Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Holiday gifts need not be expensive in order to be meaningful.
For floral design gifts, a great place to start is with floral supplies and tools. Put together a gift basket with different items, such as silica gel for drying flowers, floral preservative, a florist knife, and various kinds of flower holders.
For those interested in drying flowers, a flower press is always very welcome. These kits include a press with blotter paper, corrugated cardboard separators, and hardware to keep the press tightly closed.
Choose an assortment of different sized wreath rings. These are very easy to use, and are suitable for all kinds of flowers, including fresh, dried, and silk.
There are also some special wreath hangers that are just perfect. The one I have in mind slips over the top of a door. They require no nails. In addition, there are magnetic wreath hangers. These are designed to hold up to eight pounds.
For that tech savvy flower and plant lover, there's a special gift. Those in Japan can now buy Ka-on flower speakers for their home stereo. The various parts of the plants--flowers, leaves, and stems--actually serve as speakers by conducting the sound waves. This comes in a flower version and a potted plant version with the plant being more expensive. The flower comes in a vase, while the plant is sold in a pot. This device can fill a 16-foot radius with sound. The quality of the sound is said to be equal to that of a vinyl record.
Books on floral design are always very welcome as holiday gifts. Ryland Peters & Small has just released a number of great books. “Paula Pryke’s Wreaths and Garlands” is another classic title by this renowned floral designer. She has developed her own signature style that is just unmistakable. In this title, there are inspiring projects for use throughout the year. For the Christmas holidays, it features some stunning examples, including one with purple and silver ribbons highlighting citrus and cinnamon sticks. She also includes a traditional Christmas wreath as well as other seasonal decorations, items for weddings, and designs with culinary themes. Along with all the step-by-step, illustrated instructions for the different projects, she features in-depth chapters on equipment and floral techniques.
“Paula Pryke’s Candles-Creative Ideas & Step by Step Projects for Decorating with Candlelight” from Ryland focuses entirely on how to use floral materials to enhance the natural beauty of candles. This title is especially useful since it has chapters for the various seasons. In this book, she features twenty inspirational projects mixing candles with scented flowers, plants, other florals, and creative containers. For each chapter, she starts with a showcase of ideas, and then presents complete projects. She has entire chapters for centerpieces and tabletop decorations, room decorations, and scented designs as well as a plant directory. In addition, she provides all the details one would ever need on materials and techniques.
Floral designers are always in search of tasteful ideas for Christmas decorations. “Christmas Inspirations-Practical Ideas for Creating Beautiful Gifts and Decorations for the Holiday Season” by Rose Hammick et al was published by Ryland. It would take years to work one’s way through these creative ideas. The ideas are simple, easy, and yet so striking. There’s a red-nosed reindeer draft stopper and more projects for mantles than you can ever imagine. There are chapters devoted to gifts and gift wrapping, which includes handmade cards and edible gifts. Another chapter focuses on decorations, including simple paper stars, old-fashioned clothespin fairies, and cardamom pears created with a Styrofoam base. The introductory section is also very helpful. It presents four strikingly different styles of designs, including whites, traditionals, Nordic, and contemporary brights.
Floral designers always welcome books on roses. Taylor Publishing has released a wonderful new book by heirloom plant expert William C. Welch. “Antique Roses for the South” has all the information a Southern gardener needs in order to succeed in growing and landscaping with heirloom roses. Welch guides the gardener every step of the way with suggestions on the best varieties along with suggestions on how to use them in the landscape. An entire chapter is devoted to propagating and growing old rose varieties. This title has stunning floral design projects with roses as well as potpourri, and preserved roses along with other craft projects that can be done with these heirloom flowers.
While the Taylor title is devoted to the South, “Old-Fashioned and David Austin Roses” by Barbara Lea Taylor covers the entire U.S. This title was published by Firefly Books. It has separate chapters for the David Austin roses, and the repeat bloomers as well as the old-fashioned ones that only bloom once. The author includes all the information one needs to grow, landscape, and care for roses. In addition, this title features a wonderful history of roses, the world’s favorite flower. At the end of the book there’s a special chapter on using roses for various purposes. It shows bouquets of David Austin roses, and gives recipes for making various culinary dishes with roses. There are also complete instructions on making your own rose oil along with instructions on how to microwave rose petals. This method dries them instantly without any need for silica gel.
In recent years, orchids have become very popular garden plants and indoor plants as well as cut flowers. Houghton Mifflin recently released an authoritative book on orchids. “Understanding Orchids-an Uncomplicated Guide to Growing the World’s Most Exotic Plants” is by William Cullina. Whichever orchids you choose the author provides insightful ways to keep your orchids thriving and healthy. There’s an orchid directory of the more common orchid groups in an easy to use A-Z format. In the first part of the book, he explains what kinds of conditions orchids need, and how to provide it. In the second part, he explains how to care for orchids, and suggests various non-toxic controls if the plants develop a problem of some sort. An entire chapter is devoted to propagating orchids. The book features over three hundred color photos. The author is nursery director and propagator for the New England Wild Flower Society, and is author of two other books,including "Wildflowers and Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines."