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Holy Week and the Notre Dame fire

 Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral in Paris early on April 16, 2019. Credit: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral in Paris early on April 16, 2019.

Paris, France, Apr 16, 2019 / 08:47 am (CNA).- Seeing Notre Dame de Parisburning and threatening to collapse was a shock that left everyone voiceless – including President Emmanuel Macron, who canceled a speech dealing with the social unrest in France over the past few months.

The cathedral towering above the island on the Seine that was the cradle of the city is more than a venerable medieval building, more than an exceptionally beautiful architectural masterpiece. It has been for centuries the heart not only of Paris, but of the whole nation, the place where even atheistic presidents and ministers came to pray because they could not think of anything else to do when France was victorious (in 1918), defeated (in 1940) or liberated (in 1944). It was desecrated during the French Revolution and turned into a temple of the goddess Reason, but Napoleon realized he had to give it back to the Church and be crowned there if he was actually to become an Emperor.

It is also a vibrant reminder of the faith of our ancestors, which shaped the monument and inspired every detail as a facet of God’s revelation and gifts as well as the overall design. It was meant and has survived as a representation of the celestial abode that everyone openly hopes for or secretly dreams of. That something so ancient should defy time and remain so mysteriously meaningful is perceived as a miracle that no science can either deny or explain. This is why even non-believers feel affected. The Paris cathedral is the symbol not just of the Catholic faith, but of the fact that all humans have souls.

Rather strangely, non-Catholics lament more noisily than Catholics. They fear the damage is irreversible. Can it be repaired? How much will it cost? Can it be afforded? A fund has already been started to raise the money that is needed. But will this be enough to restore everything as it was? Is it possible to rebuild the roof’s oak framework that had resisted the elements since the 13th century? Will Notre Dame ever be the same again?

The faithful are less pessimistic, though they quite reasonably could be. The late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger had centered the Paris Archdiocese’s life in and around the cathedral and refashioned the interior with an elegant modern altar in the middle. The loss of all this might seem to be the last blow after all the sex abuse scandals that have hit the Church recently, and all the sociological studies highlighting the plummeting numbers of baptisms, ordinations and religious vocations, or revealing that the younger generations are simply unsure what Christians commemorate at Easter or what a parish is exactly.

On top of it all, this happens just at the beginning of Holy Week, the most sacred time of year for Christians: Where will the Archbishop gather his priests for Chrism Mass? And finally, why did God allow this?

Notre Dame on fire and perhaps unusable for months if not years is undoubtedly a trial. But faith does not allow to see this as a punishment or the confirmation of a decline and fall. There is some comfort to be found in the massive sense of affliction and solidarity of non-believers, since it proves that for them, however irreligious they are, the visible Church is not a mere remnant of the past, but a vital part of the scenery, without which they themselves miss something. Yet, in the end, this support does not make that much of a difference.

What is decisive is the knowledge that Jesus Christ the Groom will never abandon his bride the Church – which does not mean that her faithfulness will never be tested. The Temple on Mount Zion was destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again. St. Peter’s in Rome was plundered several times. The crusaders lost Jerusalem.  What ultimately matters is not the signifier (the cathedral), but the signified (God’s glory) which remains forever fertile and will forever inspire those who long for it.

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Rose Quartz

rose-quartz pantone 2016

“Rose Quartz, a persuasive yet gentle tone…conveys compassion and a sense of composure. Like a serene sunset, flushed cheek or budding flower, Rose Quartz reminds us to reflect on our surroundings during the busy but lighthearted spring and summer months.”

