April 25, 2016

Go ahead, track some dirt inside. Indoor foliage, including crazy-cool plant walls, can purify air, reduce anxiety, and hike up happiness. Follow these three uber-smart pointers to decorate your home with green things (and reap the benefits)!

Start Small
Newbies should first practice just keeping a houseplant or two alive for a few months,see our informative blogs for some 411.  Try hardy, water-once-a-week varieties such as philodendrons, snake plants, or ZZ plants.

Get Vertical
Graduate to a plant (or “living”) wall. These vertical gardens can double as artsy conversation pieces and aren’t that tough to set up.  Pot your flora in planters, then mount them—one on top of the other, in a row, however you like!—on a wall directly opposite or close to a window. Or give us a call and let us do all the hard work for you.

Add Oomph
For an even bigger setup, large wall-pocket frames can hold dozens of plants in individual cells, the overall  effect makes it appear as if an entire garden is growing directly out of a wall. Fill the various plant cells with different types of vegetation or edible herbs ( by the way, we have a blog on that too). Or create a mini forest out of ferns or succulents( blog goin’ on here too). Research from NASA suggests that indoor plants remove significant amounts of harmful contaminants from the air ( oh yeah… yet another shameless blog plug).


How to Introduce New Houseplants

February 16, 2016

4Once you’ve selected your houseplants, make sure they’re packaged properly before taking them home. Poorly packaged plants tip over and bounce around, which can damage branches. Good growers will package plants for you or give you appropriate containers so your plants can reach your home undamaged.

Cold and heat can harm houseplants, too. During the winter, warm up your car and wrap your plants before taking them outside. Never leave your indoor plants in a cold car while you do additional shopping. During the summer, buy plants with well-moistened soil, because dry plants do not resist heat well. Have overly dry indoor plants watered. Let the water drain, then pack the plants.

If left unprotected, houseplants can be damaged by wind. If you must transport a large plant in the open, cover its leafy branches to prevent them from drying out. Wrap heavy plastic or cloth around the branches and tie it to the stem. Remove the wrap as soon as you arrive home.

If your concern is not getting plants home from the store, but moving your plants from one home to another, be aware that moving companies rarely handle plants properly. You may have to question several companies about their methods of transporting plants to find one that really knows this delicate phase of the business.

One of a Kind Valentines Day Gifts

February 2, 2016

Are you looking for that one of a kind Valentines Day gift? Tired of the same old roses and chocolates? Do you have a “hard to get for” special someone? WE GET IT!!! We’ve all been there. So here are our little helpful hints, tips and tricks.

AnthuriumTry an ANTHURIUM
Anthurium plants can tolerate all levels of indirect light, but anthuriums growing in low light will have fewer flowers and will grow slower. These plants cannot tolerate direct light, however, as this can burn the leaves. It grows best in bright, indirect light.

BromeliadTry a BROMELIAD
The general rule is to water bromeliads, and when the soil around them is nearly dry, water them again. Bromeliads’ leaves grow to form a natural reservoir around the base of the plant. If water collects in the reservoir and sits over time, the roots will rot. Remove water standing in the reservoir to keep the plant free of disease. These plants prefer moist air, so if relative humidity drops below 50 percent, mist the plant to keep it moist.

Still have Poinsettias Scattered?

January 27, 2016

So the holidays are over and you still have your Poinsettias scattered even the the Clauses’ have returned to the Pole. So what to do you ask. After a crazy holiday season we can understand why you would toss them along with the tree and tinsel BUT, we encourage you to keep them, enjoy them for years to come. Here are a few tips and tricks in accomplishing that goal.

Poinsettias are easy to maintain, but it takes some effort to make them bloom a second time. To grow them after the holidays, all you need to do is treat them similar to other houseplants: Give them bright light, allow them to slightly dry between waterings, and feed them with a liquid houseplant fertilizer according to label directions. That’s the easy part. The bracts (those are the leaves that look like flower petals) will eventually fade and fall off the plant. At that point, cut back the stems to just below the flowers and let them continue to grow. Getting the plants to rebloom is the hard part. It’s likely that you won’t be able to bring all 10 plants into flower again, simply because of space limitations. In spring, once nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50*F, place your poinsettias outside where they’ll receive bright, indirect light. They will grow but will remain completely green all summer. Prune back the plants by one-half to one-third in midsummer, and repot them in the same pot, or in one that’s slightly larger if the plant has grown significantly. Use a commercial potting soil. Feed the plants with a standard houseplant fertilizer during this time of new growth. Bring the pots indoors before nighttime temperatures fall below 50*F. From September 21 through the end of October, the plants need 14-15 hours of uninterrupted darkness daily, and nighttime temperatures around 65*F. This is the secret to triggering new flowers to form and for the bracts to change color. This means that every day at about 5 p.m. you’ll need to cover the plants. Uncover them between 7 and 8 the following morning.

Grow Plants Indoors

January 19, 2016

There are many reasons to grow plants indoors — they clean the air, soften and infuse our décor with nature, and reduce the amount of stress we feel. There are a stunning array of leaf colors and textures to brighten spirits even on the shortest, dreariest winter days. But that’s not all: Pick carefully and they also provide scent — from rich and flowery to warm and spicy. Read on to discover some of our favorite fragrant indoor plants.

The gardenia is an extremely popular choice when growing aromatic houseplants. Gardenias have an intense, sweet aroma with dark green, glossy leaves and stunning white flowers. This beauty can be a bit difficult to grow indoors due to its high humidity, bright light and warm daytime temperature requirements with cool nights of 55-60 F.  Additionally, this fragrant houseplant can grow quite large, up to 6 to 8 feet tall. Caring for this aromatic plant indoors may not be the best choice for those who will not pamper it.

Scented geraniums are also a popular option for fragrant indoor plants. Caring for this aromatic plant indoors is a bit simpler than the gardenia. Geraniums have a wide range of scents from lemon, peppermint, chocolate, orange, lavender, rose and even pineapple. The fragrance of scented geraniums comes not from the blooms, but from the foliage and as a result is fairly weak. Scented geraniums need well-draining soil and cool temps of between 55-68 F.  Allow the plant to dry between watering and fertilize once a month during the winter months. Then, move the plant outside as temps warm to blossom.

Easier ones however are:
Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac) or pink jasmine is a member of the olive family and is an evergreen vine that grows outside in warm climates. It needs high humidity, warm temps and full sunlight. This jasmine has dark green leaves with tiny white flower clusters that pink up as they mature with a sweet aroma.

 Hoya carnosa or wax plant is another vine with leathery leaves. It is not as picky regarding humidity and temperature but does require bright light. The wax plant can be trained on a trellis or up a wire the better to display its white to pink star-shaped blooms. This is one houseplant that blooms most abundantly when it is root bound and should be allowed to dry between watering.

Put a Little Green in your Life

January 12, 2016

If you are looking to bring in the new year with a little luck, look no further than putting a little green in your life.

Bamboo is known for attracting joy and wealth. It offers protection and luck, can break hexes and grants wishes! Bamboo is said to help increase mental flexibility, aid in spiritual growth, help people to develop artistic talents, and encourages good health. If you’re depressed, bamboo is a great plant to have in your home, as it can help you to feel less stuck.

Basil brings love, passion, wealth, luck and beauty to your home, and we could all use a little of that! If you grow your own basil and use it to flavour your food, it’s said that you’ll awaken passion in anyone who eats it. Ooh la la! Basil is known for being an antidepressant, antiseptic and antibacterial, too.

Honeysuckle brings money into your home and offers protection. Some people believe that crushing the flowers and placing them next to your forehead can boost psychic powers. The smell of honeysuckle sharpens your intuition, too. In addition to smelling absolutely incredible, honeysuckle also has a delicious edible nectar.

