Buy Local Grown Holiday Decorations-Not From The Sunday Papers

As I read the Sunday advertisements yet again this year, all the floral departments of the local big box stores from grocery to department to home stores were filled with great, bargain options.   With the Holidays upon us-of course they are full of holiday flowers,  poinsettias, and wreaths.  With that, I will explain the offerings, the prices, and of course the claims for you to make your own conclusions on the real price of the decorations and if they are really a bargain….and for whom.

Colorful Rose Bunches

 

A local ad for imported roses

Here is a 10 stem bouquet of roses with the certification of Fair Trade Kenya.  First lets understand Fair Trade certifications.   It is not affiliated with government and defined for those South American, African, etc. growers who are acting sustainably in some way whether by labor, environment, or social standards.  This could mean anything from offering child care to recycling of water to a comparable wage.  Most teach/employ disadvantaged communities a skill and support the local labor force with a fair wage.  It sounds wonderful and really is a start to a greener mindset, but… it is the most loosely veiled certification unfortunately, when concerning flowers.   The first thing from this ad of course is, how fair of a wage can a worker make with these roses selling for under $5.00?  After, being grown, flown, and transported to the various US outlets.  The same way discount stores sell Chinese made $1.00 goods?  I leave you to figure that one yourself as it is kind of obvious.  In fact just a few months ago, local African activists burned to the ground a huge SA owned flower farm they said was poisoning their water and ruining their land.  It is said, the grower is pulling out of Africa now.

Beautiful Lilies

 

An imported lily mislabeled

Pictured here is a stem of ‘oriental’ lilies;  however, these are not oriental lilies.  There is no certification stated and the ‘bunch’ size is unclear.  There are three main classifications of lilies imported to the US.

1-Oriental is the top of line-they are typically the largest and come in white, pink, or two tone white & burgundy (Stargazer).  Yellow is the rarest and as so, commands a high price tag, usually $10+ per stem, and mainly from Holland-the most expensive grower of lilies.  3-5 blooms

2- LA lilies which come in many solid colors and a smaller bloom than oriental.  2-4 blooms

3-Asiatic lilies also come in many solid colors and are the smallest of the group. 3-4 blooms

This ad has a photo of one of the most expensive and lilies from Holland, but it is logically impossible to be an oriental variety as advertised.  They are in fact, advertising the small Asiatic lilies from South America in a bunch? Lilies are a single stem, bulb so they take up a bit more space to grow for less flowers .  As for any sustainable certifications, there is none here as with most imported goods.  I am sure the issues with this ad are pretty clear.

Holiday Décor

 

Imported and not very healthy

Here is a multitude of poinsettia options and a balsam wreath.  There are 2 types of poinsettias plants in general circulation.

1-A single plant with a single bloom, which a pot can have 4 or 5 single plants, and can be 10”or 4’tall.

2-A single plant with multi blooms.  These are pinched to create side blooms and traditionally a shorter plant.

There are small local growers, but very few mega, commercial, poinsettia growers in the US; with most being only in the temperate states. With that, nearly all the poinsettias you see here in the states are grown in the Canadian Provinces.  Sadly, they are only plastic sleeved and sent on a bumpy, cold, truck journey from their protected greenhouses.  Which, is why by Dec. 24 they look pretty unhappy in your home and on clearance with curled and wilted leaves. They not only have had a traumatic journey in and out of cold temperatures, but they are lacking the proper care in cold doorways or fruit departments; which ironically emit ethylene gas that further lessens their lives.  Poinsettias are a tropical plant native to Mexico and very fragile creatures-more so than even your favorite houseplant.  When you purchase local grown, you get a healthier plant that will easily last until it’s time to put it in the summer garden.  Plants are a living thing and supposed to live on; when you purchase one you take on the responsibility of the care of this living thing not unlike a pet, and not just a disposable decoration.

Wreaths

Here in the US  approximately 15% of the evergreens are  cut on the West coast and the upper northeast, with the other 85% from Canada.  The wreaths shown here are a single faced, wreath; and little known that they are  made from evergreens cut in October; stacked, and held for trucking in mid November.  Ever notice how they are kind of flat and dry? The month of dry storage does this, and also why they shed so many needles every time you open your door.  There are tree farms just for cutting, but many of the evergreens are cut from virgin forests; something I really don’t want on my conscience or my door no matter how cheap they are.     It’s your choice.

And..Those Little Trees

Every year we see them; the miniature evergreen trees in foiled pots laden with plastic ornaments.   As a certified tree lover, I cringe wishing I could buy them all and take them home.  Most are outdoor varieties and can only withstand a dry and warm house for so long-not unlike the cut live tree in your living room.  To live they need special care to hold them for planting in the Spring.

There also are pallets of Norfolk Island pines in every store from drug to home improvement outlets.  They are temperate house plants native to the Norfolk Islands and landscape trees in Florida where they grow 3 stories high- and not really a true pine tree at all.  They are a very soft hearted plant usually dusted with sparkles and smothered with bows & ornaments on its delicate branches.   These should be purchased as a tropical, houseplant and treated as such.  They are not cold hardy, and will definitely freeze. It always amazes me how tenacious all the houseplants in these outlets try their best to survive.

