Monday, October 10, 2011

Huddersfield District news for use E&C Saturday, 8 Oct

The Village Hall Quiz Night was a success with plenty of supper. The quiz winners were The 4 Ps. Colum Sands will be performing on tonight, Saturday. Ring 606230 for details.

The Sunday service was taken by Tim Lee, one of the founders of Jigsaw Kids Ministries in the Philippines. The junior’s address was about it being better to build your house on rock rather than sand – with an improvised example – God’s word being the rock. The first reading was from Matthew 13 verses 31-35 – ‘the mustard seed’. As the mustard tree grew large from something very tiny so has Jigsaw grown, both with God’s help and from prayer, he said. In the eight years that it has been going there have been traumas including fire, floods and hurricanes. Whenever there have been problem times God has wrought a miracle to keep things going. There are now four centres, each with over 500 children, run mainly by local people. The second reading was Psalm 113 – Praise the Lord.

The Harvest service will be on Sunday when goods for CART will be collected. The annual Autumn Fair to raise money for continued building improvements will be on Saturday October 15 from 11am.

The 10th Anniversary Coffee Morning with lunches for the Hospice Support Group is to be held in the Village Hall from 11 am on Saturday October 22. The group is very pleased to have raised £868.45 in the third quarter. Many thanks go to everyone who has helped and supported the events, especially in the current economic situation. Much is being made from the generous contributions of fruit and vegetables from the very good growing season. Christmas cards are now available.


The Harvest Festival and Back to Church Sunday were celebrated together at All Saints’. The service was led by the Rev Joy Cousans who introduced the service by talking to the children about the reactions they might show when receiving a present. The gratitude anyone demonstrates is the same as the responses made to God for this time of year – the growth of a huge variety of foods which we harvest in the natural world. Readings were prepared by Trish Bond and Raymond Parker from Exodus 33 (verses 12-23) and the Gospel of Matthew 22 (verses15-22) respectively. Prayers for the wider world were written and delivered by Wynn Leake.During the distribution of communion the choir sang John Rutter’s arrangement of All Things Bright And Beautiful.Gifts of tinned foods and toiletries were received and will be directed to the Welcome Centre in Huddersfield for distribution within the area.Visitors and regulars at the service were fully appreciative of the imaginative widow displays on the theme of ‘We plough the fields and scatter’.Coffee for all after the service, was served by Gail Banks and Jean Newby. The service tomorrow, Sunday is a joint service with members from St Augustine’s Church, Scissett - and to which all are welcome. During the service there will be a celebration of the variety of talents which members of All Saints’ readily have displayed.


Robert Nuttall led the prayer and fellowship on Monday evening at Zion Wesleyan Reform Chapel. The members of the Friday club enjoyed an evening of outdoor games.

On Sunday morning the members of the Sunday School continued preparations for the Harvest Festival to be held on October 23. Robert Nuttall led Sunday evening worship when he spoke about the Fruits of the Spirit. The Bible was read by Cynthia Nuttall who also acted as the steward at The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.Howard Copley from Mexborough will be the visiting preacher for Connexional Sunday at 6pm.


On Wednesday afternoon children from Emley First School attended St Michael’s Church for a Harvest Thanksgiving Service. They had made a beautiful display of gifts. It was all hands on deck by church members on Saturday morning when additional decorations were added.

On Sunday morning the Harvest Thanksgiving Service was led by the Rev John Marsh. Gifts of produce were taken up to the altar during the singing of We Plough The Fields And Scatter. Fresh goods will be sent to Women’s Refuge and dried goods to CART and will be shipped to Africa. A new song – Everywhere Around I Can See The Hand Of God – was enjoyed by all. Oscar Smith asked questions about God’s gifts to us and how we can share them. Jesus helped people by turning their sorrow to joy, reaching out to people lives with help support and forgiveness. It is up to us to carry on his work, in today’ society, he said.. Gill Marsh led prayers and Malcolm Jessop played the organ. A light lunch followed and donations were sent to Water Aid. In the evening a service of Holy Communion was held. Tickets for the Yorkshire Evening on Friday October 14 at 7.30pm are still available.


