A Floral Mystery from Space


The Ganjoji temple in Japan has a very old Cherry Tree, it’s estimated to be about 1250 years old.
In 2008 some cherry stones from this tree were sent into space. They stayed on the International Space Station for 8 months, orbiting the earth a remarkable 4100 times. Upon their return they were sent back and planted.

ganjoji-temple

Ganjoji Temple. Image Credit: tripadvisor.ca

The first amazing thing that happened is that they sprouted! A stone from this ancient tree has never sprouted before, ever.

This particular type of Cherry Tree doesn’t bloom until it’s 10 years old so you can imagine the surprise and delight when the 2nd amazing thing happened, it bloomed at the age of 4! A full 6 years before it was supposed too!

Not only did it bloom but the blooms are somewhat unusual…  On the parent tree each bloom has around 30 petals, on the space tree the blooms have only 5 petals each.

This is not the only space tree that has grown from the cherry stones, over 250 of them were in space. Upon their return most of them were sent to a lab for testing but the rest returned to their original 14 locations. Of those, 4 of them have bloomed early, each with the 5 petal blooms.

As there was no control group to compare with, there is no definite answer that being in space before planting is responsible for the rapid growth and early blooming, however Tomita-Yokotani, a plant physiologist said:
“We still cannot rule out the possibility that it has been somewhat influenced by its exposure to the space environment. Cross-pollination with another species (on earth!) could not be ruled out, but a lack of data is hampering an explanation. Of course, there is the possibility that exposure to stronger cosmic rays accelerated the process of sprouting and overall growth. From a scientific point of view, we can only say we don’t know why.”

And so it remains a space mystery!

Image Credit: thehigherlearning.com

1250 year old Cherry Tree at Ganjoji Temple.    Image Credit: thehigherlearning.com

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Guest Post: A Gardening Grandma Grows with her Grandkids


By: Nanci Wilson

I might be the stereotypical grandmother. I bake for my grandchildren. I spend a lot of time in my garden. And I’ve made it very clear that though the yard is a free zone to run around, the flower beds are not to be trampled on.

garden with grandmaYes, my hobbies are predictably grandmotherly, but I just do things I enjoy- things that make me happy. Flowers probably make me happy because of my memories of my own grandma’s house when I was a little girl. She always had beautiful flower beds, and fresh cut blossoms on the table. I remember when she would take me out into the garden to “help” her. Really, I was probably more of a hindrance than anything, but she seemed to enjoy sharing her hobby with me. So I decided recently to do the same for my grandkids.

I’m proud to say that my children and grandchildren all have a healthy appreciation of nature. Family camping trips occur quite frequently in the summer, we all have some form of garden on our properties, and parks are the location for most of our birthday parties and events. But even though the kids love the outdoors, it’s all too easy for them to get caught up in all their technology and go days without spending more than ten minutes at a time outside.

Since exposure to nature is so important for children’s development (and the health of people in general) I take it upon myself to usher them outside as much as possible when we visit. Now that it’s getting warm again, we eat on the patio. Sitting conversation takes place outside as well. And of course, the grandkids are now helping me prepare my garden.

I have a vegetable garden in addition to my flower beds, so there’s a lot to plan. I decided this year to change the layout a bit, and made it the family project this winter to plan the design. I asked them what they wanted to grow in the vegetable garden, based mostly on what they wanted to eat when they were at my place. Summertime salsa is a tradition not to be messed with, so a lot of the choices revolved around tomatoes, peppers, radishes, etc. My oldest granddaughter, who is 12, even asked if we could grow cilantro. I’ve grown herbs before, but not for a while, so we decided we’d get a window box and plant a few of our favorites there. Together, we put together a list of things we’d need, from seeds, to tomato planters, to fertilizer and a few other garden supplies.

I also made up a map of the flower beds, and had each grandkid (I have 3), claim one as their own. They got to pick the color scheme, and then I gave them some options of plants based on what will grow well in our area. They also got to choose a theme (like gnomes, flamingoes, or as the youngest demanded, wind spinners- and I gave them a certain amount of money to decorate with.

Like I said, most of the planning phase took place indoors, while it was cold. Now, we’re spending our days outside, preparing the ground, finalizing our plans, and setting up bird feeders, gnome hideouts, and wind chime orchestras. My group is an eclectic one, but we have fun together!

Do other parents and grandparents have garden stories with their kids? Share in the comments below!

Author Bio: Nanci Wilson’s passions are her grandkids and her garden. She uses writing as a medium to inform the world about both.

