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Posts by Christina

Flower Sales Booming for Valentine’s Day

Our long-time customer and friend, Jerry from Extra Touch was featured on the Today Show.

 

The segment “Business is blooming for Valentine’s Day flowers amid pandemic” covers the incredible logistical process of transporting flowers from the farms in South America to Miami International Airport, the largest receiving hub of fresh-cut flowers.

 

The story covers how the flower industry is booming despite the pandemic. Reports from UPS Airlines indicate that there is a 48% increase in flower boxes from 2020 to 2021. Around 73 flights were added to accommodate the 21 million extra stems being shipped to the U.S. than before the pandemic began. That’s 850,000 more boxes than the last year (2020).

 

The spike in flowers is due to people skipping outings and gatherings, and spending more on floral arrangements to send to their loved ones.

 

Jerry from Extra Touch located in Palm Beach, Florida has been our client since 2007. To meet the demand this year he had to hire 21 new employees.

 

Watch the entire segment. (Jerry’s interview minute 1:20)

 

Source: https://www.today.com/video/business-is-blooming-for-valentine-s-day-flowers-amid-pandemic-100853318000

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Dutch Box Floral Arrangement

Now more than ever sustainability is imperative for the health of our environment. Moving toward habits and methods that improve and reduce the carbon footprint is a continuous goal for which we must keep striving. We reached out to Maria Alejandra, floral boutique owner of Flower Fanatic (@flowerfanaticmiami) in Doral, Florida, who has come up with ways to create eco-conscious floral arrangements without sacrificing the beauty and allure of her designs.
 
In an effort to help her share her tips and practices with fellow florists we collaborated on a project. We provided fresh flowers, and she hosted a live workshop on Saturday, November 7th via Instagram. Flowers included premium varieties from our Dutch Box. This combo is available every week from our Dutch Specials, and what’s unique is that it’s a surprise mix each week. It has about 8 to 10 varieties in the box. Our flowers are freshly imported from the Aalsmeer Flower Auction.
 
Recipe:

    • Yellow & Orange Calla Lilies
    • Burgundy & Yellow Kangaroo Paws
    • Gardenia Peonies
    • Apricot Hyacinths
    • Hydrangea Classic
    • Astilbe Light Pink
    • Yellow Garden Roses

 

Maria Alejandra began the workshop by introducing each variety and how to process each flower. She suggests not to remove guard petals from garden roses because it weakens the flower at the base, and it will fall apart. Calla lilies should be cut straight as opposed to an angle because they have soft stems, as is the case with most bulbous flowers. Other tips included how to decide on the type of arrangement you will create. Based on the stem types, she decides on the materials she will need and how to construct her base. For this tutorial, she used a large reusable plastic vase lined with chicken wire and filled the water halfway. Foam-free designs allow flowers to perform better, and as a result, the client can enjoy them for an extended period of time.
 
chicken wire vase
 
She suggests starting with larger varieties as a base then fill the spaces in between. Cut the stems according to the variations in height and the artistic lines you want to achieve. If you encounter flowers that have not bloomed or a stem with an unusual curvature, work with its natural beauty. After creating the foundation with the classic hydrangeas, she began incorporating the “star of the show”: Gardenia peonies. This was the focal point of the design which determined where the rest of the filler flowers would be placed: kangaroo paws, calla lilies, garden roses, and sprigs of hyacinths for fragrance. Her tip is to cluster flowers in a way that ties the colors together into a harmonious pattern.
 
Maria Alejandra says that floral design is like art–to make extraordinary designs you have to break the rules of conventional structures. Play with colors, varieties, and textures to make your floral arrangements stand out. She said it is also important to listen to your clients’ preferences: some prefer roses partially opened, while others may like bouquets that are extremely fragrant.
 
One of the most important details after delivering a floral arrangement to the client is informing your customers about the care and maintenance of the flowers at home. Flower Fanatic includes an instructional card with every arrangement so that the customers know how often to change the water, how much water to refill, and how much to trim from the stem. Maria Alejandra also advises removing flowers that have perished so that other varieties are not affected by the ethylene or bacteria from the decay.
 
Stay tuned for a full video of the workshop!
 
Follow us on Instagram @virginfarms for updates. If you are interested in collaborating with Virgin Farms or you would like to contribute your floral knowledge, reach out to us. We would love to build our floral community to share with everyone in the industry.
 

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Rose farm post production

How the Coronavirus has Impacted the Rose Industry in Ecuador

This global pandemic has impacted everyone around the world from health to the economy. In an effort to curve the increase of cases of the coronavirus we have all been adhering to social distancing and sanitation practices.

 

Businesses have been struggling to stay afloat while others have had to close their doors. The floral industry has been affected by the low demand for flowers and worldwide shutdown—and the Dutch floral sector is one of many examples of the unfortunate dump of thousands and thousands of flowers that have perished.

 

In Ecuador, roses are one of the top exports and contributor to its economy. This pandemic however has decreased the production and exportation of roses to countries around the globe. We interviewed Esteban Chiriboga, President of Ecoroses, our top rose provider located in Machachi, Ecuador. We asked some questions to get a firsthand perspective of the staggering effect the situation has had on the rose industry.

 

How has the situation concerning the coronavirus affected your business?

 

We first began experiencing the impact of the coronavirus from some of the European and Chinese markets where the effects of the virus have been dramatic. Our exports to those markets reached zero and slowly but surely other European countries have followed suit. Some states in the USA, and later others, and finally the Russian market also shut down, making our current exportations practically zero. There are flights available to ship flowers, but there are internal restrictions in each country that impede operations.

 

The emergence of the virus in Ecuador and its dissemination has also affected us, given that we have restrictions on operations for personnel and supplies.

 

We have decided to carry out certain tasks by working from home, some of the administrative, and we have let 50 percent of our field personnel go home to remain in quarantine. The other half of our employees are carrying out minimal work such as caring for the plants and processing a small quantity of roses. We are working 6 hours and 4 days per week. The effect and loss are enormous, but we are following strict guidelines to avoid the spread of the virus.

 

In percentage, how much has the demand for roses decreased for your company?

 

The first week it reduced 30 percent, the second week 70 percent, and this week we ended with 90 percent of decreased sales. Additionally, the payments from some clients have been delayed and our obligations must continue.

 

How many stems per day are being processed?

 

At this moment, we are processing almost below the order requests for some clients, an average of 8,000 stems per day from the average of 80,000 stems we harvest per day. The flowers that are not processed go directly to be destroyed and transformed into compost, an organic fertilizer.

 

What is being done to care for the plants while the demand for roses is low?

 

The most basic—we are irrigating and fertilizing daily but at minimal dosage. We are trying to minimize the diseases and plagues by removing the flowers that are overdue for cutting so that it does not rot the plants, and harvest roses that are left to sell.

 

What precautions and protocols are you practicing during this pandemic?

 

We have implemented a very strict protocol that begins with allowing the people most vulnerable or high risk to remain at home, provision of the security team, training our employees on sanitation and precautions to carry out in the workplace and at home to stay healthy, disinfecting all vehicles of transportation for personnel, as well as disinfection of every person that enters or leaves the farm property. Additionally, by having half of our employees stay home, we minimize the density of persons in each area of the farm property and departments.

 

What problems have you encountered as a result of limitations or regulations, and how have you resolved or adapted to these challenges to come through for your clients?

 

The authorities have allowed us to work and consider us a priority sector because our exportations help sustain Ecuador’s economy. They have granted us safe passageways to transit through and reach the airport. We have been able to do all this, but unfortunately some flights have been canceled or product has not been able to be exported because the country of destination has been shut down; in this case, nothing can be done, and we understand and accept if our client must cancel. We remain operational and we are ready to react and attend to any of our clients’ requirements.