Jasmine attracts love and money into your home, and encourages prophetic dreams! Jasmine oil is known for being one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs, so this is a fantastic plant for single babes or anyone wanting to keep the romance alive! Jasmine flowers are often worn by high priestesses. Incredibly, jasmine flowers open at night, which, to my mind, makes them even cooler.

As well as being bright and happy, lemons are a fantastic thing to have around the house! They symbolise purification and friendship, and it’s said that if you wear diluted lemon oil during the full moon, it will help you attune with its energies. Plus, how great would it be to have your own lemons for making drinks and salad dressings?!

Orchids represent love: they attract love, soothe the soul, and deepen friendships. The ancient Greeks associated orchids with fertility and virility, which makes them a great gift for new parents!

New Years and the Traditions it carries with it

January 6, 2016

So we are going to go off topic for this weeks blog. No design secrets. No benefits posts. Not even a how to on anything. Shocking, right?

Instead, we are going to talk about New Years and the traditions it carries with it.

Just as the parties the holidays begin to dwindle, preparations are started for the celebration of New Year. It is a time when even the least-likely party-goer will ready himself for a night of booze, singing, and food. This list looks at the most common and interesting traditions of New Year from around the world. Enjoy, heck even partake!!

First-footing is an ancient European New Year’s custom that continues into the present in many areas. The first person to enter a home after midnight on the first day of the year should be a male, preferably with dark hair. Blondes may have been associated with Vikings – visitors who never brought good luck. The first-footer should carry a gift, such as a coin for prosperity, bread for food, salt for flavor, or whiskey to represent good cheer. The first-footer can be a resident of the house, but must not be inside during the hour leading up to midnight. No fair stepping outside and coming back in again!

There is an Irish tradition of predicting the political future of the country by checking which way the wind blows at midnight on New Year’s Eve. If the wind is from the west, there is a chance that good fortune will reign that year. If the wind is from the east, however, the British will prevail. Mistletoe was handed out to ward off bad luck, and single women put a sprig of mistletoe under their pillows in hopes of catching a dream about their future husbands. Another tradition peculiar to Ireland is pounding on the doors and windows of the house with bread. This practice was to chase out evil spirits and ensure bread for the upcoming year.

Madeira, a Portugese island, holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the most lavish New Year’s party. In 2007, 8,000 fireworks per minute made up the display in Funchal, the capital city, for a total of 600,000 fireworks. Visitors from around the world fill the tiny harbor, where the dazzle is reflected. In 2009, the government is spending 12,000,000 Euros to ensure the most spectacular celebration anywhere in the world. Other famous fireworks displays take place in Rio de Janeiro, Sydney harbor, and, of course, New York City, were visitors watch the descent of the giant six-foot crystal ball marking the last moments of the old year.

For African Americans, New Year’s Day has a special significance, and is often called Emancipation Day or Jubilee Day. On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves from bondage, was read in Boston. Today, many African-American families hold “watch services” on January 1. Traditional foods include black-eyed peas, collard greens, ham hocks, and macaroni and cheese. The uniquely African-American celebration, Kwanzaa, continues over seven days starting December 26, so the New Year’s celebration is often part of Kwanzaa’s way of reconnecting people with their African roots. Kwanzaa began in the United States in the 1960s, and is not celebrated in Africa.

Here’s the biggest kicker to all of this and the bonus at the end of the page if you ask me. Ever wonder what the words actually were to “Auld Lang Syne”? It has been called the most familiar song to which nobody knows the words. But this year, you will!

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for days of auld lang syne.
We two have run around the hills
And pulled the daisies fine.
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot
Since the days of auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream
From morn till the sun was down.
But seas between us two have roared
Since days of auld lang syne.
So here’s a hand my trusty friend.
Give us a hand of thine.
We’ll take a good-will drink again
For auld lang syne.

