Florida wildflowers

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In 1991 the Coreopsis was designated as Florida’s official wildflower. The state legislature made this designation after the colorful flowers were used extensively in Florida’s roadside plantings and highway beautification programs. The Coreopsis is found in a variety of colors, ranging from golden to pink. There are so many beautiful native species of wildflowers here in Florida. So much so that when Juan Ponce De Leon came ashore around Easter in 1513 he named this land La Florida. He called the area “la Florida” in honor of Spain’s Easter time celebration “Pascua florida” (feast of the flowers).

coral bean

One of my favorite wildflowers is the Coral bean. Coral bean is a native plant that can add interest to the landscape from winter to spring … In North and Central Florida coral bean grows as a large perennial, reaching 6 feet tall before it freezes to the ground in winter. It can be found growing wild throughout Florida in the pine flatwoods , scrub, hammocks, coastal dunes and sandhills. It blooms from winter to spring.

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Atamasco lilies or “Rain lilies” are another beautiful native species. These plants are threatened. They bloom in spring and sometimes summer. Their habitat is slope forests, bluffs, moist, pine flatwoods, river swamps, meadows, limestone outcrops and ruderal areas. They were used by the Seminole indians to treat toothaches. They are poisonous to livestock and chickens.

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Partridge peas are another favorite of mine. These grew all over our pasture when I was a little flower girl. Beautiful yellow flowers that the bees and butterflies favor as well.

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This tiny wildflower goes unnoticed sometimes, but it was a sweet gift for my Mama many times. I spent a lot of time wandering around the yard, pasture and pine flatwoods. I would pick them by the handfuls. They would be terribly wilted by the time I got around to wandering back to the house. We would put them in water and before you know it they would perk right up. I still love them and pick them from my yard and bring them to my Mama , and she is still just as happy to receive them as she was when I brought them to her wilted in my tiny hands.

So, when you are out and about around this part of Florida, stop and take a look for those little wildflowers. There is almost always something blooming!

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It’s not a secret anymore…

I’m revisiting my post from a couple of months ago about Umatilla.  Why?   Well because I was told this morning by a realtor that “Umatilla is not a secret anymore” I thought to myself, “Was it a secret before?”  I don’t think so but it seems that our little city is becoming more appealing to the new comers in this area, and they are coming this way.

I’ve grown up here and have always known this place was unique and wonderful!  We are a mere 6 miles north of “The Golden Triangle”, yet we are a world away. And that’s fine with me.

Umatilla is a rural community.  What we don’t have sets us apart,  I think.  We don’t have a Walmart or any other big box store.  Yes, one stop shopping is convenient,  but you can find most everything you need right here without ever leaving “town”.  What we do  have is very near and dear to me personally,  The forest!

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We are a gateway city to The Ocala National forest,  The Florida Trail and The Black Bear Scenic Byway.  All these are great recreational opportunities.  You can hit the byway in your car and stop off for a visit to Alexander Springs, camp, hike, swim or just sit and drink in all the beauty of the place. It is not too far off the beaten path and for the nature lover it is a wonderful place to visit or stay for a while. Pitch your tent and relax!

Not too far from the entrance to Alexander is the Florida Trail this is a wonderful trail to hike.  I’ve hiked on it a little but want to experience more in my very near future. The trail winds through some of the most beautiful parts of Florida and I hope to see it soon.

The forest holds so many treasures, along with it’s hiking, camping, springs and endless recreation areas it is home to so many species of wildlife.  One of my favorites is the Florida Black Bear.  Our area has one of the highest populations of black bears in Florida, if you live around here you already know this. Being bear aware should be part of your daily life, making sure your trash is secured,  keeping your bird feeders in at night and bringing in any pet food that may be too tempting for the bears.  All these little things can help you live happily in the same area as these sweet creatures.  They get fussed about a lot but most of the fussin’ could be solved if these small lessons were learned.

 

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Another one of my favorites is the Scrub Jay.  The Florida scrub jay is found only in Florida scrub habitat.  The scrub habitat is unique in itself .  It is a harsh environment that is dry and super sandy and prone to wildfires.  But those wildfires actually help form the scrub jay habitat, the low growing landscape suits them just fine.   These birds are a threatened species and should not be hand fed by humans.  They are a social and curious bird and will eat out of your hand.  This is not good for them.  It causes them to nest too early and the fledglings can’t survive, so please resist the temptation.

scrub jays

The forest holds many secrets with it’s tall whispering trees and long winding rivers and streams.  They hold memories of days gone by, of settlements that are no more, homesteads that have crumbled out of existence over the years.  They have seen many changes and will see many more.  As for me, I’ll keep on loving my little hometown. Watching the folks speed past the front window of my little  flower shop.