 

What inspirational message would you like to share with the world? What can flowers contribute during these challenging times?

 

A message of hope on one hand, given that this eventually will be over, and we will have to adjust to the new reality and resume our lives and businesses. On the other hand, I would like to share a message of reflection to everyone that yes, flowers are not an indispensable article for the body or for life, but they are for the soul and for the spirit. We unite with the campaign: Buy Flowers Not Toilet Paper.

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How Do Flower Growers Prepare for Valentine’s Day?

One of the most important dates for the flower business is Valentine’s Day, and without a doubt, the protagonists of this date, are the flowers, especially the red roses. They make their journey from the volcanic lands of the Andes so that the lovers and all those who celebrate friendship and love can count on the most beautiful flowers that day.

How Do Flower Growers Prepare for Valentine’s Day?

Roses Plants

The roses from Virgin Farms for Valentine’s Day come mainly from Ecuadorian floriculture, which is planted at an altitude of 3,000 meters. At this level, the temperature in these areas is approximately 57.2 ° F.

 

In this equatorial region, the sun’s rays fall perpendicularly on the rose plantations for 12 hours a day, and this makes the color of the roses more intense and their button size larger, which is why these roses are considered the most alluring in the world.

 

To learn more about how our cut rose suppliers are preparing for this date, we had the pleasure of talking with Rafael Santillán from Flower Fest, who explained in detail how farms prepare to supply the high demand for flowers on the 14th of February.

 

It should be noted that roses are produced year-round, but the highest demand for roses is for Valentine’s Day. It all begins by prepping the land for the rose plants. The soil is disinfected, and the rose beds are created for the planting process. The beds measure an average of 31 cm in-depth, and the distance between each plant is 15 to 17 cm. After this, the plant begins to sprout. The flowering cycle lasts between 3 to 4 months depending on the variety.

 

Throughout the flowering stage of a rose bush, the rose has a very vegetative life. During this time, the stem hardens, and the leaves and the thorns become larger making its appearance more enhanced. At this phase, the rose’s button size is more substantial with an incredibly striking color. It is thought that for February 14th planting is increased, but this is not so. Instead, the procedure for pruning the bushes is modified. This operation begins in mid-October when the most significant number of stems and smaller sprouts are left in the rose bush, which will grow again and bloom the last days of January and the first days of February.

 

 

Throughout the year, about 1 to 1.1 roses are produced per plant, per month. For Valentine’s Day, three roses per plant are produced for the Valentine’s Day harvest, which gives a reference for engineers throughout the year to plan and optimize the most significant production for February. The date of cutting the stems at the precise aperture is what guarantees that the flowers are ready on the required date. This process is a combination of science and knowledge that Ecuadorian floriculturists have obtained in more than 50 years of floriculture in Ecuador.

 

Once this cut has been made, the flowers begin to bloom from the end of December and reach their optimum opening point between January 15 and February 3 and are dispatched to the United States between January 25 and 28. Flowers will be on the market before February 12, the date on which roses are already being sold for Valentine’s Day.

 

 How Do You Guarantee That the Flowers Have a Greater Durability in a Vase?

 

Many factors should be considered to obtain quality flowers that guarantee the quality and duration of the roses in a vase. Among the main ones, we can highlight the fact that Virgin Farms purchases flowers directly from the farms. These, in turn, possess the highest quality standards. Our suppliers have certified processes when watering the plantations. They have the appropriate hydration solutions so that our customers have roses free of bacteria, diseases, or parasites.

 

The Transport of the Flower Is a Race Against Time

In addition to the entire production and post-harvest process, there are other factors to ensure that the flowers have the best possible durability. One of them is transport, and the other is the cold chain. For this reason, floriculturists have adequate facilities and are owners of the entire cold chain, which ranges from when roses are in the floriculture in the cold room until they are shipped to their destination. This process is why, in trucks where flowers are transported, the temperature must be constant between 35 ° to 39 ° F so that the flowers do not wilt. Another fundamental aspect of transport is the humidity of the air, the same air that is measured with special sensors to guarantee the ideal humidity.