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Guest Post: How to take care of indoor plants and flowers


Having plants at home is a wonderful way to bring beautiful nature indoors and create a lovely and more relaxed environment. Indoor plants and flowers give a beautiful vibe to the home and suit absolutely every interior. Placing pots of flowers is the best way to decorate every room in your house or apartment and give the place an attractive charm. However, as living organisms, plants need to be taken good care of in order to survive. They have to be provided with the needed care, so that they look beautiful in your home. Here are our tips on how to maintain great indoor plants and flowers, making your place look much better.

Cozy corner at home

Know Your Plants

There really are many types of plants and flowers that you can grow indoors. The list is so big, you can surely find many plants that you would love to have at home. When you have decided which type of plants you want to grow, make sure you know everything about them, in order to be able to take good care of them. All plants and flowers need sunlight and they need to be watered. However, it really depends on the exact type of the plant how much water and sunlight it needs to grow healthily. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you know your plants well. Some flowers thrive with indirect light and moist soil, while others require direct light and drier soil. It completely depends on the type of plant. Make sure you choose plants for your home that you can provide with the necessary conditions for it to grow.

Watering

Of course, every plant needs to be watered regularly. However, keep in mind that you should not over-water them, since most house plants can be killed by this. Meanwhile, make sure you provide them with enough water, so that they don’t dry out and thus die. If you are not sure if your plants and flowers are watered enough, you can push your finger into the compost to check how moist it is. If it feels dry, most probably it needs more water. To water your plants properly, you can either do it from above or pour enough water in the saucers, allowing them to extract as much water as they need. In any case, the pots have to be placed on saucers, to allow excess water drain. In general, most plants have to be watered more often in the spring and summer than in the winter. Usually, you can use tap water for most plants. However, be careful about carnivorous plants, since they can be a bit more fussy about it.

Feeding

There are many plants that don’t need feeding to grow. However, flowering plants usually require to be fed once a week. You can add a couple of granules of fertiliser to the compost, but make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, so that you don’t overfeed your plants.

Cleaning

As anything else within your house, plants have to be cleaned regularly too. If there are dry leaves, remove them to allow the new once grow easier. Then use a spray bottle to make the leaves wet and wipe them away with a clean dry cloth. Avoid very cold water, otherwise it might leave spots on the leaves. There are some house plants, usually such with bristly leaves, that collect dust very quickly and build up grime. Such plants can be cleaned with a toothbrush. An example are African violets. Also, don’t forget to clean the saucer regularly. It’s normal for it to get dirty very quickly. Don’t allow excess water that has drained away in the saucer to remain for too long, otherwise it can develop bacteria that can damage your plant.

Spray Against Pests

If one of your plants is affected by pests, the issue can fast spread to the other plants as well. Make sure you take preventative actions and spray your plants with a special detergent against pests.

Author Bio: Silvia Marks is blogger who loves to write about flowers and home improvement. She runs Best Cleaners London and she reads a lot about home decorating. Taking care of your plants is very important as experts from Best Cleaners London suggest. Flowers will bring colour and joy to your home if you do it right. A clean and bright look will always suit your interior.

 

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Arachnis Orchids


Next to the Rose, orchids are one of my favourite plants. The sheer variety and uniqueness of each species is just amazing! Like this one; Arachnis, commonly called spider orchid or scorpion orchid, even though it’s resemblance to a spider or scorpion requires some imagination as they only slightly resemble the above mentioned creatures.

Image Credit:

Image Credit: Book – The A to Z of Cut Flowers by Gilly Love

This warmth loving orchid hails from Malaysia, Indonesia & New Guinea so they do well in warm, humid climates. This climbing beauty must be planted in full sun and is surprisingly easy to grow. The vine is quite thick and can grow to 15 ft high or more. You definitely need to stake this baby; it will grow at least as tall as your stake, fence or whatever you are growing it on.

The leaves are thick, waxy and flat, similar to a dendrobium. As a tropical plant, it obviously enjoys warmth and humidity. If you live in a tropical or subtropical climate you’ll find this orchid easy to grow and keep, if you don’t then you can still grow it in pots and keep in your greenhouse. When watering make sure you spray the plant and the roots – water thoroughly! When experiencing cooler weather you can reduce the amount of water.

Fertilize often! Weekly feeding is recommended. During it’s flowering period (summer) you should switch from a 20-20-20 fertilizer to a blooming fertilizer once per month (still continue to use the 20-20-20 the other 3 weeks of the month).  This should give you the best results.