  • Cherry Blossom – Cherry blossoms were first brought to the US from Japan in the early 20th century as a gift from the Japanese government. They were planted along the Potomac and on White House grounds. Cherry blossoms are still cherished today and are commemorated with annual festivals in Washington DC and throughout the US. Cherry trees grow fast, but usually, don’t live more than 20 years and are prone to diseases and pest damage. To reduce the risk of diseases and pests be sure not to let mulch pile up against the tree, to remove dead or diseased wood, and to dispose of trimmings away from the tree.
  • Peony – Peonies are lush flowers that bloom from April to May or June depending on their variety. They thrive in hardiness zones 3 through 8 and generally start to grow after the winter frost has passed and temperatures reach 65 or 70 degrees. They should not be planted more than 1.5 to 2 inches below the soil line, and do best in full sun and well-draining soil. Peonies are known to be long-lasting perennials and generally require little maintenance, though they rarely do well after being transplanted.
  • Camellia – Camellias are evergreen shrubs originally from eastern and southern Asia. They have become popular in America, especially in the South, where they are Alabama’s state plant. Camellia buds take about half a year to develop, and blossom from fall to early spring. It is best to prune the shrubs after they flower. Camellias grow best in partial shade and are deer resistant. When watering, it is best to moisten the entire root ball, then let dry before watering again.
  • Mountain Laurel – Mountain laurels are evergreen shrubs and trees that are native to the eastern United States. They are the state flower of both Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Mountain laurel bloom from late spring to early summer and the flowers are often shades of pink, white, and purple. They grow best in partial shade with slightly acidic, well-draining soil, and should be planted so that their crown is not buried. The plants are poisonous to most animals if ingested.
  • Deutzia – Deutzia is a genus of flowering shrubs with around 60 different species. Most species are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves seasonally, but some are evergreen. They are native to Central America and Asia — the widest variety of species is found in China. Deutzia plants bloom throughout spring, and do best in full sunlight, though they can also survive in partial shade. They are deer resistant and relatively low maintenance.
  • Dogwood – Dogwood trees are deciduous trees native to the eastern United States. They bloom from two to four weeks at the beginning of spring, and their flowers range from pink to red to white. If they fail to bloom during the spring, that may be because there is too much nitrogen in the soil, too much or too little sunlight, cold weather, or lack of water. Dogwoods do best in partial shade and should be watered once a week so that the soil is soaked to 6 inches deep.

rsuasive yet gentle tone…conveys compassion and a sense of composure. Like a serene sunset, flushed cheek or budding flower, Rose Quartz reminds us to reflect on our surroundings during the busy but lighthearted spring and summer months.”

peach-echo pantone 2016

Peach Echo

“Peach Echo [is] a shade that emanates friendlier qualities, evoking warmth and accessibility. It is an all-encompassing, tempered companion in the playful orange family.”

  • Pink Tulip – Tulips bloom from March to May, depending on what variety they are. They are popular spring flowers because they come in nearly every color from bright red to light pink to dark purple and because they are perennials, meaning that they’ll come back year after year. Tulips do best in full sun, or at least six hours of sunlight a day. Though single tulips — tulips that bear one flower on each stem– are most popular, there are many other visually interesting varieties including double tulips, lily-flowered tulips, and fringed tulips.
  • Daylily – Daylilies are native to Asia, but have been hybridized in the United States and England so that they now come in nearly every color of the rainbow and in a variety of shapes. They are hardy perennials that are able to adapt to a variety of conditions and have relatively few pests and disease problems. Though they grow best in full sun, the can also grow in partial shade. Generally, they bloom in late spring to early summer.
  • Geranium – Geraniums, also known as cranesbill, are popular indoor and outdoor plants that come in annual, biennial, and perennial varieties, though perennials are most popular for the garden. Depending on the variety, they can bloom in spring, early summer, or fall. They do best in full sunlight and should be watered regularly letting the soil dry between waterings. Geraniums can be propagated easily — the best time to propagate is in spring or summer.
  • Garden Rose – There are two main categories of garden roses: Modern Garden Roses and Old Garden Roses. Modern Roses were bred after 1867, and include hybrid tea roses, which are popular cut roses. Modern Garden roses bloom continuously, come in a variety of colors, and have a large bloom size and long vase life, but lack fragrance. Old Garden Roses are a traditional class of roses bred before the arrival of the hybrid rose in 1867. They typically bloom once a year during the summer months.
serenity pantone 2016

Serenity

“Weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, Serenity comforts with a calming effect, bringing a feeling of respite even in turbulent times. A transcendent blue, Serenity provides us with a naturally connected sense of space.”