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Tick Tock….time’s a’wastin

While everyone in retail is gearing up for the upcoming holidays, we have been ordering for Mother’s day 2018.  We still have to plan for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas 2017,  of course,  but we have been doing that most of the summer.  When November 1st rolls around it is time for the tree to come out and make it’s debut once again in  our little shop window.  We always have such a great time thinking of the theme for our tree.  We seldom do the glitz and glam overkill that seem so common, I like to actually see the tree itself.  After all it is significant on it’s own. I’m thinking this year it will be very natural and most like the forest that I love so much.  Short and sweet this week….peace, love and flowers.

Autumn is here!

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Autumn is here! Yeah right?! Our shop is in central Florida and it was very hot and humid today! It does not feel like fall at all Y’All! That doesn’t mean we can’t give our space the feel of fall. We have decorated with our pumpkins and fall leaf garlands. I have the wonderful smells of pumpkin and cinnamon spices in the air.

 

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It doesn’t take much to create that autumnal atmosphere around your home. This beautiful arrangement can be created for you right here in our shop. Pair it with a variety of fall leaves, pumpkins, gourds and a little raffia and you can have a nice display of fall color right in your home. Around here we have to crank the air down and wish it was cool enough outside for a fire.

I get really excited when we start to see fall flowers on our wholesale flower trucks! Along with berries and branches that can be transformed into beautiful fall arrangements. Some of the seasonal flowers we see in abundance this time of year are, sunflowers, fall mums in all their glorious colors of bronze, gold, butterscotch, deep russet and bright yellows. Bright orange carnations, brilliant orange and yellow lilies, alstroemerias in bright yellows, vibrant orange and royal purples. These are among the few flowers that really get me excited for the Autumn season.

It seems for me anyway, that it only lasts a fraction of what it should. I am not the typical retailer apparently, I want Autumn to last until after Thanksgiving. If I wait then I’m behind on my decorating by my industry standards. So, I have to get with it and put my tree up by November 1st! This really bothers me. You would think I’d be used to it after 30 plus years,but it never has set well with me. I want my fall flowers for as long as possible!

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Let’s Talk about Herbs II

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Hey there, my second blog about herbs! I love the smell of fresh rosemary! It is just wonderful and pretty easy to grow as well! Today I’m gonna talk about how to grow and some of the uses for rosemary.

Rosemary is fairly easy to root in water this has been the most successful method for me. You can buy a small plant already established if you are in a hurry for it. If you know someone with a plant you can simply get a cutting and root it in water. Leave it in the water and check it after a couple of weeks and you should noticethe roots beginning to form, then simply put it in a small pot in some well draining potting soil. Put it in a sunny window and give it a little water and watch it grow. When it is established then you can transfer it into the ground in your garden or grow in a larger container outside.  Only water it when the soil is dry, I’m here in Florida and my plant outside my front door does well with no care other than trimming it once in a while. Our climate and well drained soil seems perfect for it. So it is zero maintenance once it is established! Over watering will lead to root rot so don’t do that!

Here are some uses for rosemary!

LEMON & ROSEMARY STOVE TOP POTPOURRI

2 lemons, sliced
2 sprigs rosemary
1 tablespoon vanilla

Place ingredients into pot and fill with water to about 1 inch below brim and simmer. lasts about 3 days.

Rosemary Body Scrub

1 1/2 cups of Epsom salt
2 Rosemary springs, finely chopped
2-3 drops Lemon essential oil
3 Tbsp of Coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp lemon zest

Instructions

Mix everything in a large bowl. Pour into a single airtight jar or into a couple of smaller jars. lasts about two to 4 months

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There are endless recipe online that use rosemary! I like to pick fresh stems and strip the leaves and use the stem as a skewer on chicken breast then grill. The woody stems infuse the chicken with the rosemary! It is delicious and super easy!

Some of the healing benefits of rosemary 

  • anti aging
  • antibacterial
  • anti depressant
  • anti inflamitory
  • antiseptic
  • cancer prventer
  • aid in digestion
  • hair health
  • improves blood flow
  • improves memory
  • mood enhancer

Rosemary is a wonder plant in my opinion and nothing beats it’s fabulous fragrance! Join me again and we will explore together the wonders of my little floral filled world! Please follow my blog and visit my website http://www.shanannecainflorist.com