Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Language of Flowers, Just in Time for Valentine's

Red Rose – Purity of Love
Imagine the colors and varieties of flowers woven into your garden every summer.  Now take those colors and flowers and imagine them as a gift for Valentine’s Day.  While it may be winter still, we can all look forward to longer days and the colors of life that spring and summer will provide to us from our garden blossoms.

We have the Victorian age largely to thank for the appreciation and beauty that individual flowers bring to us.  Queen Victoria is primarily responsible for introducing this cultural focus to France, Britain and the US.  As a result, the term “Language of Flowers” first appears in printed media around 1809. Think in terms of “floriography”, the study of flowers, plant and herbs that bring us pleasure.  Add to that the historical symbolism of flowers and plants i.e. the Tudor Rose, including religious meanings for rosemary and myrtle.  Even reaching back to the late 1400s there was the “Tussie Mussie”, which hit a height of popularity during the Victorian era.  It is a simple small bouquet of flowers chosen to convey a message of like to a person.  It has 3 main elements, a small gathering of flowers, a lace like doily backing and stems wrapped in satin ribbon overall.  Some consider it to be the precursor to the contemporary bridal bouquet.

Here are some fun notes on floral/plant meanings in the Language of Flowers:


Red Carnation – admiration, my heart aches for you
Chrysanthemum - Truth
Gerbera Daisy – Innocence
Red & White roses together – unity
Baby’s breath – Purity of Heart, innocence
Bird of Paradise – given from women to men only to represent faithfulness
Balsam – Ardent Love
Calla Lilly – Magnificent Beauty
Lilac – First emotions of Love
Juniper - Protection
Red Rose – Purity of Love
Yellow tulip – Hopeless love

Now that you know some basic floral messages – have fun this Valentine’s Day.
This may be the perfect time to dig a little deeper than a red rose, a bottle of wine or chocolates for someone you care about!!

Hopeless Love



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Are some aspens trying to bloom in January? by Tina Ligon

Unseasonably warm weather can trigger aspen trees to get ready for spring long before the danger of late freezes has passed. Last year (2012) the aspen in my yard at 8000' and mostly south facing put out their leaves and then had those same leaves frozen by a late season bout of cold weather. The trees did put out some new leaves but they never looked their best all season.

Dead leaves from a freeze, large leaves that survived freeze,
and small new leaves that emerged after the freeze - they are all there
 With the up and down temperatures that we are seeing this year, this may happen again. I had calls from several neighbors last year that thought their trees were succumbing to a disease. This year I have one aspen that is close to the south side of the house that is starting to open a few buds with the warm weather recently. Hopefully the deep freeze we just went through will slow it down. Below is a link to an article in our sister blog in Jefferson County that explains how we can have blooming aspens in January.

Aspen Catkins in January! How Trees Know When to Leaf by Mary Small

Gardening for Pollinators by Tina Ligon

Sunflowers are a great attractant to pollinators

We are almost a month past the winter solstice and I am starting to notice the few extra minutes of daylight. Even though this is our coldest time of the winter, those days of sunny weather have me dreaming of gardening. I have gone through the seed catalogs and started plotting garden spaces. I have also been reading up on pollinators and ways to attrach them to your gardens and yard.

One thing I have read that I really hadn't thought about, is to be sure to plant groupings of the plants you are using to attract them. The pollinators have mostly an aerial view of your yard and are not as likely to notice a single flower. So I looked out from my deck and tried to imagine the yard through the eyes of pollinators and realized I could make some big improvements. They are not as likely to notice isolated shade plantings underneath trees. So if you have a great shade area be sure to have some plantings to lead them into the area, a pollinator highway sign of sorts.

Pollinators are more than just bees

There are several good sources for what plants are good attractants. Native plants are always a good place to start and there is a great list included in this CSU Extension publication,

One of the larger pollinators, a hummingbird on a bean blossom

Listed below are just a few other articles that I have checked out and there are plenty more if you want to do some research. Just one word of caution, always check any suggested plant lists against the noxious weed lists for your area. What is a noxious weed in your area may not be in another area. Also, if you know a plant to be a bit of a bully in your area but it is popular with the pollinators then you may want to contain it. A plant that comes to mind is dandelions. They are a great resource for the pollinators because they bloom early and often. However, you may not want them to take over your yard. Here is a good spot to mention that the use of pesticides is also a big deterrent to pollinators. Happy garden planning!