Monthly Archives: March 2011

Camellia Japonica: The state flower of Alabama

Do you know where tea comes from? We do. It’s derived from the leaves of the tea camellia plant, Camellia sinensis. That plant first graced our shores in the 1600s, but wasn’t cultivated here until much later. Even here at daFlores that heritage is apparent: in a few of our gift baskets you’ll find sachets of gourmet tea!

 

We suppose that the ornamental versions would have gotten here sooner or later, but mixed in with those early tea camellias were a few that you couldn’t drink and it’s those, like Camellia japonica, that became beloved of growers in the warmer states.

 

Camellias flower brightly in pinks, whites, purples and mix-and-match. They grow tall and vine beautifully, which means you can train them into living fences. These gorgeous flowers come in simple forms and big, fluffy, many-petaled forms that look a bit like carnations. They also need a bit of warmth, so they grow just beautifully in Alabama.

 

Over the years, growers have perfected thousands of varieties of camellias. Some are cold hardy enough to survive zone 5 or 6 winters, but mostly they nestle in temperate to warm areas. There’s even a camellia society and growers who list hundreds of “introductions.”

 

Not all flowers are really suitable for bouquets. At daFlores, we guarantee that our flowers will last for a year, and camellias are too delicate to withstand such a promise. That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the huge variety of flowers around us.

 

If you need a stunning bouquet for a loved one, we can always help with that. Our all-occasion offerings pair with seasonal gifts for Valentine’s Day and the holidays – among others. And we work only with the best florists who commit to a high standard of quality and experience. Whether you want to send flowers to Alabama or any of our dozens of additional countries, daFlores is the place to come.

All About Chollas

Go out into the desert and you’ll quickly realize that, while everything looks the same from a distance, there’s a huge variety of plants when you get up-close and personal. However, with the cholla cactus, you might wish to keep a respectful distance while admiring this interesting plant.

 

Cholla, pronounced “cho-ya,” look a little like trees in that they have a variety of thin branches. These branches look a little furry but, close up, you realize that the fur is very prickly. (In fact, the prickly pear is also a type of cholla, but we’ll talk about that another day.)

 

There are around 20 chollas in the opuntia, or cactus,  family. They are special in that their spines, called glochids, have a papery covering that is colored red or yellow. You really, really don’t want to brush up against a cholla and, if you have a dog, keep him safely on a leash around these plants. The spines comes off at the drop of a hat and quickly lodge in your skin. In fact, one of the reasons the jumping cholla is so called is that the spines appear to “jump” at you!

 

The cylindrical stems of most chollas are, upon closer inspection, jointed. These joints are multi-tasking: they produce flowers, store water and feed the plant through photosynthesis (the spines on any cactus are actually desert-adapted leaves).

 

There appears to be a cholla for every occasion. They grow in most western deserts, down low and up as high as eight thousand feet. They grow together in clusters. You might be able to find out information about flowering times through Bureau of Land Management or National Park Service offices. The range is from April to June, usually, and you’ll see these inhospitable-looking plants bloom orange or yellow-green.

 

DaFlores.com doesn’t sell cacti in any shape or form. But we do appreciate each blossom for what it is: a precious thing that’s utterly beautiful. Each year, we shape thousands of blooms into exquisite arrangements so you can tell your loved ones Happy Birthday, Get Well Soon or just plain, “Hello.” We work with only the best local florists to bring you flower arrangements across the globe…even in the Southwest.
Send flowers to the Dominican Republic or any other country in the Americas with daFlores.com