Mother’s Day 2016 Sunday, May 8th

This year our seasonal Mother’s Day arrangement is designed in a versatile wooden box and consists of a luscious collection of seasonal blooms in a variety of color palettes. With flowers including hydrangea, garden roses, tulips, peony, ranuncula and or other seasonal garden flowers and greens seasonally available. Our Mother’s Day arrangements are available at 4 different price points.

Petite $50.00
Sweet $75.00
Ample $100.00
Lush $150.00

 The Petite Mother's Day Box Arrangement
The Petite Mother’s Day Box Arrangement
The Sweet Mother's Day Box Arrangement
The Sweet Mother’s Day Box Arrangement
The Ample Mother'sDay Box Arranement
The Ample Mother’sDay Box Arrangement
The Lush Mother's Day Garden Box Arrangement
The Lush Mother’s Day Garden Box Arrangement

The Day Of The Dead (Dia De Los Muertos)


Message in Colors

Lit candles. Faces. Memories
and an entrance that’s a rainbow: protection for the place of rest and meditation.
Necklaces. Cempasuchitl, pre-Hispanic links, songs, paper medals, flames talking to the wind
the diverse language departed.
It is the prime time of the celebration
or death’s thread, threaded
through time’s needle.
It is the decomposition of matter, transformed into art.
It is the final curtain awaken from death in Ocotepec. Yes. An eternal dream of uncorrupt flowers and of gibberish.

It is death’s lament, fading away
and it is also the respect made a tribute.
Who could have imagined so much beauty on a tomb? Mole. Glass of water. Copal. Salt. Prayers. Firecrackers. Fruits. Bread. Music.
Corridos. Bolas. Romantic songs.

History, praised. Creativity, expressed
in its most raw form…
And it is the color purple, elegies in white, blue, pink.
It is a blow from grace so heightened as artificial fire
that reveals the soul’s presence in the darkness. Something like the flowering of martyrdon in flames.
An arrangement for the end or the posthumous splendor. In Morelos everything is possible
gloom battles with life and its victor,
it is once again for a little which, happiness, live tradition which overcomes reality.

It was before these ornate gravesites, when I knew
that in Ocotepec, as in my heart,
those that have departed return every year to remind us of their love.
And that only LOVE can save us.

Julie Sopetran (Spanish poet, 2000)














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The marigold is a colorful addition to any garden and a fabulous companion plant. Heirloom varieties like the Tangerine Gem and the Lemon Gem are both noted for their pungent fragrance and are excellent in the garden as a natural bug repellent and commonly grown alongside tomatoes. My favorite, of course, is the French Double Tangerine – most commonly associated with Hindu celebrations and also and iconic symbol of the Mexican holiday ‘The Day of the Dead.’ Like the Hindu, I enjoy making garlands with the blossoms and I use them to decorate my home. I have one statue in particular that wears a number of garlands that I have made over the years.




Marigolds have a long rooted history and ceremonial significance in the Mexican culture, going back to the Aztecs. ‘Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 1st. It is a celebration of life, honoring friends, family and loved ones who have passed away. Marigolds, personal items and often favored foods and drinks are placed on family and public altars in memory of the deceased.


A little history follows (excerpts) of the marigold courtesy of For the full article go to

“Marigolds, native to the New World and sacred flowers of the Aztecs, journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean twice to travel 3,000 miles north of their center of origin. The lengthy journey is a testimony to the rugged durability of marigolds.

The earliest use of marigolds was by the Aztec people  who attributed magical, religious and medicinal properties to marigolds. The Aztecs bred the marigold for increasingly large blooms. It is told that in the 1500’s, native marigold seeds were taken from the Aztecs by early Spanish explorers to Spain. The marigolds were cultivated in Spain and grown in monastery gardens. From Spain, marigold seeds were transported to France and northern Africa.

