Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I say Tomato

Finally getting ripe tomatoes off the vine, although the heat and humidity here in Miami is starting to soar, and the plants are losing their leaves, and the stems are becoming increasingly ligneous.. Still, even thouhgh the yields are much less than I expected, they still taste yummy. I believe that I did not give enough potassium to the plants, so although the plants were huge, the fruit set was very poor. Orlov's Gold, Black Zebra, San Marzano and Carmelo made it to the plate.
One does get an amazing appreciation of the triumph of growers, especially those who choose to grow organically. It is a really complex undertaking, and I found that all the plants require constant attention, particularly to the advent of caterpillars and aphids. I have to say, though, the results are gratifying. I have learnt an enormous amount about growing, and next year will be mother lode of all harvests! (That's what I said last year!)
Next week, we are pulling up the leeks, which my girlfriend and I really are looking forward to.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The relationship of Nike to Veronica

“I am a kind word uttered and repeated

By the voice of Nature;

I am a star fallen from the

Blue tent upon the green carpet.”

Song of the Flower XXIII by Khalil Gibran

Currently we feature Veronica on our website, both for sale By-the-Bunch but also on our Box Lots program. Most of the flowers on offer come from a premium summer flower farm in Ecuador, that of Andean Fields, and the quality and vase-life of the Veronica is outstanding. Colors available are Pink and Blue, and the price represents excellent value.Veronica is an old and valued flower and herb, originating in mountainous parts of Europe. Veronica, along with a very similar plant called Germander, were valuable as mild astringents as well as having analgesic properties. Older varieties, especially the ones used in folkloric herbal remedies, tended to be more prostrate, featuring brilliant blue flowers. Probably its value was so great that the characteristic term “Speedwell” was given to it most probably due to its ability to aid in rapid recovery from mild illness. As flowers came to be used as romantic expressions, Speedwell or “Speed-Thee-Well” was used, frequently along with “Forget-Me-Not” which had a similar appearance to the prostrate forms of Veronica, as parting gifts for soon to be separated loved ones.

Interestingly enough, while it has frequently been conjectured that the name Veronica is derived from the woman who supposedly wiped Christ’s’ sweating brow as he labored to haul his cross to Golgotha, this is highly unlikely. The etymology is convoluted; proposing that the Latin word Vera or true, is coupled with the Greek word Eikon or image, producing Veronica or True Image – the image of the Lord! Certainly, if the incident did occur the name of the woman was unknown and ascribed to her at a much later date.

Veronica is most likely a name derived from the Greek “Bereinike”, or Berenice, a name composed of two words; Pherein, a verb meaning to bring, and Nike which is the word for Victory. Bereinike is allegedly the one and only word uttered by the man who ran the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to deliver the great news of the victory of the Greek army over the Persians. The word means “I bring you Victory”, its economy of detail being the equivalent of an ancient Tweet!

In a twist of irony, while the word Nike has since become synonymous with running, speed and excellence; the meaning has come full circle in its newfound affinity with the Old English name “Speedwell”.
Modern hybrids of Veronica are developed largely from Veronica spiccata, and feature sturdy, stiff stems and dense terminal racemes of flowers. They are generally about 40cms to 50cms in height, with spikes about 10 – 15cms in length and which are often gracefully curved. Colors are deep blue with indigo tones, a strong vibrant pink and occasionally in white. Veronica can be used for strong linear accents or tucked into bouquets and low arrangements, providing eye-catching detail.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

A view looking Northeast in Corkscrew National Park in the Everglades in Florida.


Today, that is to say April 22nd has been proclaimed Earth Day, which would already be more effective if only our government would regulate and enforce laws already on the books. Nonetheless, I think all of us are slowly starting to realize that change in the way we conduct our lives with regard to the environment is extremely important. Getting the inertia to initiate change is very difficult, and I have been reluctant to alter my ways, but more and more voices in the public forums are making change hard to resist.