There were two services in All Hallows Parish Church last Sunday. Mrs Susan McPherson gave a warm welcome to the congregation when they attended the annual Church 4 All family service and celebration of the harvest festival. The church was decorated for the occasion with foliage and displays of garden produce together with the traditional harvest loaf. The service was led by the Rev Geoff Clay and the harvest gifts of dried and tinned foodstuffs – later donated to the Welcome Centre in Huddersfield – were received during the opening hymn. Mrs Lorraine Lockwood led the prayers of intercession and Mrs Karen McCann gave a reading from the third chapter of the letter of St Paul to the Philippians. During the service Mrs Katherine Metcalfe, speaking on behalf of Highburton Brownies, asked the worshippers if they would help them support the ‘Mary’s Wheels Backpack Project’. This charity, set-up to provide children in war-torn and famine afflicted countries with one meal a day in their schools, has now launched an appeal to provide them with backpacks containing basic educational materials, clothing and toiletries. Mr Clay gave the talk and took for his theme The Work of the Tear Fund. Mrs Pauline Pinder and Mrs Joy Elson, along with her grandchildren Joshua and Jessica, performed the duties of sidesmen and took up a collection of £224 for the Tear Fund. The music for the service, with a mixture of traditional harvest hymns and new songs, was provided by organist Mrs Doreen Barraclough and Mrs Jean Selby and the Church Music Group. The congregation enjoyed refreshments after the service served by Mrs Wendy Crooks and Mrs Pat Ellis. In the evening there was a celebration of Holy Communion. The leader and preacher was the Rev Robert Chambers who took for his theme Christ the Corner Stone. There was a meditation by churchwarden Mr Glyn Phillips. Mrs Pauline Pinder gave the reading from the letter of St Paul to the Philippians and Mrs Shirley Lingwood from the 21st chapter of the Gospel according to St Matthew. Pastoral minister, Mrs Betty Cross assisted Mr Chambers at the distribution of the sacrament.


Shelley Over 60s members held their weekly meeting last Thursday. The bingo line was won by Sylvia Deeley and the full house by Edna Glover. The prize for the first three numbers on one card went to Mary Hobson who received £1. The whist high of 90 was won by Malcolm Mills, and the low of 64 went to Kathleen Proctor from eight tables. Birthday greetings were sent to Wilma Peel, Ann Parton and Marleen Fairbank. The winner of this month’s minibus draw was no. 346. Raffle prizes were won by Joyce Tyas, Joan Horne, Jean Peck, Sheila Morris, Sheila Taylor and Dorothy Jessop.


Mr Tony Hudson, of Huddersfield, was preacher on Sunday at the Wesleyan Reformed Church. Mr John Orton was the organist.

On Sunday last at Skelmanthorpe Methodist Church, the service was led by Stuart Merry. The theme of the service centred on the parable of the vineyard and the tenants, comparing and contrasting the principles and standards of living in this parable with current attitudes and behaviours, which also flout and reject the morality in Christian principles that mark out a civilised society. Rose Merry and Ailsa Horton read the Bible lessons. The music group accompanied two of the hymns and Frances Priestnall played the organ.

On Monday last the Wives Group were given an interesting presentation about Mercy Ships by Dr John Rhodes and Mrs Iris Rhodes. Mercy Ships is an International Christian charity which began in 1978 with the purchase of a retired ocean liner. Since then a fleet of Mercy Ships have served, by invitation, in more than 150 ports in developing nations around the world, bringing hope and healing to the poorest people, providing health care at no charge. Dedicated volunteers include trained health professionals and many others who devote their time to the work of Mercy Ships. Dr Rhodes showed the group some slides which demonstrated the types of surgery performed on the ships, for example, cleft lip and palate correction, tumour removal and cataracts removal. These showed the difference made to the people whose lives had been transformed. The charity is totally dependent on donations and the generosity of people. For more information and stories about the work of Mercy Ships visit the website: A vote of thanks was proposed by the hosts: Frances Priestnall, Anne Wadsworth and Lorna Green, who provided refreshments afterwards.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

There’s no ‘I’ in iris

Like a father with his children, Don Heyden is loath to use a superlative when referring to any of the hundreds of iris varieties he grows in three locations in the Gallatin Valley.