  • Bluestar – Bluestar, also known as amsonia, is named after its powder blue, star-shaped flowers. It’s a treasured perennial not only because of its unique flowers that bloom throughout spring, but also because of its beautiful foliage, which turns golden in the fall. Bluestar is native to North America, and does best in full sun. It is best if the soil is kept constantly moist, but overall it’s a relatively low-maintenance plant and is deer-resistant.
  • Sweet Pea – Sweet peas are often associated with the color pink and their enticing fragrance, but sweet peas also bloom in shades of red, purple, and blue. Some species are climbing annuals that can be trained onto a support system, while other dwarf varieties are non-climbers that grow well in beds and borders. Sweet peas commonly bloom in the spring, though they can also bloom in the summer and fall depending on the climate. They grow best in full to partial shade with moist, well-draining soil. Sweet peas are relatively cold hardy plants, and usually aren’t damaged by light frost.
  • Bellflower – Bellflowers are known for their diversity in color and growth habits. In some species, the flowers grow extremely tall, while in others the flowers grow close to the ground. Common colors are blue, purple, white, and pink. Most popular bellflowers are perennials, though a few are annuals and biennials. They bloom in spring and summer, and do best if planted in full sun to partial shade with moist, well-draining soil.
  • Forget-Me-Not – Forget-me-nots are low-maintenance wildflowers that self-seed. Because of this, once they’re planted one place in your garden, they’re likely to invade other parts, which is why they’re often planted as groundcover. Most forget-me-nots are biennials. They bloom from late spring to early summer, and produce blue, white, and pink flowers. Forget-me-nots prefer cool environments, and do best in lightly shaded areas with moist soil.
  • Muscari – Muscari, also known as grape hyacinth because of its purple clusters that resemble grapes, are great for attracting pollinators to your garden. The bright blue varieties are most common, though they also come in shades of white, pink, and yellow. Muscari grow from bulbs that should be planted in well-draining soil about three to four inches deep in the fall. The flowers will bloom in the spring and do best in full sun.
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Snorkel Blue

“A maritime-inspired blue, Snorkel Blue plays in the navy family, but with a happier, more energetic content. The name alone implies a relaxing vacation and encourages escape. It is striking yet still, with lots of activity bursting from its undertones.”

  • Gentiana Verna – Gentiana verna, also known as the spring gentiana, is native to the mountainous parts of Europe. As an alpine plant, it grows well in rock beds and troughs and is very hardy. Gentiana verna is known for its vibrant blue, star-shaped flowers that bloom throughout spring. It does best in full sunlight, but can also survive in light shade, and thrives in gritty soil. Gentiana verna should be kept constantly moist.
  • Delphinium – Delphiniums are perennials that are known for their spikes of showy flowers that bloom in shades of blue, pink, white, and purple. They do well in full to partial shade and start to bloom in late spring into summer. They thrive in areas that have moist, cool summers, as they do not do well in hot, dry climates or in climates with harsh wind or rain. Soil should be kept moist at all times. Dwarf delphiniums grow to around two feet tall, while other varieties can grow up to six feet.
  • Morning Glory – Morning glories are known for their distinctive funnel-shaped flowers and heart-shaped leaves. These vines grow rapidly, and can be used to cover fences and trellises. They bloom in late spring and summer with flowers ranging from red to yellow to purple. Most morning glories are annuals, though some re-seed themselves. They do best in full sun, but can withstand light shade as well as poor soil.
  • Primrose – Primroses are the first perennials to bloom in spring — some actually start blooming in late winter. With proper care, they will reappear every spring for years. They grow to around six inches tall, and their flowers are commonly shades of ivory and yellow, though some varieties also bloom in shades of pink, purple, red, and blue. Primroses do best in partial shade with well-draining soil. Soil that doesn’t drain well can cause crown rot or root rot.

Buttercup

buttercup pantone 2016

“While the majority of Spring/Summer palette trends toward calmness, a few diversions from the theme emerge that offer a contrast. With Buttercup, designers reveal a shining beacon transporting its wearer to a happier, sunnier place.”

  • Yellow Trillium – Trilliums are also known as the trinity flower because they have three leaves, three sepals, and three petals. They are native to North America and Asia, and bloom in early to mid spring. There are over 40 species of trillium, and the flowers come in nearly every color. They are woodland plants, so they do best in shaded areas with moist, well-draining soil. Some species of trillium are threatened or endangered, making it illegal to pick certain types of wild trillium.
  • Daffodil – Daffodils are hardy perennials with around 60 species in a variety of colors, forms, and sizes. Their bright, trumpet-shaped flowers bloom in spring and grow to be about a foot or foot and a half tall. Daffodils do best in full sunlight or partial shade and neutral or slightly acidic soil. They require minimal plant care, and are resistant to many types of animals including deer, rabbits, squirrels, and rodents.
  • Freesia – Freesias are zygomorphic, which means the flowers only grow on one side of the stem. They often bloom in spring and summer, and come in a variety of colors including yellow, white, pink, red, blue, and purple. The plants grow from corms, which are similar to bulbs. The corms store the plant’s food in the basal plate, which is also where the roots grow from. Freesias grow well in full sun or partial shade. You’ll know you’re overwatering them if the leaves start turning yellow.
  • Pansy – Pansies are viola hybrids. They are hardy flowers that can often survive over winter and bloom into spring. To help the pansies survive the cold, it is best to plant them in early fall, and use medium sized flowers rather than large flowers. Pansies are often treasured for their multi-colored flowers. Though they are perennials, they are usually planted as annuals or biennials. Pansies do best in full sun or partial shade.
  • Golden Columbine – Golden columbine is native to the southwestern United States. It’s a herbaceous perennial that blooms from late spring to late summer and grows between one to three feet tall. Its bright yellow flowers are distinctive because of their five spurs that project backwards between the sepals. Golden columbine flowers are named after the Latin word for dove, columbinus, because their flowers resemble a cluster of five doves. It does best in partial to full shade, but can also tolerate full sun in cooler climates.
  • Forsythia – Forsythia are deciduous shrubs native to eastern Asia and southeastern Europe. They are known for their full, fountain-shaped branches, and can grow to be up to ten feet tall and ten feet wide at maturity. Bright yellow flowers cover the tree at peak bloom, which is in late winter or early spring. They do best with full sun and well draining soil, and should be pruned right after they have finished blooming.

