Friday, January 6, 2017

Farmers making space for wild flowers

Modern farming has been devastating for most wild plants, from herbicides, fertilisers, drainage, and much more – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Mike and Nick Kettlewell farm some 400 acres in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds and have left wildflower margins beside fields and planted small copses.

They have converted arable land to grassland to encourage wild flowers to return, such as bee orchids and cowslips. Hedges are cut every three years and grow tall, rich in flowers and fruit, and new hedges planted with traditional species such as wild pear and crab apple.

Vine House Farm in the fenlands of Lincolnshire is an oasis of wild plants in a desert of intensive agriculture. Farmer Nicholas Watts was shocked at the numbers of birds that had disappeared on his land, so he planted native hedgerows. “Where possible we have planted two hedges, side by side, about ten yards apart, thus creating a fantastic wildlife corridor,” he said.

He stopped filling in dykes, hugely important for plants and wildlife, and field margins were left untouched to encourage arable weeds such as fat hen, willow weed and knotgrass. But the single biggest factor that boosted plant life was organic farming – herbicides had drastically reduced the number and diversity of both plants and insects.

In the Dales of Yorkshire, Lower Winskill Farm brought the return of typical meadow flowers by carefully controlling when the pastures are grazed. And on the Isle of Mull, an overgrazed farm cut the numbers of sheep and brought in a small herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle, all of which helped the return of wild flowers, including 15 species of orchids.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

​Flowers left in tribute to tram crash victims to be recycled for permanent memorial

Flowers left in memory of the Croydon tram crash victims will be recycled as compost that will become part of a permanent memorial.

Hundreds of floral tributes have been laid near the crash site in Addiscombe Road and in New Addington to remember the seven who died and those that were injured when the tram derailed on November 9.

Croydon Council announced that two permanent memorials will eventually be created, one in Sandilands and one in New Addington, once families have been spoken to about what sort of memorials they would like to see.

Signs have been placed by the temporary memorials letting residents know that staff will be "tending the flowers and will carefully and respectfully remove any that are wilting" to "preserve" them.

The signs add: "A compost made from the flowers will be added to the permanent memorial.

"Any other tributes that we remove will be kept safely by us."

The Advertiser has approached the council to find out more details about where the tributes are being stored.

A net is covering the New Addington flowers, in Central Parade, to protect them.

Over the last two weeks, the funerals have been held for the tram crash victims, with five of them being from the estate.

The Advertiser was invited to cover the send-offs for Headley Drive resident Philip Logan and Queen Elizabeth's Drive resident Philip Seary, who both left behind huge, loving families and groups of friends.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Shark Tank: Eco Flower Accepts Offer from Daymond John for $400,000

First into the tank is Meagan Bowman of Eco Flower, seeking $400,000 for 10 percent equity.

Eco Flower offers bouquets made out of wood flowers. According to their website, watching “Shark Tank” inspired the founder to chase the American Dream. “Eco Flower uses recycled and sustainable materials for flower bouquets and miscellaneous home decor. We create flowers from sola wood, birch wood, denim, pine cones, burlap, old novels, used music sheets, jewelry and many other materials that are great for our planet. Each item is handmade and made unique for you.” Their current offerings include scents like Japanese Cherry Blossom, Black Raspberry Vanilla and Strawberry Lemonade. Some bouquet offerings include “Great Gatsby,” “Southern Belle,” “Banana Pancakes” and “P.S. I Love You.” They also offer home decor, flower assortments and subscription boxes.

The sharks are immediately impressed by their beauty and scents, however, Robert Herjavec wonders if women would actually be impressed to receive faux flowers. Barbara Corcoran thinks it lacks sensitivity, and both she and Lori Greiner agree that they would prefer real flowers. Lifetime sales are $2.8 million, made through their website.

Greiner says she has a lot of competition, while Kevin O’Leary believes the wedding industry is not set up for faux flowers. She has, however, made a significant dent in the wedding industry after launching a line of bridal bouquets. One investor already has 25 percent equity in the business, while two others have 50 percent.

O’Leary and Herjavec are concerned over her lack of equity, but she hopes to eventually transfer her current technology investors out. Herjavec can’t get past her lack of ownership and goes out, followed by Corcoran. Mark Cuban commends her efforts but given that it’s not his area of expertise, goes out. Greiner believes there’s already too much competition and goes out, followed by O’Leary. Daymond John offers $400,000 for 25 percent, with the hopes of eventually buying her current investors out.

She counters 20 percent, which he accepts.

Each week on “Shark Tank,” budding entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pitch their emerging business to six multi-millionaire and billionaire investors, known as sharks: Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks; Daymond John, fashion mogul and founder of FUBU; Kevin O’Leary, self-proclaimed Mr. Wonderful and founder of O’Leary Financial Group; Barbara Corcoran, real estate maven; Lori Greiner, queen of QVC; and Robert Herjavec, technology guru and founder/CEO of the Herjavec Group. Venture capitalist Chris Sacca is also slated to appear as a guest shark this season.

“Shark Tank,” which is based on “Dragons’ Den,” is produced by Mark Burnett and first debuted in 2009. To date, the sharks have invested more than $87 million in various companies after engaging in numerous bidding wars and shark fights. A new episode airs each Friday at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Friday, October 7, 2016

How To Arrange Flowers: 3 Easy Ways To Fix Florals Like A Pro

Arranging flowers for a special occasion is a job we usually save for a professional florist, because you could never do a better job yourself, right? Wrong.

Learning how to arrange flowers (and making them look seriously high-end) isn't hard. It just takes a few flourishes, some professional tips and tricks, and in no time you'll be taking your average flower arrangement from basic to boom. Those last-minute purchase M&S blooms will look Insta-luxe.

We spoke to the team at trendy East London florists Rebel Rebel about how to arrange flowers at home, and got the lowdown on how to achieve gorgeous, professional-looking floral arrangements without having the word ‘floristry’ on your listed CV skills. Rebel Rebel have the likes of BAFTA, Selfridges, Nike, Tate and Stella McCartney on their client list, so, yep, they know their stuff.

From tying a chic bouquet for your BFF’s birthday to arranging flowers in a vase, check out our video for three easy ways to arrange flowers like a pro. Plus, here are Rebel Rebel's top tips to help you get the absolute most from your floral efforts...

1. Take your time...

'Don't cut stems short at first - you can't make them longer again! And remember foliage is just as important as flowers - it's not just a filler.’

2. Show your blooms some love...

‘Make sure they have lots of cool water and that they can drink it. Cut all stems with sharp scissors or a knife, at an oblique angle. Woody stems should also be split at the base.

3. Think like a chef...

'Choose a good mix of sizes and shapes: spiky, round, long and slim, and a variety of foliage.  And buy the flowers like you're choosing ingredients for a great meal, so make sure the flowers are good quality, fresh and preferably seasonal.'

4. Keep things local...

'Buy your flowers from a local busy florist, or flower stall who has a good turnover so flowers are always fresh.'

5. Think vintage...

'Car boot sales and charity shops can be good for finding vases and pots for your arrangements. eBay can be great too, but be careful to check the size of the vase. You can come a cropper. We have!'

6. Think outside the box...

'There are no rules when it comes to choosing flowers. Just make sure they are fresh. And watch out for anything poisonous if you have cats or small children.'

7. Rock your own style...

'Make your own trend when arranging the blooms. Be a Rebel!'

Don't forget to stock up on brown paper and string if you're presenting your flowers as a gift (the Post Office is a safe and cheaper bet), and invest in a good quality pair of scissors to ensure your stems are cut cleanly. A bit of creativity, and you're well on your way to become a green-fingered goddess.