Archive for the ‘"I" for Flowers’ Category


DiY: How To Arrange Flowers

June 27, 2010

After all this talking about flowers, after having seen truly different kind of production and selling (think about Interflora, Mr. Francesco, or the invisible sellers of roses from Bangladesh), I have thought: “why don’t arrange a bunch of flowers on your own, without the aid of an expert?”

Here we are. Let’s go!

STEP 1: The structure.

First of all, you should consider the structural qualities of individual flowers. Therefore, focus on:

  1. Focal flowers: provide the focal points of an arrangement, and are often the largest and brightest in the arrangement. Typical focal flowers include roses, peonies and hydrangeas.
  2. Line flowers: create the silhouette, providing a sort of visual scaffolding for the arrangement. Typical line flowers include delphiniums, gladiolas and snapdragons.
  3.  Fillers help fill out the silhouette of an arrangement. Baby’s breath, dianthus, and wax flowers often serve as fillers.
  4. Floral arrangements can also contain non-flower elements. For instance, vines, berries, fruit, ferns and other greens provide interest and texture.



STEP 2: Choose the colors

This choice should be really thoughtful, because inevitably the different colors of your flowers work together to create harmony or disharmony. In this extent, you can distinguish warm colors, such as reds, oranges and yellows, that have a different affect than cool colors, such as blues, greens and purples; a monochromatic arrangement, that uses variations of a single color; an arrangement based on analogous colors, which combines colors that lie immediately next to each other on the color wheel; an arrangement of flowers with complementary colors, that makes use of colors directly opposite each other on the color wheel.



STEP 3: Assemble Your Supplies

 If you’re making a simple vase arrangement or informal bouquet, you won’t need much more than your flowers, container and a sharp knife or scissors. However, more complicated or formal arrangements necessitate some other tools. Basically, you need:

  • Scissors
  •  Stem tape and wires

For vase arrangement, you could also use

  • Waterproof floral tape that can form a grid through which to stick flower stems.
  • A knife is a useful tool, in addition to scissors. You can use it to cut floral foam.
  • Anchor pins and prongs also secure foam in place.
  • Candle cups allow you to illuminate your arrangement, providing a safe base to help set candles in foam.



STEP 4: Arrange the Flowers

Once you’ve chosen a form for your arrangement and the particular flowers you will use, you’ve done much of the work. The shape you’ve chosen will decide the placement of the focal and line flowers.

  1. If you plan to place your arrangement in a vase, organize the flowers in your hands first.
  2.  Support the blooms of heavier flowers with floral wire and tape so that they won’t droop.
  3. Your arrangement must have a sense of balance. You don’t want it to feel lopsided in any way. Don’t put all the large, vibrant flowers to one side, or that side will seem heavier.
  4.  Cut the flower stems to the appropriate length for your container. Cut the stems under water to prevent air from closing the stems.
  5. Some types of flower may require special treatment, such as cauterization or mashing of the stems, before they’re placed in a container with other flowers.
  6. Cut off broken and dead material, as well as any leaves that fall below where the water line will be.
  7. Insert the stems of your stationary arrangement into the floral foam you’ve secured in its container.
  8. Insert your line flowers first to outline the overall shape of your design
  9.  Add focal flowers after the line flowers. Place them at the center.
  10. Once the major elements of your design are in place, use filler flowers to flesh out the spaces between the focal and line flowers.



STEP 5: Continue to Care for Your Arrangement

  • Cut flowers need water to thrive. If your arrangement is in a vase or contains wet floral foam, give the flowers fresh water every day.
  • Give blossoms warm water if you want them to open immediately, and cool water to help them live longer. Don’t use water at extreme temperatures, either hot or cold.

The right floral arrangement can bring warmth, freshness, and beauty into a home. Flowers can be used to express love, sympathy, spirit, and much more. While you may still prefer to work with a florist to supply arrangements for special occasions, learning how to create your own works of floral art can give you a sense of pride and accomplishment, as well as save you money on less formal occasions and, of course, a way to enjoy yourself.