Limpet Shell

limpet-shell pantone 2016

“A shade of aqua that leans toward the green family, Limpet Shell is clear, clean and defined. Suggestive of clarity and freshness, its crisp and modern influences evoke a deliberate, mindful tranquility.”

  • Scilla – The scilla plant is known for its bright blue flowers, though it also blooms in shades of pink, purple, and white. It is a perennial that grows from small bulbs and blooms during the spring. There are about 90 species of scilla, siberian squill being the most popular. They can grow well in full sun to partial shade, and should be planted in well draining soil. These plants are deer resistant and relatively hardy, but they’re poisonous if ingested.
  • Calla Lily – Calla lilies are known for their heart-shaped leaves and prominent spadices. They are not actual lilies, but rather members of the Araceae family. These herbaceous perennials grow from rhizomes, which are underground plant stems that produce the shoot and root system. They are usually planted in spring after the frost has passed, and bloom in late spring and summer. Calla lilies are commonly white, making them a popular flower to dye vibrant colors. They do best in full sunlight, but can also survive in partial shade.
  • Hydrangea – Hydrangeas are shrubs that produce lush groups of flowers. Though most bloom during the summer, oakleaf hydrangeas start blooming in late spring. Hydrangeas are known for their vibrant colors, commonly blue, pink, or green. White hydrangeas can be easily dyed or tinted, allowing them to take on colors that are hard to find naturally. Many hydrangeas do well in partial shade, though the amount of sunlight needed varies by species. They should be watered often so that the soil is always moist, but not overly wet.

Lilac Gray

lilac-gray pantone 2016

“As in most any season, the need for neutrals arises. Essentially a basic, the subtlety of the lilac undertone in Lilac Gray adds a distinctive edge to this classy gray shade.”

  • Dusty Miller – Dusty millers are hardy perennials whose small, golden flowers bloom in mid-summer. However, its silvery foliage, which is often used by florists, grows throughout the year. The silvery fur on its leaves allows it to hold a lot of water. In mild climates, the plant grows until the first frost, then reappears in the spring. In cooler climates, dusty millers are often grown as annuals. It does well when planted in full sun or partial shade.
  • Echeveria – Echeveria are a group of rosette-shaped succulents native to Mexico. They can grow throughout the year in warm climates, and do best in hardiness zones 8-11. People are often attracted to echeverias because of of their unique coloration, which ranges from red to green to blue. Some species bloom, like Echeveria pallida, bloom in the spring, though the plants are valued for their leaves rather than their flowers. Echeveria are drought-resistant, and produce baby plants which nest against their mother and are easy to propagate.

Fiesta

fiesta pantone 2016

“The high energy Fiesta is a harbinger of excitement, encouraging free-spirited exploration to unknown but welcoming locales. A strong and fiery, yellow-based Red, the vivid Fiesta provides a stark contrast to the calming, softer nature of this season’s palette.”