“People ask me if I have a favorite,” he said recently, standing amid a huge bed bursting with purple, yellow, white and rusty reddish blooms perched atop slender green stalks. “But when you have more than 500 varieties, you don’t have a favorite.”

But as Heyden walks around his Gallatin Gateway garden flooded with the flowers’ grape-like aroma, it becomes clear Heyden, 70, is more partial to some irises over others.

Like a hardworking father with too many kids — “I don’t want to count,” Heyden said — he can’t remember most of their names.

And with monikers like Magician’s Apprentice, Jamaican Sunset and Glitz ‘N’ Glitter, who can blame him?

That’s why he places numbered stakes in the ground where he plants them. The numbers correspond to the varieties’ names on a four-page spreadsheet that also describes each one’s colors, garden location and price.

Yes, price.

Though it’s his “summer, niceweather job,” Heyden makes no money selling the flowers at Bozeman’s Saturday farmers market. Instead, for more than a dozen years, he’s donated his gross sales to various charities — typically between $1,500 and $3,000.

This year he is donating the sales to the Mending in the Mountains program of the Cancer Support Community and to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital’s emergency room expansion. Each year Heyden also donates the “seeds” themselves to various charities to sell, auction or raffle off.

“I feel God gave me a gift of a green thumb, and I felt it was my way to give back without being cash out of my monthly check,” Heyden said. “I’m a giver. That’s how I was raised. It’s just who I am.”

Heyden, who grew up on a farm in northwestern New York, has been growing irises since his age was a single digit. But he’s only been growing them “seriously” for about 40 years, he said.

So seriously, in fact, that when he moved to Bozeman from California, he made a special trip back to the West Coast to fill up a pickup truck with the flowers and their progeny — roots called rhizomes from which the flowers regenerate annually.

“I just fell in love with the flower,” said Heyden, a retired electrical engineer who designed missile systems for the military. “I think it’s the prettiest flower out there and the fact that it has so many varieties. They’re so delicate. Sort of like orchids.”

Now Heyden is active with local garden clubs and the Montana State University Cooperative Extension. In addition to the Gallatin Gateway garden on a friend’s property, he also grows irises in another friend’s field west of Bozeman and in his own south Bozeman yard.

In a denim MSU shirt and cowboy boots, Heyden was reluctant to say how many hours he spends weekly weeding, planting, organizing and otherwise caring for the irises.

“It keeps me in trouble or out of trouble,” he joked, his blue eyes glinting from beneath a white cowboy hat. “In trouble with my wife because it takes so much of my time, but so much time it keeps me out of trouble.”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spy thriller reads are good gifts for discriminating dads

Uh oh, Father's Day! What to get a guy to read?

It used to be easy: You bought Dad "Fatherhood" by Bill Cosby and called it a job well done.

But with the void in best-selling father's books, the task can get confusing and somewhat annoying. If you got up this morning and realized you need to give Dad something but you can't afford what he really wants — a 1080p HD big screen with a surround sound system and Blu-Ray disc player, Porterhouses on the grill, a Jaguar XKR-R convertible V-8 sitting in the driveway and no responsibilities for 24 hours — here are some book-related alternatives.

I'm a father, I know a lot of fathers, and there is one area of fiction that all Dads agree is of interest: spy thrillers. If you don't believe me, ask one.

This week's well-timed release of "Carte Blanche" by Jeffery Deaver (Simon & Schuster, $26.99) should fulfill the thriller-loving Dad in you family (as should the movie "Unknown" starring Liam Neeson, which comes out Tuesday on DVD, but that's a story for another section of the newspaper).

The novel is Deaver's updating of the James Bond series, something he undertook at the behest of the family of Ian Fleming. A British World War II veteran, Fleming invented Bond with the 1953 book "Casino Royale." He continued to write Bond books until his death in 1964 (he died young, just 56).

Almost 50 years later, it's estimated one in every five people on the planet have either seen a Bond film or read a Bond book.

Deaver, a thriller veteran with a well-known series of his own featuring Kathryn Dance and Lincoln Rhyme, faced the challenge of bringing Bond into the 21st century. He has pulled it off and provided a ripping story as well. First, the updating.