Don’t you think so? :-)



The exception proves the rule

May 25, 2010

In Italy, for sure, we are far from sellers of flowers like him:


…still, there is someone who is even further from the common Italian sellers…

A simple stall, without a lot of flowers or particular bunches, no more than others, no more than a…stall. Moreover, while I was wandering I’ve seen bigger, more colored and supplied stalls. Still, you can see the owner so proud of his small stall. The secret? It stands at the corner between via Montenapoleone and via A. Manzoni, two of the most fashionable streets of Milan.



When I asked him the average buy, he answered : “from 10 to 100 to 1000€… and also more!” – “Pardon?!” – I would never, never thought it would be possible! Yet, he is in a place sooooooooooo strategic! Thanks to his position, a lot of people (very, very rich people!) who live around there buy flowers from him, preferring the stall to the shop because of the (relatively) lower prices of a bunch of  blooms. In addition, he works on commission (for these very, very rich people) and prepares wonderful (and expensive!) floral compositions. Who never been said?!



As I have already told you, he told me he is very proud of his job: he wakes up at 5.30 in the morning, in order to reach his stall as on time as the workers and early riser passers-by start their day as well. His work lasts till 10 pm in summer and around 8 pm  when it gets colder (on the average, he works for about 14 hours!). As the other stallholders, he had to get the license for selling on a public area from municipality: it was a long and hard process (“you know, the bureaucracy”), but finally he managed to do it.  He didn’t tell me, but as I saw another foreign man helping him while I was there, I supposed he earns enough money to hire someone: after all, this is just the proof  that people spend lots of money buying flowers from him.


If I cook…

May 2, 2010

You know that…with flowers you can also cook? It could be pretty intuitive, ok, but I’ve never tasted a floral food. Therefore, I decided to try a new recipe, and cook it on my own. Telling my mom  this idea, she told me that some of our relatives from America, who came here three months ago, brought us some products with lavender. What better news? (Moms do usually have a lot of secrets in their draws!)



Then, I started looking for some recipes using lavender, and I decided to try with this one:

Chicken with Herbes de Provence

Here is the recipe:


4 chicken boneless breast halves (with skin)*
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence**

* Do not remove skin until after baking, as the skin helps to retain moisture in the meat.

** Herbes de Provence – An assortment of dried herbs said to reflect those most commonly used in southern France. The mixture commonly contains basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, summer savory, and thyme.

Place chicken breasts, single layer, into an ungreased 13×9-inch baking dish.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine olive oil and the herbes de Provence together. Pour marinade over chicken breasts. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes or refrigerate to marinate longer (turning meat over several times).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (180° C.) Bake, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (juices will run clear when cut with the tip of a knife); basting several times during cooking. Remove from oven and serve immediately.


These are some products that my relatives gave us.




Lavender Gourmet Pepper: use in cold or warm salads, in soups, on grilled meats and chicken, and in any recipe where an exotic pepper would enhance flavor.

Organic Culinary Lavender: is produced solely from the very first harvest each summer for optimum flavor. It is then twice sifted and sorted by hand. Used over the centuries, culinary lavender has a longer pedigree than rosemary, for which it can be readily substituted in any recipe. Uniquely among herbs, it also works quite differently as wonderful flavoring in baked goods and other sweet foods and beverages.

Lavender Gourmet Honey: infused with Pelindaba’s culinary grade Provence lavender, this honey is delicious on toast or scones, as a glaze over pound cake, as a sweetener in tea, and in marinades for roasted meats an chicken.

Lavender Gourmet Sugar: made with Pelindaba’s culinary grade “Provence” lavender, this sugar is delicious in whipped cream, in breads and cakes, or in sprinkled on fresh fruit.

In my recipe, I used “Lavender gourmet pepper” and “Organic culinary lavender”.


Le fleur..très, très chic!

