Vote for Next Week’s Classic Collection – To Be Delivered Week of 5/31

I’m quite enjoying this democratic process.  Just like in past weeks, go to my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/HBloomcom/164129383642?ref=ts to vote for next week’s Classic Collection bundle.  The option that accumulates the most votes will be the one that my team produces for all subscribers next week.  I’ll keep the voting open until Noon tomorrow (Friday), at which time I’ll place my oder to receive the stems from my international contingent of growers.

Happy voting!

This Week’s Exotic Collection: Week of 5/24/2010


Friends, Fans, & Followers:

Just because you’ve set yourself a cut-above by
subscribing to my Exotic Collection doesn’t mean that you have to avoid reading
what I’ve crafted for this week’s Classic. 
In fact, if you’ve already had a quick look at this week’s write-ups,
you’ll see that I’ve gone all-China on the Classic and have done my very best
to be as alliterative as possible.  But,
in the case of this week’s Exotics, rather than having the flowers inspire my
writing, I thought I should give-a-go to having my writing inspire my flowers!  So, for this week’s Exotic bundle, I’ve
chosen to go all purply, peachy, papery, and have put in a few pods to please.  Punny, no?

To start with, since so many of you are such persistent
fans of peonies, I’ve included a very interesting variety.  The purple tree peonies in your bundle this
week are named after a chap called Pierre, a French missionary-cum-explorer-cum-botanist
who devoted the better part of his life (1834-1895) to sketching peonies in
China’s Yunnan province.  (To be more
accurate, this batch is named Paeonia delavayi in honor of the last part of
Pierre Jean Marie Delavay’s full name.) 
In addition to magnificent sketches, Pierre pointed out that peonies are
known variously throughout the Far East, noting first that in China they stood
then and now for “riches and honor”.  Of
course, and perhaps not surprising given my aspirations, I’m far more taken
with the honorifics bestowed upon them in Japan where you can find one variety
referred to as The King Of Flowers and another called The Prime Minister Of
Flowers!

Next, I’ve included purple allium.  Whilst allium is part of the
eight-hundred-and-sixty species in the onion genus (yes, indeed… allium is the
city cousin and the country cousins – regular onions, shallots, leeks, and
scallions – are already stored in your cupboard), this particular batch hails
from Chile rather than your neighborhood grocer. 

But to balance all the purple, I’ve included
peach-colored French tulips.  As I noted in
a previous post, the Turks went a-twitter for tulips long before the Dutch dug
them.  In fact, the most prosperous
period of the Ottoman Empire’s rule was referred to as the Tulip Era in
reference to the flower’s symbolism as an indulgence.  Indulgent, indeed – I  had this bundle brought to me by a
striking-and-on-strike British Airways stewardess – between the dinner at
Boulud’s, the bottle of Beaujolais, and the best room at The Bowery Hotel, I’d
have been better off having the flowers Fed-Ex’d overnight!

Lastly, to provide a suitable backdrop for all the
purply-peachy pervasiveness, I’ve included papyrus and lotus pods.  This papyrus, just as you suspect, is the
same stuff from which the Ancient Egyptians made paper (not to mention a whole
sundry list of other items, including bowls and utensils, sails, mats, cloth,
sandals, and even entire boats!).  Of
course, the original papyrus, plentiful thousands of years ago in the Nile
Delta, has largely gone extinct so I purchased this parcel from a pirate-y
grower I know in Madagascar.  As for the
pods – they’re lotus pods.  Yes, one and
the same as the sacred flower so revered in India and throughout Southeast
Asia.  But, why did I include them?  Pure fancy, that’s why.  I simply like the way they look!

Phew!  You’re
probably altogether affronted now with all this alliteration!  So, I’ll stop here.  As you’ve done in weeks past (or as you wish
you had done had you started your subscription earlier!), pop your perfect
parcel out of its cello-paper, and put it in your perfectly-placed vase, fill
with water and you’ll be right-as-rain. 
(Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!)

