Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Succulents Come Indoors

A rich "succulent garden" for the tabletop with various exotic grasses and blossoms

Escheveria, or succulents, have a bold textural quality to them with a distinct effect in flower arrangements. While some of the taller varieties have rather fragile petals, the clustered concentric petals of the low varieties are great to work with in arrangements and bouquets. At Robin Wood Flowers, we often bring in shipments from Holland that arrive as individual cut flower heads sharing a long and low box, each nestled in soft shredded tissue. Some varieties are available at local green houses as live plants and can be cut for use in arrangements. After cutting and trimming the stem as close to the flower head as possible, we hydrate them for a few hours in a low flat bowl with half an inch or so of water, making sure the center cut on the bottom of the blossom head touches the water.

Live succulent plants potted in the shop
For a "succulent garden" that will last indoors for a month or more, we create a base layer of green moss that will provide a scant but needed source of moisture. For varied height, we use wet floral foam or rocks beneath the dampened moss and begin layering moss, succulents, and other long lasting varieties of greens, pods, and blossoms. The moss under the succulent heads should be lightly misted with water every 4-5 days to keep them happy, depending on the humidity and heat in your home or on your terrace. If you handle them gingerly, you will begin to see tiny thread-like tendrils growing from beneath the center that draw up the moisture from the moss bed.

In bouquets or arrangements in water, a sturdy cut stem such as a rose stem can be sliced at an angle and gently inserted into the bottom center of the succulent flower head. The new stem allows you to place it in an arrangement or bouquet as you would any cut flower. Our brides have used them in their bouquets as accents and as primary flowers and we think they are a lovely addition to the bridal party.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summertime Blueberries

Clusters of blueberries on the stem
Some people might think I’m crazy to sit in a traffic jam for 20 minutes, park the car in a field of tall grass, pick my own fruit (in the rain), stand in line for 45 minutes to pay for it, then drive back to the city from rural Milford.  All for a few blueberries.

But these aren’t the berries you’ll find at the supermarket – most of them mushy and tasteless. Each of these is bursting with flavor, usually sweet, but sometimes tangy. And there’s something about that first day. Searching for the biggest, darkest blue berry, but loving the conversations that take place around the bushes ... berry recipes, family traditions, political commentary - some in several different languages. It’s an Easter egg hunt for foodies.

With (ahem) experience, you learn that the loveliest berries are sometimes hidden beneath the leaves and it’s really best to crouch down low and look up into the bush from many different angles. If the sun is in your eyes ... perfect. Other people will go to the shady side. It’s all about the benign competition and the annual Blueberry Cheese pie.

Rows and rows of blueberry bushes are ripe now through the middle of August at Rouster’s on State route 131 in Milford. Picking is only on Saturday mornings from 8 to Noon.