We Have A Question….

September 28, 2011

Question Mark

Being the flower lovers that we are and also being completely addicted to the internet has led us to ask this question: Are there any good  flower games online?

It would seem the answer is no. We looked and didn’t see anything that was particularly exciting. So, now we’re asking: Are there any virtual gardens online? Something with an interactive flower experience and that is visually stunning. I mean, fellow online flower lovers, is that too much to ask??

If you know of any games or virtual gardens we would love to hear about it!!!

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Good Morning Glory!

September 27, 2011

Morning Glory

Morning Glories are the birth flower for the month of September and so we thought they would be the perfect flower to spotlight this week!

I think we can all guess where the name “Morning Glory” came from. Most species of Morning Glory bloom their brightest and best in the early hours of the day, but, if you can believe it, there is actually one type of Morning Glory that blooms at night and they are commonly referred to as “Moonflowers”. Morning Glories are very adaptive plants and are cultivated in both cold and warmer climates, although they are considered annuals in cold climates, and perennials in warmer climates.

Morning Glories have a long history of use. In Ancient Mesoamerica, the Morning Glory was used to make rubber balls, in China, Morning Glories were used medicinally as a laxative, in Japan they were cultivated for their beauty, and in Aztec civilizations, they were used as hallucinogens. Today, Morning Glories are primarily used for their beauty and the color they add to our gardens. The most popular varieties are  “heavenly blue” and “sunspot”  and you will see these in just about every garden you pass.

Happy Birthday to all you born in September!! Every time you see a Morning Glory remember it’s in honor of your birth month.

Tulip Mania!

August 1, 2011

Tulip fields

Did you know that one of the first economic bubbles ever recored was related to flowers? It was referred to as “Tulip Mania” or “Tulipomania” and it had it’s peak in 1637. In the 1600s The Netherlands began actively growing and cultivating tulips and the tulips introduction to Europe caused quite a frenzy. At Tulip Manias peak, tulip bulbs would sell for 3,000-4,000 florins depending on the bulb size. To give you a comparison, the average skilled craftsmen earned 300 florins per year. As a result, many Dutch people raced to become a part of the tulip industry. This flower driven economic upswing occurred during the Dutch Golden Age and was a large part that country’s notoriety at that time. Owning tulips became a status symbol and the most sought after tulips were multi-colored, although the solid colored tulips also sold at high prices. For the nobility in Europe, having a vase of tulips was the ultimate symbol of wealth.

Today, tulips don’t fetch as high a price, but they are still widely popular. In fact, 2 billion tulips are imported to the United States from The Netherlands every year. The Netherlands are famous for tulips and thousands of people travel there every year to see and photograph fields of them. Although tulips aren’t the economic boom  they once were, they are still a very successful and profitable industry, and of course are lovely at any occasion.

Rafflesia Arnoldii

We previously wrote about Amorphophalius (the world’s tallest flower) but the Rafflesia Arnoldii aka The Corpse Flower takes the crown size. The large and rare blood-red Rafflesia Arnodii is the largest known flower on Earth. It can grow to be as large as 3 feet across and weigh up to 24 pounds! They are native to the rainforest climates and grown in Indonesia, Malaya, Borneo, Sumatra and the Philippines.

This large flower is more similar to a fungi growing by attaching itself to a host plant like a grape vine. It will embed itself and feed upon the hosts water supply and nutrients to grow to it’s massive size. It’s parasitic nature is what allows it to grow to such a huge state. Just like the simliar Amorphophalius, the Rafflesia Arnoldii emits a stink that smells of rotting flesh!
The corpse flower’s primary habitat is in danger in Borneo and Sumatra forests urging scientists to protect these flowers in nature. They are now being studied and observed more to figure out a way to preserve the species. Scientists are trying to find a way to recreate the natural habitat of the corpse flower in order to research and study it’s amazing composition and learn more. These flowers have medicinal purposes that have been known to help mothers recover quicker after giving birth.
The Rafflesia Arnoldii is truly an amazing plant and not just because of it’s size- it’s stunning appearance, rotten smell, and medicinal properties set it apart and that’ why it is crucial that scientist find a way to preserve this extraordinary gift of nature.

Why I Love Daffodils!

July 19, 2011

Daffodils

Daffodils are one of the most recognized and happiest looking flowers in the world. They are part of the Narcissus family of flowers and originated in Western Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. Daffodils are most commonly found in shades of yellow, gold, orange, pink, or even white.

You may be surprised to know that such a bright and happy looking flower is very poisonous to humans and even to other flowers. If you put daffodils in a vase with other flowers they will poison the other flowers in the vase. A way to avoid this is to let the daffodils sit in water alone in a vase for a day or two before adding them to a vase with other flowers. In people, daffodils can cause skin irritations known as “daffodil itch”.