Penitentially,


This Week’s Classic Collection: Wk of 5/24/2010


Friends, Fans, & Followers:

I must say that I had quite an eventful evening last
night.  A good number of my university
batch-mates were in town (including one stout fellow who long ago became a
bartender after realizing that his bibliographic knowledge of beer might serve
him better than botany, especially since he’d attached himself to a Belgian
bombshell named Brielle!).  We started
with a fantastic repast of sausages at Daniel Boulud’s new boite on the Bowery,
and then found ourselves headed to a birthday party at a lounge in Chinatown on
Broome Street.  On my way out – after one
too many Belvederes, I ruefully admit – I realized that my outing to Chinatown
was the perfect springboard for today’s work of hand-crafting bundles.  Allow me to explain…

As some of you may know from participating in my poll,
the majority of you all chose Bundle B for this week (hence the alliterative
b-onanza in my blog).  In this particular
instance, Bundle B boasts a trifecta of floral types all hinting at a bit of
China.  This week you have lilies of
Asiatic extraction (although that’s not the dimension to which I’m referring), green
limbo roses (more on those below), and a bit of green hypericum to boot.

First, the lilies. 
The lilies in your bundle are Asiatic lilies that I purchased from a
long-standing beau of mine – on and off, I regretfully acknowledge – who has
long shared my passion for showy flowers. 
She sourced this particular batch – cream in color – from one of the
south-eastern China-occupied islands of the Spratly archipelago in the
Philippines.   Of course, you may think
you know these lilies to be similar to others that you’ve seen in that they’re
medium-sized, trumpet-shaped, and have fleshy stems.  But, behold the China connection… the bulbs
of this particular variety, when picked at the right time before they become
too bitter, make for a healthy dry-food item that is sold throughout China as a
luxury food.  In fact, when stir-fried
properly, the bulbs develop a delightful potato-y texture and better yet, in
some parts of China, you’ll find that the dried flower buds (called “gum jum”
or “Golden Needles”) sometimes make for a fantastic complement to wild
mushrooms.  Lilies on your dinner table…
lilies on your dinner plate!

Next, evocative of a China-past, I’ve included green
limbo roses.  This particular batch isn’t
from China – they’re from my man in Bolivia – but they do have an emerald-green
hue that parallels jade, China’s imperial gem. 
As you surely know, ancient China’s fascination with jade was comparable
to the West’s fascination with gold and diamonds; it was coveted for use in the
finest of early Chinese art-objects.  So,
whilst you might be a bit jaded (pardon the pun) with roses of late, you’re
sure to be delighted with a batch as bright green as these.

Lastly, I’ve included hypericum (more commonly known in
the Western tradition by its decidedly less attractive name – St. John’s Wort!).  Whither China you ask?  Hypericum has long been a staple of Chinese
homeopathy – in fact, the oily extract of the plant, whilst sometimes espoused
as a natural antibiotic, is most commonly prescribed as an
anti-depressant.  Wink-wink… how do you
think I stay so peppy?!

Of course, you needn’t chew hypericum all day to feel
better about yourself.  Quite the
opposite – leave them in the hand-tied bundle along with your creamy lilies and
your emerald-y limbo roses, free them of their cellophane reservoir, and then
set them down in a your vase half-full with cool water.  Invite some chatty friends over to admire
your bundle and you’ll be pleased as punch in no time!

As always, if you’ve a question, a suggestion, or a bit
of feedback, please email me at
hbloom@hbloom.com.

Cheers,


Vote for Classic Collection – Wk of 5/24

Right then.  As it is now the exciting Primary season, I wanted to set the record straight on a number of items:

First, I did not serve in Vietnam, nor do I recall representing anything to that effect (I did once own a woolen pea coat that had a militaristic feel to it).

Second, I was not a Republican before I was a Democrat.

Third, I have not recently been hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

Perfect.  With those requisites out of the way, I’d like to point you to my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?pid=3961443&id=164129383642).  I rather enjoyed last week’s voting process, and I say “thank you” to each of you who took the time to vote.

Now, just as Thomas Jefferson suggested that individuals control a democracy by exerting their right to vote, I implore you to do the same — vote for next week’s Classic Collection!  Like last week, the option that accumulates the most comments on my Facebook page will be the one that we order, hand-tie and hand-deliver to all Classic subscribers next week.  I’ll take votes through tomorrow (Friday) at Noon, at which time I will be on the phone with my international suppliers placing the order!