 

 

Once the flowers have left the farm, they are transported via air to the United States. The shipments of roses arrive at the Quito airport, which is located about two hours from the floricultural sector.

 

This airport is specialized for the transport of floral cargo, which has a platform with extensive terminal areas to simultaneously park large aircraft for the transport of roses. One of the advantages of this terminal is that it is located at 2,800 meters above sea level. The shipment is delivered to the terminal at dawn at a temperature of 53.6 ° F. Therefore when the roses leave the inspection and pre-shipment rooms, their temperature does not vary significantly.

 

When the flowers arrive at the cargo terminal, the employees quickly transport the boxes to the vehicles, weigh them, measure them, take their temperature, and finally place them on pallets. One by one, the packages are loaded forming blocks that are arranged with molds. Another group of employees awaits shipments in the cold room. On this site, the flowers remain an hour and a half, until they can be embarked on cargo planes, which are also refrigerated. One of the cargo aircraft that is used is the KLM Boeing 747, which can carry approximately 90 tons of flowers.

 

Without a doubt, being able to transport flowers to their destination is a race against time, but that is done methodically with standards and established procedures so that the flowers reach their destination in the shortest possible time.

 

When the transport arrives at the terminal in Miami, the flowers are immediately refrigerated in a cooling facility to maintain their duration.

 

Roses for Every Preference

The flowers preferred by the consumer to give on this date are red roses, but there are also pink, fuchsia, and spray roses (mini roses). Many bouquets for Valentine’s Day are complemented with white roses and gyp, a filler that takes on a significant role because it is the perfect complement to harmonize and fill the bouquets. The most popular varieties for this occasion are Freedom for its bright red color; Explorer, with a darker red hue; Hearts, which is a heart-shaped rose; Pink Nena and Sophie, which is praised for its pale, pink hue. Fuchsia roses also take center stage for Valentine’s Day, notably the Pink Floyd and the Topaz rose variety that are characterized by their bright color.

 

The Virgin Farms team, together with our strategic allies, work continuously and months in advance to ensure that all our customers have the best roses to celebrate love and friendship on February 14th—Valentine’s Day.

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Combining science and nature to create fascinating roses

The Breeders: Combining science and nature to create fascinating roses

Nature has bestowed us with roses that have incredible shapes and colors. Flowers convey happiness and awe us with their magnificent spectacle.

Roses are not only present in gardens, but also in many other places like in our homes, offices, and restaurants. They are also used to decorate special and unforgettable moments such as weddings. Have you ever thought why there is such an extensive variety of roses that stand out with varying shapes, colors, and appearance? The answer is science. A group of specialized scientists in the field of biotechnology and genetics is in charge of creating new varieties of roses. They are known as breeders.

In a breeder’s lab, a team of specialists is constantly researching and making new developments to create new and improved varieties of roses to keep surprising the world with unique flowers.

We had the chance to visit the De Ruiter company, located in Tabacundo, Ecuador, a region that thanks to its geographical location produces roses that stand out because of their quality and variety.

De Ruiter Flowers

De Ruiter Flowers

Juan Pablo Rengifo, the company’s sales manager, welcomed us to their facility where we had the chance to observe the whole process of breeding.

De Ruiter

Juan Pablo Rengifo -Sales manager- De Ruiter Ecuador

De Ruiter is one of the world’s most important rose breeders. Their headquarters is located in Holland, and they have offices in Africa, Colombia, Ecuador, and Russia. They have been in the floricultural Ecuadorian market for 30 years.

Currently, there are at least 20 breeding companies, most of which are located in Holland, Germany, and other European countries. In Ecuador, breeders became prominent at the same time floriculture began about 50 years ago. These companies are the ones that deliver flowers to all new flower growers, and they are responsible for creating new floral varieties.