  • Amaryllis – Amaryllis are popular flowers to give around the holidays because when planted indoors, they can bloom in mid-winter. There are only two species of amaryllis. These perennials are often transplanted to the garden in spring, or planted as bulbs in September to January for a spring bloom. Red and pink amaryllis flowers are most popular. They do best in full sun or partial shade with well-draining soil, and are deer resistant.
  • Mandevilla – Mandevilla, also known as rocktrumpet, is a flowering vine that is often grown along trellises or garden walls. It’s native to tropical and subtropical regions of North and South America, so it does best in warm climates, specifically hardiness zones 9 and 10. It can’t tolerate temperatures below 45 degrees. The plants bloom from spring to fall with red, white, or pink flowers. They do best in sandy, well-draining soil.
  • Butterfly Pentas – Butterfly pentas are rich in nectar, so they are often planted to attract butterflies or hummingbirds. They are also known as Egyptian starflowers because of their star-shaped flowers. They do best in warm environments, like hardiness zones 9 and above. They bloom continuously from spring to first frost, which is part of what makes these plants so popular. They grow best in full sun, but will also grow in partial shade.
  • Beardtongue – There are about 270 species of beardtongue, which are native to both North America and East Asia. These perennials require heat to bloom, and often start to flower in late spring and early summer — under ideal conditions they will continuously bloom until late summer. They are often planted to attract hummingbirds to the garden. Beardtongue do best when planted in full sun with well-draining soil.
  • Poppy – There are over 70 species of poppies which include annuals, biennials, and perennials. In his book entitled Poppies, Christopher Grey-Wilson hypothesized that poppies got their names either from the sound of chewing the seeds, or from the Celtic world papa, meaning a liquid food for infants, because poppy juice used to be fed to infants to help them sleep. Poppies should be planted in early spring, and will bloom in late spring and summer. They do best in full sun to partial shade, and will often self-sow.

Iced Coffee

iced-coffee pantone 2016

“A transitional color that will take us through the seasons, Iced Coffee manifests as another strong neutral for the season. With its natural earthy quality, the softness and subtlety of Iced Coffee creates a stable foundation when combined with the rest of this season’s palette.”

  • Pussy Willow – Pussy willows are relatively easy trees to grow, though they have deep, spreading roots and should not be planted next to pipes or water lines. These roots allow them to hold soil in place, making them a great choice for erosion control. Pussy willows grow best in full sun with constant water. The trees start to bud in late winter or early spring with white, furry catkins, which later develop into light yellow flowers.
  • Baby’s Breath – Baby’s breath is a popular ornamental flower that’s native to Eurasia. It is a herbaceous perennial that can grow up to four feet tall. It’s listed as a noxious weed in some states including California and Washington because of its invasive nature. However, it’s extremely popular as a bouquet filler, and is often tinted or dried to fit a color scheme. It does best in full sun, blooms in late spring and summer, and is deer resistant.
  • Curly Willow – The curly willow, or corkscrew willow, got its name from its unique branches which twist into curls as they grow. Curly willows have shallow roots that stay close to the surface, so they are not fitting to plant near sidewalks and will not stay firmly rooted in poor weather. These trees reach up to 30 feet at maturity. They are enjoyed throughout the year. In spring they bloom, in fall the foliage turns bright yellow, and in winter they shed their leaves showcasing their unique branches.

Green Flash

green-flash pantone 2016

“Green Flash calls on its wearer to explore, push the envelope and escape the mundane, radiating an openness that combines with the rest of the palette in unexpected but serendipitous ways. The popularity of this brilliant hue is representative of nature’s persistent influence even in urban environments, a trend continuing to inspire designers.”

  • Snowball Viburnum – Snowball viburnum is a shrub that is named for its clustered, white flowers, which bear resemblance to snowballs. The flower clusters start out as a bright green, but get lighter as they mature, and fade to a slight pink as they age. Snowball viburnum blooms in late spring into summer, and can grow over ten feet tall. It does best in full sun with well-drained, slightly acidic soil, but will also tolerate partial shade and alkaline soil.
  • Hellebore – There are about 22 species of hellebore plants. One of the most popular is an oriental hybrid, commonly called the Lenten rose, because it blooms around the beginning of lent. These perennials bloom in late winter or early spring and are relatively low-maintenance. The color of their flowers range from green to pink to red to purple, and are often fragrant and long-lasting. Though they are deer-resistant, they are also poisonous and should not be ingested. They grow best in full or partial shade.
  • Fritillaria – Fritillaria are part of the lily family. They have unique, nodding, bell-cupped flowers and can grow up to four feet tall, towering over many other spring flowers. They bloom in nearly every color, and some are even multi-colored with unique patterns. Fritillaria bulbs should be planted in moist soil and in full sun or partial shade. They are relatively hardy and resist deer, squirrels, and rodents.
  • Lycaste Orchid – There are four main subgroups under the Lycaste genus: Deciduosae, Longisepalae, Macrophyllae, and Fimbriatae. Of those, Deciduosae and Macrophyllae are the most common. They are typically found in temperate regions of Mexico and South and Central America. They’re also popular houseplants and often used in floral arrangements. Lycaste orchids are known for their triangular flowers, which bloom in spring.
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Orchid Care