Despite being poisonous, daffodils are still adored for being beautiful and have even been hailed for being able to help with symptoms with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders when treated and handled properly. The bulbs contains contain
galanthine, which is being used more frequently in medical communities as a treatment for certain neurological disorders.

In Australia, the daffodil is the awareness symbol for cancer. Ever year, Australians recognize Daffodil Day in order to raise cancer awareness and raise money for cancer research.

The daffodil is an stunningly beautiful and complex flower with both healing and hurting properties and it’s one of our favorite flowers here at virtualflower.

Do you have a favorite flower?

Aloe
Some dogs could care less about plants, greens and grazing and then there are some who you could graze for hours. My dog is one of those grazers and he loves to chow down on all types of plants and flowers no matter what his diet has in it. I’ve learned to accept it and let him graze. I am cautious however on what he is eating and to be sure I know the local plants and flowers that are poisonous and toxic to him and maybe not to humans. Here are few plants and flowers that are harmful to dogs and other pets that can cause multiple symptoms from mild to severe depending on the plant and how much they ingest or come in contact with.

Aloe plant- Aloe is toxic to both dogs and cats. Ingesting it can cause Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.

Apple – Apple plants are toxic to horses, cats and dogs. They are toxic specifically when wilting. The stems, leaves and seeds all contain cyanide which is highly toxic. Ingestion of any of these parts of the apple plant can cause difficulty breathing, brick red mucous membranes, dilated pupils, panting or even shock.

Calla Lily-Calla Lilies are toxic to dogs and cats. They ingestion can cause intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling can occur with difficulty swallowing.

Cherry plant- Just like the apple plant the cherry plant also contains cyanide and is toxic to horses, cats and dogs. The stems, leaves and seeds are all toxic during the wilting stage and cause the same reaction as the apple plant.

Tobacco plant- The tobacco plant is toxic to horses, cats and dogs. The symptoms of ingesting this plant can cause hyperexcitability followed by depression, vomiting, incoordination, paralysis or even death from the symptoms themselves or from too much of the plant.

Japanese Yew/Yew- The Japanese Yew is extremely toxic to animals including horses, cats and dogs. Ingestion can lead to sudden death or acute cardiac failure. Muscular tremors or seizures can be a sign that your animal has ingested this plant and you should seek help immediately.

To find out more flowers and plants that could be toxic to your pets, check out the ASPCA website for a complete list with hundreds of toxic flowers and plants.


Botanical Garden
Botanical gardens are a natural wonder in themselves. There are many around the world that promote the education of plants, flowers and gardening. Groups are centered around these gardens to promote healthy gardening for the environment, educational gardening programs and community around the the techniques and passion for plants and flowers. There are a few botanical gardens that we felt deserved to be named “the coolest” botanical gardens from around the world. Here are the picks from the
MyVirtualFlower girls:
Normandy, France
One of the most popular gardens in the world, the Claude Monet has been studied more than any other botanical garden in the world. The famous Monet water lilies can be found here. The Nympheas-filled pond are a sight that cannot be described but only painted or photographed it’s so marvelous. Artists come here to be inspired and motivated by the beauty. Giverny is where Monet lived for years up until he died in 1926.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn, New York
This amazing garden was one of only a few in the world whom hosted the claim to fame with the stinkiest flower in existence- the Corpse Flower. We blogged about this flower back in May – you can read more about the decaying scent here. The Brooklyn Botanical also has an amazing event called the Cherry Esplanade. What seems like endless rows of cherry trees cover the grounds and looking up all you is a rapture of pink each spring.
Reid’s Palace
Madeira
In 1891, William Reid established these beautiful and breathtaking gardens of the Atlantic. A hotel for guests to stay sits atop a cliff overlooking the Bay of Funchal and the Atlantic ocean. The hotel is surrounded by 10 acres of semitropical jardims. Nothing can really describe the beauty of these gardens, check out the pictures at Reid’s Palace’s website- breathtaking.
Quebec, Canada
Over 185 acres are utilized in this garden with over 160,000 preserved live specimens. Many come from around the world to see the crowd pleasing monarch butterfly at the Jardin Botanique. This garden also houses The Dream Lake Garden. The Dream Lake Garden took 48 Chinese craftspeople six months to build this Ming-era like attraction. It is the largest garden of it’s type outside of Asia.
Aloe
Perennial flowers aka Prunella vulgaris have taken on another common name due to their special powers. Throughout the US and Canada these flowers are referred to as heal-all or self-heal flowers. They have been studied, tested and observed by alternative medicine practitioners and western medicine doctors for their healing power potentials. There are a few perennials that are well known and used in different herbal supplements or consumed in their natural state for their medicinal healing.
Here are 2 of the well-known perennials flowers with a ton of power to heal!