April 15, 2010

Bigger and bigger: our trip follows this path! Vincenzo Dascanio is pretty famous, bien sure! But someone has surpassed him, reaching success, fame, money… Mr and Mrs, he is Giorgio Armani, one of the most notorious fashion designer of the latest years. As we all know, his production deals with






…and althought most of these have in common flowers, it’s not enough: : one section of  his huge shop, in the center of Milan, (Via A. Manzoni) is dedicated to blossoms!

This is not a common shop, you wouldn’t find a normal bunch of roses or some colored tulips, too trivial! This the reign of the “floral design”, where a blossom is not just a blossom, but something more, something that is concerned with creativity, style, elegance, taste, care, study of the details… in one word, DESIGN.

Asking one of the oddest thing happened, the manager of this floral section has told me that some people ask if it is possible to put them in a suitable bag, in order to travel without ruin them, just because people believe they are so well-done to be artificial!

With regard to his activity, he makes also some compositions for private citizens, companies, hotels like Park Hayatt and Principe di Savoia, fashion shows, special events like Fiera del Mobile, or “special” just for you: for the dress and the location, the wedding rings and participations, it’s all up to you; but for floral decorations and, obviously, for the bouquet, it is necessary to hire a Flower Designer, and who would be better than Armani to personalize with style and to interpret with elegance one of the most unforgettable day of your life?


The production has reached also the far East: Emporio Armani has opened in Hong Kong, China, in Chater Road, where Massimiliano Fuksas designed an unique store. For Armani Flowers, the vases are realized by a transparent plexiglas that provides an extreme lightness to the environment, giving the illusion that the flowers float in the air. The same concept is kept also for Armani Cosmetics and Armani Books.

Armani, hence, has expanded  his range of products and has done it in his own way, having the idea to use blooms in this brilliant manner. Brilliant, and profitable as well(!): he is targeted it at very few people, people that do appreciate quality and beauty, but that are able to spend a lot of money. But, as we say here in Italy, even the eye wants its own side! Don’t you think so? :-)


Flower engineering

March 31, 2010

For every “Mr Francesco”, proud of his family shop, there is another one who wants to became…bigger! This is the case of Mr Vincenzo Dascanio. At only 21, he was the director of Armani Fiori, where he created a new style and made the concept reach really high levels. But it wasn’t enough for him: now, at the age of 34, he is the owner of three shops: the main one is here, in Milan, in Piazza Missori (with more than 1000 mq, a huge store!); then in Florence ,and the latest opening has been in Bergamo, an historical city chosen as the third pole of  style and glamour, on the 7 November 2009. The building in Milan, instead, was not chosen by chance, because it is full of history: there, 80 years ago, there was the first shop of flowers: a tradition developed in the best way ever, we could say!


Dascanio’s floral creations are unique objects that become, without the shadow of a doubt, design objects, integral part of the spaces, in a constant research of exclusiveness, that catches your attention for its incredible beauty. That’s what happened to me when I entered the store: plants from all over the world, shining and refined, where you can breath the scent of the geniality, which anything leaves to the chance…

This could be a sort of ideal place against the chaos of this frantic city, where you could enjoy pleasant relaxing moment and keep in touch with nature: plants, flowers, candles, perfumes, but also accessories and furniture… everything is finely refined, sophisticated, just to delight all of your senses. The ground floor, indeed, is dedicated to the interior design, where you (mostly!) dream to have that furniture in your own house.

But all of this has a cost, it goes without saying! I could say that you could go there only if you had broken your piggy bank, but it should have been very, very full!

 The average prices are pretty high and, instead of Mr Francesco’s shop, for instance, the main target is people who have taste and also floating assets, of course! But you could definitely say that you would have a unique, original and wonderful floral creation, made just for you!

These are some of his creations  for some events…

Visit the site to take a look of this elegant world!    Enjoy it!   :-)


When the “one” wants to grow

March 26, 2010

Someone is looking for glory, others do things for passion, others for necessity, others just to add a symbolical meaning: the purposes can be different, but the common denominator is that a person may do things not only for himself/herself, but also for other people: a small group, a BiG group, the WHOLE world. 

