Despite all the festivity of the recent holiday season, the one area that I was remiss on was fresh flowers. Normally, the house is bursting with flowers for each of the holiday dinners, Christmas Eve, etc. but for some reason I just couldnâ€™t get it together last month. Exhaustion, too much cooking, blogging and entertaining meant that a late night trip to Dimasalang was just not in the cards. I had intended to go at least two times, but passed out hours before the ideal departure time (normally I try to get there around 10 to 11 pm on a Thursday, which I find is the BEST time to shop there). Actually, in retrospect, last year was a very low flower consumption year. I can tell because I have budgets for this kind of non-essential expenditureâ€¦ But not to worry, the year wasnâ€™t over yet and I intended to make up for the flower “drought” of sorts. The night before we left for Batangas, I drove off to the wholesale flower market, practicing my “magkano dito” line with a minimum of the accent that would likely increase the prices two-fold, and brought home more than a typical flower shop in the Metro Manila area would purchase for a weekâ€¦
The flower bounty was for several reasons. First and foremost, Mrs. Marketman and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary two days later at the beach. We have been married over a bakerâ€™s dozen years, and in this day and age of supermarket check-in and check-out unions, I think that is something to celebrate big time. We also had several guests, friends and houseguests over the next week so it would be useful to gussy up the house. So what was in the midnight haul from Dimasalang? Around 40 dozen long-stemmed roses, of which roughly 30 dozen were Baccarat Red (almost black tipped, deep, deep red roses that are stunning when massed together), 6 dozen peach or apricot roses, and 4 dozen white roses (the kid placed an order for me to buy on her behalf, using her money). I also got 10 long-stemmed white Asiatic lilies with around 3-4 large blooms each (most of the blooms were still closed on purchase) and 20 stems of lisianthusâ€¦
Lisianthus are a spectacular, hardy and versatile flower. A quick internet search yielded some interesting information on this flower. A native to prairies from Colorado to Nebraska, they are the quintessential summer wedding flower that puts up with the heat well and looks like voluptuous, double petaled roses. Go to this link and this link for additional detailed information. I first noticed the lisianthus in Manila about 3 years ago while checking out the cold rooms of Puentespina or Waling Waling Orchids, a wholesale supplier that I frequent. But the growers seem to have really hit their stride and this year there was lisianthus suddenly up the wazoo at the markets. In spectacular shades of purple, blue, lavender, pink, white and a pale green, these flowers are also known as a Texas bluebell (ever heard that term before? I had but had no idea what they were!). I predict these flowers will make a big impact on wedding arrangements in the years to come. In fact, one of MMâ€™s regular readers recently emailed asking about the flowers while I had this spectacular bunch sitting out at our beach houseâ€¦
Up top is a simple bouquet of perhaps 20 lisianthus stems in a pale green color. They had lots of shades available, but I wanted a whitish feel for the living area of the house. As the days wore on, all of the blooms opened up and the bouquet was a fully packed vase of really good looking flowers. They didnâ€™t have much fragrance, but thatâ€™s okay, they looked terrific. To keep them lively, change the water in the vase everyday (and add flower food if you have it) and cut a Â½ inch piece of stem from the base with a very sharp knife. Our flowers lasted an entire week at the beach and would have lasted another 2-3 days more. In addition to the lisianthus, I also got the white lilies that are photographed here. One of my favorite flowers of all times are white Casablanca lilies. You rarely find real Casablancas here in Manila, but these white Asiatic lilies are a close substitute. They also last an incredibly long time (at least a week) if you treat them well, change their water and clip the stems and they have the added bonus of an incredibly strong aroma/fragrance. I like to remove the red stamens(?) before they ripen so that they donâ€™t stain anything around, including your guests’ clothing. They were perfect for the center of the living room which has glass doors on almost all sides so the fragrance was noticeable but not overwhelming, it wafted in and out with the breeze. This photo here was taken later in the holiday and outdoorsâ€¦I had already cut the stems back several times so the arrangement is tighter as opposed to a more spread out feel earlier in the week. The lilies shared a room with the lisianthus and a low bowl of discarded white roses from The Kid’s purchase.
Finally, the roses were used in several arrangements. Tight short centerpieces for the dining table that used up roughly 12 dozen red roses, buffet table arrangements in wine buckets that used up say another 8 dozen roses, stand-alone arrangements in other parts of the house and single blooms in the bathrooms. The six dozen peach roses were massed in one large vase in the Master’s bedroom. And the cost of all this floral excess? Less than the cost of a large arrangement from one of the more chi-chi Makati florists, delivered wrapped in fancy raffia or waterproof cellophane. Now that sounds like a good deal to meâ€¦ Oh, and I almost forgot, the Kid picked the finest stems from the four dozen white roses she ordered, and placed one rose for every year her parents were married in a vase, that she gave to us the morning of our anniversary together with a home made card. Now THAT, is PRICELESS.