In this novel, readers see Bond in situations unlike any before. Bored on a date with a beautiful woman, for example. Dealing with office politics, for another — just imagine, James Bond in the office . It works, though, because Deaver portrays Bond as a rebel having to suffer at the hands of bureaucratic prigs, particularly MI5 agent Percy Osboune-Smith, something with which anyone who has spent any time in the corporate world can relate.

He also retains Bond's refinement and taste. There are long passages involving the secret agent's love of good food, fine wine and fast automobiles (Deaver waxes near poetic about the racing green E-Type Jaguar in Bond's garage). We see his flat in Chelsea (hardwood floors, sparsely decorated with items from his deceased parents' estate), his razor (double-bladed safety razor) and his knack for dressing just right (grey suit with no tie in Cape Town, South Africa; navy-blue Canali suit, white sea island shirt and burgundy grenadine tie for the office). He misses no tricks.

And what about that "shaken not stirred" martini business?

"American whiskey was Bond's favorite spirit but he believed vodka was medicinal, if not curative, when served bitingly cold. He now orders a double Stolichnaya martini, medium dry, and asked that it be shaken very well, which not only chilled the vodka better than stirring but bruised — aerated — it as well, improving the flavor considerably." Ah, we see.

And, of course, there are the toys of spy craft, which in this case includes an iQPhone that can do all manner of neat tricks, including setting up surveillance from a satellite and scanning an iris for identification purposes.

There's also the usual passages about highly trained observation skills saving the day at the last moment, including, in one instance, Bond noticing a slight change in the decibel levels of background noise that saves his life. Oh, come on, it's fun!

In other nods to the year 2011, there are references to the BBC show "Top Gear," Lehman Brothers' failure and even to modern male sensitivity: Bond passes on a romantic encounter with a workmate because she is recovering from a broken engagement. Hard to see Roger Moore playing that one, isn't it?

As for the thrills, they come early and often, starting with a train derailment in Serbia involving deadly chemicals. The story takes Bond to Dubai and South Africa. The villains, Severan Hydt and Niall Dunne, are memorable in horrible ways. Dunne's a cold-blooded killer, but Hydt, who runs an international waste-disposal company, is a particularly nasty piece of work. By the time the story reaches Dubai, the reader (and Bond) realize the extent of his obsession with death and decay, and his capacity for evil.

"Carte Blanche," by the way, refers to Bond's immunity from local laws (and his license to kill) when outside England, something he loses for part of the novel as the chase leads back to London. It's a fast read, I finished it in just a handful of sittings, and Deaver leaves enough loose ends for another book. He certainly has earned the right to be given a second installment.

Other releases involving spies:

Penguin is releasing new paperback versions of the John Le Carre classics "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "The Honourable Schoolboy" and "Smiley's People," which together comprise Le Carre's "Karla Trilogy." Le Carre is rightly considered the master of the spy thriller and is a must-read for spy fans.

If your taste runs more to nonfiction, David Wise, who has written several books on the intelligence community, offers "Tiger Trap" (HMH, $28), which looks at the long spy war between China and America. Among the revelations: stories on how China was able to steal secrets on U.S. nuclear warheads and the neutron bomb, and this juicy bit: an FBI document that indicates President Richard Nixon was a "regular bedmate" of a Chinese operative posing as a Hong Kong bar hostess.

In a somewhat related work, there's also Mark Urban's "Task Force Black" (St. Martin's Press, $25.99) a nonfiction work about secret special forces missions in Iraq, which argues that the war was partially won because of the efforts of American and British intelligence and special operations units working together to target terrorist cells.

Happy reading. And Happy Father's Day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ginty Sisters Honor Heritage With Popular Gift Shop

Ginty's Irish Gifts, in Morristown, was born after Kathleen Ginty Hyland returned from her first trip to Ireland 30 years ago. She jokingly mentioned to her husband that she'd like to own a gift shop that specialized in all the treasured items she'd grown up with.

"Our mother was born in Ireland and our father's parents were born there so products like wool and crystals were very much a part of our lives growing up," Hyland said. "My sister (Mary Ginty Parker) and I started talking about it and we did it and we've been in business for twenty-nine years.