Several hundred years after their initial journey from the Americas to Europe and Africa, marigolds were introduced to American gardeners. This reunion of sorts did not happen until shortly after the Revolutionary War. Marigolds were just one of many plants shipped to the young country. In 1915 David Burpee took over the seed company which was founded by his father, W. Atlee Burpee. Young David felt that marigolds held promise and decided to feature them in his catalog and fund research. Since the 1920’s marigold breeding has developed hundreds of new varieties. Somehow it seems fitting that the marigold would find the breeding emphasis and popularity back in the Americas, its center of origin.”




Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So, Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost


Fall has finally come and it is a welcomed respite after the heat of this last summer. Fall is one of my favorite times of year; the diffused light of the waning days glows with the golden hues of the turning leaves. The cool mornings are a favored time for me to walk around my Queen Anne neighborhood and when doing so, it is hard not to miss the sugary smell of the Katsura tree. I have taken to grabbing handfuls of the fallen gold heart shaped leaves from the ground and packing my pockets full. At home and at the shop, I keep a bowl filled with the loose leaves, and the warm sugary scent of the leaves fills the air. The tree emits the sugary fragrance when malt sugar is produced at the end of the leaves’ life cycle, and is reminiscent of baked cookies, burnt sugar and cotton candy.



Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum ) is a deciduous tree and the male and female flowers (and fruit) are produced on separate trees. Katsura bloom in the Spring on leafless branches, the spring flowers are small, but clustered and create a haze of red (on female) and yellow (on male).  The fertilized female flowers turn into pods that look like little brown clusters of bananas. They split open in the fall and small winged seeds are released.


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According to Japanese mythology, the Katsura Tree is a celestial tree. This tree, according to the mythology, lives on the moon and causes the dark spots visible on the moon’s surface.

This is a Japanese poem about the Katsura tree mythology, but I am not certain of its origin.

I think of you, my man in the Moon with his Katsura tree

when it rains I feel your tears, falling with the rain for me.


My Katsura boy, my man in the Moon, I think of you when

when it rains I feel your tears, know that my tears are falling, too!


The Thistle-Down Floats On The Air




The thistle-down floats on the air, the air,

  Whenever the soft wind blows,

And the wind can tell just where, just where

The feathery thistle-down goes.

And it tells the bird in a single word,

  Who whispers it low to the bee,

And they try to keep the mystery deep,

  And none of them tell it to me.

But I know well, though they never will tell,

Where the thistle-down goes when it says “Farewell,”

It floats and floats away on the air,

And goes where the wind goes – everywhere!

-Arthur Macy (


The thistle is a member of the largest plant family, the Asteraceae or Compositae. There are over 200 known varieties of thistle. Among the most common are the milk, plume, musk, star and spear thistles. Some varieties are edible, some medicinal and some are considered noxious weeds. Most thistles reproduce rapidly and an ungerminated seed can remain viable for  up to nine years. Thistle varieties  have common traits like green to blue-green foliage, covered with needle-like spines and blue, purple, pink, or yellow flowers encased in deeply toothed leaves.


The cotton thistle, Onopordum Acanthium is the national emblem of Scotland. A hearty biennial, this tough and prickly plant became the savior of the Scottish, according to legend. Depending upon which version you read, (during the times of the Vikings or Dane invasions) it is said that an unlucky barefoot soldier stepped on a prickly thistle, causing him to scream out in pain – alerting the unsuspecting and sleeping Scottish Clansmen to a surprise night attack – which ultimately ended in a victory for the Scots.



One of my favorite garden varieties – the globe thistle, Echinops sphaerocephalus is a herbaceous perennial with an average height of 2 to 4 feet tall. It is a great drought resistant non-invasive variety and the purple blue globular blooms attract many pollinators and beneficial insects – like bees, butterflies, and lady bugs.

artachoke             cardoon


Artichokes and cardoons are members of the thistle family , as well. They can make quite the architectural statement in the garden, and are edible. Both plants derive from the edible Cynara cultivars, used by early farmers in the Mediterranean. Unlike the artichoke, the cardoon’s edible part is the fleshy stalk which is fibrous and covered in thorns. The process of getting the versatile cardoon to an edible stage is labor intensive, but the flesh is flavorful and worth the effort.