Happy voting!

This Week’s Exotic Collection: Wk of 5/17/2010


Friends, Fans, & Followers:

Soon, those of you that have subscribed to my Exotic
collection will have the opportunity to vote on impending designs and varietals
just as my Classic subscribers are able to do now.  In the meantime, I hope you don’t mind me
doing a bit of what I do best – picking and pairing another week’s worth of
delightful blooms on your behalf.

Normally, dahlias are highly seasonal, coming to market
between the late summer and into fall. 
But as luck would have it, a dear friend of mine (whom I met while
hostelling through the Far East under the pretense of “researching Asian Banana
Plants” for my doctoral thesis), sent me an early-season batch of dahlias she’s
been coddling.  While she grows them in
her plot in the Aiichi Prefecture just outside of Nagoya in Japan, they’re not
specifically a Japanese variety.  Rather,
these are Arabian Nights Dahlias – richly colored in deep-dark velvety-burgundy
evocative of a languid evening of hookahs, spiced meats, and belly-dancers in
The Pasha’s villa.  Lest I get carried
away with my kebabs-and-cavorting metaphors, let me remind you that dahlias in
flower-speak stand for elegance, dignity, and good taste as well.  Fitting symbolism for a flower that was
Spain’s first real treasure from the New World… indeed, dahlias were first
introduced to the West by a Conquistador-cum-botanist by the name of Hernandez
who arrived in the New World ostensibly not to make war but to identify and
cultivate medicinal plants. 

I’ve also included bright purple anemones.  Despite my grumbling as I walked to the
market at 5 am on a recent rainy morning, my mood was immediately brightened
when I found that I was the first in line for these exquisite stems.  The chap that had them on offer couldn’t tell
me where they were from, but seeing as flowers aren’t nearly as controversial
as blood-diamonds, I bought them with the confidence that I could leave their
origin a bit of a mystery and that you’d like them all the same. 

I was, however, sure of the specific plot from whence the
sweet pea in this week’s bundle came.  In
1992, while on a drive-about from top-to-tip-of-The-Italian-Boot, I drove past
a cultivated plot of sweet pea that smelled absolutely fantastic.  I parked my Fiat Cinquecento on the roadside
and was just about to do a bit of innocent collecting, when I was confronted
with a wildly-gesticulating Signora.  I
apologized profusely for my impending trespass and over the course of a simple
lunch aided by equal parts wit, charm, and red wine, I convinced Alessandra
that I was just as passionate about flowers as she.  We’ve become fast friends since and from
time-to-time she sends me the best of her bounty.  You’ll see – this batch is a peachy color
(she’s been experimenting) even though when they grow wild, they’re always
purple. 

Lastly, I’ve included green euphorbia to provide some
cushion for the rest of the stems.  Don’t
get me wrong, green euphorbia is a perfectly pretty flower on its own (and may
yet be the focus of its own bundle soon)… but next to the dahlias, they’ve a
difficult time playing the role of anything but the chorus.  Still, this euphorbia came from the flower
auction in Holland, of Central European origin, and is perfectly happy
providing a backdrop for the Arabian Nights Dahlias.

So, there you have it. 
Just as in the Classic collection… if you’ve a vase from previous
deliveries, use it again!  If you are receiving
your Exotic collection bundle for the first time, relieve it of its cellophane
wrapper, give it a bit of fresh water, and invite some friends over to
demonstrate your five-star taste.