"We started out right on DeHart Street. We shared a shop with Caswell-Massey and within a year we'd taken over the whole store. One thing led to another and we were very successful from the moment we opened the door. It's been fun just being around people."

No one is a stranger at Ginty's Irish Gifts. A trip to the shop is a bit like visiting charming relatives and bit like attending a comedy show. The clever banter between the sisters keeps the customers not only laughing but coming back.

The affable duo get their love of business and community from their father, John "Jack" Ginty, for whom a park and large sports complex on Woodland Avenue, the John W. Ginty Memorial Field, is named. "It's right near where we grew up," said Hyland, of Morris Township. "Mary lives right down the street in the house our father built in the 1940s."

"That's right," said Parker, showing her Irish wit, "they liked me best so I got it."

"Our father was very involved in community. He was a committee member from 1947 to 1971 and he served as mayor for four years in the 1950s," Hyland, who was mayor herself in 1993 and 1994, said. "He was also the first president of the Morris County Vocational School and then on the board there until he died and then I was on the board there for thirty years."

In addition to the enjoyment of building a business together, the continued success of the store has brought the sisters great joy, said Hyland, who previously had very limited retail experience. "I worked at Sears part-time while I was in high school but that was it. We had no real buying skills, but we made it work."

Hyland said while today's economy is not the best, she and her sister keep "plugging away." The entrepreneurs also run a seasonal shop in Long Beach Island, which enjoyed its 27th season last fall.

But no matter what the financial environment might be, one time of year that business is guaranteed to be booming at Ginty's Irish Gifts is St. Patrick's Day.

"We definitely see a boost around St. Patrick's Day," Hyland said. "We sell a lot of Irish sweaters and tweed caps for men. Celtic jewelry is popular and people come in for small items, parade items and Irish music."

Christmastime is the busiest season for the shop, Hyland said, and she and Parker often enlist the help of their sister, Margaret, a former high school English teacher, who also assists with Internet sales—a recent addition to Ginty's business.

The heart of Morristown is the perfect location for the shop because, as Hyland pointed out, many first-generation Irish families settled there while she was growing up.

"People have stayed around here for all those generations. I have three children and nine grandchildren and they all live in Morris Township. Jim Hennessey (owner of Hennessey's Washington Bar) was my partner in my sister's wedding," said Hyland, who regularly runs into childhood friends around town.

The good times don't end on St. Patrick's Day for the Irish sisters.

"We'll have an anniversary celebration probably the Saturday after the parade, the 19th, because there's just too much traffic the day of the parade," Hyland explained. "My granddaughter is an Irish step-dancer and my son-in-law plays the bagpipes, so we've got it all covered."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lenton Rose often the earliest blooming perennial in area

Spiny leaves in a bright seafoam green push up through leftover patches of snow in the early spring garden, followed soon by several flowering stalks bursting with large, round flower buds. These are hellebores, often called Lenton Rose, as it traditionally blooms in the early spring garden just before Easter.

Hellebores, with their thick, waxy foliage and earth-toned blooms in steely blue, jade green, white, crimson and many shades of pink, are often the earliest blooming perennials in our area, bursting open even before most daffodils and tulips.

Prized as much for its evergreen foliage as for its early blossoms, the hellebore is a traditional cottage garden favorite. The plant does well in shade, as it blooms well before the trees have leafed out in May. Hellebores come in many sizes, from 6-inch miniatures to 3-foot tall giants. The leaves, thick and waxy, withstand winter's cold beneath the snow, remaining green all season long. New growth begins to push forth in February and March, with the first flowering stalks following soon after.

The foliage lasts all summer long, adding great texture to the garden. Hellebores can have deeply lobed, spiny leaves, smooth round leaves or anywhere in between. Some varieties resemble desert plants, with their large, jade green leaves covered in sharp spines. Other varieties have very dark leaves in blackish maroon or deep forest green. There are also hellebores with bright, blue-green leaves.

The flowers are large and round, bursting out of large, round buds anywhere from late February through April. Reaching 3 inches across, the waxy petals are extremely long-lasting, and many varieties will hold their blooms through summer. Even when the flowers fade, the large seed pods make for interesting structure throughout the growing season. Many varieties feature petals that gradually change color over several weeks in early spring. In fact, some plants may boast flowers in many different color stages all at once. White varieties normally turn to green over the course of a few months in spring, with intermediate shades of cream and rose making for a striking display. The large, dark blue blooms of some hellebores gradually fade to lavender, transforming through several stages of dark red and purple along the way.