Beyond a ridge of pine with russet tips

The west lifts to the sun her longing lips,


Her blushes stain with gold and garnet dye

The shore, the river and the wide far sky;


Like floods of wine the waters filter through

The reeds that brush our indolent canoe.


I beach the bow where sands in shadows lie;

You hold my hand a space, then speak good-bye.


Upwinds your pathway through the yellow plumes

Of goldenrod, profuse in August blooms,


And o’er its tossing sprays you toss a kiss,

A moment more, and I see only this –


The idle paddle you so lately held,

The empty bow your pliant wrist propelled,


Some thistles purpling into violet,

Their blossoms with a thousand thorns afret,


And like a cobweb, shadowy and grey,

Far floats their down – far drifts my dream away.

-Emily Pauline Johnson (


Queen Anne’s Lace or The Wild Carrot

Tarry a little, summer, crowd not so

     All glory and gladness in so brief a day,

Teach all thy dancing flowers a step more slow,

    And bid thy wild musicians softlier play,

O hast thou thought, that like a madman spends,

The longest summer ends.

-Richard LeGallienne from “June” (public-domain-poetry)


The legend of Queen Anne’s Lace goes something like this: Queen Anne, wife of King James I accepted a challenge to create a lace pattern as beautiful as a flower. While making the lace she accidentally pricked her finger. The purple red center that is common among some varieties of the Queen Anne’s Lace flower is attributed to this drop of blood that was left behind.


Daucus Carota, the Queen Anne’s Lace flower is also known as the wild carrot. It is one of many in the Umbelliferae family which includes the following: angelica, anise, arracacha, asafoetida, caraway, carrot, celery, Centella asiatica, chervil, cicely, coriander (cilantro), culantro, cumin, dill, fennel, hemlock, lovage, cow parsley, parsley, parsnip, cow parsnip, sea holly, giant hogweed and silphium.


And here in the pasture, all swarming with rushes,

Is a cowslip as blooming and forward as Spring;

And the pilewort like sunshine grows under the bushes,

While the chaffinch there sitting is trying to sing;

And the daisies are coming, called “stars of the earth,”

To bring to the schoolboy his Springtime of mirth.

-John Clare from “A Valentine” (public-domain-poetry)


Because of the striking resemblance between Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus Carota) and the deadly poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), care must be taken not to confuse them. There are a two simple ways to tell the difference between them. First, poison hemlock and its cousin fool’s parsley (Aethusa cynapium) have a foul odor, while Queen Anne’s Lace has a carrot scent. Secondly, the stem of Queen Anne’s Lace is hairy, while the stem of poison hemlock is smooth. However, it is best to avoid eating wild carrot, even if you feel confident about identifying it.


Poison hemlock is acutely toxic to humans and animals. All parts of the plant are poisonous and even the dead canes remain toxic for up to three years. Consumption of the plant is most dangerous, but it is also toxic to the skin and respiratory system. It is said that the death of Socrates in 399 BCE, by Plato in the Phaedo was caused by hemlock poisoning.


Queen Anne’s Lace is a biennial herbaceous plant with an umbrella-shaped flower cluster at the top. It grows 3  to 4 feet tall and can grow almost anywhere. In 2013 it was updated to a class 3 noxious weed in Washington State. However, on a positive note in history, the Queen Anne’s Lace plant has been used as an antiseptic in the treatment of  skin diseases, cystitis and prostatitis. In addition, the seeds have been used to help eliminate urinary stones and the roots used as an antacid.

The Zinnia, An Under Appreciated Gem

Man cannot for a thousand days

On end enjoy the Good,

Just as the flower cannot bloom

A hundred days.



The zinnia, named for the German botanist Johann Zinn is a slightly under appreciated gem as a cut flower, probably because of its lack of longevity as is often the case with hollow stemmed flower varieties. There are a couple of heirloom varieties with muted sepia tones that I love, but the general public doesn’t share my appreciation or enthusiasm as they can give the appearance of being dried. My favorite, by far is the variety called Envy and its brilliant bright green would make Kermit the frog green with envy…


Native to Mexico, the zinnia can be found as a perennial from the southern U.S. to Chile. Known for their bright colors, single petal, double petal and heirloom varieties the zinnia is a favorite among gardeners.