The Lacy Norfolk

 

If you take a moment to think about the history and quality of all your holiday decorations, you will find some of the little secrets in the trade and mass markets.  The cheap plastic everything sold everywhere actually come at a huge price somewhere.  Imported flowers come with numerous environmental & social issues attached with fancy marketing slogans and misleading information. Stressed plants are doomed the moment they leave the greenhouse and not a good or compassionate bargain.   The stale, dry evergreen wreaths were alive and healthy a month ago and now seem only good for mulch.

Add in that these items are all treated with an assortment of chemicals for all sort of preventive, preserving, pest and disease; then we are all using  our natural resources in a detrimental way.  For sure, these poor communities around the world are glad to have any wage, but so would our own homeless population and farms here.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Fair Trade certification for economically and depressed communities in the US?  That would really attack our unemployment and something to label for.

 I only ask that you think before picking up that bunch of flowers at checkout, or grabbing that wreath while you are buying a drill; or asking just where it came from.  Spend your dollars wisely on quality for yourself and your gift recipients at local venues.  Money talks, it always has.  And we just have to realize that maybe a fresh and beautiful, local grown wreath is not $9.99 and you have a limited budget.  Well, how about making your own decoration then?   It would sure be fresher and more meaningful; and…. I think you would see that $9.99 isn’t near enough what your creation is worth.

think, live, buy local and…green

Lynn 🙂

Poinsettia Poisoning To Dogs-The Myths And Fears

They will poison your pet friends and sicken your children. Poinsettia poisoning to dogs.  How many times have you heard this; and how many times I have heard Lynn warned about me sniffing them, I can’t count.   How this rumor began, I wonder of maybe some mean rival, but in fact I have read about a case in 1919 involving a child, but you know what?  That is the only single, incident documented and it was never proven that a poinsettia was the villainous cause.   Hmph…so much for that!.

However, for over 100 years the tales of poinsettia poisoning to dogs have wagged around the terrible threats against this beautiful and sniffable plant.  This has been one of those so common myths that even a survey of florists found they thought it to be true! Even my friends at the dog park whisper that I should be careful and not even swish by them; my goodness can you imagine that when the shop is brimming with them!  First let me inform you that the bitter taste and sap of the poinsettia does nothing to entice us for a second helping.  Not palatable to anyone I know.

But can you guess how many leaves me, my friends both human and not would have to eat to become ill?

Poinsettia no danger to puppies

Two of my new friends.. double fun

The Big Poinsettia Dinner

So how much would we have to eat?  Over 500 leaves to get ill.  That equates to 10 to 25 plants depending on the size!  Geez, that is one heck of a feast and feat for something not tasty.   And actually, this can be said of nearly any plant in the shop, with the exception of only a few.   Like pansies…I love pansies they are yummy.

Study on top of test has been performed so, since some of you may doubt a greyhound ‘diva florist’, no matter my  ancestry and learning; I have listed the studies below for you.  So decorate away with these beautiful plants, because me and my friends are a bit more educated than we think you credit us for-a bad taste is a bad taste no matter the creature.

Health centers, veterinary groups, and horticultural organizations surveyed concluded that these pretty plants are not toxic and pose no health threat to children or pets. So, poinsettia poisoning to dogs is really a myth.

Here is the info provided by the Society of American Florists….

>Ohio State University tested various parts of the poinsettia (unfortunately on rats-I protest animal testing but they lived!) and found no toxicity even at large doses.

>The Society of American Florists says no other consumer plant has been tested more than a poinsettia

>The ASPCA Animal Poison Center in Urbana, ILL says it regards poinsettias as having such a  low toxicity that  it doesn’t even recommend decontaminating animals who have eaten them.  There can be gastrointestinal distress but only from eating something alien to our system.

>The AVMA, American Veterinary Medicine Assoc. does not include poinsettias on its list of plants as a threat to animals.

                            As always, be happy and p.s.…bring home a poinsettia.

Hugs & Leans, Willow

Poinsettia Gift And The History of Poinsettias -The Noche Buena

So many ask me about this red plant that now is the largest selling plant by the millions every year. Native to Mexico and Central America, poinsettias, grow wild up to nearly 10 feet blooming in the winter.  The red ‘flowers’ botanically, are really not flowers at all, yet are just red leaves surrounding the yellow centers-the real  flower of the plant. The Aztecs called them Cuetlaxochitle which translates to “flower of leather petals”.  Their legend says the plant came from their captives spilled blood.  Grown for decoration and medicine; the plants latex sap was used for fevers and cloth dye made from the leaves.

Montezuma is said to have adored them and surrounded himself with glorious poinsettia gardens; revering but never touching them. He thought them to be divine gifts from the Gods, as metaphors of beautiful feelings.  How profound; as we are just learning the power of fresh flowers in our daily lives; amazing the ancient ones are so far behind us,yet also so far ahead of us.

 They also carry the Mexican legend of a miraculous bouquet of weeds blossoming into a poinsettia at the hand of a poor child approaching the altar of Jesus at Christmas;  they were since known as “Flower of the Holy Night” la flor de la noche buena.   With the history, the legend, the color, and the National date; it is no wonder they became the gift of our modern day.

Poinsettias Coming To America

In 1851 Congress officially established  December 12 as National Poinsettia Day to honor the passing of Mr. Joel  Poinsett;  yes there really was a Mr. Poinsett born in Charleston, SC in 1779. Oddly, December 12th is also the day of the celebrated plant in Mexico.   Among his many accomplishments were congressman, the 15th Secretary of War, and US Minister to Mexico; but it seemed gardening was his passion and now surprisingly, that which he is known for today .  While in Mexico, visiting a local church on an 1825 Christmas Day, Mr. Poinsett visited a local church nativity scene adorned with them.  Enamored, he brought back a few seedlings for his hothouses on his SC plantation and so it began.

double poinsettias

Beautiful Poinsettias

The Gift and Care

As a holiday symbol, it is the perfect gift to anyone or business.  A good plant will last well into February, and continue on for another season with a little, proper care.   A tall, show plant is perfect as a business gift or home décor piece.  While a bowl or basket of miniature plants suits a table or counter perfectly.  While in bloom, they do not require direct sun, and only ask for a weekly watering.  They are of a tropical mind so a misting is most welcome to their leaves; not required to live; but will be happier

 The Fears According to Willow

Check Willows blog post where she separates the myths & danger rumors to the facts.  Poinsettia fears are just not true and she assures you with her all knowing wisdom and research as only she can.  Smile

Happy Happy and Merry Merry

Lynn

Buying Local Grown-the True & the False of Your Wreaths & Poinsettias

 Two of the most popular purchases for the Holiday beside trees are wreaths and poinsettias.  Historically only available at florists and nurseries and today sold everywhere in the oddest places that really… have no business doing so.  All big box stores from hardware to grocery to convenient stores and gas stations offer them both in mass –at amazingly low prices.   Poinsettias sit packed on racks, in cold doorways and fruit departments, while the wreaths are hung out for sale in late October.   How resilient they are and for so little money-the modern age-a real deal.

Here in the US, approximately 15% of the evergreens are grown and cut on the West coast with the other 85% cut and grown in Canada.  Canadian single faced, wreaths are factory made from evergreens cut in October and stacked, crated and held for shipping to the US.   Ever notice how they are a bit flat and dry?  If we were left without water and crated for a month-well we would be too.  This is why they shed so many needles and have a very short life.

Nearly all the poinsettias you see here are grown in the Canadian Provinces. They are plastic packaged and sent on a bumpy, cold, journey from their protected greenhouses to the states and then displayed with little to no care in the stores.   Which is why, by Dec. 24 they all look pretty sorry-and on clearance with curled, and wilted leaves.  This is not only from lack of proper care-but from the trauma of their trip.  Ironically, when displayed near fruit-their life is cut even shorter from the ethylene gas the fruit emits.  As a tropical plant native to Mexico; poinsettias are very fragile and temperate creatures-more so than even your favorite houseplants.

So- we have products cut and made too early; products roughly shipped and cared for, products using a tremendous amount of energy and fuel to get here;  products of poor quality and longevity;  and money not only leaving our county-but our state-and our country.  In my mind; when we make these purchases it in effect means we accept sub quality and condone the failure of our local and US growers.

We have several local farms within 30 miles of us that I have purchased all of our made to order, double faced, wreaths and poinsettias from for 20 years.  There is no comparison in quality.  The large poinsettias are nothing short of wow, and the thick wreaths are huggable.   Every year I worry as they close another greenhouse or downsize their workforce.  I fear for them and refuse to purchase anywhere else; which earns me a grateful thank you.  Local/US grown evergreen wreaths will stay green fresh for up to 2 months with a weekly misting.    Healthy, local grown poinsettias will last until planting outdoors in the spring.   We have forgotten how things used to and still should be.   So my Grandmothers words; “you get what you pay for” is in fact…. the real deal.

Buying local is about more than supporting your local farms and growers; it’s keeping the money in our own country;  the huge amounts of energy and fuel used getting it here; and getting a long lasting, quality product for your money spent.    When you send a poinsettia gift wouldn’t you like the recipient to remember you into February?   I can’t imagine you would want it otherwise.

I have nothing against Canada; in fact I absolutely love it there.  They are part of North America, our neighbor, I love the landscape, I love the food, and I love Celine Dion and Bryan Adams.  I just wish Canada would keep their products for themselves.   America has become the land of import, and it is costing us a fortune in ways that go beyond money.

This year before you buy, please read the tag or just ask where your wreath, tree, and poinsettia were grown; especially if they display a gazillion of them because then it’s just fuzzy advertising if claiming local grown. Better yet, search out the small nurseries and farms that grow their products-it’s a great day out in the spirit of the Season, and buying local is the spirit of the Season.

Check out the 3/50 project and learn why you should pick 3 local businesses and spend $50.  Then visit Independent We Stand  and see what spending $10. a month at your local business instead of bigbox chain does. You’ll be amazed at what the numbers calculate to our town.

Do good…Feel good,

Lynn