In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Mexican Sage; a fall favorite.
Mail Away Bouquets!
If your garden is bursting with late summer blossoms right now and you would like to share them with friends and relatives across the county, you can send them by an overnight delivery service such as FedEx for less than a florist would charge to deliver.
I developed this idea when I was a gardener for Sunset Magazine in Menlo Park. The C.E.O. wanted to share a little bit of the famous Sunset gardens with advertisers and business associates on the East Coast. After some experimentation, I came up with the best way to ship fresh flowers across the country.
Best Flowers for Shipping
The best type of flowers to ship are everlastings such as statice, yarrow and straw flowers, but many other types will survive the trip across the continent with a little special care. Alstroemeria is a stellar example of a durable flower that ships extremely well. Most tender flowers ship best in bud stage. Select buds that are just beginning to show color. In early spring, unopened buds of bulb flowers such as daffodils and tulips arrive at their destination in perfect condition. For more delicate blooms such as roses or dahlias, each stem must be inserted in a water pick to insure a fresh arrival. Water picks are available at craft supply stores, or you can recycle the ones from flowers you've received from the florist.
Experiment at home to see which types of blossoms and foliage are best suited for shipping by allowing them to stand out of water for 18 - 24 hours. I use a lot of foliage in my floral arrangements not only to add texture, but to conserve flowers. Ornamental grasses, aspidistra, asparagus fern and Nandina domestica are some of my favorite greens that are hardy, look good and ship very well.
Preparing for Shipping
To send your own backyard bouquet, begin by stopping by a FedEx office and picking up a triangular tube mailing box. They are free for the asking. Also, find out when the last pick up is at your location--it's usually late afternoon--and time your packing to coincide with this time. (Don't forget the time it will take to drive to the drop off point.)
Pick your fresh flowers in the early morning for best results. Plunge the stems in a deep bucket filled with fresh, cold water and allow them to soak until you are ready to arrange them in the vase prior to shipping.
Arranging the Bouquet
Just prior to packing and shipping, fill a vase with fresh, cold water. Arrange the flowers in the vase, starting with the foliage, then adding the flowers. Place delicate blossoms in water-filled picks, then insert them into the arrangement. Once the floral display is complete, empty the water out of the vase, remove the flowers and wrap them in several sheets of newspaper. Secure the newspaper with rubber bands. At this point, you can either place the flowers in the box for shipping, or place them back in the vase. If you decide to send the vase, be prepared to pay extra for shipping -- FedEx charges by weight. If you think that the recipient doesn't have a suitable vase, go ahead and send it along, but wrap it carefully in bubble wrap or thick pads of newspaper.
Pack the box with paper so that the arrangement doesn't rattle around inside. Close the box, label it "Fragile" and "Perishable: Open Immediately."
You can send flowers to any Western state except Hawaii. Expect to pay $25 - $35 for shipping, depending on weight.
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