Friday, October 31, 2014

The World's Deadliest Garden

It's Hallowe'en today, so in honour of our spooky holiday we present to you the World's Deadliest Garden. A section of the Alnwick Garden in north England holds this distinction and is in fact so deadly that it is only toured under the watchful eye of a guide. Behind its iron gates are a collection of 100 plants that are highly toxic or even downright deadly.

 The main garden of Alnwick Castle is a delightful oasis full of fragrant roses, fountains and lovely topiaries as would befit any tranquil English country seat. (You may recognize the castle: it was the setting for Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films). The Duchess of Northumberland decided in 1996 to redo the 14 acres of castle gardens and hired renowned landscape designer Jacques Wirtz.The decision was made to include something very unique—a poison garden, similar to the infamous Medici gardens in Italy. Her request was that each of the plants selected for the Poison Garden had to have a unique and intriguing story. Today the Alnwick Gardens are one of North England's most popular tourist destinations with over 600 visitors a year.

There are so many toxic plants growing in the Poison Garden that visitors are told not to smell, touch or taste any of them. Despite this, a few visitors have fainted just from inhaling fumes from some plants while passing by.

Lily of the Valley

Visitors are most surprised to learn how many common plants growing in home gardens and backyards are toxic, including laurel, lily-of-the-valley, oleander, rhododendron and even apples.
Laurel hedges, for example, can emit toxic fumes that can induce a sleepy state. Lily-of-the-valley with its sweet scent and lovely flowers contains convallitoxin which can cause headaches, hot flashes, hallucinations, swollen hands, and increased heart contractions.


Rhododendron can cause extreme nausea, watery eyes, drooling, comas, seizures and even death. Oleander can cause fatal heart attacks, comas, nausea, and vomiting. Eating too many apple seeds can also make you seriously ill as they can cause a form of cyanide poisoning.  

Angel's Trumpet
There are other even more deadly plants in the Poison Garden, that are less well known. Angel's Trumpet, for example, grows wild in South America.The plant has beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers and fragrant scent but is incredibly toxic, especially its leaves and seeds. Even the pollen can have effects; apparently some Victorian ladies kept a flower on their card tables and add small bits of pollen to their tea to enjoy an "LSD-like" intoxication. In larger does, however, ingestion can cause diarrhea, migraines, paralysis or even death.

If you travel to Alnwick, visit the Poison Garden if you dare! Beware these spooky plants and their deadly potential (but still have fun..!) Happy Hallowe'en!

Poison Garden photos courtesy of Margaret Whittaker

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sympathy Flowers and How to Help with Grief

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult processes anyone has to endure. Facing death is never easy, and sometimes we don't know what to say or do to best express our sympathy even though we want to help. The support of family and friends is crucial to healing and recovery. 

Here are a few tips on how to express sympathy and provide support during loss or grief. 

Peaceful White Lilies Funeral Flowers

Send a message, card, funeral flowers, sympathy flowers, a memorial wreath, a headstone spray, or a sympathy basket. 

Include a note that expresses your condolences. The note doesn't have to be long and elaborate. If your words come from the heart they will be well received. 

Make yourself available. Make sure that the grieving person knows you are there, and truly listen if they wish to talk. Remind them that they are loved and cared about. 

Remember that grief doesn't end at the funeral—holidays or other special occasions may be difficult for the grieving person, so reach out them them then too if you can.

Offer practical help. Offer to do simple chores such as cutting the grass, getting some groceries, walking the dog, or tidying the house. Prepare a comforting meal if you think the grieving person may not be eating well. Help with paperwork or funeral tasks such as writing an obituary or calling to post it, if that is practical. Offer to help make phone calls or otherwise spread the word as to funeral arrangements if you think that would help.

Share the Grief, and Honour the Life. Perhaps you can help by setting up a memorial website as a tribute to the person who passed away. The demonstrations of love and remembrance can help those grieving to cope and heal. You could also collect photos, or create a memory book or a memory box. Attend the funeral or memorial service if possible so that you show you care.

Your support could make all the difference in helping someone cope with loss.

Garden Wreath Memorial Flowers
Your Light Shines Sympathy Flowers

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bloomex Thanksgiving Contest WINNERS

The winning entries have been selected! This year Bloomex announced that it would host a Thanksgiving contest open to all residents of Canada (click to read more about the contest). 

Entrants were encouraged to write a short note to the company to share what they are thankful for this year. Two winners were to be selected, with each winning a $50 gift card from Bloomex!

Although Bloomex received several interesting and enjoyable entries, the panel had to narrow it down to just two winners. A big thank you is expressed to all those who entered. We look forward to reading more entries next year. And stay tuned for our next fun contest!

Here are the two winning entries. It's always good to take a moment and reflect on the things we appreciate in our lives, and these ladies proved they are good at doing just that. Many thanks to both Sylvia and Jessica. We hope you enjoy your gift cards from Bloomex! 

Winning Entry from Sylvia G., of Mississauga, Ontario: 

I am thankful for all the companies that offer contests for us consumers to win. They help simple people like us experience stuff we would not get to do otherwise. One year I was fortunate enough to win a 1 year supply of Nestle Chocolate Bars. That year my kids were extremely popular at school, as we gave away chocolate bars by the handful. Then there was the time we won a trip for 4 to see the Polar Bears in Churchill, MB. It was a trip of a lifetime, with memories to last forever. Who cannot be thankful for all the bounty in Canada and the wonderful people one meets when out and about.  I am thankful for the fact that I am able to speak to someone from Russia, Germany, France, Israel, Asia, Australia and Africa, just by walking out my front door and going to the mall. It is as if there is a mini world right here. I am thankful for Google that allows me to search for anything and everything and I am thankful for You Tube that helps keep me entertained even as I work on my computer.  I am thankful for big business and small, all of which are always bringing new products to the market that help make my life convenient. I could go on forever about how appreciative I am to be living at this moment in time when technology has improved our lives considerably, when flicking a switch or touching a button or screen brings you entertainment from around the globe. I am thankful for life itself!!!

