Saturday, 18 May 2013

Flowers as Brand Reinforcement - excerpt from Boutique Hotel News ctd (part 3)

It is important to be aware of the impact of the flowers, to direct the floral decor towards the customers you wish to attract rather than just the ones you already have and also constantly to review it.  As with all design, styles quickly become outdated and need to be refreshed. Customers are spoilt as never before with a constantly changing array of stimuli to attract their attention and purchases, so it is essential never to allow designs to go stale.  This is even more important if customers are to return on a regular basis.  New designs, colours, shapes and sizes – even for a venue with a more traditional clientele – bring new life to a space and echo different aspects of the interior décor.  This is key if (as is often the case) a considerable investment has been made in the interior design.  Flowers focus the eye like no other medium on whichever aspect of the interior design they reflect.  For example an arrangement using flowers that are the same colour as a nearby painting make that painting leap out of the wall.  I remember visiting an office on several occasions and only noticing the painting by the reception desk after we had arranged the reception flowers to match one of the colours used within it.  Suddenly the painting was the first thing I noticed as I walked in.
Rustic flowers used in a highly modern environment, by creating a sense of contrast, emphasize the sense of modernity whilst simultaneously softening the mood of the room.  Tropical flowers, with their exotic overtones mostly derived from the fact that they are not native, enhance a sense of modernity in a different way – more flamboyant, exotic and unusual.  For some reason modern design often has a masculine feel to it with muted colouring, strong, direct lines and squared off edges.  Colourful flowers offset this, adding a touch of the feminine and a softening aspect, whilst other natural materials such as branches, bamboo, moss etc reinforce the masculinity of the environment.  For a traditional English look, low wide bowls in silver or ceramic, overflowing with amorphous blooms and foliage in a tumbling and plentiful array, convey a sense of opulence and ease.
So flowers and natural materials are incredibly versatile and can be used to whatever end is desired.  The trick, however, is to make sure they are being used to best effect.  Establishments with no floral design strategy are missing an invaluable opportunity to engage with their customers on an emotional level – and it is well known that purchasing decisions are made purely on an emotional level.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Flowers as Brand Reinforcement - excerpt from Boutique Hotel News ctd (part 2)

Larger hotel chains could use a clear floral design strategy to keep the brand consistent so guests always know exactly which hotel they are in at any time.  Standardised arrangements give a clear and visible signal that the hotel is organised enough to have thought this through without having to increase budgets or invest heavily in new furnishings.  Boutique hotels, on the other hand, that generally prefer a more individual profile, can use flowers in precisely the opposite way.  Unusual designs or materials serve to create interest, not just at the first point of contact but at various stages during their journey through the hotel.  In this sense, it is perhaps preferable not to have cut flowers everywhere, but to stage the experience of the floral décor like a piece of music with cadences and crescendos, which begin and end at the main ‘Wow’ moment in the entrance.
Floral arrangements also speak about the profile of the establishment and convey a sense of their style and values.  A restaurant that only uses roses and hydrangeas in their displays is potentially making a statement about the flowers it fails to use and which ones it considers worthy of its investment.  Many up-market establishments prefer to use only white flowers as the quintessential marker of good taste and breeding.  Some hotel managers tell me that they don’t care whether the customer loves or hates the flowers as long as they talk about them.  The most notable case of this is, in fact, Le Caprice and the Ivy restaurants. Their strategy as a ‘home from home’ crossed with a private members club is dependent on the flowers to provide a constantly changing talking point.  This helps to stimulate conversations amongst people who could expect to keep bumping into each other several times a month.  Others want their customers to comment on the flowers but only in the positive; and others still prefer the flowers to change in content but always the same sort of shape and style – a rock of stability in an uncertain world.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Flowers as Brand Reinforcement - excerpt from Boutique Hotel News online magazine

As flowers are so versatile and far-reaching, they can be used in a wide variety of ways to reinforce a brand.  From containers to fresh versus dried or silk flowers; from sculptures made from driftwood or other such materials; from the types of flowers used - be it wild, field type flowers or rich sultry orchids - the style of the floral décor makes a huge statement about an establishment, its values, its place in the market.  So it is important to make sure this is the right statement and that it is constantly reviewed.  Companies that understand this can use it as a powerful weapon in the fiercely competitive market place for the attention of the customer pool.  Larger companies can use it to make sure guests are always aware which hotel they are in and international companies can use it to create a brand experience that is consistent but also local.
Most hotels are well aware that fresh flowers help to make guests feel welcome and at home.  However, how many really use flowers to their full potential?  Flowers can be tailored to the marketing and sales strategy of the hotel to make sure the right customers are engaged and that they keep coming back.  There are so many ways to do this - some more obvious than others.  There are also many other materials available that can also be used to create an atmosphere of affluence during a customer’s stay.  

Elizabeth Marsh 2013.04.30

Thursday, 17 January 2013

God said : "Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles."
 St. FRANCIS:It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
 GOD:Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?
 ST. FRANCIS:Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green.. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.
GOD:The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.
ST. FRANCIS:Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.
 GOD:They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?                          
 ST. FRANCIS:Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
 GOD:They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
 ST. FRANCIS:No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
 GOD:Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
 ST. FRANCIS:Yes, Sir.
GOD:These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
 ST. FRANCIS:You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD:What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life.
 ST. FRANCIS:You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
 GOD:No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?
 ST. FRANCIS:After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
 GOD:And where do they get this mulch?
 ST. FRANCIS:They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.
 GOD:Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?
 ST. CATHERINE:'Dumb and Dumber', Lord. It's a story about....
 GOD:Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Poinsettia - The Origin

The Poinsettia, known internationally as the flower of Christmas, originated in Mexico, with the Aztecs first calling it a “cuetlaxochitl,” which means "mortal flower that perishes and withers like all that is pure.” A Mexican legend states that, long ago, the people liked to bring flowers to fill up Christ’s manger. However there was a poor, young boy who was unable to afford flowers.  An angel appeared to him and instructed him to pick some weeds from the side of the road. When he put them in the manger, they turned into gorgeous red flowers, which became known as “Flor de Noche Buena”- the flower of Christmas Eve.