In the cooler climates the zinnia is planted as an annual. Like many native plants of the America’s, the zinnia traveled to Europe.  In the late 19th century, the zinnia became more widely known as breeders in Germany, Holland and Italy began breeding them for their desirable characteristics. Varieties like Pumila Mixed, Mammoth and Striata made their way back to the U.S. and became widely popular.



A fortnight ago, a thief plundered my zinnias,

Robbing their gold and their scarlet at will.

Today, I found all of the gay, flaming color

Spilled on the maples that brighten the hill.

-Ruth Inscho


In the early 1920’s an American named John Bodger of California’s Bodger Seeds Ltd. discovered a mutation in a variety called Giant Dahlia. From this strain he bred a large flat-flowered type called California Giant, and it was awarded a gold medal from the Royal Horticultural Society of England.


Garden Relief

Did you ever carry water

To a truck patch on a hill-

On a hot summer evening

When all the earth was still?


Could you hear the faintest crackling

As you pour it on late peas-

As though the parched plants thanked you

Upon their bended knees?

-Margaret Pitcairn Strachan

Sunflowers in Urns, Plates of Pasta & Wine


“And the yellow sunflower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood.”

-William Cullen Bryant (


It is full summer and the best time to enjoy the sunflower. Sunflowers come in many sizes and varying shades of yellows and browns.


My favorites are the Florenza varieties for their caramel and chocolate hue’s and the drop dead red for its deep rich mahogany petals and almost black center.


Our local Washington growers like Tosh, Inc., All My Thyme, and Jello Mold farms have a nice selection of the various varieties. However, I recommend Tosh, Inc. for his chocolate browns.


If you are a gardener, you can’t go wrong with a few varieties in large clusters. As you know, anything ‘en mass’ is striking, but a large clump of some of the smaller varieties provides a vibrant visual display and an endless supply of food for our busy little pollinators, like butterflies and bees.


In my mind, when I think of sunflowers I think of a Tuscan landscape or a lovely Italian outdoor feast under a pergola with heaps of sunflowers in urns and plates of pasta, summer vegetables and bottles of wine on a long wooden table. It is a great visual, but in reality the sunflower is actually from North America. Below are excerpts from a history of the sunflower, its travels, and its uses throughout Europe and America courtesy of the National Sunflower Association. For the full article go to

“The story of the sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) is indeed amazing. The wild sunflower is native to North America but commercialization of the plant took place in Russia. It was only recently that the sunflower plant returned to North America to become a cultivated crop. But it was the American Indian who first domesticated the plant into a single headed plant with a variety of seed colors including black, white, red and black/white striped.

Evidence suggests that the plant was cultivated by American Indians in present-day Arizona and New Mexico about 3000 BC. Seed was ground or pounded into flour for cakes, mush or bread. Some tribes mixed the meal with other vegetables such as beans, squash, and corn. Non-food uses include purple dye for textiles, body painting and other decorations.

This exotic North American plant was taken to Europe by Spanish explorers some time around 1500. The plant became widespread throughout present-day Western Europe mainly as an ornamental, but some medicinal uses were developed. By 1716, an English patent was granted for squeezing oil from sunflower seeds.

By the early 19th century, Russian farmers were growing over 2 million acres of sunflower. By the late 19th century, Russian sunflower seed found its way into the U.S. A likely source of this seed movement to North America may have been Russian immigrants. Canada started the first official government sunflower breeding program in 1930. Acreage spread because of oil demand. Acreage spread into Minnesota and North Dakota. The U.S. acreage escalated in the late 70’s to over 5 million because of strong European demand for sunflower oil. The native North American sunflower plant has finally come back home after a very circuitous route.”

The reference for the original summary was taken from : Albert A. Schneiter, ed. Sunflower Technology and Production, (The American Society of Agronomy No. 35, 1997) 1-19.


Ah! Sunflower


Ah! Sunflower, weary of time,

Who countest the steps of the sun,

Seeking after that sweet golden clime

Where the traveller’s journey is done;


Where the youth pined away with desire,

And the pale virgin shrouded in the snow,

Arise from their graves and aspire;

Where my sunflower wishes to go.