 

 How do you obtain a breed?

The process to obtain new rose varieties takes around 3 to 5 years. Depending on the complexity of the variety that a breeder is trying to achieve, sometimes it can take up to 8 years to acquire. That is the reason varieties are so expensive—costing thousands of dollars.

At De Ruiter, the process begins in their labs in Holland, where experienced scientists using genetic-crossing, cross-pollinate two parent plants, meaning one female and one male, and after extensive research, observation, and trials, they achieve new varieties.

roses breed

Quality Check of New Breeds not introduced to the Market yet

Once the trials are over, they check if the color and size of the roses are adequate. Depending on these factors, a decision is made as to whether or not the new variety is going to be reproduced. When the plant is approved it is sent to the Ecuadorian breeders. In the beginning, they receive around 4 to 6 plants of each code and begin a trial phase. Depending on a plant’s productive, physiological and morphological characteristics, they thoroughly analyze the Ecuadorian farmlands. If the results are favorable for cultivation, they produce an average of 500 plants of that variety.

New Rose Breeds for Pink Flowers

De Ruiter in Ecuador has a 1.5-hectare land. Inside this space, 25% of the land is reserved to receive new varieties and test new codes. Another 25% is used for a genetic bank where the plants are cultivated, and the other 25% of the land is used to develop samples to send to Ecuadorian, American, Asian and European buyers. The rest of the plantation cultivates the rose plants that will be delivered to their end clients. “The breeder’s objective is to provide new and improved varieties for the lands, flowers showing great performance and varieties that adapt to different climates. It is a tool to provide each land with exclusive varieties and to achieve a better standing on the market,” commented Rengifo.

One of the most interesting aspects of the visit was observing the field covered with blooming roses. We were able to see the different phases of the roses’ blooming process in their natural habitat.

Roses Breed

Irrigating the new varieties

Endless varieties

 

New Rose varieties

New Rose varieties

Each variety created by this company is registered and turned into intellectual property. For this reason, flower growers acquiring these plants from De Ruiter need to pay royalties to produce the product and to sell the rose varieties the company offers.

In the years De Ruiter has been in the floricultural industry, at least 100 rose varieties have been registered. Each year they evaluate on average between 3,000 and 4,000 varieties of roses, and just 3 to 7 are released to the market per year. In 2019, they released 42 varieties including Pink Expression and Latte Coffee.

Among these varieties, there are many color variations such as latte coffee, yellow, orange, and a blend of brown and lavender. We observed buds with different shapes such as the peony rose and the orchid rose, all of which are still in the observation and research process.

At Virgin Farms, we strive for our clients’ absolute satisfaction. That is why we have strategic partners, such as De Ruiter, to deliver unique, high-quality roses with impressive colors and shapes.

 

What is trending in the floral industry?

There are many trends in the world of flowers. During Valentine’s Day, red and pink roses are the most popular. During Mother’s Day, pastel-colored roses are in demand. This year, the protagonists are roses with vintage brown, purple, pink and orange tones. That is why in order to fulfill the demand, De Ruiter travels around the world looking for the latest trends, analyzing the market preferences to create new varieties to please their clients.

Thanks to the thorough studies and developments performed at breeding labs and the combination of science, biotechnology, and genetics, we are able to have captivating flowers. Growers, in turn, can offer unique varieties to keep delighting us with the fascinating colors and the queen of flowers: the rose.

What is trending in the floral industry?

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Discovering the Quality Control Process of Ecuadorian Roses

We had the opportunity to visit one of our suppliers in Ecuador: Florícola Ecoroses, located in the city of Machachi. This beautiful region near majestic volcanoes such as The Illinizas is surrounded by incredible rose plantations.

The region of Machachi is considered to be a blessed region thanks to its geographical position, the intensity of sunlight, and its climate, making it the perfect ecosystem to produce the most impressive flowers on the planet.

Photo of the Ilinizas Volcano from the entrance to the Flower Farm

This farm is family-owned and has 33.3 hectares of greenhouses. It is made up of 350 workers who work to guarantee that all its quality assurance processes are met. We spoke with some of the employees, and they told us about the strict and innovative procedures carried out.

We began with an overview of the floriculture where we could appreciate all the innovations that have been made recently and its competitive advantages. It should be noted that the farm controls its entire value chain, which ranges from flower growing to transportation to its 40+ destinations.

Flower Classification Line. A quality control factory.

Irrigation
The first hydration the flower receives guarantees its life

Watering is the first step to guarantee a long-lasting flower. The water used by the nursery arrives directly from the defrosting of the Ilinisas volcano and goes through an ultrafiltration system before being used in the plantations.

Wilfrido Cazar, Production Manager, told us about the recipes and fertilization formulas they use. Their irrigation system is completely mechanized, so there is no place for mistakes.

They also have a team called Experience, which guarantees a perfect blend and a standardized formula for irrigation. Once the solution has been prepared, it is taken to a pre-mix tank, which combines all the solutions and creates an ideal nutritional formula to fertilize the crop. This equipment guarantees that constant irrigation is carried out in the established periods of time. When there is a lot of sunlight, the equipment detects it and automatically delivers another irrigation.

100% computerized irrigation system and fertilized water control. Each greenhouse receives an exclusive nutrient recipe according to their needs.

Premium location
The equator

It should be noted that the geographical area where EcoRoses is located and due to its altitude, the production cycle of a rose is 30% slower. This produces roses with longer and thicker stems, more intense colors and larger flowers.

Post-harvest:
Processes to extend the life of the flower

From the moment the stem is cut the flower begins to die, but it must do so slowly with outstanding performance and aperture rate. For this reason, the post-harvest process is critical in extending its life.

Ecuadorian farms have made investments in cutting-edge technology to guarantee the quality of roses at the production and post-harvest level. Every flower that enters this process may have fungal spores; insects, almost microscopic (thrips) that feed on the petal. Flowers can also develop a fungus called botrytis, which is a bacterium that rots roses. This is why they have an electrostatic sprinkler system, which minimizes the use of chemical products to clean any fungus or insects. Then they pass through ultraviolet lamps with a fungicidal effect. All these processes extend the life of the roses.

Cold chain
The Farm guarantees its temperature-controlled supply chain

The cold chain is critical for the conservation of the flower. In the cooler, the temperature is always at 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit. It has devices such as aerocides, which are cleaners that eliminate any fungus or bacteria in the air. There is also equipment that removes ethylene, which is a hormone produced by roses and causes petals and foliage to decay.

Roses should spend 7 hours in a cooler after post-harvest; otherwise, forced cooling is carried out to ensure it reaches the proper temperature.

Roses remain in the cooler for 1 to 4 days. Then they are transported in refrigerated vehicles to the cargo agencies where they will be exported to their destinations.

Though a rose may seem delicate, it is very resistant. Just to give an example, it takes approximately 10 days for roses to arrive to Siberia and they can last about 10 more days in a vase. This is due to the cold chain process.

Roses from Virgin Farms in coolers ready to export. Hormones are eliminated with a complex cooling system and air filtration.

Technology
Key indicators to generate continuous improvement

EcoRoses uses a software called Unosof, which allows them to measure floricultural operations, generate projections and extract key indicators. Through this software, engineers can map everything that is happening throughout the farm.

This software provides also provides information on inventory availability and tracks the frequency of common issues such as fungi and botrytis. The system also detects which bunches have been harvested first, so that workers select these at the time of dispatch to guarantee the freshness of the flower.

By using an advanced system for its quality control processes—ranging from sowing to transport—EcoRoses ensures their integrity and product duration. Their continuous strides to improve their procedures makes them innovative cultivators that guarantees the consumer premium roses full of life and color.

 

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Flower Fact Friday: Celosia

Celosia in greek is ‘kelos,’ which means burned and refers to the brightly colored floral head. There are different types of celosia: The Plumosa group have upright flowers and are feathery-shaped, while the Cristata type have intricate ridges that resemble a brain. The flowers are wooly in texture and are usually bright yellow, pink, red and orange. Celosia is native to Asia and Africa, and it is part of the amaranth family. They are typically available during the summer, fall and spring season.

Did you know celosia is used as an herb in some countries? In Nigeria, the young stems and flower heads are used in stews or as a side dish. The leaves are said to taste like spinach. Although there are no proven scientific facts, Celosia is said to have beneficial health properties. It has been used to treat eye conditions and intestinal ailments.

As a cut flower, celosia can last for about two weeks. The bright colors make it especially attractive for bouquet work. They are a particularly great addition to the garden since they attract butterflies.

Celosia Cockscomb

Celosia (cockscomb)

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Green Kale

Flower Fact Friday: Kale

Kale is also known as ornamental cabbage, and it belongs to the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower family. The leaves are flat and broad with contrasting colors. Kale grows best between October and November in full sun. They thrive in cold weather, and an interesting fact is it affects the color of the leaves. When temperatures drop blow 50 degrees Fahrenheit, shades of pink, purple, red and violet emerge.

Historical Origin of Kale

Kale Brassica is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. More than 2,000 years ago, ancient Greeks cultivated the leafy green, and it has been documented that they boiled it to cure hangovers. Julius Caesar consumed kale before royal banquets to prevent indigestion. As early as the first century, “coles” arrived from Britain and France via the Roman Empire or the Celtics. By 1669, kale made its way to America via English settlers.

Flowering Kale

Kale

 

Prepping Kale for Floral Design

The use of decorative vegetables and fruits in floral designs is very common. It adds an interesting twist to an otherwise common bouquet, giving it an organic appeal.

  1. Peel outer layer of the leaves one at a time.
  2. As you peel, twist the stem and continue all the way around.
  3. The result should be a perfectly formed rosette.
  4. Cut the stems at an angle with a sharp knife.

Suggest a variety for us to feature on Flower Fact Friday. Leave a comment naming the variety, and we’ll write about it. Stay tuned next week!

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Principles of Flower Design

The art of designing floral arrangements may seem simple. Just grab a bunch of flowers, put them in a vase and voila! You are a designer. To really master a profession, dedicate yourself to learning a profession well through preparation. Take classes, read articles and watch tutorials, or intern with a professional designer to learn the trade.

We found an excellent guide online published by the Baxter County Fair titled, “Principles of Floral Arrangement.” It was published in 2005, but it provides a great foundation for the theory of designing and composing arrangements. The guide is useful for interns learning how to arrange flowers professionally. The comprehensive guide explains everything from processing flowers to choosing the proper containers. It also provides an introduction to color harmonies to help designers select color schemes for floral arrangements. Patterns, textures, and sizes of floral varieties to create a harmonious design. For instance, using spring flowers with a winter flower would have a mixed expression of seasons.

Access the PDF Guide: Principles of Floral Arrangement

Expression through Floral Design

Expression through Floral Design (Principles of Floral Arrangement, Baxter County Fair, 2005)

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Heliconia Wagneriana Yellow

Flower Fact Friday: Heliconia

Did you know Heliconia is a tropical plant named after Mount Helicon and is derived from the greek word ‘helikonios’? In Greek mythology, Mount Helicon was the seat of the Muses, which were said to remain young and beautiful forever just like their god, Apollo.

The species is native to the tropical Americas. Heliconia is usually found in rainforests or in the wet tropics, and they flower during the rainy season. There are over 40 species and most have brightly colored bracts usually red, yellow and orange variations and have a waxy texture. Some heliconia plants have upright bracts while others dangle, referred to as hanging heliconia. Common names for this plant are lobster claws, wild plantains or bird of paradise.

