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The 4,000 mile flower delivery

BY JEZ FREDENBURGH
Made On Earth

The story of the world’s trading networks told through eight everyday products

Our love of flowers might seem frivolous, but it drives a worldwide industry worth billions of pounds.

While the Netherlands dominates the trade, countries on the equator are becoming increasingly important as growers.

For more than 200 years, the heart of the global trade in cut flowers has been the Netherlands. The world’s largest global auction for flowers began, famously, in a pub. One trader turned to his peers and asked, how much? 

The question was the start of the most dynamic and highly organised trading sites for flowers in the world. Now known as the Royal FloraHolland auction house at Aalsmeer, near Amsterdam, the floor of a cavernous warehouse is home to a giant game of Tetris with living flower stems bustled about on trolleys, to be bought, sold and dispatched. 

As it has done for years, Royal FloraHolland still plays a critical role importing and then re-exporting 40% of flowers from all over the world. But newer players in the flower trade are making their presence felt, shifting the dynamics of production. As transport technology develops, producers in regions elsewhere, including sub-Saharan Africa, are challenging the Netherlands’ traditional hold on the industry. 

The scale of the global market for cut flowers is large, and increasing. In the UK alone, the market for cut flowers and ornamental plants was worth £1.3 billion in 2018, according to government statistics. Around 90% of these flowers are imported – the vast majority still coming via the Netherlands. In 2015, the global trade in flowers was worth around €15bn (£10.6bn), with stems shuttled between continents with breath-taking speed.

Keeping up with the world’s demand for flowers involves an intricate and delicately balanced supply chain of workers, farmers, wholesalers, airlines, cargo ships, traders, florists and supermarkets. Getting something as delicate as a bunch of flowers from one continent to another without them being crushed or wilting is a daunting technological feat. 

Cut flowers have to be transported quickly using a “cold-chain” – a series of refrigerated facilities on farms, lorries, planes, and boats – which put the flowers into a dormant state, so they stay fresh. This allows a rapid transfer from farm to shop within 24-48 hours, if going by plane, says Sylvie Mamias, secretary general of Union Fleurs, the international flower trade association. 

Time is critical: for every extra day spent travelling flowers lose 15% of their value. Vase life – the length of time flowers stay fresh after reaching the customer – is then usually 12-15 days, Mamias says. 

The biggest buyers of cut flowers are the EU and the US, but the biggest growers and exporters are the Netherlands, Ecuador, Colombia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Roses, carnations and chrysanthemums are the most popular blooms.

In the UK, 80% of cut flowers come via the Netherlands, according to the British Florist Association, although a significant proportion originate in Kenya. Some Kenyan flowers also come straight to the UK on direct flights from Nairobi, where entire terminals at certain airports are dedicated to flights exporting blooms. 

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How to keep peonies fresh longer

Make Peony Blooms Last Longer

Using peonies as a cut flower for floral design is easy, with a few tricks to preserve the health of your plants and flowers.

Peonies are the queen of the garden during their blooming season. From late spring through early summer, there is a beautiful abundance of color and shapes blooming, depending on the variety. Finding a variety that is also fragrant adds to the reward of growing this exquisite flower.

Pick flowers in the cool of morning or evening
Storing peony stems allows you to use early and mid-season blossoms together in an arrangement.

Here are few tips to extend the bloom of cut peonies indoors.

When cutting flowers from your plants, be sure to leave at least two sets of leaves on the stem so that the plant can continue to thrive.

You can select flowers that are as open as you like, but for the best vase life, select buds that have just begun to open and feel similar to a marshmallow. 

Cut stems can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three weeks, butno fruit—such as apples—can be in the refrigerator with your peonies. The ethylene gas emitted by ripening fruit will cause petals to drop, and buds to wilt and fail to open. I store peony stems so that I can use early- and mid-season blossoms together in the same arrangement. (This is also a good safety net if you are hoping to use peonies for an event, but Mother Nature decided to allow the peonies to bloom early.)

I have success in storing blooms two ways. One is by placing cut stems in a clean vase of cool water in the refrigerator, making sure that low foliage is not in the water. This can be challenging because the height of the stems don’t always fit in the fridge very well. The other method is to cut the stems and place them lying down in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel to absorb moisture. Both methods require daily checks to replace the water in the vase or the paper towels. If any of the blossoms in the plastic bag grow moldy, the infected flowers should be discarded, and the remaining flowers placed in a clean plastic bag. If the buds droop, don’t worry—often they can be revived in a vase of warm water.

Got ants? Ants love the sweet nectar of peonies as they begin to open. I dunk the blossom end of the stem in cool, clean water for 30 seconds to rid the ants from the flower before bringing the flowers into the house.