Easy to plant and grow, hellebores make a stunning early spring addition to a woodland or shade garden. Once established, the plants spread slowly, so division is usually not required. It is best to leave the plant in one place because the roots do not like to be disturbed. Hellebores will self-sow and form colonies over time.

As hellebores waken in early spring, cut off the leftover, ragged foliage from last year to tidy up the plant and make room for the new buds.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Robert Downey Jr Says 'Iron Man 3' Will Be Weird Without Jon Favreau

Robert Downey Jr thinks the Iron man 3 shoot will be weird without Jon Favreau.

Favreau starred and directed previous two Iron Man films, but won't be involved this time around, with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang's Shane Black taking on directorial duties.

Downey Jr told MTV News, "It is weird. I think there's always a closure to everything. This will all come to an end one day, and I think the thing is to just really enjoy it while you have it."

Downey Jr also said the pair were still very much on friendly terms, commenting, "He's up to great stuff with Cowboys & Aliens coming up. I just spoke with him a few weeks ago and we were quite friendly."

Iron Man 3 is expected to be released in 2013.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A bloomin' big statement: This Valentine's Day, shout it with flowers

Most of us are familiar with the florists' sentiment to "say it with flowers." But what if this Valentine's Day, we not only want to "say it," we want to shout out our love with an extravagant floral masterpiece.

Several area floral designers offered some ideas on how to make a Valentine's "bloomin' statement."

Angela Mueller of Wild Iris Gifts and Botanicals in Manitowoc said that even though roses are the traditional blossom of choice at Valentine's Day, their presentation — and numbers — needn't be.

"Roses are always the most popular at Valentine's Day," Mueller said. But for super-sized arrangements, just a dozen won't do.

"A dozen is pretty common. But I had a big one last year with five dozen roses, and (the customer) included a necklace, a balloon, a stuffed animal and chocolates," Mueller recalled.

While there may be strength in numbers, a dozen roses can still make a statement when arranged uniquely and creatively. For instance, Mueller has cut roses to different heights and "staggered" them in a display for a dramatic look.

"It's a dozen roses, but it's a different look," she said.

Obviously, saying "I love you" in a big way doesn't simply mean flowers. Mueller said her store also features handmade jewelry that can be added to the arrangement, as well as candy cakes. Singing and recordable balloons, stuffed animals and goodies of all types are welcomed additions to the Valentine's display.

While roses in red or related hues are the customary color of the season, Mueller said roses come in a variety of colors and can be arranged to order.

"We do have people coming in here who say 'her favorite color is orange,' so we do an orange arrangement. Blue roses are always dyed. There are multi-colored roses, up to five colors. They're awesome," she said.

Mueller said she and her staff enjoys "thinking outside the box" and designing unique — and elaborate — displays. "We try to go beyond the roses and baby's breath you can find anywhere — something more than the grocery store look," she said.

One way to do that is by using more exotic flowers.

"Calla lilies are very popular in many different colors. The traditional calla lily is white but the mini callas come in different colors," she said.

Orchids are another popular choice, as are hydrangeas.

"They almost have a Victorian look," Mueller added. Small rhinestones are sometimes put inside the petals to "kick up" nature's bounty.

And while most of her customers are men buying arrangements for their favorite lady, men can also be the recipient of a floral love note.

"Ninety percent of the arrangements ordered at Valentine's Day are from men to women," Mueller said. A more masculine arrangement usually centers on a theme, like hunting (think blaze orange roses) or a sports team (yellow and green Packers colors can fortunately be found in a variety of flowers and plants) or hobbies.

What has been her most elaborate or memorable Valentine's Day order?

"I had an order for a dozen different vases filled with many different things like flowers, chocolates and balloons and every couple of hours we would deliver an arrangement for her," Mueller recalled.

Flowers bring joy to Mueller as well as her customers.

"It's fun to customize things for people," Mueller said. "It's fun to see people in love. Some people are very romantic and some need a little help. We're here to help."