Cheers,


This Week’s Classic Collection: Wk of 5/17/2010


Friends, Fans & Followers:

As I suspect it may have been apparent to many of you,
what with all of my heretofores, Mums, and whilsts, that I’m an import to your
great country (and lucky for me that I’m living in NYC and not in Arizona –
carrying papers around with me would make me look a touch bulgier than my
fitted attire will allow!).  Of course, I
admit that I do get a bit nostalgic… at least a few times a week, I’m all bow
ties, double vents, cuff-links, and pink broadcloth shirts.  And yes, as some of you have noticed, I’ve
just taken delivery of a fleet of Mini Coopers so that I can have a bit of
English-countryside-air-in-my-hair motoring while I’m on my delivery runs.  But, to prove that I’m committed to the
American tradition, I thought I’d try my hand at a bit of democracy!  Which is why I’ve started polling all of you
on my Facebook page to determine which bundle I should have my designers craft
every week.  As you well know, the
(vocal!) majority of you voted strongly in favor of sunflowers for this week!  Ask and ye shall have too. 

Aside from the fact that the mere mental vision of them
puts me in a sunny (pun most certainly intended!) disposition, sunflowers are
truly fascinating plants and are worthy of proper discourse.  To start, this particular batch of Helianthus
annuus is native to much of Central America (indeed, The Aztecs and The Incas
alike considered the sunflower to be a sacred symbol of their respective solar
deities many many years ago).  However,
this week’s batch comes from a dear friend of mine, an Ecuadorian fellow that
insists on calling me “Mr. Hache”.  After
traveling the world umpteen times over, he settled into a quiet town called
Cotopaxi, just south of Quito.  Over
steaming cups of agua de remedio (you must give it a try if you have the chance!),
he and I first bonded over our shared marvel at the fact that sunflowers are
heliotropic (which is just a fancy botany term to describe the fact that
sunflowers follow the movement of the sun through the course of the day).  It’s true – at night, sunflowers in the wild
will just hang about like no-good louts loitering in front of a pool hall but
come day-time in perfect unison they’ll stand at attention in salute of a
rising sun and then will literally twist and turn themselves to follow the
sun’s movement from East to West.  Clever
flowers, eh?

And they’re not just good to look at – they’re good for
you too!  Indeed, some varieties of
sunflowers produce oils with higher monounsaturated fats (the good stuff, in
other words!) than even olive oil.  In fact,
years ago while in hot pursuit of a comely young maiden, I made myself useful
on a kibbutz near the Hamei Yoav Hot Springs by churning sunbutter (just like
peanut butter but made from mashed sunflowers) for the rest of the
commune.  One clever kibbutz-mate from
Germany (in competition for my floral affections, I might add!) mixed the
sunbutter with rye flour to produce a loaf she called Sonnenblumenkernbrot (which I learnt meant – literally – “sunflower
whole seed bread” in German… she wasn’t terribly creative with words, but she
certainly knew how to knead a loaf!).  

But, I’m getting carried away, aren’t I?  I suppose I should give the other blooms in
this week’s bundle a bit of air-time… lest they get testy and think that I’m
playing favorites (which, I unabashedly admit, I am).  So, to round out this week’s bouquet, I’ve
included Limoncello Spray Roses, a parcel of which I also procured from my Man
In Ecuador (nothing like a bit of one-stop shopping, eh?).  Limoncellos have a delightful lemony-creamy
countenance and have multiple petite blooms. 
I’ve also included leucadendron, a flowering plant that is endemic to
South Africa – specifically the sort that grows in the midst of the natural
shrubland that blankets much of South Africa’s Western Cape.  This particular batch of leucadendron is of
the “Safari Gold Strike” variety – they’re orange-tipped flowers that lighten
to yellow near their base.  And, lastly,
for those of you that wrote me directly, I’ve included viburnum again by
popular demand – these are a slightly different variety than the Gelderland
type I featured a few weeks back but just as pretty.   

By now, I suspect you’re a bunch of regular
horticulturists and know exactly what to do with your bundle upon arrival.  But, for the many Bloomers that have just
recently joined the party, you’ll have received a perfectly-fitted vase with
your bundle.  Snip your bundle out of its
cellophane reservoir, place it in your vase, add water, and feel better
immediately.  Of course, if you’ve been
Blooming for a while, give your vase a quick wipe-down, pop in your bundle, add
water, and start beaming.

As always, if you’ve a question, please ping me at hbloom@hbloom.com.