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Easter Centerpiece

How to Make an Easter Centerpiece

I spotted an amazing Easter centerpiece in Southern Living back in 2015. I was totally in awe of the mechanics and art that went into creating this lovely arrangement. You can see more of my crafts and creations here.

I knew I wanted to take a stab at making this myself, but I ran into a number of challenges that I finally conquered this year! The first being that I could not find a fishbowl with a small opening like the one used by Southern Living. 

Finally I settled on this glass bowl that is 9 and a half inches deep and 9 inches across at the opening. This would have to do. This size is easy to find at Hobby Lobby or Michaels. IMPORTANT: Do not ever pick up one of these bowls by the rim, make sure you carry it from the bottom and sides. The rim can break off easily .

A floral cage would not fit across the top of this bowl and I really didn’t want water sitting in the bottom of my bowl beneath the carrots. Setting a plastic salad plate across the top of the bowl seemed to be the answer. I drilled two holes in one of two plastic plates and four holes in a second plate. 

First, I cut the green tops off of my carrots. Using floral wire, I stuck the wire through my carrots and gathered them into a tight bunch. 

The wires from the carrots were pulled up through the two holes in the first plate, securing the carrots hanging beneath. I did tuck a couple of little carrot greens into the top of the carrots to hide any wires that might show.

It is very important to secure the plates to the glass bowl. I used waterproof floral table to do this. 

A piece of wet floral foam was secured into a cage and that cage was then anchored to the second plate through the four drilled holes. This second plate can then be set upon the first and also firmly anchored with additional waterproof tape.

Carrot tops were the first thing I added to my arrangement.

Radishes and brussel sprouts were put on bamboo skewers to add them among the flowers to my arrangement.

I don’t think I could be happier with how my arrangement turned out. Now, if only I had Southern Living’s photographers capturing mine! This will be a lovely centerpiece for my Easter table. I hope I have inspired you and have offered you enough details that you can create this for yourself!  I would love to have you stop by my blog,   Celebrate & Decorate for the full tutorial as well as sign up for my latest creations, posts, recipes, exclusives, and more…

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Update

As you probably know, we are still dealing with the effects of the shut-downs from last year and the disruptions to our supply chain in a very real way. From product shortages and availability issues to logistical challenges in getting our flowers from outside countries, it will take some time to completely repair the supply chain and get back to 100% normalcy.

Here are some things we have for Easter, 2021.

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Rare ‘Christmas Star’ To Light Up Night Sky For First Time In Hundreds Of Years

Jupiter and Saturn will appear to be so close from Earth on Dec. 21 that they may look like one shining star.

Look up at the night sky on Dec. 21 and you may see something special.

The planets of JUPITER and SATURN will appear (weather-permitting) on the winter solstice to be so close from Earth that they may look like one shining star, even though they’ll actually be 450 million miles apart.

The so-called “Great Conjunction ” last happened in 1623 but could not be seen from Earth. Before that, the phenomenon previously occurred on March 4, 1226.

2020’s celestial event has been christened by some as the “Christmas Star,” due to its proximity to Christmas Day.

“Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another,” said, a professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University.

“On the evening of closest approach on Dec 21 they will look like a double planet, separated by only 1/5th the diameter of the full moon,” Hartigan explained. “For most telescope viewers, each planet and several of their largest moons will be visible in the same field of view that evening.”

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Baked French Toast Casserole

BREAKFAST & BRUNCH

Thanksgiving Breakfast paired with flowers!


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Skip the hassle of standing over the stove to fry each slice of French toast for breakfast. Instead, try this simple Baked French Toast Casserole! Prep the ingredients and let your oven do the rest. Pair with your favorite syrup for a special Saturday morning breakfast!


Ingredients

• 8 ounces whipped cream cheese• 1/3 cup chopped pecans• 1/4 cup light brown sugar• 2 teaspoons maple syrup• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon• 2 cups of milk• 5 eggs• 1/4 cup granulated sugar• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla• 1 loaf thick sliced bread• 2 tablespoons sugar• 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon• confectioners’ sugar, optional

Directions

Step 1

Mix together cheese, pecans, brown sugar, syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.Step 2

Set aside.Step 3

Beat together, with a whisk, milk, eggs 1/4 cup granulated sugar and vanilla.Step 4

Spread cheese mixture on one side of each slice of bread.Step 5

Layer at an angle in a 13 x 9″ baking dish, cheese side up.Step 6

Pour milk mixture over the bread evenly.Step 7

Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.Step 8

Remove wrap and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon mixed together.Step 9

Bake in a preheated oven, 350 degrees, for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned and egg is set.Step 10

Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving, if desired.