This winter Mmy girlfriend and I grew a small plot of vegetables in a raised bed completely organically. This necessitated night excursions with a flashlight to remove pesky slugs and caterpillars from the leaves of the plants. Research on the internet led me to become familiar with names such as “Noctuid”; a small night-flying moth with a long proboscis developed to extract nectar from small flowers and which lays eggs that turn into highly destructive caterpillars. Capture of these pests was like enjoying the trophies of a micro-safari, and very satisfying. Of course, because of my girlfriend’s humane approach to all life, I had to set these invasive adversaries free in another part of our small garden. (Dare I tell her that without the appropriate food source they will die anyway? Mmmm, maybe later.)

Anyway, the yields from the small patch have been very enjoyable, the highlight of which was the discovery of “Mustard Greens”, delicious, prolifically abundant leaves, ideal for stir frying and soups, that taste of a light mustard. For two months we have enjoyed all kinds of lettuces, as well as green onions. Currently we have peppers, chili peppers, leeks to be enjoyed soon, as well as green beans. Basil is flourishing like a weed, and we barely keep it in check by making loads of fresh pesto sauce. (What about the price of pignolas, though?!) And a fair amount of tomatoes. Unfortunately they are not so good this year. I am not sure why, maybe because I fertilized incorrectly? This organic thing is kind of tricky!

Nonetheless, the taste and nutrition is outstanding, and more than worth the effort. A book we read recently, has underlined how important it is to eat more vegetables. “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer is quite an eye-opener, and if you have an ounce of compassion (I barely have that), then the situation we are in with regard to eating cruelly treated living beings is dire. By that I mean, if we really are a nation of laws, as well as being a Christian country, then it is hard to see how we can continue on the path we are on, when we are treating our livestock so badly.. Anyway, I leave it to you check it out, but it does seem inevitable that a lot of the food that we eat is too cheap by far. And certainly, if you have a consciousness that desires sustainably grown flowers, then it surely must extend to include sustainably and compassionately raised animals.
Now the days are getting very hot here in Miami, and humidity is starting to get quite high, so the veggies are starting to experience heat check. On the other hand we get to enjoy other flowers that really enjoy the high temperatures and humidity such as orchids, which thrive here. Check out this massive Oncidium right outside my son’s bedroom window.


Happy Earth Day
from the Mayesh Family,
and from my son, too!

April 22nd

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cynara! Gone with the Wind!

"I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,

Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng... "

(Ernest Christopher Dowson 1867 -1900 UK)
Artichokes buds are now in season, the “buds” of which provide bold, sculptural forms for the designer to employ. They are available in green and in burgundy, in baby varieties as well as those with large calyces. I say calyces, because the artichokes have three distinct forms throughout the year: In spring the immature buds that have not yet bloomed, and at which stage we eat them, are formed on the stem. They are spherical, comprised of a layering of bracts that have spiny tips as the flower matures. In summer, the buds open to reveal a bright rich azure flower head comprising hundreds of tiny flowers. Generally they are a stunning blue cupped in the green bowl of the massive calyx, although occasionally we offer for sale a white variety as well.

Finally in fall the heads dry out, going to seed, and present a very sculptural object that are appropriate for fall compositions.

As a food source, artichokes have been cultivated for thousands of years, originating on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. In Greek Mythology, Zeus was said to have taken a human mistress ‘Cynara’, and invited her to reside in the home of the Gods on Mt. Olympus. She had a yearning to see her mother on earth, and she duly snuck back to the village where her mother lived. As Gods are wont to do, Zeus became furious and in his rage turned her into a plant and flung the mortal down to earth where she continues to grow to this day on the island of Zinari (Kynara).

It is this Greek name that famed taxonomist Linnaeus used to denote the artichoke. It seems that the Greek name ‘Kynara’ which also means ash, is said to derive from ashes used in early cultivation, but I believe the term refers more to the striking gray color of the foliage.

The name that we use, “Artichoke”, is derived over several thousand years from the Arabic word al-kharshuf. Just as the plant migrated from Tunisia, changing as humans improved the species, making it more palatable and more productive; so did the name, resulting in alcachofa in Spain, carciofio in Italy, artichaud in France and artichoke in England.

Today, for more efficient productivity, most Artichoke varieties are planted as annuals from seed, and tend to be hybrids of cynara scolymus, whereas in earlier times the principal species were grown as perennials forming massive clumps with deep taproots, and prior to the intense cultivation that occurred in Italy in the middle ages, it seems that roots and the stalks were mostly consumed. In the Renaissance era hybrids produced the large edible globe we know today.

