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Interest in wildflowers blooms

By Gary Fallesen, Staff writer of Democrat and Chronicle
We are standing in the epic-center of the large-flowered trillium. Carol Southby is telling me about this "showy" wildflower and how you might see big patches of the white trilliums along the Thruway. "People think of it as a common flower," Southby explains. "It's not."
Locally, though, the large-flowered trillium is abundant. A hidden gem in our own back yards.
"A lot of people just see green," Southby says, when asked if she thinks we are guilty of overlooking the beauty of wildflowers hereabouts. "They don't realize what diversity there is here. In Mendon Ponds Park alone there are 1,000 species of plants. In the state, there's 3,000 species. So one-third of them are in Mendon Ponds Park."
Southby, a British native who lives in Penfield and is passionate about wildflowers, butterflies and birds, pauses. "There's only 1,800 (plant) species in all of Britain," she says by way of comparing what we have here.
We walk through a local park, Southby pointing out something new every few steps.
"Things are growing and flowering early and fast in this lovely weather," she says.
The woodlands are alive with color. Soon, many of these wildflowers will be turning to seed. Then, long after the canopy has enveloped the woodlands, the fields and hillsides will spring into action.
Wildflowers have long colored my life. I have been blessed to step into mountains in various parts of the world at just the right time for spring flowering. But I am ignorant about names of species. I usually just enjoy viewing the many and varied flowers I see. Read more about the surging interest in wild flowers...

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Flowers For Mom

By Joe Temple, Master Gardener
Busy people often find themselves running behind schedule, and Mother's Day will be here before some of us realize it. The perennial question of what to get mother to honor her on her day is once again with us. As garden lovers, our first thought is something in the flower category.
Roses or colorful bouquets of mixed flowers from the local florist are probably at the head of the list. If mom would rather have a foliage plant than cut flowers there are numerous choices.
Spathiphyllum, or peace lily, has a fragrant blossom, likes a shady or limited light location, and is one of the easiest foliage plants to grow.
Ficus is another good choice if a small potted variety is selected. There are more than 800 ficus varieties, so unless you want one to become a small tree (weeping fig), choose one to sit on the coffee table. Ficus elastica, the old fashioned variety is commonly called a rubber plant.
Dracaena is another houseplant that can endure indoor light conditions and shade, but warmth and abundant light are the keys to good growth. Feed lightly throughout the growing season.
There are probably two-dozen other indoor houseplants to choose from that would fill the bill.
A novel suggestion to keep the event repeating every month would be to give a gift certificate for each month of this coming year. Mom could then select a plant or a bouquet of cut flowers appropriate to each month. As the seasons change her floral decorations would change. You might be able to slip in a birthday flower with this system. Check with your local florist.
If mom is among the younger generation, she may want a plant or tree or shrub to set out in the yard. Twenty-five years from now she can point to it and say, "The kids gave that to me 25 years ago. Hasn't it done well in that length of time" Then as an afterthought, "Where have those years gone?"
On a very practical vein, would she appreciate a flat of bedding plants? Impatiens, marigolds, zinnias, and fibrous begonias are just a few suggestions along that line. Read more...

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Just move: Choose an active way to celebrate Mother's Day

By MICHELLE SHEPPARD, For Public Opinion

So many holidays are celebrated with food as the central theme. Along with our desire to spend time with family, we often go to great lengths preparing special foods to share or choosing just the right restaurant for the holiday meal. Why not reconsider those Mother's Day buffet reservations and focus the day on enjoying a family outing together?

Mother's Day comes at a perfect time of year to start a tradition of playing versus eating. Celebrate Mom's special day in any number of ways that does not revolve around food as the star performer. The remainder of this Just Move column will provide suggestions for encouraging the "Mom" in your life to take time and enjoy herself and the joy of moving.

If your mother is already an active individual, but often struggles to find the time for a leisurely workout, consider giving her a special day or weekend pass to enjoy whatever form of fitness it is she likes to do. Some suggestions may include giving a gift certificate for a round of golf at her favorite course or lessons with a local golf pro. Perhaps your mother walks for fitness and loves to antique shop. Plan a day trip to downtown Frederick, Md., or Shepherdstown, W.Va. Both of these communities provide a variety of wonderful antique shops and boutiques to scour on foot along with designated foot paths close by that are safe and beautiful for a brisk powerwalk or a leisurely stroll.