Milam, for this aspect, provided some interesting examples. We’ve already seen the “case” of the sweet lady I met, Ivana, who prefers to focus on her beloved hobby, just for her own pleasure. Another example, instead, would be interesting. It reminded me a designer quoted during a class of Design, ISAMU NOGUCHI: he started doing lamps with paper made by rice (in Japan this kind of paper is widely used!) just for him and his friends; then he made a company and now is really famous all over the world. Surely, the man I’m going to deal with is not so famous, neither had addressed his work to the “all”, being content to supply only the Milanese market. 

His name was Osvaldo Mercandelli, the founder of  “Fioreria Mercandelli” in viale Sabotino, Milan. I learned about him from his son, Francesco Mercandelli, who now run the shop. He told me that his father has been always passionate about flowers and he had a small private garden behind their house. Growing up (a marriage, a wife, children…ordinary things, in short!) he needed a job, and what would have been better to join a passion with work? Therefore, at the beginning of the ‘30s, he decided to take over this shop, that presents himself as a perfect “little jewel” of that time: it was furnished by an architect who took his inspiration by Piacentini, Portaluppi, Breuer. Mirrors, archs, columns, marbles…everything is remained as it was (the shop is also one of the historical buildings, recognized by Comune di Milano), except the times, that obviously have changed: the market  is not limited anymore to the neighborhood, when they knew each other, when an important man came every day to send a flower to his lover (as Mr Francesco told me), but it expanded to everyone who wants a refined and personalized service that this shop can offer. 












Invisible men for careless lovers

March 24, 2010

What: the smallest floral business

Who: street vendors of roses

Where: Milan

When: from 20 pm to late night

Why: to survive

The unauthorized sale of roses in Italian cities is an “ethnic” phenomenon of the latest years. The trade is run by people from Bangladesh, who invented this clever “business of survival”. The sellers are hundreds and no one has properly “a vocation”: they need this job because they haven’t got the residence permit, or they have just arrived in Italy. To sell a rose, they don’t need to know our language or to have any contract. They haven’t got any organization, but their motto seems to be: “To everyone his own money”. The roses, hence, are the perfect “waiting room”, before the documents and a real job.

In Italy, the most part of people from Bangladesh lives in Rome, Vicenza, Venezia and Milan, and each of them comes from a different region of their homeland. Who lives in Milan, comes from the district of  Madaripur; from the capital, Dhaka, they arrive to Vicenza; in Rome, they come from Shariatpur, Dhaka and Comilla. The street vendors of roses are the “invisible” part of this community, (which officially counts 41.631 people regularly residents), and, without any documents, they don’t exist statistically, although they are the most evident part, living  most of their life on the street.

They strive to sell them to absent-minded lovers at restaurants, at corners, while walking or just chatting, often with NO results: NO consideration, NO sales, NO money.

What about the income? The vendors buy the roses during the morning at the general markets of flowers: a bunch of  20 roses could costs from 8 € to 20 €, in periods as the Christmas time. They manage to sell each of them for 2-3 €, but often also for just 1 €. The result: few on Mondays, a little bit better in the week-ends; a maximum of 20 € per night, enough to survive, not to live, neither to reach their family, so far away from Italy. However, it’s not even said that they manage to sell.

But they still have a dream: a stall. At Comune di Milano 277 fiorists are registered: among them, 33 are foreigners and 23, almost the 10% of the total number, come from Bangladesh.  Really slowly, these street vendors take over a kiosk and finally can sell flowers as stallholders. The market price of a kiosk depends on several elements: position within the city, pedestrian crossing, proximity to a lighter. In Milan, kiosks in the suburbs cost around 20-25.000 €, while near cemeteries or in the centre they overpass 100.000 €. Till now, obviously, people from Bangladesh are buying those ones in the suburbs.