Thursday, 10 May 2012

Garden Bang for Your Buck: May Meeting

Kate Seaver
The May meeting was a lesson in how to get real garden bang for your buck, and in more ways than one.

First, our guest speaker Kate Seaver showed members how to turn $30 worth of grocery store flowers into five different arrangements. She also shared some great advice on how to make your flowers last longer. You can start by getting the freshest flowers possible. Did you know, for example, that most flowers in the GTA are shipped on Wednesdays? If you need fresh flowers, you'll get the freshest selection on a Thursday.

Before you begin designing your arrangement be sure to condition your flowers. This will make them last even longer. Here are a few of Kate's conditioning tips:

#1. Get your flowers into lukewarm water right away. Don't leave them on the kitchen counter. For every 15 minutes out of water, you will lose a day of flower life. Let your flowers drink.  Lukewarm water is best for oxygenating the flower head.

#2. Get rid of excess foliage. Foliage robs the flower of nutrients. Make sure no foliage sits below the water line in your vase. Foliage in water decays rapidly creating bacteria that will shorten the life span of your blooms.

#3. Give every stem a slanted cut. This helps each stem absorb more water. If you can, cut your stems under water.  This reduces the chance of air bubbles. Be sure to reserve a special set of shears just for this job and keep them clean.  Again, this reduces the risk of introducing bacteria that can shorten the life of a bloom.  

#4. Use floral food. Floral food is essentially a mix of bleach and sugar.  The bleach keeps the water clean.  The sugar feeds the flower.

#5. Change the water and floral food and re-cut stems on an angle every two days to extend the life of your blooms.

Thanks to Kate for her excellent advice and her most enjoyable presentation.  If you'd like to learn more, be sure to visit the Kate's Garden website for information on workshops.

An inside-out arrangement by Kate Seaver

After the presentation, it was time for our much-anticipated North Toronto Horticultural Society Annual Plant and Garage Sale.  This event is always an excellent opportunity to get great plant selections at great prices. Several fern-leaf peonies were snapped up at the bargain price of just $20.  They sell for double that at some larger garden centres.  

Members check out the wide selection of plants
Rocky Mei is all smiles over his new plants

The Plant and Garage Sale is our biggest fundraiser of the year.  Proceeds help the North Toronto Horticultural Society cover costs including space rentals and speaker fees.  Thank you to everyone who donated a plant or garage sale item and to everyone who came out to the sale.  A special thank you as well to the Plant & Garage Sale team who organized such a successful event.  Both our speaker and our sale helped members stretch their garden dollar just a little further.

Coming up on June 12, 2012:  Conquering Your Container Conundrums with guest speaker Margot Parker followed by the June Flower Show, one of the biggest and best of the year.  Check back soon for more details of this exciting night.

Until then, happy gardening.

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