Winning Entry from Jessica W. :

As I'm sure many will say, I am thankful for my family. I have been so blessed to have the most amazing, caring and over-the-top parents. Growing up I spent a lot of time in hospital and my parents were there with me every single day, my mother even slept on a tiny couch at my bedside for nearly 6 weeks. Imagine not sleeping in your own bed for 6 weeks? While living off hospital food... she's a keeper!
Aside from the hard times my parents have been mine and my sister's number 1 fans, they devoted their evenings and weekends to our endless hockey games, tournaments and practices, no matter what the weather.
They have supported both my sister and me through everything, including my 6 years of post secondary schooling (and still going). No matter what, my parents have always been there and have always had our backs, they've been there to lift us up at the worst of moments but they have also been there for the happiest of times.

Now as we are about to enter a new chapter in our lives as a sister is pregnant and due in January with the first grandchild! I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me and my amazing family. They truly mean the world to me and because of them I have been able to overcome so much. I owe so much to them, more than they will ever know.I could easily write a novel about all the amazing things my parents do and why I am ever grateful for them. They are my rock.

With that, again, I am thankful for my family who can make light of any situation and who have helped shape the person I am today and the person I hope to be.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Bloomex Supports Canadian Breast Cancer Research

Lilies For Hope Bouquet 
Bloomex is proud to announce their support for Canadian Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a special Pink Ribbon Collection of bouquets.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. In Canada, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women. In 2014, an estimated 24,400 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,000 will die from it. One in nine women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime (by age 90) and 1 in 29 will die from it. Men are also diagnosed: it is expected that 210 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 60 will die from it (statistics courtesy of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada).

The good news is that research is leading to better outcomes. Thanks to improvements in screening, detection and treatment the five year survival rate for men is 80%, and for women it is 88%. Every dollar raised makes a difference.

Bloomex is proud to support the research and care initiative by creating a special Pink Ribbon Collection. The collection consists of four bouquets of varied pink flowers: Shades of Pink Ribbon, Lilies for Hope, Fresh Lilies, and Pink Passion. A portion of the proceeds from each sale (from $2 to $5 depending on your selection) of these bouquets will go directly to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Bloomex is hoping that with public support the company can provide a significant contribution toward helping those with breast cancer. Thank you for your support!
To read more about this, please visit the Pink Ribbon Collection Press Release.

Shades of Pink Ribbon

Fresh Lilies Bouquet

Pink Passion Bouquet

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Top 5 Thanksgiving Hostess Gifts

Thanksgiving is fast approaching in Canada, and traditionally, this means visiting with friends and family and sitting down to a yummy turkey dinner with all the trimmings. 

If you are lucky enough to be invited to someone's home for this Thanksgiving (or at any time of year) it's traditional etiquette to bring a gift of some kind, rather than showing up empty-handed. The host or hostess was kind enough to invite you and has gone to considerable time and effort preparing their home and the meal. If you are invited to a dinner party, a special event, or especially if invited to an overnight stay, presenting a gift upon arrival is the way to go. But what to bring?

Gift giving may have cultural considerations, but generally you can't go wrong with edible gifts of fairly mainstream food selections. You might want to ensure that your hosts enjoy sweets or chocolate, and if not, then go for other foods. And of course, the safest and loveliest gift is flowers or plants. Flowers are pretty much universally accepted gifts that are sure to be appreciated by your hosts.  For holiday events, it's an even nicer gesture if you can keep your selection in keeping with the season. 

Here are some top ideas for Thanksgiving host/hostess gifts, that are easy to bring and also easy on your wallet:

1. Gourmet Collection 1 Gift Basket 
This is one of the best deals around, featuring an assortment of decadent treats such as chocolate, tea, coffee, cheeses, nuts, seafood, crackers, all attractively packaged for you. It's also on sale for half price, which makes it all the more attractive! For only $25.00 you have a fantastic gift that is sure to please, and you can arrive guilt-free. 

2.Chocolate & Cookie Lover Gift Basket
Your hosts are sure to appreciate a sweet treat that they can enjoy after the guests go home! If you know that they eat sweets then this is an excellent choice and great bang for your buck at only $39.99.

3.Golden Days Basket 
 This is the perfect choice for any Thanksgiving or fall event! This is a perfectly presented basket full of fall flowers that will lend instant autumn beauty to any home...and it's only $39.99, though it looks twice the price! Absolutely gorgeous! 

4. Burst of Autumn Bouquet 
This is a vibrant mix of spectacular fall flowers, specially designed for the season. Your hosts are going to love this as it is sure to give any table a designer look! (And it looks way more expensive than it's price tag, which is only $29.99!)

5. Autumn Gerberas
Bring some vivid gerbera daisies in this vibrant fall flower arrangement, and make your hosts smile as soon as you arrive! This is another great deal at only $39.95, regularly $59.95...which saves you an extra twenty bucks because it is ON SALE for Thanksgiving! 

Presto! Your host or hostess gift is taken care of, and you didn't have to spend much to make an excellent impression (and be invited back again!). 

Happy Thanksgiving!