Friday, March 24, 2017

How to buy flowers online for Mother's Day

It's that time of year that it's traditional to spoil your mum with gratitude for all the things she does for you. If you're not going to be seeing your mum in person this Sunday for Mother's Day, you can at least send her a bunch of flowers to show you care. Organising that online couldn't be easier - so now you've no excuse to forget. Also see: How to make personalised cards online.

How to buy flowers online

• Open your web browser and search for 'flowers'. There are loads of choices, from Interflora and Serenata Flowers to eFlorist, Bunches, M&S, Next Flowers and even The latter might be a good choice if you want to send a personalised card at the same time, but you can choose whichever site you fancy.

• We've gone with Serenata Flowers because we've used it before, and because it has some good deals ahead of Mother's Day - especially with the 5% voucher code we found online. (Don't worry, your mum doesn't know that.)

• Choose a website and look at the bouquets on offer. If you don't know anything about choosing flowers, play it safe and go for one of the bestsellers. For example, Serenata Flowers is offering Aztec Sun as a bestseller at £24.99 with £5 off.

• Once you've chosen a bunch of flowers, just click on it to go to the product page. Now select what size bunch you want: Standard, Deluxe or Supersize. You'll have to pay a little more to get a bigger bunch - the Aztec Sun costs £29.98 for Deluxe or £34.98 for Supersize.

• If you want to send a teddy, balloon, box of chocolates, vase or other with your flowers, select an item below your choice of bouquet size.

• Now choose a date for your delivery. Right now Serenata Flowers is offering guaranteed free courier delivery on Sunday 26 March, meaning your flowers will arrive between 8am and 6pm, and you'll be informed of a one-hour delivery slot nearer the time.

• When you're happy with your choices choose Order Now.

• If you didn't choose an extra gift along with the flowers, you'll be prompted to do so now. You can select one of the options if you want to, or to skip just scroll down and choose 'Continue to checkout'.

• On the next screen enter your name, email address and phone number, then click Continue.

• You'll now be asked for your mum's name and address. Start typing the address or postcode into the field to get auto suggestions.

• Specify any special delivery instructions and select Mother's Day as the occasion, then enter a gift message. This can be printed on a free default card, or you can choose something more appropriate for £2.99.

• When you're done, click 'Continue to Payment Details'.

• Before you buy anything online it's a good idea to search for voucher codes online. We found a 5% off voucher for Serenata Flowers using the code EErd435QQ. To enter your voucher code click the voucher code link under your order details on the right side of the screen.

• Serenata Flowers accepts payment by Visa Electron, Switch, Solo, Mastercard and Maestro. Enter your card number, expiry date and security code, then click Pay. You should get an email receipt within a few minutes. And that's it - easy!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Quick tips: Woodland flowers

In today's Quick Tips, we're getting ready for spring, with how to photograph woodland flowers.

Local woodlands will soon be exhibiting signs of spring. One of the first flowers to bloom is the lesser celandine; its star-like blooms creating a vast yellow carpet on the forest floor. Snowdrops will also be present in some locations, their distinctive white heads bobbing in the breeze. Another firm favourite is the wood anemone whose white flower heads often have a pinkish tinge. This beautiful perennial grows in woods, hedgerows and upland meadows from March to May, but its scent is a little off-putting – the leaves give off a musky aroma earning it the alternative name ‘smell fox’.

All of these winter/spring flowers can be found and photographed with ease, but to make the most of the experience you need to consider a few things.

1.If the wind speed rises above 5mph it’s best not to attempt close-up shots of delicate blooms such as snowdrops and wood anemones. These are best captured on calm days, and when the light is bright but overcast.

2.Scissors, tweezers and a paintbrush can all come in handy when shooting plant portraits. Any dust, pollen or debris will stand out on pale petals, so save time with the cloning tool by removing any distractions early on.

3.Many woodland images are shot at ground level, so take a kneeling mat or wear waterproof trousers to keep comfortable and dry. You will also need a tripod with a central column that can be positioned horizontally (or a beanbag).

4.Reflectors and diffusers can be useful for controlling the light that falls on your subject, but it’s also worth experimenting with small portable lights and flash systems designed specifically for close-up work.

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.