As for the blooms, you’ll usually get 10 to 12 flowers per stem. They have long, slender petals which are either striped or spotted and are available in yellow/bronze/reddish-brown and purple spots. The flowers are thick and waxy, like the leaves and make an excellent cut flower for arrangements. Once cut the blooms will last 7 to 10 days. The cut blooms are very sensitive to ethylene gas so keep this bouquet away from mature fruit & vegetables, cigarette smoke, dying flowers and excess heat to maximize their vase life.

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How to press flowers


Pressing flowers and/or leaves is a fairly simple process, you just have to be a little bit patient!

pressed flowers 21) Use absorbent paper like newspaper or paper towel. Don’t use paper with an embossed pattern as that will give a waffle like texture to the blooms.

2) Fold the paper in half and place the flowers you want to press in-between the fold. They will dry EXACTLY like you place them so ensure they are laid out without touching each other. If you want a curved stem or something like that be sure to place it that way from the start.

3) Now, simply place the paper under something heavy like a large hardback book, flat rock or a heavy board.

The length of time it will take to dry the blooms depends on several factors including the type of bloom, thickness of petals and atmospheric conditions. I tend to leave mine for at least a week and then check them, if they are done good! If not I’ll leave them another week and check again. The good news here is you can check them as often as you like, it won’t hurt them!

Happy Pressing :)

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Freebie Friday: Free April 2014 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper!


While for some of us it’s hard to believe, Spring really is on it’s way! Here in Edmonton we are looking forward to double digit temps next week! Exciting!

To help celebrate Springs arrival here are some free desktop calendar wallpapers for you! Resolution is 1920 x 1080, which is perfect for widescreen monitors.

To download, click on your favourite image. It will open up in a new window. Right click to save onto your computer.

Enjoy!

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Fresh Flowers, from a vending machine?


B24-4870pYou have to admit, it’s a novel idea. Just pop your credit card in the vending machine, choose a bouquet and voila! You have a ready made bouquet to give to a loved one…

In Shanghai, China an entrepreneur has created the worlds first floral vending machine. They have been in operation at 2 metro stations for just over a month now & no, they have not been very successful so far.

Each machine holds 12 bouquets and boxes of flowers. The flowers are kept fresh by controlling the temperature and the moisture within the machine. The machines are checked every two days by a worker who replaces sold items and spoiled blooms.

The general public however has not bought into the idea, yet.

“If my boyfriend buys me flowers from a vending machine I wouldn’t be happy” said one woman. “It means he hasn’t put much effort into preparing the gift”.

A male commuter questioned the freshness of the flowers. “I will consider buying them from machines only during emergencies, like if I forget a family members birthday and can’t think of anything else quickly that is easy to get”.

Another commuter also expressed concerns over the freshness of the blooms. “I’m not sure how long the flowers have been kept there, and they are not cheap!”

Hmmm, maybe some signage on the vending machines explaining the quality control would help?

floral barAnother new idea for floral delivery is liquid free flowers. Offered by Marks & Spencers in the UK, the flowers are “put to sleep” in vacuum like packages.

The system is called Modified Atmosphere Packaging, it apparently keeps the flowers fresher for longer?  This method removes all the oxygen which allows carbon dioxide levels rise which in turn slows down the respiration of the flowers. Apparently once you unpack them, trim the stems and immerse them in water they “wake up”.  Unlike the vending machines mentioned above, the response from those who received flowers using this method is that the flowers are gorgeous but do drink an awful lot of water for the first few days. No one has mentioned the longevity of these blooms, makes me wonder…

Personally, I think I’ll stick to keeping my flowers in water!

 

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The Lipstick Tree ( Bixa orellana)


bixa flowerOriginating from Tropical America the Lipstick tree, as it’s commonly called, is prized for it’s pretty blooms and interesting seed pods.

Bixa is a small, ornamental shrub or tree with a round head. The seeds of the flower have a reddish powder which can be used as a vegetable tint for soaps, rice, and many other products.

It is believed to come from Brazil originally but was brought to Central and South America by the Indians, who used the coloring as body paint, and by women, who used it as lipstick. The dye contains Vitamin C. There are many medical uses for Bixa including; antacid, hypocholesterolemic (lowers cholesterol), anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aperient (mild laxative), aphrodisiac, astringent, digestive stimulant and many more.

When it comes to cut flowers, it’s not the pretty blooms that are used in the floral industry but the unique seed pods instead.  As pretty as the blooms are, they are best left on the tree as they don’t  last when cut. The seed pods however do last and add a unique look and texture to floral arrangements.