Aloe Vera– this perennial flower contains enzymes and chemicals beneficial to our bodies health. Aloe gel is not only used as a moisturizer but it is also an anti-inflammatory, a cleanser, a bactericidal, a local anesthetic, and can reduce burning or itching on the skin. Drinking aloe is a great way to get lots of nutrients naturally. Oral consumption of aloe juice can help the body detox, promote healthy digestion and stimulate immune support. It can also help regulate weight, increase energy, provide the body with amino acids and help with overall dental health.
Lavender- this hard perennial flower is not only beautiful and often grown for it’s intoxicating smell, it also has the power to heal! Lavender  have been harvested for its essential oil healing potential for years. It is mostly produced in England, France, Bulgaria, Hungary, Tasmania, New Zealand and Australia. Lavender oils are used as an antiseptic, antibacterial and anit-inflammatory. They are also used to treat muscle soreness, cramps and pain- they are commonly used as pain relievers for a variety of symptoms. Lavender fragrance oils are often found in items such as bubble bath, candles and more as a stress reliever because of it’s regulating effect on the nervous system balancing our bodies naturally. It can also help with insomnia.
What are your favorite plants with the power to heal?

Organic Gardening

June 30, 2011

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about organic gardening lately. It’s becoming a very popular method of gardening, but to the novice, it can seem confusing and overwhelming. Organic gardening doesn’t have to be complicated and will make a huge difference in the way your plants and flowers grow, so we thought we would give you some easy organic gardening tips and tricks.

First things first, what should you grow? 

Red Mountain Sage-  This plant does very well in full sunlight and flowers beautifully. Its ideal if you’re starting your first organic garden.

American Agave- This plant has a beautiful structural shape and can grow pretty large. Its leaves do have sharp edges so handle it with care but it’s drought tolerant and really thrives in dry soil and full sun.

Scotch Bonnet- If you like hot peppers as much as I do, this pepper is an absolute necessity in your organic garden. It’s pretty spicy and comparable to a habanero pepper but does really well in full sun and drier soil. Always wear gloves when handling these peppers- I learned that the hard way.

You’ve got your plants, now how do you take care of them organically?

Watering- Collecting rainwater is one of the best organic gardening tips. Just put barrels or buckets out in the open when it rains and keep the collected water to use on your plants and flowers on days when it’s not raining. If you live in an area with little rainfall, I recommend using a watering can instead of a hose. Usually, when people use hoses to water their plants and flowers they end up wasting a lot of water by using a watering can, you can quench your plants thirst without wasting much.

Compost- Feed your plants with waste from your own kitchen and yard. You can buy compost, but you don’t really know what goes into it. Creating your own compost is really easy and I’ve found it meets my plants and flowers needs better than anything I’ve ever used.

Organic Pest Control- You can buy organic pest control and they seem to work pretty well but there are also lots recipes for homemade pest controls that work very well. Usually, these pest controls contain garlic, chili power or oil, fish, soap, vegetable oil, and other plants that have natural insecticides. You can find recipes for these all over the internet. I have had the best luck with is Garlic Chili spray. It’s powerful stuff.

Pay Attention- You can’t ignore your organic garden, it needs daily attention. It doesn’t have to be more than a few minutes each day, but you do need to put in that time to make sure it’s growing and thriving.

Anyone else have some good organic gardening tips?

Orchids

June 28, 2011

orchid
A Study in Nature, reported new evidence that Orchids may date back as far as 76 to 84 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period far earlier than had ever been believed before. An extinct species of a stingless bee was found trapped in amber from about 15 million years ago. Pollen being carried by the bee was a type of orchid known as Meliorchis Caribea on its wings! This is the first fossil find for orchids in history. This finding means that orchids may have existed during the time of dinosaurs.
Orchids have been known as a rare and beautiful flower that people adorn and keep in their homes, offices and gardens. Here are some of the interesting and facts about these flowers:
  • Orchids can grow up to 20 meters high
  • Orchids can come in a rainbow of colors except blue
  • The name orchid comes from the Greek word orchis- which means testicle in Greek. They’re named this way due to their shape.
  • There are over 25,000 species in the world and every year new species are discovered- an average of 200 and 300 new ones annually.
  • Some flower and science experts believe that there are still another 5,000 species of orchids undiscovered
Do you find the newest orchid developments interesting? Tell us what you love most about orchids!