-William Blake ( Public Domain Poetry)

Endless Dahlias


The Dahlia you brought to our isle

Your praises for ever shall speak:

Mid gardens as sweet as your smile,

And color as bright as your cheek.

Lord Holland for Lady Holland


Decorative (Dinnerplate) Dahlia

In the land of the Dahlia, there are many colors, shapes and sizes to choose from – but my favorite by far is the “cafe au lait.” Becoming an ever increasingly popular wedding flower, this beautiful dahlia is becoming more difficult to obtain. Luckily, our local farmers here in the Northwest like Jello Mold Farms and Ojeda Farms have nice collections. However, you need to reserve a crop’s blooms in advance if you hope to include these precious gems in your upcoming wedding.

This year with the early warm weather, I observed peonies and dahlias at the same time from the local farms. This is very unusual and makes me realize how drastically the weather patterns are changing here in the Northwest.

The thousands of dahlias we see today are all hybrids from one ragged wildflower that is native to Mexico. The Dutch hybridizers acquired it years ago and were thrilled to learn  how easily it took to various crosses, changes and improvements. Today there are “cactus-flowered dahlias,” “water-lily dahlias,” “peony-flowered dahlias,” and “daisy dahlias” – the parade is endless, and with new color combinations every year. Most of the larger dahlias, officially called “Decorative,” not “Dinnerplate” dahlias are bi-colored or ti-colored, in an ongoing parade of color and form.

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Examples of some of these beauties are listed below.

  • Single-flowering dahlias are some of the oldest types and rarely seen today. They look much like a large daisy or cosmos and grow 16″- 24″ tall.
  • Anemone-flowering dahlias are distinguished by one or more rings of florets, but are not really “doubles.” The central group of petals is tubular and they range from between 24″- 48″ in height.
  • Collarette dahlias are also daisy-like, but the other ring of petals is flat, while the inner ring is ruffled, creating a “collar” effect. These are midsize on midsize plants growing only 30″ – 48″ tall.
  • Water-Lily dahlias are some of the most beautiful, and resemble the spectacular bloom of a waterlily. These magnificent flowers are fully double, but still flattened in shape and grow to 48″ tall.
  • Decorative dahlias are the largest and include the unofficial  but commonly called “Dinnerplate” dahlias. Flowers are fully double, often 12″ across and the plants grow up to 60″ tall. Most of the older hybrids are solid in color and have names like “Thomas Edison,” a famous dark red from 1906; “Kevin Floodlight,” the famous pure yellow; and “Otto’s Thrill,” an unmatched classic pink. Many of the newer ones are bi-colored or tri-colored with names like “Caribbean Fantasy” and “Explosion.” There are also new ones being hybridized by the Japanese with names like “Kogana Fubuki.”
  • Ball dahlias have rounded flowers (like a ball) and resemble some of the larger double zinnias, but with richer dahlia colors and texture. These flowers are loaded with petals and grow to 48′.
  • Pom Pom dahlias are also ball-shaped, perfectly round and very popular. They have smaller flowers to the Ball dahlias and grow 32″ – 48″ tall.
  • Cactus dahlias are unique and carry blooms similar to cactus flowers, as the name implies. They are fully double and come in spectacular color combinations with pointed tubular petals that have a “starburst” appearance.These are large plants growing up to 60″ tall.
  • Semi-Cactus dahlias are similar to Cactus dahlias, but the  petals are not completely tubular and pointed.
  • Peony-flowering dahlias imitate the fully double, fluffy look of a peony, growing 35″ tall…the name says it all.
  • Mignon dahlias are the small “bedding dahlias” with single or semi-double daisy flowers in striking colors. Often sold in six-packs with other annuals in the Spring, they have 3″ – 4″ flowers and the plants grow only about 28″ tall, which makes them ideal for planters, patio pots and window boxes.
  • Topmix dahlias, the last on our list are also small “bedding dahlias” like the Mignon. Roughly the same size, perhaps a bit smaller these plants become more popular each year.

