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Here in Eastern Ontario it doesn't feel like we had a Spring. It may not be accurate to say so but it feels like it snowed last week, and this week it is summer. In fact, it's currently a sunny 28 degrees and we probably need to install our air conditioning.

I'm not complaining. The warm weather is here, and this past weekend I was itching to be in a garden. Since I live in a lovely apartment above a store with deep windowsills (but no outdoor space) I visited the local greenhouse looking for some inspiration and ideas on what to grow indoors. 

I started by picking out some thai basil, parsley, and oregano. These can be a challenge to keep alive for very long on the windowsill (especially since I'll be making cuttings for my cooking!) but they will last quite well with a little maintenance, and it's just so lovely to have fresh herbs when making dinner.

For Christmas, my mom got me this cute growing kit that will soon sprout certified organic micro greens! 

They're still saran-wrapped to create a greenhouse-like environment for the seeds, and it will be great to have fresh basil and arugula micro-greens to eat.

I also picked up a Jade plant to add to my succulent collection, and though I know it grows best in an east-facing window, I'm hoping it will hold up in my north-facing windows...if it doesn't, I'll move it to the west facing windows where my herbs reside, which will surely do the trick.

I couldn't resist picking up this cute pre-planted hanging pot, I'm not 100% sure what it is, though some of these planters had air plants, I believe this is a succulent or cactus. I also planted a little collection of cacti! We had planted this one last summer but lost them over the holidays when we went home for a week, and turned off the heat....hopefully this year I'll be clever enough to think up a energy-saving solution that will also keep these little guys warm!

A spring refresh definitely boosts the spirits, and it genuinely feels wonderful to get your hands in the dirt.

On the topic of flowers, I was recently sent some information on the jewellery brand, Alex and Ani. I first heard of it at the Alberta Gift Fair I attended for work in February. It's got a back story that people are attracted to; being made in America and boosting the economy and general well-being in Rhode Island through charity and partnerships. I was interested to see that they have a floral collection that includes a marigold.

Marigolds are something I'm attached to, and will certainly be planting when I (one day) have a garden again. My mom has always planted marigolds, saving the seeds season-to-season, so they feel familiar and remind me of home. Orange is my favourite colour, it's the flower of my birth month, October, and was the flower I wanted to base my tattoo on. 

Alex and Ani says of their bangle:

"Marigold: the flower of the creative heart. Flaring with brilliant, fiery hues, the Marigold was a flower of medieval blessing, placed on doorways and believed to offer powerful protection. Associated with October, the Marigold promotes independence and the spread of creativity."

Which is really just a perfect description. If you're interested in this collection, you can purchase them at The Bay in Canada. 

I've definitely had flowers on the brain lately. I've spent some more time looking at flowers this year than usual, as I'm planning our wedding for August. I won't be going the route of super-trendy floral crowns (my look isn't really bohemian), but I will be putting together my own bouquet. I worked as a floral designer for years, and I can't really imagine letting anyone else do it!

Some images that have been inspiring to me:

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I haven't settled on exactly what I want the bouquets to look like, but one flower I plan to use for sure is a carnation. After my years spent working in a flower shop, I've felt that the carnation is an under-appreciated flower. People seem to have the idea that they are tacky. I couldn't disagree more; in my view any flower in its natural state can't be tacky (I'm side-eyeing you, neon-dyed roses) and it's all in how you use it that makes it work.

Appropriately, carnations in general are a symbolic flower that have to do with the bonds of affection. It is a symbol of health and energy, along with fascination and love. Of course as with any cultivated flower many meanings have been attached to the different colours. In Western culture, white carnations are said to represent pure love and good luck, so it is a wise choice for a wedding!

I have hesitated to blog about the wedding because in general, I don't think the world needs another wedding blog... but I thought I'd share a couple of details in the post, especially because they are topical! It is pretty all-consuming, but its fun to plan a wedding. I've always enjoyed a good party, and this is the biggest one I've ever planned! One aspect I'm very excited about is our venue.

