Long Lasting Flowers for your B&B
by Pamela Lanier
Fresh flowers create an atmosphere of elegance and hospitality. But the high cost of flowers can take up a significant part of the decorating budget. Therefore, making your arrangements last is crucial. Fortunately, there are several simple solutions that will make these natural works of art last longer.
The first step is to choose the right flowers ........ Select varieties with life spans that average at least a week. Good options include Alstromeria (Peruvian lilies), Carnations, Gladiolas, Lilies, Orchids, Mums, Anthurium, Gerbera Daisies, Statis, and most roses. Tropical flowers such as Ginger, Birds of Paradise, and Protea are also good choices because they can survive up to two weeks. Adding greenery to an arrangement is a wonderful way to fill in blank spots; Myrtle and Ruskus are very attractive and have good longevity. Cedar and Pine add a festive air during the winter holiday season, and Curly Willow lends drama to any arrangement. Both Curly Willow and Statis can be dried and used several times over.
After you have selected your flowers.............. from either a florist or your garden, fill your sink or tub with water and cut the stems on a diagonal under water. Then, in order to prevent air from entering the stem and speeding the aging process, immediately put the flowers in a water-filled vase. If the flowers haven't bloomed, place them in a few inches of warm tap water for three to six hours. This process, known as conditioning, encourages buds to bloom. Fresh, tightly closed tulips can benefit from applying a tiny slit at the base of the flower neck.
Once the flowers are arranged.................. water is the most important ingredient. To increase water penetration to woody stemmed flowers (roses excluded), flatten the last several inches of their stems. There are also several water additive recipes that prolong the life of flowers:
· 1 tsp. of sugar per quart of water, and ½ tsp. bleach
· equal parts warm water and 7-up with ½ tsp. bleach
· 1 capful of mouthwash to 1 quart of water.
Another useful option is to stop by a local florist or floral supply store and purchase Floralite, which, when added to the water, extends a flower's life. In any case, use plenty of water, changing it every three days.
Many flowers benefit from being chilled overnight.... You can use the refrigerator or, if there is no risk of frost, place them outside the back door. Be sure to groom arrangements every day, removing spent blooms and dried leaves. When you are ready to disassemble a flower arrangement, make sure to store flowers that dry well in a paper bag. These can be used in dried flower arrangements or potpourri, giving these beautiful creations a second life.
Side Bar .....................................
Edible fresh flower petals can make a delightful addition to recipes, as you can see in this inn favorite.
This light and delicious shortbread recipe is a favorite for afternoon tea, courtesy of The Queen Victoria Bed and Breakfast Inn, Cape May, NJ.
1 lb. butter, softened
2 2/3 cup sifted confectioner's sugar (sift directly into
½ cup rice flour
3 ½ cups all-purpose four
2 tablespoons lavender flowers
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a bowl, combine butter and sifted confectioner's sugar until well mixed. Toss rice and all-purpose flour together lightly, sift, and add to butter mixture until flours are incorporated. Add lavender flowers and mix until evenly distributed in dough. The dough may be crumbly.
Spray four round white baking dishes with a small spot of Baker's Joy and smooth it around the bottom of each dish. Divide the dough into four equal portions and press evenly onto the bottom of the prepared dishes. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and tilt each dish to spread sugar over top of the dough. Discard excess sugar.
With tines of a fork, decoratively mark the edge of the dough, and with a sharp knife, score the dough into 12 wedges. Prick each wedge in several places with a fork.
Bake shortbread in the middle of the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 300 degrees and move pans to bottom rack to ensure even browning. Continue to bake shortbread 15 minutes more, or until golden.
Pamela Lanier is author of The Complete Guide to Bed & Breakfasts, Inns and Guesthouses, presently in its 18th annual edition, host of TravelGuideS.com available on over 7,000 Internet sites and portals and, with a membership of over 6,000 inns, hers is the largest organization worldwide of independent innkeepers.