Tips & Trends
Fresh flowers add pizzazz to dreary days
When it’s white outside, you can re-enact a summer garden with fresh cut flowers inside your home. Our high-tech world of cooling, preserving, packaging and transporting—whether it’s from laboratories where hybrids are bred or growers in far off lands—permits us to get flowers to Central Ohio any time of year, even during the gray days of winter.
Fresh flowers from a trusted florist should last from 10 to 14 days. Here are some tips to optimize a bouquet’s life.
• Bacteria blocks water-carrying vessels of the flower stem and is the most common reason for bloom failure. Keep in mind that clear glass vases promote bacterial growth faster than opaque vases.
• If your flowers arrive in a vase, re-cut and replace the water after the first three days to help get rid of such bacteria. If you place flowers in water, remember to use a clean vase. Rinsing vases with a weak solution of bleach, leaving a slight residue as you fill the vase with fresh tepid water, will better preserve flowers. (Adding flower food does not prevent bacteria.)
• Ethylene is an odorless gas, naturally generated by plant parts and emitted when a plant is stressed or damaged. It’s also present where fruit may be ripening, such as the kitchen, or where exhaust fumes may be present. The more ethylene in the air, the sooner blooms fade. Flowers that have been pre-treated, such as those handled by responsible florists, are less sensitive to ethylene damage. Those particularly vulnerable include alstromeria, roses, carnations and freesias.
• Display flowers where you will see them often, but avoid sunny window areas.
• If you are setting flowers into a vase, cut away foliage that will fall below the waterline, remove damaged leaves, petals or flower heads and cut one to two inches from the stem. Immediately place them in water treated with professional flower food.
• Never use household scissors to cut flowers; stems are smashed and damaged, preventing water uptake. The most acceptable home tool is a hand pruner, but first disinfect blades with bleach.
• Mixed flower bouquets produce the longest vase life. As some flower varieties fade, remove them to give others an opportunity to show.
—Evelyn Frolking is a freelance writer and owner of Artiflora in Granville.
Spicing it up
A pinch of fresh, high-quality spice bears little similarity to that in the tired bottle, and North Market Spices shop owner Ben Walters has set out to prove it.
“Here, smell this,” he says, waving slightly the small demo jar of sweet Hungarian paprika. Sure enough, the scarlet-red powder wafts clean and earthy. Applewood smoked sea salt is his biggest seller. “Most people haven’t seen this before,” he says. “See? It’s got that campfire smell. It goes great on roasted vegetables, egg dishes, even popcorn.”
The shop opened in August and sits in the northwest corner of the North Market. It carries over 100 items, available in small- and medium-size packets or for bulk purchase. There are pure spices and more elaborate blends, such as hot Southern BBQ rub, English rub for roasts, and Mr. Bill’s seasoned salt for steaks. Walters, 28, who paid his culinary dues as a restaurant line cook, favors za’atar, a Lebanese mix of sumac, rosemary, thyme, cumin and sesame seeds, for roasted lamb and chicken.
The shop has other hard-to-find exotics: West African grains of paradise, peppercorn-like buds from the ginger family with hints of lemon, evergreen and jasmine. And gumbo file, or ground sassafras, for authentic Creole dishes. For those who test the Scoville heat scale on a regular basis, there’s cayenne, ground red pepper, jalapeño powder and the shop’s granddaddy of hot, habanero powder. Warning: sniff lightly.
Gardening novices dig the plant tips they reap while volunteering alongside horticulture pros at Central Ohio’s public gardens.
Nancy Thomas, a 71-year-old volunteer at Inniswood Gardens, planted tulip bulbs for the first time this fall. Another gardening volunteer, Kenny Jones, 58, says he’s taken home a lot of great plant advice and a few spare plants in the 600 hours he has logged this past year at the Franklin Park Conservatory.
Check out volunteer opportunities at the following community gardens:
Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens—Located on Ohio State’s main campus, there are a variety of opportunities here including managing the country’s largest collection of willows. Jenny Pope at 292-3848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dawes Arboretum—At this 1,800-acre arboretum in Newark, volunteers do a range of jobs. Sara Lowe at (740) 323-2355 or email@example.com.
Franklin Park Conservatory—Lead tours and help maintain perennial beds, vegetable gardens and indoor tropical displays at this East Broad Street location. Volunteers are also needed for the Orchid Show. Tracy Barnes at 645-5922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gardens at Gantz Farms—Known for its herb collection, these historic Grove City gardens are cared for by volunteers. Gloria Hartung at 871-6323.
Greenlawn Cemetery—Noted for its 3,000 trees including three state champions, this 360-acre cemetery recruits volunteers for its annual spring grounds clean up. Sandi Latimer at email@example.com.
Goodale Park—Friends of Goodale Park in Victorian Village organizes several work days to tend the park’s annual beds. Sign up at friendsofgoodalepark.org.
Inniswood Metro Gardens—Each March, a new class of volunteers is trained for this Westerville location. Volunteers commit to a minimum of 40 hours and pay $10 annual membership dues. Emily Eby at 895-6226.
Ohio Heritage Gardens—Join the Wednesday Weeders or Garden Guides at the Bexley Governor’s Residence, where gardens showcase the state’s diverse landscape. Paige Bilotta at 644-7644, ext. 3.
Schiller Park—Volunteers meet to maintain the park’s perimeter gardens and monitor its historic trees. Bert Stevens at 443-3563.
Topiary Park—At this downtown Town Street park, Georges Seurat’s post impressionist painting, “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” is recreated in more than 50 topiary sculptures. Friends of the Topiary Park at 645-0197.
Whetstone Park of Roses—Slip on your sturdy gloves and bring along a pair of pruning shears to help out at one of the country’s largest municipal rose gardens located in Clintonville. In addition to rose care, volunteers lead tours. Call 645-3391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.