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We're getting married at The Garden Path in Vankleek Hill. It's such a pretty spot for a wedding, with a wide variety of flowers and herbs growing to supply their all natural homemade soaps. They also grow milkweed and are a designated monarch butterfly waystation. Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall.

I'm sure to blog more about the wedding once it's happened, but for now that's all the details I'm willing to share!

Read more:

If you're interested in becoming a Monarch Waystation, learn more about it here.
If you're interested in Vankleek Hill or the Garden Path, check out this blog post.
Read the story of Alex and Ani here.
Want to know everything about the Dianthus caryophyllus (aka carnation)? Start here.
Want more wedding sneak peeks? Check out my pinterest account.

I've posted a blog on the LinkedIn blog platform for the first time! I think it's the right place for some of my more work-specific posts. I don't generally add someone on LinkedIn that I haven't worked with or that I don't know in real life, but I would love it if you would follow me on LinkedIn as I explore some of the tips and tricks I have learned managing social communities for various companies.

Read my first post here, which is about using IFTTT (If This Then That) in Social Media management.

Follow me on LinkedIn here.
I'm just going to put this out there first: I am a green thumb. If I put the effort in, it seems that I can grow any variety of plant without too great an effort. Keeping plants in the house has many benefits, not only for your decor, but they do help to keep air clean and improve overall health. Yes, there's some science behind that claim as well; plants can help reduce stress, make you feel better in general, while improving your ability to concentrate.

I recently passed some advice on to a friend and it has inspired this blog post.

What kind of plant should you get if you are a brown thumb?

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Now, I don't entirely believe anyone is a "brown thumb" (or a green thumb for that matter). I believe that taking care of plants is a learning curve like anything else, and until you have some experience with it, you can fail miserably. The first mistake I think most people make is using too much water; when the plant doesn't seem to be doing well, panic sets in and since all most people know how to do is water their plants, they go overboard and eventually drown the poor thing.

In this blog post I don't intend to give a complete course on keeping houseplants alive; there are too many varieties to profile here, and there's a houseplant that is right for every house and windowsill.

In this post I'm going to profile a single fool-proof plant variety that even the brownest of thumbs can maintain; the sansevieria trifasciata.

That name is difficult to pronounce so let's use it's common name, the snake plant, or Mother-in-Law's Tongue.
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The snake plant is a tropical variety native to West Africa from Nigeria east to the Congo. It is easy to find in stores in North America as they are often brought in with flats of various tropical plants in 11" pots. They are quite affordable to purchase and to me appear like over-sized blades of grass. In that sense, they are quite contemporary and stylish.

If you purchase a snake plant in a simple plastic pot, you will want to add a nice heavy pot as this plant can grow quite tall. Be sure to pick one that has drainage holes and a tray, allowing excess water to drain away.

A simple potting soil will do. If you prefer a more streamlined look, you can pot the snake plant directly into a planter with no hole at the bottom, but be sure to line the first two inches of the pot with pebbles and rocks, or even pieces of a broken pot, to allow the plant to drain properly.

The reason I recommend this plant is because it is virtually impossible to kill. The snake plant is incredibly tolerable to low light levels, so it can be placed in a room with no windows and only occasional lighting, such as a basement or bathroom. Of course It also has a very low water requirement, and in the winter months, only needs to be watered every couple of months. Like many plants, it will rot if over-watered, but that is easy enough to avoid. Just give it a half cup of water at a time, and no more. It will survive beautifully.

If you're really concerned about how much to water a plant, try a self-watering planter, which will take all the mystery out of it. Pictured at left is one I love for it's simple contemporary style. (Click the image to view on Amazon.)

I love that the snake plant is architectural and simple, it doesn't shed, and is completely care-free. But what makes it even more awesome? A study by NASA found that it is one of the best plants for improving indoor air quality by passively absorbing toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde.

Happy planting!
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