It seems that these products were reserved exclusively for consumption by the upper classes of men only. Apparently, the aphrodisiacal powers ascribed to the artichoke were thought to be too stimulating for women!

Catherine de Medici changed all that, and upon her arrival in Avignon, France, in the 16th century, insisted to her husband Henry II, that she would eat them, noting that young women were more forward than pages at court today

Although artichokes are an ancient foodstuff, it is often assumed that these globes are relatively new as an element in floral design, but shown here is a casual arrangement by Constance Spry (English) from the 1950’s. It would seem she was quite ahead of her time as their use practically disappeared until the late 1980’s Some fifty years later they have enjoyed a great revival, and are becoming more and more available. Look for them at your local supplier or buy them online now.

April 21

Friday, April 16, 2010

“St. John’s Wort doth charm all witches away!”

In recent years St. John’s Wort has been in the news again for having exceptional healing powers. We are more familiar with it as Hypericum, and this product has been turning heads lately in our industry. Suffice it to say that while Hypericum perforatum and other species may have mild anti-depressant qualities, as well as some astringent properties, I would be extremely careful using it as medicine. There may be some merit in hanging it above your door to ward off the hobgoblins and witches!
On the other hand the new ornamental varieties are exceptional in terms of vase-life, longevity and most importantly for their decorative qualities, and new varieties such as “White Romance” pictured here provide wonderful details to all floral compositions, as well as holding up during hot summer weddings.

The word Hypericum is derived from a very old Greek word for the flower Yperikon and first mentioned by Greek doctor Euryphon in 288 BC. It is a composite word thought to be formed from either Hyper, meaning above, being coupled with erikon, the Greek word of heather. The implication is that Hypericum is a flower that stands taller than heather. However, given its use for hundreds of years for medicinal purposes, it seems that the combination of Hyper with the word eikon meaning figure or apparition is a more plausible explanation. Certainly it has been used for several thousand years to ward off the evil eye, and in pre-Christian England it was said that a sprig brought into the house on Midsummer’s Day would ward off witches.

St. John’s Wort doth charm all witches away
If gathered at midnight on the saint’s holy day.
Any devils and witches have no power to harm
Those that gather the plant for a charm:
Rub the lintels and post with that red juicy flower
No thunder nor tempest will then have the power
To hurt or hinder your houses: and bind
Round your neck a charm of similar kind.

In Mediaeval France, and throughout Europe, during the summer solstice which had by then been annexed by the Catholic Church and renamed St. John’s Day, the people participated in widespread festivities that lasted through the night, and included in the rituals were the construction and burning of massive bonfires. (Burning Man anyone?) St Johns Wort, or “Toutesaine”, was one of a select group of generally woody-stemmed herbs thought to have magical powers and which were thought to be even more powerful if passed through the smoke of the Mid-Summer fires.
These were then bunched and hung over doors and windows to keep away the evil spirits. Probably these bunches, called “Bosquets” in mediaeval French, eventually formed our understanding of the modern word we use today – Bouquets!
It is because this flower generally blooms around the time of the summer solstice that the name of St. John’s Wort was ascribed to it, but it seems one variety in particular is thought to have been highly valued for medicinal purposes, namely H. perforatum. This variety has unusual punctures in the leaves which the Crusaders believed to symbolize the stigmata, and which the Knights of St. John used to treat the wounds of pious soldiers injured in combat. They would macerate the petals of the flowers in mortars, which when crushed turned scarlet, and then mixed the contents into olive oil yielding a red unguent they called “Blood of Christ”.
On the plant, the flowers are generally bright yellow but short-lived, and it is the fruits displaced on terminal racemes that are of interest to florists.
Up until 2000, however the USDA had a ban in place on these “fruits”, and domestic supplies were rather limited and often contaminated with leaf-miner.
As soon as the ban was lifted several plantations went into production, commencing with “Excellent Flair”; now called ‘Dolly Parton’, and doing a superb job of cultivating clean, disease free berries and foliage. Since then, a considerable amount of industry has been focused on hybridizing new varieties, and recently there has been a proliferation in hybrids, which now feature berries of yellow, orange and even white.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quality Roulette

It is my contention that by eliminating the "Roulette" factor from your workplace equation so that you can execute the work that your clientele expects from you over and over again in a consistent and predictable way is, as the advertisment proclaims: "Priceless"! I have had quite a few clients over the years ask me to explain why this rose from such and such a farm is twice the price than the same variety from another farm or provider. There are several components to this answer, most of which relate to economic factors, but the key to a price is the ability of a product to deliver a consistent experience for the professional.
In this industry "control" of the condition of the flowers is of paramount importance. When you are doing high level assignments, your expectation that a product will deliver a repeatable and consistent experience in the workplace is essential, and runs parallel to your ability to execute your hallmark services for your customers.