One of my family's favorite Mother's Day activities is croquet. This slow-paced lawn game can be enjoyed by all ages and most abilities. Often we will play teams pairing younger and older family members together for more fun. My 84-year-old grandmother loves to "send" my 15-year-old teenager off the course. Along with croquet, there are several other lawn games that can be enjoyed by a few or many and will promise to keep you moving and thinking. A more active gathering may prefer a game of volleyball or softball, while others might prefer bocce or badminton. And don't forget about an old fashioned game of hide and seek guaranteed to delight all ages.

If you must celebrate Mother's Day over a distance, rethink ordering that customary FTD bouquet. Does your mother belong to a fitness facility, YMCA or a women's only spa? Think about giving her a gift certificate for additional services or to renew her membership for a month or more. If your mother is a gardener, send a seed or plant catalogue along with a gift certificate for her to select a plant or tree that will provide a season or possibly years of enjoyment.

Of course, your mother will still have to eat on Mother's Day, but perhaps by focusing on the activities and fun you will share, the desire to eat will be reduced. Besides, how many mothers out there reading this column remember what you had to eat for Mother's Day last year?

Michele Sheppard has a bachelor of science degree in kinesiology, and she is a fitness professional at the Chambersburg YMCA.

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Local florists hoping for online orders

By GLEN BOLDUC, Staff Writer, Morning Sentiniel Online

Mother's Day means a lot of money spent on flowers.

But some local florists want to make sure that people spend their money locally, especially when shopping online.

So they banded together to buy advertising in local newspapers urging customers to "Order Flowers Locally," advising they will "Pay Less / Get More."

Seeking to compete with the huge online florists, local florists believe they offer consumers an edge in buying their holiday flowers.

If someone Googles for flower deliveries, companies such as FTD, 1-800-flowers, and ProFlowers come to the top of the list.

Lisa Lagrange, owner of KMD Florist and Gifts in Waterville, said these companies are mostly telemarketers that have little to do with the actual product.

"There are a lot of layers involved" in the delivery of flowers, she said.

Customers don't realize that online florists are "just order gatherers," said Aurilla Holt, owner of Berry & Berry Floral in Hallowell, Gardiner and Windsor.

"It's creating a middleman for the consumer, and that's what you're trying to eliminate," Holt said. "Nobody wants to create a middleman." That's because middlemen typically drive up costs, she said.

Besides, Holt said, when someone orders a bouquet from most major online flower companies, they end up getting the arrangement from a local florist anyway.

"It's a racket," she said.

Most fresh flower gifts sent in the United States and Canada are locally designed and delivered by professional florists. Online flower companies simply send local florists the order, then take a chunk of the sales as a commission.

Lagrange estimates that online sellers probably take about 20 percent of the cost, so customers end up getting about 20 percent less product as local florists try to protect their profit margins.

"It's throwing off the balance of the money," Lagrange said.

Besides losing commissions on orders, local florists also face challenges on delivery, as high fuel and transportation costs eat into their bottom lines.

"We live in an area that has a lot of rural locations," Lagrange said.

The florists' efforts in advance of Mother's Day -- one of their biggest days of the year -- comes as consumers increasingly turn toward the Internet for many of their shopping needs.

The florists also compete against another insidious competitor: "teleflorists," national florists who buy phone numbers -- but not storefronts -- in thousands of local markets.

In this case, dialing a local telephone number may actually connect a bouquet buyer with someone in California

"It's not illegal... But it's deceptive to the consumer," Lagrange said.

One way to ensure you're shopping locally is to ask the person on the phone if you can come in and see the flowers.

Teleflorists "don't know what products we have," Holt said. "They can't even pronounce the name of them half the time."

According to VeriSign, an e-commerce infrastructure provider, Mother's Day-related spending hit $4.4 billion in the United States last year -- a 24 percent increase from 2004.

"So many people are online for just about everything," Lagrange said. "The regular person isn't going to put that much thought into sending flowers for Mother's Day."

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