Cheers,


And the winner is…


The great Greek playwright Aeschylus was
spot on when he said, “but one vote cast can set right a house.”
 Well then, the votes are in and Option B has emerged victorious.
 Thanks to all who participated — democracy at its best!  This week,
I suspect that my bundles filled with sunflowers will make right many a house.
 I quite enjoyed the voting process; I plan to do it again later this week
to determine next week’s bundle.
 

Cheers, H.Bloom

Vote on Next Week’s Classic Collection




Right then. Here’s the test. Take a look at the two pictures, Option A and Option B, and add a comment to my post on Facebook (go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/HBloomcom/164129383642?ref=ts#!/pages/HBloomcom/164129383642)  letting me know which you would like to see my team produce and deliver next week. The bundle with the most comments will be the one that gets hand-deliver to all of our subscribers next week. If you like this process, I’ll do it again the next week. I’ll accept votes (comments) until Noon on Sunday, 5/16 (then I’ll have them shipped for your enjoyment). Happy voting!

This week’s Exotic Collection: 5/13/2010

Friends, Fans, & Followers:

For those of you especially discerning sorts that have
signed up for my Exotic collection, I don’t want you to think that I’ve
forgotten about you!  Quite to the
contrary, I had the good luck of being able to snag fresh batches of French
lilac, both purple and pink lisianthus, and my favorite viburnum (one of my
favorite, that is – some varietals make a fantastic jam!). 

Let’s start with the lilac, a very interesting flower
indeed.  I often wonder what lilac looked
like when it was first introduced to Europe in the early 1800s… I suspect that
they weren’t nearly as interesting then as they are today.  You see, being that I’m a strong believer in
progress (onward and upward and that sort of thing), I’ve always marveled at
the fact that much (if not all!) of the lilac available these days is the
result of the steady work of a prolific breeder by the name of Victor Lemoine
(1823 – 1911).  Victor, working initially
with a Belgian chap by the name of Louis Van Houtte went absolutely bezerk in
his mixing and matching of lilac varietals in an effort to produce the perfect
flower.  Along with his heirs, the
Lemoine clan produced well over 200 new cultivars (fancy word for varieties) of
lilac.  This particular batch, true to
origins, is from the town of Nancy, in France – not from Lemoine’s facilities
which have since ceased to operate, but from a local grower who is doing her
best to keep the Lemoine tradition alive.

Next, I’ve included both pink and purple lisianthus (don’t
mistake these for darkened roses; they’re altogether different!).  I must admit, I didn’t pour pink all over my
website for just any reason.  Rather, I
featured pink heavily because I think it is a fantastically interesting color (as
is its close cousin, purply violet) – equally appealing to both sexes and the
sort of color that makes anyone sporting it a bit larger-than-life.  Indeed, in the Victorian era, lisianthus
supposedly symbolized persons that were particularly showy or impressive.  A fitting flower for one H.BLOOM, eh?

Lastly, to offset the darker hues of the purple lisianthus
and the lilac, I’ve included viburnum. 
The batch used in today’s delivery was purchased from a Tunisian grower
whose primary growing facility (among others) is nestled in the foothills of
the Atlas Mountains (the portion that stretches across Tunisia).  You may hear (as I referenced above
hungrily!) that some viburnum varietals are edible and particularly suited for
making jam… which is true (the fruit of some varietals are delicious!) but
since it is often hard to tell exactly what varietal one is examining without
an expert eye, I’d suggest you refrain from topping your buttered toast with a
freshly reduced viburnum bundle – in most cases, there being over 150 varietals
of viburnum naturally occurring, the flower is usually toxic to humans and may
cause vomiting.  Maybe it makes sense to
stick with grape, eh?

Just like the Classic collection, you may have received a
perfectly-sized vase in previous deliveries. 
If so, give it a quick rinse and then place your Exotic bundle in the
vase half-full with water.  If today is
your first delivery, unwrap your bundle from its cellophane reservoir, pop it
into the included vase, add water, and marvel at the small-talk that will
surely result when you put your Exotic bundle on display.  