The name poinsettia comes from Dr Joel Robert Poinsett, the first United States ambassador to Mexico in 1825. When his duties were complete four years later, Dr Poinsett brought the flower back to the United States, where he began to grow them in his greenhouse. By 1836 they had become widely popular across the south, where they then became known as Poinsettias, in his honour.

Dec. 12 is celebrated in the United States as National Poinsettia Day.

Poinsettias are members of the Euphorbiaceae Family. There are over 7,500 different plants that make up this large plant family, from the low-growing garden weeds known as spurges to the Candelabra Tree (Euphorbia ingens), of South Africa. The poinsettia was given the name Euphorbia pulcherrima by the German botanist, Karl Ludwig, literally being translated as “the most beautiful euphorbia.” In their natural wild setting, poinsettias are perennial flowering shrubs that can grow between 10 and 15 feet tall, becoming troublesome weeds. The actual flowers of the poinsettia are fairly small. What most people see and call the flower are actually colourful modified leaves known as bracts. The colourful bracts begin their annual show from late October – January.

Red is the original and most common colour; however there are over 100 variants. Ranging from white, to “Ice Punch” the newly developed colour that was created in 2006 by Ecke Ranch, as pictured on the bottom left.

Friday, 19 October 2012

The Wintery Wonders of Amaryllis

The genus name Amaryllis comes from the Greek word "amarysso," which means "to sparkle." In Vergil's Eclogues, Amaryllis was the name of a shepherdess who shed her own blood to prove her true love and, in doing so, inspired the naming of this bright red flower.

  There are two species of Amaryllis; however, the better known of the two, Amaryllis belladonna. The botanical name for this flower, which is Hippeastrum spp, is a native of South America.  These flowers are typically large and trumpet shaped, with stems ranging from 18-30 inches long. Their colours vary from bold reds and oranges to white and pale pinks.  Modern hybrids of Amaryllis flowers are called Giant Amaryllis flowers or the Royal Dutch amaryllis flowers. The flowers size and ease with which it can be grown has increased the popularity of the flower worldwide.

Amaryllis performs best when grown under warm (70 to 75 F) temperatures for 9 to 10 months to promote flowering and vegetative growth, followed by 2 to 3 months of either cool dry storage or cool growing conditions. Of all flowering bulbs, amaryllis are the easiest to bring to bloom. They tend to have a vase life of approximately 10 days depending on the temperature.  Generally they are available from September to May.

Elizabeth Marsh’s Amaryllis tips
Fortunately, Amaryllis are typically very easy to look after; however to keep them looking their best follow the below tips!
·         Trim the ends half an inch from the end
·         Place them in a vase that will support the stem as this can go soft as the flowers mature and open
·         Be aware that the warmer the temperature they are kept in, the faster they will open
·         Remove the sepals as the tend to go brown and look quite ugly
·         They look very nice on their own with grass, as you can see from one of our own designs – the red amaryllis pictured at the top
·         For a more traditional look, you can team them with roses

Monday, 24 September 2012

Phlox Flower - it's meaning, growing conditions and source

                                   Phlox Flowers

 Gardeners have always enjoyed  phlox. The colours are wonderful, the evening scent is captivating, they are easy to grow .
      Here is an old fashioned annual flower, that deserves more recognition than it gets. The large clusters of flowers are very showy on compact plants. Compact is an understatement, as these plants grow only 6-18 inches tall. The most common Phlox is annual. There are also perennial varieties.
Despite their small size, Phlox make good cut flowers, and are great in containers or window boxes. A native of North America, the jewel-like flowers grow in clusters at the top of the stems. These bright colored blossoms include shades of red, purple, scarlet, yellow, and white, some with a flirty eye.
The meaning and source of the name: The word ‘phlox’ derives from the Greek for ‘flame’, the meaning of phlox is ‘Sweet dreams’, ‘harmony’.

      Phlox are grown from seeds. Phlox seeds can be directly seeded into your flower garden or seeded indoors for transplanting later. For spring blooms, start indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. Young seedlings will transplant well into their permanent home.
Sow Phlox seeds early in the season and cover lightly with 1/8" of fine garden or potting soil. Water thoroughly once.
Transplant Phlox into your garden after the last frost date for your area. Space them 8-10" apart. They will tolerate a little crowding. They will look great filling in a flowerbed, or as a border edging.

How to Grow Phlox Plants:
    Phlox like full sun. They prefer rich, loose soil that drains well. Add a general purpose fertilizer when planting them, then once a month after that.
Once your Phlox plants are established, they should grow well with few problems. Keep the soil moist to slightly dry. Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Keep them well weeded, or apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch for a tidy appearance. Pinch back tall stems to promote a bushier appearance.
Tip: Remove spent blooms to promote additional blooms and extend the blooming period all summer long, and right up to the first killing frost. This will also keep the appearance neat and beautiful.
Phlox are hardy annuals. They will often survive the first few light frosts. They will not survive a hard frost or freeze.