Lady’s Slipper Orchid

Orchids enjoy drinking water 1 to 2 times a week. They love keeping the bottom of the pot dry and free from swimming in water and adore subtle indirect lighting and good air circulation. Also, welcome a once or twice a month feeding with a liquid fertilizer. Dendrobiums, Cattleyas and Oncidiums enjoy bright indirect light. Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, and Miltonias adore the shade. They also grow easily near a window or on a porch. Vandas and Ascocendas love lots of water; increase watering to 2 or 3 times a week. They enjoy bright indirect light.
Orchids like repotting every two years or when they have grown out of the pot. They enjoy growing roots in orchid bark or rocks. Do not use soil. For use as a gentle insecticide, Rubbing alcohol with 70% Isopropyl may be sprayed with a hand sprayer. This is gentle for the plant and bloom.

Cymbidium Orchid
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Caring for Fresh Flowers in Winter

There’s no better way to brighten your home during a dreary winter than by decorating with fresh cut floweng them to droop prematurely – potentially before they reach their peak. Here are some tips for keeping your fresh cut flowers looking perky as long as possible this winter:

If the flowers are delivered to an office or any place they will not be kept at, make sure to warm up your car before transporting them home. Flowers cannot survive below 37* for less than a minute.

Keep Flowers Away from Heat Sources

It’s common for houses to experience temperature fluctuations during the winter, especially if they run on radiator heat. However, when trying to sustain a vase of fresh cut flowers, it’s best to display them in an area with as steady of a temperature as possible. Keep the vase away from windows that may frost or get cold in low temperatures, heat registers, vents, and radiators. It’s also best to keep them from appliances that emit heat, like your stove, the top of your fridge, and TVs or DVD players.

Trim The Stems

Once the flowers are removed from the plant, their lifespan will be finite. The stems slowly die from the bottom up, so it’s important to trim the dead ends off frequently to ensure they’re able to absorb nutrients from the water. Every day or two, remove the bouquet from the vase and trim about a half inch from the bottom, on an angle, with a sharp knife. Make sure the knife or shears are sharp enough to not crush the end of the flower when you cut it. You don’t want the end to be sealed before you even put the stem back in water!

Change The Flower’s Water

A good rule of thumb when it comes to maintaining fresh cut flowers is not to let them sit in water that you wouldn’t drink yourself. When your vase’s water becomes cloudy or discolored, there’s enough bacteria in there to speed up the aging process for your flowers. Always cut the leaves that sit below the water line off, too. You shouldn’t use water too warm, unless you want to speed up the blooming process, or too cold. Room-temperature water works best.

Waiting for Your Flower Delivery

If you’re ordering your fresh cut flowers through The Wild Orchid you can rest assured that the florist delivering the flowers is doing his or her best to make sure they arrive in perfect condition so they last as long as possible in your home. When placing your order online, note the best time for delivery in the “special instruction” box, so there’s no risk of missing your delivery. The Wild Orchid prefers not to leave arrangements on the porch unless you specify that it’s OK with you. In most cases, the florist will bring the arrangement back to the flower shop so you can pick it up when it’s more convenient for you, or he or she will try the delivery at a later date.

Adding the right pops of color to your home will keep your spirits up, even on the dreariest of days!

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Auld Lang Syne – New Yorker

The author’s father in 1943, at age three.PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY ALLYSON HOBBS

Every year, as the hour grows late on Christmas night, my father’s eyes become misty. He sits at the dining table after our holiday feast and stares off in the direction of the CD player, holding the remote in his hand. He wears a light-blue cashmere V-neck sweater over a neat button-down shirt and brown corduroy pants, classic “gifts for Dad” from previous Christmastimes. The 1963 album “Christmas with the Platters” plays, and a dreamy version of “Auld Lang Syne” wafts through the living room. My father slowly takes off his glasses and dabs his eyes. The phrase “Auld Lang Syne” translates to “times gone by,” and, while Americans expect to hear this song every New Year’s, few know what the Scottish lyrics actually mean. So most New Year’s Eve revellers just mumble or hum along. But they get the gist of the main question of the song: Should old friends be forgotten? And the answer, of course, is no, the past must be remembered.

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?