This Week’s Classic Collection: Wk of 5/10/10


Friends, Fans, & Followers:

Mum, thrilled as she was with last week’s fete-in-her-honor,
reminded me that she’s still my Mum and I’m still her son.  In my defense, she attempted a treacle tart
that turned out a bit too blackened, far too treacly, and altogether too bready
(if you’re a fan of Harry Potter books, and you’d been at my Sunday brunch, you
would have agreed that Mum’s treacle tart would’ve dampened even Harry’s
enthusiasm for shortcrust pastry).  But, all
the same, I suppose I shouldn’t have whispered “for the love of all that is
holy in this sweet world, I positively hate treacle tart” under my breath.  Tarts aside, you see, Mum has always detested
when I use the word “hate” – to her sweet ears, nothing in the world is worth “hating”. 

I, unfortunately, can’t seem to shake the word, especially
in the context of this cold spell that is upon us (for those of you not in NYC,
pardon me playing Johnny Meteorologist) but I swear that that this week is as
stark evidence as any I’ve seen that global warming is upon us.  In other words, it is still freezing, which
is weather that I positively hate.  But,
having promised that I’d at least try to use the word less, I Google’d “hate”
only to find that there are a massive number of synonyms for the word… which I
suspect is just evidence that loads of people “hate” things but are more clever
about using words that more or less mean the same thing to hood-wink their
respective mothers. 

So, where am I going with all of this?  I’ve decided that, being the creative chap
that I am, I of all people can surely find another way to express myself about
this horrible state of 40F-50F weather (that’s sub-10C to you
Imperialists!).  This week, I’ve decided
to fight nature with nature by selecting flowers that channel the colors of
the sun:  lemony calla lilies, yellow
tulips, and fiery konfetti roses.

Let’s begin with the calla lilies.  These are the “mini” variety that are tightly
wrapped and trumpet-shaped.  This
particular batch – Zantedeschia elliottiana – I sourced from a sunny grower
in Kenya who claims that they symbolize not just “beauty” but “magnificent
beauty” (loquacious chap).  Indeed, calla
lilies are the subject of a good number of Diego Rivera’s paintings (my favorites
being “Portrait of Natasha Gellman” and “El Vendedor De Alcatraces” – go on,
Google them).  They’ve said many a
not-nice thing about the fellow – notorious womanizer, indifferent husband, atheist,
fervent communist – but he certainly knew a beautiful thing when he saw it!  Luckily, he didn’t sign his paintings with
his full name, otherwise there’d have been very little calla or lily to see in
his paintings (I kid you not, the fellow’s full name was: Diego
Maria de la Concepcion Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos
Acosta y Rodriguez
.  I suspect
that D. Rivera would have done nicely.)

As for supporting cast, you’ll notice not-just-any yellow
tulips in your bundle.  There’s  no doubt that tulips are easily one of the
world’s most recognized flowers.  But while
some say tulip-mania is a thing of the past, I still go positively mental over fresh
pickings, especially when they’re as rare as these stems – I ordered them long
ago on contract from a stoic Kazakhstani grower.  Expected them to be from Holland?  You’re not alone.  To be sure, our Dutch friends produce nearly
a quarter billion dollars worth of tulips, but I somehow find the Central Asian
varietals (when I can get them!) to be more authentic.  You see, tulips originated in the Ottoman
Empire, where they were considered a sign of abundance and indulgence.

Finally, I’ve included konfetti roses, flown in from Quito
in Ecuador.  Konfetti roses are tipped in
flame-red with the petals growing steadily more orange-ish and then yellow as
they near their base.  They’re supposed
to be known for their dual message – love with a bit of friendship thrown in
(more red; less yellow), or friendship with a bit of love thrown in (yellow
more; less red) depending on your yearnings. 
In other words, if they were featured in an episode of Friends, I
suppose these would be the “friends-with-benefits” variety.  Racy, no?

So, there you have it. 
For those of you that have been Blooming for a while, you can skip to
the part where you stare lovingly at your bundle.  If you’re new to your subscription, then
you’ll note that with your first delivery, I’ve delivered a vase with your hand-tied
bundle.  All you have to do is add
water.  In each week, hence-forward, I’ll
deliver a new mixed bundle, pre-cut to fit perfectly in the same vase.  In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine!

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