Reese

Plants can fail for so many reasons. And since it depends on a lot of factors:

  • What the plants are.
  • Where you're located.
  • How old the plants are.
  • What's wrong with the soil, and how you're going to amend it.

With most ordinary perennial borders, with ordinary soil, it's sufficient to top dress once or twice a year with rich compost. If the soil isn't ordinary--heavy clay, pure sand, etc.--it should have been amended before the plants were put in, and then annual top dressing with compost is generally sufficient.

every plant outside of the tree is struggling worse than I have ever seen.

Are they competing with the tree?

Are they competing with heavy weeds, or with lawn grass next to the bed. You need to know whether you should water or rely on rainfall and what kind of soil you have, for example: clay or sand.

Reese

You may have heard that to keep flowers fresh you should keep them refrigerated. Do NOT put your bouquet in the fridge.

A refrigerator is the opposite of the commercial floral cooler, pulling moisture out instead of creating a humid environment. Make sure that the stems of the bouquet are in plenty of water and keep it in your coolest room.

Ask that your florist spray the flower crown with a protective flower spray such as "Crowning Glory".

Have something that the flower crown can sit on...around a vase, an upside down bowl, etc, so it is elevated and doesn't get flattened. Since there are no exposed stems, this can go in the front of the fridge. The back can be too cold and freeze/ruin the flowers.

Reese

Camellias are one of those hardy plants that make winter beautiful, since not much else wants to bloom. In fact, Camelia's are one of the few plants that can grow in the continental US that contain caffeine, the other(s) being in the Ilex, or Holly genus, most notable Ilex vomitoria, or Yaupon Holly, endemic to the Southeast US -- a close relative of Yerba Mate.

There are thousands of cultivars of Camelias, so it would be difficult to know which specific variety the one pictured is.

It probably doesn't smell, very few Camellias have a scent.

The alternate, obtuse leaves are leathery to waxy, usually dark green and serrulate (fine serrations). The petals are arranged in a rosette, the specimen here has a formal double form which hides the stamens and pistil.

I guess my family always had sturdy hybrids. They looked their best during snow (Southern US snow, if that counts) so we always had great flower cuttings for winter holidays. We have many Camellia bushes- close to a dozen. I have a pic of one beautiful blossom that I took while it was snowing this year! Great plants.

Traditionally, Camellias symbolised pure devotion, with the calyx seen as male protecting the 'female' petals. Rare in flowering plants, when the bloom is spent the calyx falls off with the petals - a botanical Romeo and Juliet.

Camellias are also said to mean "my destiny is in your hands". I've read someplace that in Japan you're not supposed to give this flower to someone, because the falling flowers symbolize death -- the falling head of a beheaded man/samurai. But I'm not sure how true that is (am not Japanese).

Reese

For some reason people tend to think pruning succulent stems is some sort of florist art. They ask, will the long flower stalks continue to grow with new leaves at some point, or would it better to trim them down?

If the flowers aren't as much of a concern, is it just an aesthetic choice?

You can do what you want!

I enjoy the flowers for a while and then cut the stalk off. I had one echeveria that kept sending up flower stalks, 4 total this season. I just cut the last one the other day because its December and the stalk was so big and heavy it was tilting the whole plant to the side.

In my experience, echeverias don't grow from the flower stalks.

I know some people have a lot of success propagating the leaves that grow on the flower stalk, though I don't know about the stalk itself. You can defiantly propagate the leaves from the stalk. I never let any leaves go to waste!

Reese

I found this interesting article on pennyroyal. It mentions using dried, crushed leaves of pennyroyal to repel fleas.

I would leave it alone though.

Pennyroyal taxes the liver and can be fatal if ingested in large amounts. The wiki article on pennyroyal has toxicity cases, but most involve direct ingestion of either large amounts of leaves or the essential oil of the plant, which most sources agree should be avoided entirely.

There are safer options however.

I've had moderate success deterring sugar ants by spraying a peppermint-infused apple cider vinegar at their entry point after using crushed mint leaves as a barrier until they stopped entering.

Reese

You would be better off building new flowerbeds a few inches away from the brick. So that you don't get pests like termites.

Never build flowerbeds or lay dirt against the exterior of a house.

Dirt is wet and water will get through the brick and into your sheathing, framing, insulation, and eventually inside the house and creates all kinds of problems. I had to rework a lot of brick and sheathing due to the previous owners doing this.

Don't use rocks.

Build them out of pressure treated lumber. They can be against your house, as long as the PT is there as a barrier. You don't want to build three walls and use your house as the third.

If they already have four walls, you can build an add-on box to put on top of your existing.

Reese

What you get. This was last May for Mother's Day I had ordered a "yellow fellow" arrangement since my moms favorite color is by far yellow, and it was beautiful and unique.

I also chose it specifically because it wasn't your run of the mill Mother's Day bouquet. She got a purple carnation bouquet. I got an email generally saying "we are out of this but you will receive the closest approximation possible".

From all yellow to all purple mad isn't the word! All of which cost close to $200 for the faux pas.

I do understand that this is a steep price. You are absolutely correct.

The point I'm trying to make, though, is that I purchased something for my mother as a gift, and she was sent something very different than what I chose.

The ridiculous price is even more reason to get it right.

Words can't describe my hatred of ferns and other "filler". Plus, my parents have pets. Roses are cat-friendly; the other cheap shit in the vase probably isn't.

You want nice flowers? Support a good florist - find one locally that does good work, and build a relationship with them. That takes more effort, but you're trying to give a thoughtful gift - put some effort into it.

I know I will from now on.