December 21, 2009

200 Red Roses for Christmas

If it's about what you give instead of what you receive, then I've already had a wonderful Christmas. My idea to give away red roses as gifts was born when I gave flowers to my friend, Alvina, in October. She is a widow in her 80's. When I handed her a simple arrangement in a vase, she lit up like a candle. "Oh, thank you dear! I haven't had flowers in such a long time, dear." Her reaction made me want to give her flowers again. offers bulk roses that are shipped directly from South America to your doorstep. Their current deal is 100 roses for about $80, including shipping and tax. These extremely fresh, long-stemmed roses are very different from roses that have languished in a florist's refrigerator for several weeks. They last longer and open beautifully.

So I decided to give Alvina, my grandmother, and other local friends red roses for Christmas. Then I was asked to help with gifts for the female staff members at my husband's workplace. Hmmm, shall we give them . . . . red roses? Another order was placed to make 8 arrangements of a dozen red roses each.

I bought vases at Target, the dollar store, and Goodwill. A florist friend helped me order bulk Christmas greens and burgundy hypericum berries. I bought mini ornaments at WalMart and wired them. The ribbon came from Costco, and I made dozens of bows while watching a movie one night. My kitchen descended into floral chaos once the arranging began.

I began thinking about the other widows and other single sisters in our congregation. Since they didn't have a husband to give them roses, I decided that they needed a red Christmas rose from me. I nearly gave up when I asked for a list and was given just over 30 names. But I knew these gifts would make for a very special experience, so I decided to keep going with the idea.

Delivering all the gifts was at once the biggest highlight and biggest challenge. The dozen-rose arrangements were taped into paper boxes and carefully driven to the office party. Then I started delivering the other arrangements, nearly 50 in all. The temperature dropped down to 10 degrees F. My bum was cold. Some people didn't have phone numbers to call ahead, and I had to make several tries before catching them. I got lost in apartment complexes and my arm nearly fell off a few times as I carried my toddler in one arm and a vase in another. But the smiles and hugs were fantastic! Women can't help but be delighted when they're given red roses.

What made this project especially rewarding is the fact that I'm usually a mediocre to poor gift-giver. I just can't seem to come up with great gift ideas. But this one hit the spot. What is the best gift you have ever given? Please leave a comment and tell. I need some inspiration for next year . . .

December 14, 2009

Classic Christmas Poinsettias

Here are a few more poinsettia pictures from my Plant Farm visit, this time of the classic red and green flowers.

This month has been too busy to leave much time for blogging. I'm getting ready for 18 guests for Christmas Eve dinner. Eight of those will stay with us for four days. My Costco grocery list is really long!

My six amaryllis are blooming their big heads off. I'm taking pictures to post soon. It's great to have some blooms around while the garden is asleep outside.

With temperatures dropping down to just above zero last week, I'm feeling very grateful for a warm home. With the shortest day of the year coming up, I'm especially enjoying the Christmas lights around our neighborhood. I hope the holiday season is a good one for all of you. Good luck getting it all done . . . or at least the essential things!

December 1, 2009

Not Your Typical Poinsettias

I recently attended the Poinsettia Tour at a local nursery, The Plant Farm. I knew that poinsettias came in other colors than just red, but I was impressed by the great variety on display. Pink, coral, lime green and cream plants caught my eye.

Each year The Plant Farm grows 50,000 to 60,000 poinsettias for garden centers and retail nurseries in several states. Above is shown 'Picasso'.

One conglomeration of greenhouses sheltered an acre of potted poinsettias. Several smaller greenhouses contained even more pots. Rows after rows of color were a welcome sight on a grey, rainy day.

Of course I had to take one home, but how to choose? I don't decorate with bright red, even at Christmas, because it gives me a headache. So I looked for something that would fit with my decor for the next month or two. These green ones were tempting.

I also considered a coral poinsettia like this one. Wouldn't this look great in a beachhouse at Christmas? The color coral always makes me think of the beach.

Here is a variation on the coral theme called 'Crystal Palace'. I love the texture and highlights on the leaves.

Being a pink fan, of course I paused over the bright pink and softer pink varieties. Traditionalists might raise an eyebrow over a pink Christmas poinsettia, but I'm open to new twists on old favorites.

I finally decided on this one, called 'Picasso'. The splotchy leaves were so interesting to my eyes.

This flower (yeah, I know it's really colored bracts, but I'm going to call it a flower) seems especially pretty since my outside garden is looking dreary. Have you picked up any poinsettias this season? What color did you choose?