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).

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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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Fun Stuff around the shop!

Happy Friday! This weekend kicks off a new adventure we are participating in, it is a QR Code Scavenger hunt!  What is this you ask?  Well I’m here to tell you all about it!  It is  a week long event that sends the players all over North Lake county in search of QR codes, I’ll explain that in a minute, at each location they scan the code with their cell phones and collect a clue to a puzzle. Once they have collected all the codes they then decipher the puzzle, this then leads them to the location of the end of the hunt party! The party will be fabulous complete with lots of prizes, food, beverages and most of all FUN!!!

What is a QR code?  Well, it is a little black and white square icon that you find on all kinds of things. It holds information about a service, product or in this case a clue. You can download a reader app on any smart phone. The reader scans the code and gives you the information! How cool is that?

My friends Timothy Totten , Byron Faudie and Robin Richter are the team that makes up Fun Venture LLC.  They create fun adventures for all ages and have put on some pretty amazing events! They have created Audio Game which is kind of like Simon says and a flash mob combined, Escape room in a box, pop up mini golf and clue live mystery party just to name a few. You can visit their website at http://www.funventure.us/

 

Our shop is one of 31 stops that you can collect clues to find the end of the hunt party.  Go to the website to get  registered and get ready for some big fun finding all the clues!  You can also download the map on the website.  It starts this Saturday and ends next Saturday. The best thing about it is that it is FREE to play, yes that’s right FREE! so what’s stopping you ? Come join us and have some big FUN!

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Livin’ on the edge…of the forest.

This will be the first in a series of blog posts on one of my favorite places in all the world!  Umatilla Florida!

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This is my hometown. This is where my  business, my friends, my family and my heart are. I grew up here, literally.  I went to Mrs. Smith’s daycare on Kentucky ave. with my other friends that grew up here as well. Most of our parents worked at Golden Gem or one of the many packing houses or grove related businesses in Umatilla.478bde77833dd45153fc548793bfdb16--old-florida-fruit-box.jpgumatilla belle.jpg

Umatilla has a rich history in the citrus industry and still has a operating packing house right here. Where most towns in Lake County have turned to tourism and look like Disney on any given Saturday, Umatilla remains pretty much the same,other than a few more traffic signals and a lot less packing houses.

If you venture way out here to Umatilla, it is about 6 miles north of  Eustis on state road 19.  I laugh when people say “oh you came all the way from Umatilla?” It really isn’t that far from our friends in ” The Golden Triangle” That would be Eustis, Mount Dora and Tavares.

Umatilla is truly a unique and very small town. We have three great schools. Elementary, Middle and High. We have a historical school house that is home to our museum. The museum is a great adventure to explore more of Umatilla’s history .  Their hours are noon- 4PM  Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.1975271_1408018226127755_334670109_n.jpg

My shop is located in downtown and sits right next door to our great community newspaper The Northlake Outpost. It is published weekly and covers all the activities in Umatilla and the surrounding area. Always something interesting in The Outpost.

Join me next week for more about life around the flower shop and our little town on the edge of the forest!

 

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!

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Herbs are magical in themselves. They can heal and soothe, awaken the senses and bring calm to our nerves. All in a natural way. These amazing plants have been around for a long time and posses wonderful healing properties.

My favorite herb must be lavender it has a relaxing and soothing scent that calms and helps with restful sleep. There are many products on the market today that contain this age old remedy for restful sleep.  Lavender is easy to grow in most climates.  It doesn’t require a lot of water, likes full sun and well drained soil.  It will form fairly large bushes that can easily be a specimen plant in your landscape.  Harvest lavender as it blooms throughout the summer, and prune back by about a third each fall.  lavender.jpg

 

 

If you’ve ever been around when lavender is blooming, you know how well it attracts bees!   In a time when bees are in decline, this is a good thing!  Besides bees, it also attracts butterflies and other beneficial insects.

PEPPERMINT PLANT

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Peppermint plant uses include using this mint as a medicine. Have a headache? Simply crush a few leaves and breathe in deeply to relieve a tension headache. Brew up a strong cup of mint tea to aid digestion after a big meal. Crush a few leaves and wipe the sweat from your forehead after a long afternoon out in the garden. The essential oils in peppermint bring renewed vigor. Chewing a leaf and spitting it out is a quick breath freshener. Dried peppermint leaf powder mixed with myrrh powder, sage powder, and baking soda makes a good toothpaste for receding gums and gingivitis.  Just dip a wet, soft-bristled toothbrush into the powder mixture and brush gently in little circles. It takes about two weeks to start seeing results. For liniment to be used on aching muscles, try adding a strong cup of peppermint tea to one-half cup of witch hazel.

 

Next week we I will explore more herbs! Come back and check out these magical healing plants! Until then keep on smiling and love one another!

Sunflowers…..What’s the story?

Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers. They are such happy flowers. I am often fascinated by flowers in general, being a florist I get to experience a wide variety of flowers on almost a daily basis. But sunflowers hold some special place for me. I like to grow them, plant the seeds, wait for them to pop their little heads through the soil, grow taller and taller, and then there is a bud! and wait and wait for the first sign of that yellow to show! And then the glorious blooms appear and slowly open soaking up the sun. Then they bow their heads and become food for the bugs!  The bees and the butterflies love them as well. This is one of mine from this year’s crop.

my sunflower

So what about this history behind these beauties?

Although it was commonly accepted that the sunflower was first domesticated in what is now the southeastern US, roughly 5000 years ago,there is evidence that it was first domesticated in Mexico around 2600 BC. These crops were found in Tabasco, Mexico at the San Andres dig site. The earliest known examples in the United States of a fully domesticated sunflower have been found in Tennessee, and date to around 2300 BC. Many indigenous american peoples used the sunflower as the symbol of their solar deity, including the Aztecs and the Otomi of Mexico and the Incas in South America. In 1510 early Spanish explorers encountered the sunflower in the Americas and carried its seeds back to Europe. Of the four plants known to have been domesticated in what is now the eastern continental United States and to have become important agricultural commodities, the sunflower is currently the most economically important..