Annatto Tree Seed PodsYou can grow bixa from seed easily enough, make sure to plant the seeds when the temperature is at least 19°C. Plant in full sun, ensure your soil is rich as Bixa needs the nutrients. Once established you can expect to see blooms from summer to the end of fall. When the blooms are gone you will see the seed pods emerge.

Gardening Tip: Bixa makes for a great hedge to line fences, driveways, etc.
Climate zones 10-12.

 

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3200 Years Old – 247 feet tall and still growing!


What is 3200 years old, 247 feet tall, measures 45,000 cubic feet in volume, is 27 feet wide and has 2 billion needles?

The President of course!

Image credit: National Geographic

Image credit: National Geographic

This giant Sequoia is not only awe inspiring, it’s still growing! At the rate of one cubic meter per year he is one of the fastest growing trees in the world, despite his great age.

There is only one place on the entire planet where giant sequoias grow; the Sierra Nevadas mountain range in California, found only on the western slope 5000-8000 feet above sea level.

For the first time in history, we have a photo of the tree in it’s entirety. Not an easy feat! National Geographic photographers spent 32 days piecing together 126 individual photos to give us this incredible view of the President.

Image credit: National Geographic

Image credit: National Geographic

Amazing! Want to see how they did it? Check out the Youtube video below.

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Guest Post: Bulb Flower Gardens


It is a fact that bulbs are the most attractive as well as the easiest way to plant flowers in a garden and take care of it. When in full bloom, any bulb garden will result in the most wonderful, attractive sight for any gardener or guest.

bulb garden

The fondest experience for any gardener is the sight of the first spring flowers peeking through the last snow of winter. These spring flowers have been long seen as a sign of new life. Whether it’s the delicate petals of aconite or the tiny, delicate blossoms of the snowdrop, it is difficult to beat the beauty of spring flower bulbs. These tiny buds are a sign that the long, cold days of winter are finally over and as a result this is the time to look forward to warmer weather.

Varieties of bulb plants fall under different families and have their own requirements as well as their own specifications. Thusly it is necessary to choose bulbs that are suitable for cultivation in your local environment. These plants possess various different shaped blooms which leads to a number of exotic varieties such as the traditional bell shape or the stately iris. To achieve these kinds of exotic bulbs, it is necessary to follow some simple steps for planting major bulb plants:

  • bouquet of colored gladioli isolated on whiteGladiolus

The Gladiolus is an easy-to-grow flower that is valued for use in floral arrangements. It produces tall spikes of large blossoms in a range of rainbow colours. It grows well in different kinds of soil and is easy to grow if the required amount of sunlight is met. It also requires good drainage for proper growth.

  • lilyLilies

Lilies are a colourful addition to a garden or landscape and are easy to grow. Lilies bloom from mid-June to mid-September and these bulb plants require minimal care.

  • open iris flowerIris

Iris reticulates during early spring blooms. These flowering bulbs are the most striking flowers in the world of gardening and are highly desired for their beauty. Iris bulbs originally came from high mountain areas of Western Asia and grow well in cold climates.

  • dahliaDahlia

Dahlias are best planted in well drained, warm soil in April or May. These plants need a sunny location to bloom. They grow well in full morning sun along with some partial shade in the afternoon.

  • crocusCrocus

Crocus beds should be watered in the fall. In cold areas you need to cover newly planted beds with a 2 to 4 inch layer of mulch which helps in retaining moisture and insulating the corms for the winter.

  • tulipsTulips

Tulips are the most well-known as well as most easily recognized bulb plants. These bulb plants are mostly selected for their beauty and so they are the most popular bulbs among the professional growers as well as casual gardeners. Most of the variants of tulips are hybridized and are therefore available in different patterns that include fringed, pastels, bicolour, and tricolour as well as spotted tulips. In more mild climates, it is good to refrigerate tulip bulbs before they are ready for plantation. By feeding the proper amount of high quality, nitrogen rich fertilizer you will encourage multiple blooms.

Thus, if one wants the maximum out of their flower bulbs, they need to plant the bulbs according to the individual needs and specifications of their plantations. This will allow you to get the best results and the most rewarding benefits!

These bulb plants are available in many varieties of colours, shapes, and sizes as well as textures that one can plant to enjoy an awesome view of blooming flowers.

Author’s Bio:

Daniel Clark is a professional gardener who is listing down important specifications for planting different kinds of flower bulbs.

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