Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Tulips: Educational Eye Candy

I've recently begun a new habit, courtesy of the wisdom of my MIL and the generosity of my DH: I buy fresh flowers often. This all started when my husband bought me flowers last summer, not just any flowers- 12 beautiful long-stemmed red roses. The smell and the sight of them on the table everyday absolutely spoiled me rotten, and ever since, we've made it a habit to pick up fresh flowers (not necessarily roses!) from the grocery store every other week.
Our Winter Tulips: Isn't that just gorgeous?

You can get a nice bouquet for about $4-$6, and if you pick them right and treat them better, that's not really much considering the benefits they offer: The smell is amazing depending on what variety you select, they're great to look at, and bring the serenity only something so naturally beautiful can offer.

I usually allow the kids to pick what we'll bring home that particular week, sometimes we alternate. This gives them a healthy sense importance, that what they say and think matters, that they can directly contribute to the aesthetic of our home. Also, being able to see the beauty of what they've chosen is a good, positive reminder of a choice they've made and have seen through.

One other great lesson the kids can literally take home is that life is not all business and you have to leave some fun money for the 'icing'. We budget the additional $5 biweekly into our grocery money and from this, the kids can see that these extras are okay, especially when we've planned for them financially. $5 is not generally a lot, but in the life of a homeschooling family surviving on one income, it can certainly take on a whole new meaning if it's misspent.

The kids are learning about so many different types of flowers, and last week we brought home some pretty, reddish Winter Tulips (above). They were too delighted that we found some winter flowers for the winter. Little treasures.

They are also learning what's involved in the care of flowers, how light and temperature can affect them, how to prune them and why we do it, and a little about plant and flower anatomy. Fyi, flowers form a protective seal soon after they are cut to keep themselves from drying out. The seal serves to lock in their existing moisture, keeping them alive as long as possible after the initial cut. This is why it's best to plunge them right away into a vase of lukewarm water (not always cold!) after pruning the stems.

Tips we swear by:

  • Add them to the grocery list and pick them up on your way to the checkout. They should be your last selection before leaving the store so as to minimize the time they're out of water.
  • In terms of longevity, It's better to buy them from a florist if you can afford it, but we've made out well buying ours from Trader Joe's.
  • Carefully inspect the flowers before you select them to be sure they aren't wilting or turning brown. Once you've purchased a few bouquets from your favorite store, you'll start to get a sense of the quality of their flowers and how well they generally maintain them before reaching you, the consumer. This will make selecting them much easier. 
  • If you are allowing the kids to select, teach them what to look for. Kids will be kids, and if for some reason they disagree with you (imagine that!) and pick flowers more so for their appeal than for their overall freshness and appearance, LET THEM, and then teach them about what their choice resulted in- a shorter home life for the flowers and less time to enjoy them, perhaps. But then, maybe it'll be a happy accident after all. The important thing is that they asserted their opinion and made a choice; support them in that.
  • Be sure and read the name of the flowers to them that are printed on the sticker so they form an association right away.
  • Buy flowers whose buds are still closed. They will open up at home within a few days and will last longer because you've caught them early, rather than at full bloom. (This one's from my MIL who buys herself some every week or two, as well, and encouraged me to do the same.)

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