Now with so many dahlia’s to admire,  the hardest decision will be to decide which to choose.


Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.

Elizabeth Murray


info courtesy of

poems from the S.F. Heart website



The roofs are shining from the rain.

The sparrows twitter as they fly,

And with a windy April grace

The little clouds go by.


Yet the back-yards are bare and brown

With only one unchanging tree–

I could not be so sure of Spring

Save that it sings in me.

-Sara Teasdale (Poem Hunter)



Because of the mild winter and early spring here in the Seattle area, all of the seasonal flowers are blooming almost a month early. I usually have Lilac and Peony for Mother’s Day, but this year I’m sure they will all be bloomed out before Mother’s Day even arrives. As a result of the weather it’s turning out to be a great year for the Tree Peonies and Herbaceous Peonies alike. I love Tree  Peonies because of their sheer size. A single bloom can be up to 9″ in diameter. They are huge and a mature bush can yield an amazing amount of blooms. It is easy to get excited about a single bloom and it is downright overwhelming to see an entire bush in full bloom…very impressive. Unlike the herbaceous variety, the Tree Peony is a perennial woody shrub and can grow up to 5′ tall. It needs a well drained site and 4-6 hours of sun.

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I found this one (above) on a walk around Lake Union. I think it is a Handaijin Tree Peony (Paean suffruticosa ‘Handaijin‘).



I have a Chojuraku (Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Chojuraku’) in my back yard. This year it had only a single blossom, but it was magnificent. I was surprised it bloomed for me at all since I only planted it last year. It usually takes a couple of  years for them to establish themselves. I didn’t get a photo of mine before it was finished blooming, but here is a photo of the variety, above.

A good article on Peony Classification that explains the terms: species, herbaceous and tree peony can be found at:



As I wandered the forest,

The green leaves among,

I heard a Wild Flower

Singing a song.


‘I slept in the earth

In the silent night,

I murmured my fears

And I felt delight.


‘In the morning I went

As rosy as morn,

To seek for new joy;

But oh! met with scorn.’

-William Blake (Poem Hunter)



Bright and glorious is that revelation,

  Written all over this great world of ours;

Making evident our own creation,

   In these stars of earth, these golden flowers…

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow





Genus: Syringa L.

CommonName: Lilac

Family: Oleaceae

Native to: Eastern Europe and Asia

Interesting fact:

The name syringa was formerly used for the mock orange of the family saxifragacea ( plants are fire retardant which means they are a good choice in areas prone to wildfires.

JOURNAL: According to the Victorian language of flowers lilac symbolizes early love. Lilacs conger many memories for me, not necessarily of love but most definitely of ‘Lilac Wine’ a favorite Nina Simone song of mine. Below is a recipe for lilac wine, enjoy!

Lilac Wine

  • 3 1/2 quarts lilac flowers, fresh or frozen
  • 2 1/2 lb granulated sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 7 1/2 pints water
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient (can order from Amazon)
  • Champagne yeast (can order from Amazon)

Make a Lilac Tea. By bringing your water to a boil and adding your flowers in a sterilized fermentation bucket, pour boiling water over the flowers and place the lid on. Steep for 48 hours.

Pour the tea into a fermenting bucket. Use a strainer to remove the petals and debris and press them to get the most flavor into your liquid.

Add sugar, yeast nutrient, and lemon juice. Stir these until dissolved, then sprinkle them on the yeast. Don’t stir in the yeast. Cover tightly with the lid, and let it ferment for 7 days. Using a funnel, pour the liquid into your glass carboys and put the airlock on them.

Ferment, rack, repeat. After fermenting for one month, rack your wine. This means siphoning it into another sterilized demijohn. Do this at least twice, maybe three times. If the wine is still cloudy keep waiting and racking.

When your wine is pretty clear, it is time to bottle it. I am on month 3 and my wine is not ready yet – but it tastes really good and quite promising!

Age for 3-6 months after bottling, and then ENJOY…



Gentle Spring! – in sunshine clad,

Well dost thou thy power display!

For Winter machete the light heart sad,

And thou, -thou makes the sad heart gay…

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow