This Spring’s Must-Have Vase

Chinoiserie tuliperie at Niermann Weeks

Last week, the Wall Street Journal had a great article featuring a tulipiere. I first thought, tulip what? I had never heard of the word tuliperie before. It means a vase with multiple openings.

A living room featuring a tuliperie (Frontgate)

Originally from the Netherlands, tulipieres were invented by seventeenth-century Delft manufacturers who are famous for their classic blue and white ceramic work. Delft manufacturers set about to produce more innovative-looking vases during the rule of Queen Mary II in Britain in order to curry her favour as she was known to keep a palace filled with wonderful displays of flowers that were changed at least three times a week.

Tulipieres were also used for practical reasons by the Dutch. They were used to help tulip, crocus or hyacinth bulbs grow and bloom in the house.

Tuliperie by Frances Palmer Pottery

A tuliperie  is truly a one-of-kind piece that helps arrange a bouquet in the most unique way possible, in different shapes and architectural arrangements. They also look great without any flowers as free-standing sculptures.

I’ve selected a handful of tulipieres I love at various price points. Just in time for spring!

 

A green tulipiere at Charleston Gardens

A HomArt Tucker Ceramic tuliperie from the Modish Store

Blue Ming tuliperie at Frontgate

Thoughts? Do you see yourself buying a tuliperie? 

London’s Secret Garden

One of my favourite movies as a kid was The Secret Garden. The premise is essentially that three friends discover a secret garden  and all sorts of wonderful things happen. Since I’ve seen that movie numerous times, I have always loved the idea of a garden as sanctuary, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the world, where one could simply stroll in, admire and also have a picnic.

On a recent trip to London, walking through the financial district, I saw some trees tucked away on a quiet cobblestone road. It seemed a little out of place considering the area and how it juxtaposed with the futuristic, sci-fi buildings of various financial institutions (as example, see the insurance giant Lloyd’s building).

All photos of St. Dustan-in-the-East by Peter Trimming

To my surprise, I walked over and discovered St Dunstan-in-the-East.

It was remarkable even at this time of the year.

I also found great photos online of what St. Dunstan’s looks like in full-leafed summer glory. I’m sharing them here as they really do the place justice.St. Dustan’s was a Church of England parish church originally built in 1100. The gothic-style church was largely destroyed in the Blitz during the Second World War.After the war, it was decided that St. Dustan’s church would not be rebuilt. The ruins were left untouched for over three decades.It was only in 1971 that the City of London decided to turn the ruins of the church into a public garden.With wall shrubs and climbers, tall trees and a fountain in the middle, today it is the perfect garden retreat.This green oasis is busy on weekdays during lunchtime with office workers eating their lunches and taking it easy.St. Dunstan-in-the-East is a wonderful example of creative reuse and satisfies all of my childhood daydreams of a secret garden.

Do you know of any other secret gardens in London?

My Favourite Thing About London

Whenever I travel to a city, I always gravitate to its green spaces. It was no different during my recent trip to London.

Coming across Henry Moore’s “The Arch” sculpture

I love that London is a city with plenty of green and open spaces, especially since I strive to go for a walk every day since I have learned of all the physical health benefits associated with being in nature. Research suggests that our mind works differently in nature from when we are on a busy city street because we process things differently. We observe the birds and the way the trees sway.

In London, I started each day with a long morning walk through Hyde Park.

Swans are a common sight on the Round Pond

A walk through Hyde Park, located in the heart of London, was an ideal setting to relax, meditate and observe the diverse variety of species of flora and fauna.

One of the city’s largest parks, it is definitely a park worth getting lost in. There are many paths to wander and you are bound to come across something new each time. It has many famous landmarks like the Serpentine Lake, Speakers’€™ Corner and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.

My favourite part during my walks were the little bursts of life wherever I turned. You can’t help but be in a good mood and feel a sense of joy and optimism as spring is most definitely around the corner.

Daffodils
A very fragrant flowering shrub

Hyde Park is also great because there are several well-situated cafés that offer a hearty breakfast and wonderful views. My favourite pit-stops were the Lido Café and the Serpentine Kitchen. Both offer great views of the Serpentine Lake and a strong cup of coffee – all I could ask for.

The Serpentine Bar & Kitchen – perfect for breakfast

I concluded my walks at the Italian Gardens, an ornamental water garden in Kensington Gardens, created as a gift from Prince Albert to his wife Queen Victoria.

After my walk, I was back on the city streets of London, ready to conquer the day.

Do you like to go for walks? Where’s your special place?

How to Grow Your Plant Collection

A stem of an elephant ear plant – perfect for your side table

My grandmother, a passionate gardener, always had vases filled with cuttings from various plants at her house. She would spot a beautiful plant at a friend’s house or on a walk through her neighbourhood and then would proceed to cut off a stem (with permission, of course!). Later, she would plop the stem in water.

This is an easy and cost-effective guide to help you grow your plant collection.

A stem in a glass of water for your home office

First and foremost, when you cut off a plant stem, make sure it is a sharp cut and a healthy stem. Then, remove the lower leaves off the stem and simply plop the stem into a vase or glass filled with water.

Let the roots of the stem grow

Change the water in the container periodically and watch the roots grow at the end of the stem. Some experts recommend sprinkling rooting hormone powder, like Miracle-Gro, into the water. However, this is personal preference and not mandatory.

Plant your stems in a planter

Eventually, once there are enough roots at the end of your stem, you can plant the stem in your garden or in a planter.