They are mainly cultivated for ornamental purposes and landscaping, but in their natural environment heliconia provides ecological sustainability for living organisms. For instance, the flowers produce nectar attracting pollinators including butterflies, hummingbirds, and even bats. The Honduran white bat in particular cuts the side veins of the leaves to make a tent-like structure for shelter. For other aquatic organisms, the bracts collect water forming a habitat.

 

Tips for Designing with Heliconia

Heliconia are a stunning addition to floral displays, adding height and a refreshing tropical vibe. As cut flowers they do not continue to develop, so avoid stems that are dried or with black spots. At Virgin Farms, we keep tropical flowers in a separate room at a warmer temperature. These varieties are sensitive to cold temperature, and should never be stored below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Before designing, cut three inches of the stem under water with a sharp knife. Place heliconias in warm water with floral food, and allow two hours before designing with them. For extra support, use chicken wire to hold the stems in place in floral foam. 

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Jules Elie Dutch Peony

What a spectacular transformation from bud to blossom!

Jules Elie is a rosy-pink peony and its bloom characteristic is bomb shape. It has a few rows of guard petals on the outer part, and smaller feathery-shaped petalodes bunched in the center forming a perfect mound. The foliage is a crisp dark green contrasting beautifully against the vibrant pink blossom.

This particular variety holds its shape well and blooms slower, which is great for vase or bouquet work.

Jules Elie dutch peony

Jules Elie dutch peony

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White Cloud Garden Rose

Say, I Do to Our Luxury Fresh Cut Flowers

A bouquet tells a story. As the bride walks down the aisle, the bouquet she holds in her hands should convey her personality and exude grace. It is a key accessory, and essentially an extension of the bridal gown. To create a masterpiece, an artist must use the best medium. For a floral designer, flowers are the paint to a canvas. This wedding season say, ‘I do’ to our luxury fresh cut flowers. At Virgin Farms, we pride ourselves in sourcing first class varieties from all over the world.

Garden Roses – Colombia

David Austin roses are like the refined diamonds to a ring, or the Chantilly lace that delicately embellishes the bride’s wedding gown. Garden roses convey nostalgia and elegance. The most unique and fragrant breeds are harvested from Colombia high in the Andes Mountains. Virgin Farms has the privilege to offer the most sought after varieties such as Juliet, Patience, Constance, White O’Hara and the green-centered pastel garden rose, Charity. 

Premium Roses – Ecuador

It’s not just a rose—it’s an Ecuadorian rose. If they were branded, you might say they are Mercedes class. The blooms are lush and voluminous, with sturdy stems and lengthy vase life. These characteristics and qualities are the reason floral designers choose our roses over any other. High altitude, rich soil and cool weather are the optimum combination, producing the most unique rose varieties and color variations. For weddings, roses are the most reliable flower since they are available year round. Popular varieties include white Mondial, Vendela, and Tibet and the champagne-hued Quicksand.

Dutch Flowers – Holland

Home of the historic Aalsmeer Auction, flowers grown in Holland are top of the line. This is where we source our hydrangeas, tulips, calla lilies, delphinium, lisianthus and other varieties including the highly sought peonies. During the months of April through July, Dutch peonies are in production. The aperture is more large and lush, and the majority of the colors are in season making it the ideal months to have a wedding if peonies are on your bridal couple’s wish list.

Planning for an Event

For weddings or special events, plan ahead. Make a wish list of floral varieties and alternate choices, as well as the quantity necessary for each variety. Contact our account managers two to three weeks before the event to allow us to coordinate with our farms. There are also specific flowers that require advance order placement to ensure production can cover the quantity you need. These items include: garden roses, David Austin roses, peonies, dutch flowers, orchids and phalaenopsis. For Ecuadorian roses and focal and filler flowers, advance notification is required to preorder mass quantities with the farms.

Wedding Season Special Order Flowers

Wedding Season Special Order Flowers

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