Generally speaking, when a flower commands a high price it is largely because of the work and effort invested in its production, the care in harvesting and hydrating the flower, and then the packing of the product ready for the stressful transit to it's destination. Thereafter a portion of the price is derived from the logistic and cold chain management of the flower in getting to the destination. Mayesh Wholesale invests a considerable amount of money in using premier logistical solutions, including the most efficent and reliable airlines, chartering our own refrigerated tractor-trailers to deliver the large volumes of flowers that we import and maintaining large dutch-style refrigerated dsiribution warehouses at key hubs in the USA.

All this is done to ensure that after you have hydrated, pulsed and stabilised your flowers; that they open as you expect them to; that the color, hue and saturation is what you were expecting; and that stem strength and length, as well as aspects of bloom count and head-size remain consistent with your expectations.
Logically, if the products perform as you expect them to, you can fulfill with facility that which you promised to deliver to your customer. On the other hand, if a flower does not perform as you had anticipated, a level of unnecessary stress then develops. As we are all learning, stress can be quite debilitating to mental and physical health.

Now, this is not to say that top-notch flowers can often be procured at very reasonable prices, largely due to seasonal availability, harvest peaks and during periods of low demand. And it would be imprudent to ignore discounted prices on products that you use.
The key in this case is to purchase the same quality products. But when prices rise, securing flowers of lesser quailty because they are less expensive can be foolhardy. Yes, one can get lucky and the product performs as you had hoped; but when the flowers perform differently - (they may be fresh, but they open much slower than you had anicipated, or conversely open too quickly) - then stress and possibly unanticipated costs creep into the commission.

In the short term, the lure of false economies of inexpensive yet unpredictable products may appear attractive. But if you maintain a long term perspective, then the election to procure products that deliver results will ultimately yield dividends not only in the workplace, but also in your physical,mental and emotional well-being. And how much do you think that is worth?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Opening Day

Welcome to David's Diary. My name is David Dahlson, and I oversee the Mayesh on-line shopping site, along with Tawny McJunkins. The site is called Shopmayesh and has two distinct features. One is the "By-the-Bunch" program, which ships out of Los Angeles, California and puts a vast array of flowers available at your fingertips, literally.
Shopmayesh also features the "Box Lots" program which offers flowers in bulk at significant discounts. The products are available in a live inventory on a daily basis, so it is well worth checking back tow or three times a week to see what is in our coolers today. My Diary will ilustrate items of interest that we have for sale, as well as commentary on trends, new flowers and anything that I think will be of interest to the floral professional.
Today we fling open the doors to our "Box Lots" site after months of trials, in conjunction with our "By-the-Bunch" shopping site. Remember, if you have nay questions about the site, questions concerning shpping, even questions about floral history, you can contact our "Chat" feature or call our on-line toll free telephone number. At Mayesh Wholesale we pride ourselves on being purveyors of fine flowers, rather than shipper s of boxes. In fact, every box that goes out to a customer is opened and checked for quality, and to ascertain that the contenst are correct.
On our site today we have a very extensive array of premium roses from top growers, as well as slections that represent greeat value for money. We also have a modiucm of other flowers that have unique attributes or are a welcome addition to the floral professional's palette. For instance, in the coolers today we have Nerines from Chile, which are available in White and Pink.
Mayesh always seeks out the latest in great new varieties, as demonstarted in this scintillating new yellow rose "Hot Merengue". If you do not see what you are looking for on Box Lots please call our Miami Shipping dept at to pre-order items: 866 332-7673So, may I be the first to say "Welcome" and I hope you come back to visit us many times and to use our site for business and information.

David Dahlson,


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