New Years Eve Traditions From Around The World

December 29, 2015

Many New Year customs that we take for granted actually date from ancient times. This year, ring out the old and ring in the new with a New Year tradition—or two!

1. Belarus

On New Year’s in Belarus, single women place piles of corn on the ground in front of them, and then a rooster is set loose. The first woman whose pile of corn the rooster approaches will be the next to get married.

2. Brazil

In Brazil, partiers wear white on New Year’s to scare away bad spirits. Brazilians also jump over seven waves — one for each day of the week — while making seven New Year’s wishes. Those who aren’t near the beach jump three times on their right foot. Brazilians also offer a tribute of flowers to Iemanja, the goddess of water.

3. Bolivia

In Bolivia, people will cook a coin into a cake. The person who finds the coin while eating the cake gets good luck in the next year.

4. Chile

Chileans looking to make a lot of money over the next year will eat a spoonful of lentils on New Year’s Eve. In the Chilean city of Talca, locals will spend the night in the cemetery with their dead relatives.

5. Colombia

Want to spend the next year traveling? Do as the Colombians do: walk around the block once with your empty suitcase.

6. Denmark

Danes throw dishes at the front doors of their close friends. It’s considered lucky to have a lot of broken dishes at the foot of your door at the end of the night, as it’s a sign of a lot of friends.

7. Ecuador

In many South American countries (also Bolivia, Venezuela, and Brazil) you’re supposed to wear colorful underwear on New Year’s Eve. Wear yellow undies if you want to make lots of money next year, and red undies if you want to fall in love.

8. El Salvador

An hour before midnight, Salvadorans crack open an egg into a glass of water. They let it sit as the year changes, and then the next morning, they’ll try and interpret the shape of the egg, and what it might foretell in the New Year.

9. Estonia

Traditionally, Estonians try to eat seven times on New Year’s Day, to ensure strength and plenty of food in the New Year.

10. Finland

Similar to El Salvador’s egg tradition, Finns throw molten tin into a glass of water, and then try to interpret the shape of the tin as an omen for what will happen in the New Year.

11. Germany

Germans watch the British comedy sketch Dinner For One every New Year’s. The sketch is so popular that its catchphrase, “Same procedure as every year,” has now entered the German lexicon.

12. Ireland

Single women in Ireland sleep with a mistletoe under their pillow on New Year’s in the hopes of finding a husband in the next year.

13. Italy

In Rome, divers jump from the Cavour Bridge into the Tiber River. The tradition started back in 1946.

14. Japan

In Japan, people dress up as the zodiac animal of the upcoming year (2015 is the Year of the Sheep), and attend a temple where the bell is rung 108 times — a lucky number.

15. Panama

Panamanians like to burn effigies on New Year’s of anyone famous. The idea is that the effigies — called muñecos — are representative of the old year, and you are burning them to move on.

16. Peru

Residents of Chumbivilcas Province in Peru celebrate the festival of Takanakuy. The festival — which happens on December 25 — involves dancing and, most notably, fighting. People will get into fistfights to settle old beefs so that the slate is clean when the New Year rolls in.

17. Philippines

In the Philippines, it’s considered lucky to eat round foods on New Year’s. This is because round shapes are supposed to represent coins — so eating a lot of round foods means you’ll make a lot of money in the New Year. Children in the Philippines will also jump up and down as the New Year rings in, in the hopes that it will make them taller in the coming year.

18. Romania

Romanians participate in a 2,000-year-old tradition where a young man dresses up in a bear costume and dances around to scare off bad spirits.

19. Scotland

Possibly the best (and least safe) celebration is Hogmanay, in which residents swing fireballs around their heads. The fire is said to bring sun and purification in the New Year. Scots also partake in “First-Footing,” where the first person to step over the threshold of a home brings good luck. Tall, dark men are the most lucky; red-haired and blonde men and women are less lucky. First-footers are also supposed to bring whisky and bread into the home.

