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Weekly Green Tip – “Fitness for Flowers”

August 22, 2013 - Executive Director, Latest

I was recently handed a slim volume called “Fitness for Flowers” with the subtitle of “How to make cut flowers and foliage last longer.”  While at Irvine we do not allow the cutting of flowers much less any native flora, we do recognize that many of our friends and members have a passion for horticulture clearly evident in their home gardens in and around Baltimore; I have personally visited some and can vouch for the level of accomplishment found in these hidden gems!

With our annual Native Plants Seminar and Sale this weekend here at Irvine, I thought it appropriate to review and recommend Mrs. Jeanne Baetjer’s lovely book.  Not only is she an accomplished hortaculturalist and author, but she is also a trustee emerita and valued benefactor of Irvine since its founding in 1975.  Allow me to thank Mrs. Baetjer personally for her dedication to Irvine and its mission.

Broken into chapters, Mrs. Baetjer first provides the reader with her personal insights and useful tidbits on the care and arrangement of cut flowers, including this one: “All green arrangements which are long-lasting benefit from a few drops of Clorox in the water.  It keeps the water oderless; it helops deter bacteria, thus helping the greens stay fresh”(p.4).  She continues in the second chapter with tips on cutting flowers that is followed with brief descriptions or suggestions for over a hundred different plants like this one on the begonia, “Split stem; put in 1 teaspoon salt to one quart of water; mist blooms”(p. 8). 

The third chapter gives tree vines and shrubs similar attention, never failing to provide both common and Latin names.  And in the fourth and final chapter, she addresses the perennially challenging topic of wildflowers with the caveat, “never pick wild flowers without having a reliable guidebook” since you need to avoid protected species and/or protected areas.  I would echo her statement by adding that according to Leave No Trace, we should avoid picking any wildflowers, regardless of status or location.  This allows for not only others to enjoy the same flower but also helps to propogate the species by allowing it to seed.  Futhermore, our wildflowers provide birds and insects with valuable food sources while being polinated. 

Mrs. Baetjer concludes her book with a thorough index of plant names to make navigating this volume easy.  As a novice gardener, I found her infomation useful and digestable.  If you are interested in acquiring a copy, please contact us here at Irvine by emailing our store manager, Linda Jaconson, at or our Director of Marketing, Beth Lacey Gill, at  All proceeds of the book go to our environmental education programs, and it is printed on recycled paper.  The cost is only $9.00 – a bargain to say the least.