Growing plants from cuttings is a great winter project.  You can simply get one or two plants from the garden centre and make multiple stem cuttings from them. It’s a good trick if you want a large number of plants for a flower bed.

Try it out with a plant that roots easily and let me know what you think. This is truly a quick and cost-effective way to grow your plant collection.

Have you ever tried growing a plant from cuttings? How did it turn out? 

4 Fun Things To Do for Valentine’s Day in Niagara

Picking up flowers for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is always a fun holiday to celebrate. I’ve come up with a short list of things that may give you some ideas to try out this Valentine’s Day whether you are celebrating with your partner, a loved one, a friend or on your own.

1. Heart-shaped everything

A pizza that is sort of heart-shaped (Photo by Ewan Munro)

Let Valentine’s Day be the day you indulge in all things heart-shaped. Start the day with heart-shaped pancakes, spread the love and bring a batch of heart-shaped cookies to the office, or finish the day with a heart-shaped pizza and a sappy movie.

2. Get outdoors

A hand-shaped heart at sunset

Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to have an adventure and spend some time in the great outdoors. You can learn how to snowshoe in the vineyards at Thirty Bench in Beamsville, ice skate in Niagara-on-the-Lake, or participate in the annual Valentine’s Day 5KM road race in Port Dalhousie. If you want to skip the cold weather, try indoor rock climbing at Peaks in St. Catharines for a fun physical and mental challenge.

3. Chocolate

A super decadent chocolate cake

In my books, Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate.  There are some great spots in Niagara to indulge. Some of my favourites include a visit to a chocolate factory based in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Chocolates Etc, a family-operated chocolate shop and café in St. Catharines, is another great option. It has the perfect warm cozy atmosphere to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and some Belgian truffles.

4. Floral Workshops

Making succulent arrangements at a floral workshop

Niagara College is hosting a floral workshop this weekend. Floral workshops are a great way to learn the art of floral arrangement, while spending time and catching up with a friend or loved one.

How about you? How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day?

The Meaning of Flower Colours – Is it Important?

Cheery-looking tulips at the flower shop

Just last week, I was buying flowers for a friend because I really didn’t have words to express my gratitude and flowers just seemed to be the right thing.

I double-checked the meaning of the flowers I was buying on my phone and I was left a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information available online. The colour and the type of flower you choose all send a specific message.

A stunning bouquet of fuchsia and cream-coloured bouquet of peonies

I remember as a kid, my mom taught me that all flower colours hold a certain meaning: white for sympathy, yellow for friendship, and red for someone you love. However, as I stood there trying to choose an appropriate floral arrangement, colour rules just seemed like an outdated tradition. At the end of the day, it should be the thought that counts.

A happy floral arrangement that brightens up the day

I made the decision, then and there, that in future I would be more spontaneous when it comes to selecting or making a floral arrangement for a close friend or family and be more attentive to colour rules when I give flowers to someone I don’t know well.

I spoke with a couple of floral designers based in Niagara to hear what they had to say.

Diana, who runs A Yellow Flower Basket with her sister JoAnne in downtown Thorold for the past 28 years, said:

“For my mother, everything was pink. If it was sympathy, it was pink. If it was joy, it was pink. It didn’t matter. Personally, if somebody asks me for a happy arrangement, I choose vibrant colors. I put in hot pink, yellow, orange. If they tell me to make an arrangement that is subtle or delicate, I will go with pastel colours.”

Jennifer Falconer-Holmes from Clippings, an in-house floral design service at Vintage Hotels said:

“A lot of times when men come in to flower shops, they ask for the meaning of the flowers. I always just tell them, they mean whatever you write on the card.”

Thank you for sharing, Diana and Jennifer!

Thoughts? Do you abide by any rules when giving someone a flower arrangement?

The Power of Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera Field in the Canary Islands (Source: Frank Vincentz)

I’ve been rhapsodizing about the wonders of aloe vera for a long time now. And not only because I am prone to a nasty sun burn.

Native to north-eastern and southern Africa, aloe vera is a succulent that contains powerful antioxidant and antibacterial properties. The aloe vera gel within the aloe vera plant leaves are widely used in skincare for cosmetic or medicinal purposes. I personally use aloe vera gel in a hydrating face mask or to speed up the healing process of any mild scars.

You can usually buy an aloe vera plant at your local grocery store. To access the gel in the plant, all you need to do is tear off a leaf, slice the edges from each side of the leaf lengthwise and open up the top flap of the leaf. The slimy, fleshy gel from inside the aloe vera’s leaves should then be extracted. I extract the gel with a spoon and deposit it into a small bowl. Then I either apply the gel, as is, on skin or I will add a bit of coconut oil to make hair or face masks.

If you’re short on time, or quite frankly, not into tearing up your aloe vera plant, there are some great products out there that use aloe vera gel as a base for various skincare purposes.  There’s a company in Aruba that is my personal favorite. It grows, harvests and manufactures all their aloe products on-site. I use two of their skin products, the Hand & Body Lotion and the Luxe Foot Crème – oh my goodness, my skin has never felt this soft!

Have you ever used aloe vera for anything? Any go-to remedies or products?

Welcome to My Blog

Welcome to Flower Me Joy!

With it being the start of the year, I thought it would be a good time to start a blog as a creative outlet and to share and challenge myself to learn more about flowers, plants and gardening.

Flower Me Joy will strive to be a source for weekly inspiration that covers everything from flowers and plants to home décor, beauty and travel. There will be posts about floral design, flower arrangements, DIYs, tips on plant care and garden tours.

I hope to encourage people to add a bit of beauty to their everyday life.

Until next time,

Rebecca