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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.