While the song absorbs my father, plates are cleared, dishes are washed, Uno cards are located, and new rules for the game are debated. The after-dinner hustle and bustle do not disturb my father’s reverie. For those few minutes that “Auld Lang Syne” plays, he is far away from the dining table in Morristown, New Jersey, where he has celebrated Christmas for the past thirty-five years. He is a little boy, seven or eight years old, in a small apartment on the South Side of Chicago, which he shares with his sister, his mother, and his grandmother. It’s the early nineteen-fifties, and he sits by the radio with his family, looking at the frosted Christmas tree with bubbly lights. He is dressed in his finest clothes. “There was a time when families got dressed up for holidays. Remember that, Joyce?” he asks my mother. He laughs as he describes the suit that he wore, with a skinny tie, when they were first married, my mother’s fancy dresses, and the special holiday outfits purchased for my older sisters and brother.

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup and surely I’ll buy mine!

And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, wrote “Auld Lang Syne,” in 1788. His life was not an easy one. Perhaps his suffering and hardships imbued his poetry with its signature passion and intensity. When his father died, his farm was on the brink of failure, and Burns and his brother moved the family to a new farm in an effort to stay afloat. The labor that the farm required seemed to leave Burnswith a heart condition that afflicted him later in life. Known as the “peasant poet,” Burns fathered at least a dozen children, with several women, and after leaving the farm he spent most of his career compiling traditional Scottish folk songs that celebrate life, love, work, drinking, and friendship, using warm melodies and emotional chords. “Auld Lang Syne” was not intended to be a holiday standard, but in 1929 the legendary bandleader Guy Lombardo (known as Mr. New Year) used it to connect two radio programs during a live performance at the Roosevelt Hotel, in New York. Lombardo’s band played “Auld Lang Syne” just as the clock struck midnight. A tradition was born. Lombardo brought in the new year with the song for almost fifty years, from the stock market crash in 1929 to his last performance, during the country’s bicentennial, in 1976. Lombardo died in 1977.

We two have run about the slopes, and picked the daisies fine;

But we’ve wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne.

As the youngest of two children and the only boy in his family, my father was doted on, adored, and treasured. His family did not have much money, but, as he would later tell us with a smile, “We didn’t know we were poor.” His grandmother cleaned the homes of white families and often came back to the apartment with stories of “what the white folks do.” Setting the Christmas table with her best china, she would turn to my father and my aunt and say, with satisfaction, “This is the way the white folks do it.” The world of the white folks was just as remote geographically as it was in imagination and in experience. It was protected by a boundary that no black person (aside from domestics and other workers) dared to cross. My father’s grandmother had served “the white folks” at dinner parties, so she took great pride in making her own celebrations equally special. She wanted her grandchildren to know that, even though they might live in a kitchenette in Chicago’s overcrowded Black Belt, they were just as precious and just as cherished as the white children who lived in the prestigious neighborhoods of the North Shore.

We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne.

My father’s mother worked as a hairdresser. She was a master of improvisation, the original mother of invention. While she worked, she sent my father and my aunt to double features at movie theatres as a less expensive alternative to hiring a babysitter. One year, my grandmother splurged and bought my father a University of Chicago jacket for Christmas. My father, who dreamed of attending the University of Chicago, took great pride in wearing the jacket. Perhaps it was more beloved by him because he knew the sacrifices that his mother had made to buy it. An older boy would steal the jacket before its leather sleeves had the chance to crease. But such was life for my father, growing up in Chicago back then.

And there’s a hand, my trusty friend!

And give us a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne.

I notice my father as he muses silently about times gone by and wish that I, too, could go to that kitchenette that he has described so vividly and glimpse him as a little boy, dressed up in his Christmas finery. I wish I could hear the sounds of the crackling radio and join him, my aunt, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother around the dining table or next to the frosted Christmas tree. I drift into my own misty reveries: a childhood when the excitement of Christmas would not let me sleep; years later, watching my brother-in-law assemble elaborate and exquisite floral centerpieces as his generous gift to us; the games played; the joy and laughter before my sister’s illness and untimely death, at thirty-one; even the hectic but happy balancing act of celebrating two Christmases—one with my family and one with my husband’s family—before our marriage collapsed, four years ago.

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?

My father can’t go back to the Chicago of the nineteen-fifties. Try as I might, I can’t relive my childhood or young adulthood in Morristown. But we can follow the poignant instructions offered in “Auld Lang Syne”: to remember the past, the stories, the scenes, the settings, the friendships, and the family. Perhaps knowing that these memories live on in all of us makes the “times gone by” a little easier to bear.

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New Years Resolutions

The History of New Year’s Resolutions

The custom of making New Year’s resolutions has been around for thousands of years, but it hasn’t always looked the way it does today.S

The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be.

A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. Named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.

For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year. Now popular within evangelical Protestant churches, especially African-American denominations and congregations, watch night services held on New Year’s Eve are often spent praying and making resolutions for the coming year.

Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are a mostly secular practice. Instead of making promises to the gods, most people make resolutions only to themselves, and focus purely on self-improvement (which may explain why such resolutions seem so hard to follow through on). According to recent research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. But that dismal record probably won’t stop people from making resolutions anytime soon—after all, we’ve had about 4,000 years of practice.

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Legend Of The Poinsettia

Poinsettias at Christmas 

A Poinsettia flower

Poinsettia plants are native to Central America, especially an area of southern Mexico known as ‘Taxco del Alarcon’ where they flower during the winter. The ancient Aztecs called them ‘cuetlaxochitl’. The Aztecs had many uses for them including using the flowers (actually special types of leaves known as bracts rather than being flowers) to make a purple dye for clothes and cosmetics and the milky white sap was made into a medicine to treat fevers. (Today we call the sap latex!)

The poinsettia was made widely known because of a man called Joel Roberts Poinsett (that’s why we call them Poinsettia!). He was the first Ambassador from the USA to Mexico in 1825. Poinsett had some greenhouses on his plantations in South Carolina, and while visiting the Taco area in 1828, he became very interested in the plants. He immediately sent some of the plants back to South Carolina, where he began growing the plants and sending them to friends and botanical gardens.

One of the friends he sent plants to was John Bartram of Philadelphia. At the first Philadelphia flower show, Robert Buist, a plants-man from Pennsylvania saw the flower and he was probably the first person to have sold the poinsettias under their botanical, or latin name, name ‘Euphorbia pulcherrima’ (it means, ‘the most beautiful Euphorbia’). They were first sold as cut flowers. It was only in the early 1900s that they were sold as whole plants for landscaping and pot plants. The Ecke family from Southern California were one of, if not, the first to sell them as whole plants and they’re still the main producer of the plants in the USA. It is thought that they became known as Poinsettia in the mid 1830s when people found out who had first brought them to America from Mexico.

There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas come together, it goes like this:

There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
‘Pepita’, he said “I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy.”

Pepita didn’t know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

The Poinsettia is also the national emblem of Madagascar.

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Magnolia Bark: Your Go-To Herb For Sleep & Anxiety

“I am a big fan of magnolia for sleep,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a board-certified sleep specialist. “It works as an anxiety reducer, and several of my patients have commented to me that it helps them ‘turn off their brain.'”

Its ability to ‘turn off the brain’ (or at least calm it down) has benefits beyond the bedroom, too. In addition to aiding in restful zzz’s, magnolia bark is also used to help manage stress and anxiety, protect brain health, and treat depression. It’s also been shown to reduce inflammation and inflammation-related pain, help manage diabetes, improve dental health, and even potentially prevent certain cancers.

Here’s what you need to know about magnolia—where it comes from, what it does, how to take it, and more.

What is magnolia?

While supplements are commonly referred to simply as magnolia, they usually contain magnolia bark (magnolia itself refers to a class of about 240 flowering tree and shrub species). The plant is native to North and South America, the Himalayas, and East Asia; and Magnolia has a particularly strong connection to Chinese herbal medicine (which utilizes both the flowers and the bark).

Among other bioactive compounds, the bark contains magnolol and honokiol, which are largely to thank for many of magnolia bark’s benefits.

Magnolia bark for sleep.

Magnolia bark’s most widely known application is helping with sleep—research has found that magnolia bark can help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and increase the amount of time spent in both REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, which are both important in restorative rest.

There are several mechanisms behind its sedative effects. Notably, magnolia bark boosts the neurotransmitter GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid. “GABA is like the brakes of the brain,” says Breus. “When GABA is elicited, then your whole being starts to slow down, which obviously is something that you want for sleep.”

This is the same way that powerful prescription sleep aids like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata work. “They are all GABA receptor agonists, meaning they increase the amount of GABA in your system, and magnolia bark basically hits the same receptors that Ambien does,” says Breus.

Magnolia bark also helps promote better sleep through the body’s internal endocannabinoid system, which is a system of neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors to tell the brain to slow down. Magnolia bark actually activates these cannabinoid receptors, says Breus. This is similar to the way CBD oil works (CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the non-psychoactive properties found in cannabis that helps the body and brain relax).

Another way magnolia bark aids in sleep is by reducing the stress hormone adrenaline, which helps control the fight-or-flight response (which, hopefully, doesn’t need to be in action when you’re dozing off). “Right as you’re falling asleep, you really want adrenaline to be as low as possible,” says Breus. By reducing adrenaline and other stress hormones like cortisol, magnolia bark can help you doze off peacefully.

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