Floral designer Jennifer Entringer is one of Cupid's helpers at Caan Floral and Greenhouses in Sheboygan. She said that the classic Valentine's Day arrangement involves the rose, and usually the red rose.

"Roses are always the most popular, normally red. And if you want to go extravagant in the roses, you can go two dozen, three dozen. It's always impressive in a vase. If you want to stay with the classic romance of the roses, we can still do it extravagantly. The sky is the limit," she said, adding that different and impressive containers can add to the cache of a traditional rose arrangement.

However, Entringer said that if you want to add a little "heat" to your Valentine's arrangement, it might be wise to think tropical.

"Birds of paradise, protea, anthurium — anthuriums are actually a heart-shaped flower — and they're red. They also come in green, white and pink. They're tropical, something a little different, but with a Valentine's theme."

Entringer said requests for a tropical arrangement in the middle of a frosty Wisconsin winter don't come often, but she wishes they would. "It really 'spices' it up for us … it gets the creative juices flowing."

It would be Entringer's hope that an arrangement of tropical flowers might evoke warm thoughts, both romantically and weather-wise.

"It's still winter here for us, and people, if they've been to the tropics, they'll be familiar with flowers like bird of paradise and it's going to bring them a little bit of warm weather right along with some extravagant-looking flowers," she said.

Speaking of extravagance, Entringer recalled one arrangement from a Valentine's past that represented not only beauty, but opulence as well.

"A number of years ago, a customer bought a dozen of the standard calla lily in a vase, and those are expensive. It was in a huge vase … it was very impressive. And the flowers themselves can be 8 to 10 inches long. So you're talking big flowers, which makes a 'wow' presentation."

Finding a vessel for the "wow" runs the gamut from traditional vases to baskets to buckets to heart-shaped ceramic containers to glass cubes. "If the customer has something special they want to use, we'll be happy to accommodate them," Entringer said. "You name it, we can do it. It's really a lot of fun."

David Kucensky, owner/designer of the Flower Cart in Sheboygan, along with Kathy Pruitt, floral designer at the shop, shares in that fun. Kucensky said that while roses and orchids are the most popular flowers to give at Valentine's Day, there are a lot of different, beautiful accent pieces that can be included in the presentation.

"Instead of the typical baby's breath filler, there are all kinds of fun things out there, like misty blue statice, leucadendron and genestra, which has a wonderful, woodsy fragrance," Kucensky said. "It's more expensive than your typical baby's breath, but it's a lot more exciting and unexpected."

"You can bend some of these to make hearts as well," Pruitt said, adding that the genestra comes in the appropriate Valentine's colors of pink and white.

In keeping with the "super-size" theme, Pruitt suggested using really tall, pilsner-type vases, accented with interesting greenery, which in itself can make a dramatic floral statement.

"You can wrap the vase with leaves inside the vase," Kucensky said.

Kucensky said just by ordering flowers through a florist who makes the delivery gives a special "kick" to the gift.

"Part of the "super-size" idea comes, I think, from ordering from a florist versus going to the grocery store," he said. "We can deliver to their place of business and I think most people like the 'show.' They want all their friends to see this. They're loved and appreciated and can say, 'see, this is what I got."

Sometimes the message is very dramatic.

"We did do a vase of roses with the card message was an engagement," Kucensky said. And Pruitt recalled a time when she did an arrangement that spelled out the recipient's name in flowers.

Love apparently knows no monetary bounds. Even in a downsized economy, Pruitt remembers that last year's Valentines included a number of orders for multiple dozens of roses.

"We were really quite taken aback when we got several orders for two and three dozens of roses to be arranged," she said.

And if Cupid really wants to open his wallet, orchids and calla lilies exceed the cost of roses. But it doesn't have to be exotic or particularly expensive to be impressive. The tulip finds its way into many arrangements.

"Tulips are available all year round," Pruitt said. And a special type of tulip, the French tulip, makes a dramatic presentation. "If you want a little more show, French tulips have a really big head and long stems. They make a great big presence. They're very pretty and very springy and you can think about the fact that the grass will sometime be showing again."

Kucensky added, "If you want to make it unusual, you can wind the tulip inside the vase. We can put it inside a tall pilsner."

And like true love, French tulips have a wonderful characteristic: "They last a lot longer than a regular tulip," Kucensky said.

As will the fond memories the recipient gets when "I love you," is said in flowers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Garden Talk: Garden treasures from the past

Long winter days in January and February are perfect for a different sort of gardening activity — searching for garden art and antiques to display in your summer garden or garden room. As vital to the beauty and personality of your garden as the plants themselves, garden art or "hardscaping" is fun to collect and display in virtually any size space, indoors or out.

The Fox Cities is rich with antique shops, gift shops and craft shows ready to explore during the winter months. A short drive of 60 miles or less puts you in touch with dozens more one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques all filled with a wonderful assortment of gifts and treasures just beckoning for a home in your living and gardening space. The possibilities are endless if you just use your imagination.

Many gardeners begin hardscaping their flower plots and paths by focusing on a theme. It could be a color theme or a textural theme, a design theme or a natural theme. It might be bird art, butterfly art, wildflower art or an old-fashioned cottage garden theme. When the right item catches your eye, you'll know it, and you may not be able to stop collecting.

Not sure where to begin? Here are some ideas to help ignite your creative spark.

Always popular in the garden, old rustic pieces of wicker furniture weather nicely to provide a natural, elegant and serene atmosphere. An old wicker loveseat or chair, strategically placed along a garden path, invites visitors to sit for a spell, even as flowering vines like morning glories or nasturtiums entangle themselves within the frame. Whitewash with milk paint or any pastel hue and you have an instant garden focal point.

Old architectural elements, matched or mismatched, make a great statement in the garden as well. Try old sections of molding or pillars, old wooden doors or windowpanes. Even old bricks and stonework add a distinct character to the backyard garden. Antique mirrors are a wonderful and useful addition. As well as adding a rustic charm, mirrors will serve another purpose — they will make a small garden appear much larger!

For bird lovers, there is no shortage of rustic beauty that can be obtained by adding old birdbaths to a garden. Birdhouses, decorative or functional, add a cozy touch, as do decorative wire birdcages.

Place a potted plant in a large, antique birdcage and you have a quick and easy garden treasure.

For a final, stunning look, try displaying a collection of old glass bottles in your garden. Whether wired to a tree or fence as instant outdoor vases, partially buried in garden soil and surrounded by low-growing annuals or propped at the ends of twigs or branches to create a "bottle tree," nothing adds color and originality to the garden like old-fashioned colored glass bottles and jars.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Top Gardening Trends For 2011

Which gardening trends will be in come 2011? Robert Zimmer, owner of The Chocolate Iris: Olde English Gardens, Gifts and Design, shared a list of gardening trends for 2011 in a recent column he wrote for The Post Crescent.

Black. “Perhaps the hottest color in demand in the plant world is black. Gardeners love black and realize the uniqueness and beauty of flowers that bloom in black. … Examples of favorite flowers that bloom in black are Black Barlow columbine, Storm of the Century iris, Black Gamecock iris, perennial black violas, ‘black’ daylilies, hollyhocks, Queen of the Night tulips and more.”

White. “White is equally in demand, and this year, more plant varieties than ever will be available in pristine white. New delphiniums, iris, daylilies, daisies, lilies, hibiscus and more are set to hit the market. As with black, white is often used generously. In some perennials such as daylilies, true perfect white has yet to be developed, as it is always mixed with barely noticeable shades of green, yellow or cream.”

Miniature conifers. “[They] are exploding in popularity. Growing anywhere from 6 inches to 6 feet in height, conifers classified as miniatures are often as immaculately cared for and sculpted as bonsai.”

Rainbow-colored veggies. “There are blue potatoes, red carrots, yellow carrots and purple. Cabbages come in more colorful varieties each year, as do lettuce and the extremely colorful swiss chard. Colored corn is also available.”

Native perennials and grasses. “Nowhere has the trend been more apparent than the explosive popularity of rain gardens nationwide. Rain gardens, consisting of native plantings of deep-rooted prairie and wet meadow wildflowers and grasses, serve many purposes, the main one of which is to provide rainwater the opportunity to be properly and naturally filtered rather than running down the road directly into our lakes and rivers, full of chemicals and runoff.”