20. Serbia

In Belgrade, it’s tradition for an Eastern Orthodox priest to throw a crucifix into the icy waters of the Danube. The first person to dive in and retrieve it will be blessed with a healthy year.

21. Siberia

In Siberia, divers cut a hole into the ice on Lake Baikal and dive to the bottom of the lake with a tree trunk to “plant a tree” at the bottom of the lake.

22. Spain

At midnight, Spaniards try to eat a single grape for each toll of the bell at midnight.

23. Thailand

In Thailand, for April’s Southeast Asian New Year, people throw buckets of water on each other, and smear each other with talc.

24. United States

The most universal tradition in the United States is have someone to kiss when the New Year rolls in at midnight. The tradition is very nice if you’re in a relationship, but can be super depressing if you’re not.

25. Vietnam

In Vietnam, “Little New Year” is celebrated on January 23 in honor of the Kitchen God. Because the Kitchen God is said to ride to heaven on a carp to report on each family on the day of the festival, families keep a bowl of carps set aside as they eat a meal and decorate the Kitchen God’s altar.

Great Plants To Give As Gifts

December 22, 2015

Christmas Cactus – So named because they bloom at this time of year, the Christmas cactus is a great gift for the succulent lover in your life. Their blooms are red and they prefer a cool, sunny location.

Christmas Fern– Many ferns are used as natural indoor air filters. The Christmas fern is native to North America and stays green all year round. It makes an attractive house plant and can easily be planted outdoors. Its defining feature is of course its verdant leaves, since ferns don’t flower.

Cyclamen– Cyclamen thrive and bloom in cool weather. I see them more and more often here in Southern California as a winter flower. They also make good house plants. They are comparatively short plants and their flowers are quite unusual.

Orchids– Orchids are becoming one of the most popular indoor plants because of their graceful appearance and minimal maintenance requirements (that is a subjective statement, I know). They are increasingly available in different sizes and colors and make an elegant plant gift.

Traditional Holiday Plants From Around The World

December 8, 2015

Holly, ivy, mistletoe and other festive foliage was originally used during the pre-Christian times in order to ward off evil spirits, celebrate new growth and help rejoice the Winter Solstice Festival. These plants have been associated with the Christmas period ever since and are still used to decorate our homes today.

Ornamental holly berries are used in both wreaths and table centerpieces every Christmas. These particular berries are produced by 400 species of holly, which grow in the wild all around the world. Holly trees and shrubs are smooth-barked and boast delicate flowers, plump red berries and leathery, shiny leaves.
Whether you choose to hang garlands of holly from the roof, the walls or the mantelpiece, it’s guaranteed to add Christmas cheer and a little color to your home.

Mistletoe has been a symbol of peace, love and goodwill for as long as we can remember. The ritual and tradition of hanging mistletoe around our homes at Christmas time has been a pre-Christian tradition for many years, whilst the custom of kissing under the mistletoe continues today in many countries during the festive time.

Poinsettias a shrub native to Mexico – the locals call it ‘Noche Buena’, which means Christmas Eve. The plant’s connotation with the festive season began 400 years ago.
Legend has it a young girl who was too poor to provide a Christmas gift for baby Jesus was encouraged by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside. These weeds later transformed into Crimson ‘blossoms’ and have been popular Christmas decorations in North America and Europe ever since.

Ivy is specie of festive foliage, often used in wreaths and table centerpieces. A simple Christmas wreath fashioned from ivy, holly, red ribbons and other greenery will add vibrancy and color to the home. Some choose to hang wreaths from their doorways, whilst others will place them above their mantelpiece for decoration.

Christmas rose
A traditional favorite; the Christmas rose boasts an abundance of pure white flowers that often age to a color of pretty pink in the winter months. A vase brimming with red and white roses and wonderfully scented blooms makes for a gorgeous festive display, especially when teamed with gold foliage.

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