floral friday: lilac

Lilacs have always been my most favorite flower. I had a huge lilac bush next to my house as a kid and the scent of the flower brings me back every time!


common name: lilac
scientific name: Syringa vulgaris

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There are twelve different species of lilacs, the one pictured above being the common lilac. These flowering woody plants share familial ties with the olive tree and are native to woodland areas from southeastern Europe to eastern Asia. Lilacs’ commonly pale purple flowers bloom in spring time and are accompanied by that oh-so-lovely fragrance. Some varieties produce white, yellow, pink, and even dark burgundy flowers that grow in a panicle structure, resembling a grape cluster. Lilac wood is often used in carving knife handles and musical instruments.

In addition to its popularity being New Hampshire’s state flower, lilacs are celebrated during festivals in a variety of other places throughout the country including, Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, New York, California and Washington. Many of these events are happening in May, so there is still time to add them to your calendar!

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floral friday: apple blossom

Blossoms of all kinds are blooming in many places as the warmer weather arrives. Apple and cherry blossoms are some of the most quintessentially spring time flowers.


 

common name: apple blossom
scientific name: Malus domestica

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Did you know that apple trees are part of the rose family? You can see the similarities if you look closely at the structure of the woody branches as well as the tightly-clustered buds and five-petaled blooms. There are over 7,500 varieties of apples grown in the world today, making just as many types of apple blossoms. The crabapple (Malus coronaria) is native to North America, and both Arkansas and Michigan have adopted its blossom as the state flower. The flowers on these trees are not only beautiful and fragrant, but they also set the stage for the fruit. The buds form in clusters with the center flower, the “king blossom,” blooming first and producing the largest fruit.

If you’re interested in knowing more about how the barely edible crabapple evolved into the delicious varieties we consume today, I highly recommend reading Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire–and yes, it does involve Johnny Appleseed!

floral friday: flowering maple

Flowering maples were one of the very first flowers that I tried to press, and still they are among my most popular pieces due to their colorful details.


 

common name: flowering maple
scientific name: Abutilon hybridum

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Flowering maple flowers bloom like small lanterns or bells hanging downward on leafy shrubs that can grow to heights of eight feet. While flowering maples are not related to the maple family, their leaves distinctly resemble maple leaves. The flowers grow in a variety of warm colors, from pale yellow to firey orange and red, and visible veins on the petals create quite intricate patterns of contrasting colors. These veins are just as noticeable when the flowers are pressed, which often causes onlookers to wonder if they are perhaps onion skins rather than flower petals.

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floral friday: calla lily

My first apartment in San Francisco, while small itself, boasted a large backyard with numerous garden beds and loads of healthy plant life, including an oversized avocado tree, fragrant trumpet flower trees, and tons of calla lilies. When we moved in July, I didn’t know what they were until around this time of year when they began to bloom.


 

common name: calla lily or arum lily
scientific name: Zantedeschia aethiopica

calla lily floral friday

Native to Southern Africa, the calla lily is an herbaceous perennial that despite its name is not actually related to the lily family. Its large arrow-shaped leaves are a lush, dark green, which provides a beautiful contrast to the pure white spathe of the blooming flower. A spathe is a type of bract (like a leaf), which helps attract pollinators to the flowers on the spadix (spike in the center).

Calla lilies have gained worldwide recognition from various groups. In Christianity, the calla lily is often present at Easter time to represent the resurrection of Jesus. It also became the symbol of Irish republicanism in the 1920s in remembrance of the Easter Rising of 1916 when many lost their lives. Various artists also paid tribute to the calla lily’s beauty:

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Calla Lily with Roses Georgia O’Keeffe

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The Flower Seller by Diego Rivera

floral friday: african daisy

I planted a few African Daisy plants in my front yard and after only a couple years, it feels like they have taken over–I’m not complaining!


common name: African daisy

scientific name: Osteospermum ecklonis

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Native to South Africa, these daisies have a whole lot of character compared to their common daisy counterparts (Gerbera, Shasta, etc). With a range of colors from pale purple to yellow and a plethora of blooms on each bush, African daisy bushes make quite an impression. Frost or extreme heat will cause the plant to take a break from blooming, but in moderate climates like mine, these flower bloom constantly making the colorful spectacle never-ending! While I love my African daisies, you should really check out these varieties, holy moly!

gratitude: natural healing

As I get to the end of this pesky cold, I want to give a huge shout out to Angelica & Peony for the amazing Ginger Menthol Balm that helped me through the worst of the congestion and headaches. Kirsten, the fabulous maker, is a certified acupuncturist and physician of Chinese medicine. She uses her knowledge and creativity to create gentle, effective products that heal and rejuvenate the skin. Thanks to this salve packed with ginger root and menthol crystals, I am immensely grateful for breathing freely!

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flower house: a living, floral installation

I came across this gorgeous and ingenious living art installation and am so moved by its beauty and message!


 

flower house - heather saunders

Photo: Heather Saunders (http://www.theflower.house/)

A team of over twenty florists, led by Flower House creator Lisa Waud, descended on a dilapidated house in Detroit to transform it into living floral art, using flowers, branches, roots, and other natural materials. The installation went live last weekend, Oct 16th, and come Sunday, the Flower House will be responsibly torn down, repurposing many of the materials, to make way for a flower farm–how lovely. The juxtaposition of the bright, lively plants against the dark, eerie backdrop is just perfect to me. The video is mesmerizing and the images by Heather Saunders are stunning.

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Photo: Heather Saunders (http://www.theflower.house/)