowing.
A scientific study at Texas A&M University showed that just a simple vase of flowers or a leafy plant can help to produce 15 per cent more ideas and innovations in an office. The study was carried out by Dr Roger Ulrich and showed a positive link between flowers and plants and workplace productivity. It found that workers’ idea generation, creative performance and problem solving skills improved substantially in workplaces that include flowers and plants.
There are a wide range of occasions when it may be appropriate to send a gift to a client or customer – so help improve their office well-being with flowers. According to a study carried out by Dr Jeannette Haviland-Jones at Rutgers University, when given gifts of equal monetary value, people responded most positively to a gift of flowers. Nearly all respondents reported having a ‘warm glow’ several days after receiving the gift.
We’ve selected the trendiest blooms for this year and come up with some great 2010 trends ideas for you to try.
Gold – everyday elegance
Treasured objects deserve to be on display – and what better way to show them off, than adorning them with a few choice cut blooms? A wine-coloured carnation, coupled with sunshine-yellow alstroemeria with its red streaks, complement the gold tones perfectly. Loosely placing the lid on top helps create the illusion of abundance, as if the flowers are spilling from the container.
The fuzzy fronds of maroon kangaroo paw and the yellow alstroemeria stem laid out beside the pot pick out the accents of the colour scheme.
If you like displaying flowers out of water, don’t worry – these flowers will last out of water for a special all-day occasion.
Copper – most fun
Create your own style of arrangement with a medley of different flowers and colours and a classic copper pot. The painted copper spot on the glossy green monstera leaf brings to whole piece together beautifully. Hanging heliconia arches over a display of burnt-orange lilies, royal-purple vanda, the spikes of deep-red bromeliads, orange leucospermum and gloriosa, and alstroemeria in tones to suit the mixture of colours.
Push the foliage into soaked florists’ foam first, then add in the tall spikes at the back, filling in the front with shorter flowers to finish off.
The Boat – for special occasions
Take a long, boat-like container and place florists’ foam inside. Poke four wiggles of bark into the foam, and then follow with four red alstroemeria. Some can be a little bit taller than others. Add in a shorter level: four carnations in a rough line, then some red arcs of euphorbia fulgens, and four fuzzy kangaroo paw. Along the bottom, add some miniature ornamental pineapples and spiny red leucospermum.
Add in cones, pods, spotty leucadendron or soft coconut husk to fill in any gaps and complete the tropical theme.
Carbon monoxide is a naturally occurring gas that living creatures produce when they breathe and is then absorbed by plants to produce carbohydrate energy. This process is one of the most important processes on earth as the plants produce oxygen as a waste product from this simple transaction.
Carbon monoxide can be fatal in large doses and it is virtually undetectable by sight or smell. Some species of house plant can absorb up to 96% of carbon monoxide from the air, making them an important addition to any home or office. Below we have included a study by Dr Bill Wolverton of NASA Research who was part of a study to determine the benefits of house plants on carbon monoxide levels.
Dr Bill Wolverton, NASA Research, 1985
Major sources of indoor pollution are tobacco smoke and the combustion of fossil fuels in heaters, gas stoves, water heaters etc. Combustion products are becoming an even greater threat to our health due to increased sealing of homes, offices, and buildings for energy conservation. Reduced ventilation contributes to a build-up of such gaseous combustion products as carbon monoxide (CO).
In 1990 the Plants for Clean Air Council and Wolverton Environmental Services, Inc. began to co-sponsor research that continues to expand upon the earlier NASA research (1989). Houseplants were tested for their ability to remove various toxic gases from sealed test-chambers.
All plants that were tested were from local nurseries, kept in their original pots and potting soil, just as they were received from the nursery and were maintained in a greenhouse between tests. All plants were in good health.
Chemical contamination tests were conducted in four Plexiglas chambers: – two measuring 61cm wide by 61cm deep and 91cm high, and two larger chambers measuring 69cm wide by 69cm deep and 122cm high.
Mounted inside each chamber was a coil of copper tubing through which water (7 degrees Celsius) was circulated. This prevented excessive heat build-up and minimised any fogging from plant respiration in the chambers. The chambers also contained two small removal ports (0.6cm), through which contaminants could be introduced and air samples obtained. A small fan was used to circulate air within each chamber.
The test concluded that highly toxic levels of carbon monoxide were reduced to non-toxic levels in 24 hours by one spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum). Therefore, more than 96% of the carbon monoxide was removed.