Thursday, August 19, 2010

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 31

Today's Challenge ~ Plan the next steps for your blog.

    With all that I have learned over the last 31 days I feel confident that I have built a better blog.  Now I just have to apply all that I learned.

Today our task was to plan the next steps for our blog.  How we were going to apply what we had learned and follow through.  Here is what I have come up with.

  • This home page will become a virtual newsletter of sorts.  A newsletter will be posted weekly linking to the other sections of the blog.  This will give my readers one central location to find out the goings on for all of the blogs.  This way they can go and read the posts that interest them.  I will also use this page for breaking news and discussions.
  • I want to have more series of posts like this one and like our plant care guide.  This will engage the readers and keep them coming back for more. 
  • I will set up a blog schedule with each blog getting at attention each week.  With the busy holiday time ahead it may be just one post.  The idea is to keep the topics and pages looking fresh for our readers.
  • I will continue to use analytics to monitor and improve my blog.  This will be done monthly.
  • Monthly I will also be checking for dead links and adding links to older posts.  This will help with my SEO ratings and keep the blog up to date.
  • As I post topics that are what I consider "hot topics" I will use stumbleupon and digg to get the word out to others.
  • I would like to reply to readers every morning.  As the blog grows in popularity I may have to save this task for a specific day.  
  • I want to continue to learn and grow.  This means keeping in touch with my SITS friends and exploring new sites that will help me grow my blog.
Well this is it, the final 31 day post.  I can't believe it's been 31 days.  I am proud to have finished the challenge and invite all who are interested to try to do the same.  Here is a link to a recap on SITS that will help you follow the challenge. 

Have fun and happy blogging!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 30

Today's Challenge ~ Statistics to Monitor your blog.

Statistics are an important part of blogging.  You can see where your readers are coming from and once they get to your page how long they stay.  You can track your most popular posts and even a bit about who is reading them.

I use Google Analytics to monitor my blogs and I am pleased with the results.  I like to spend a little time each week looking at how many visitors, how they found me, and what they read.  Then I can look at the successful posts and see how I can duplicate that with a new topic.  

I know right now my numbers are not huge but they still have a huge meaning.  Also the challenge reminded us to focus on ways to improve the numbers and set goals to do so.  

This challenge has actually helped to increase interest in my blog.  I can now see what has worked and what has not.  This will help me make the blog more successful in the future.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 29

Today's Challenge ~ Promote your blog.

It is important to set time each day or week to find ways to promote your blog.  We discussed on Day 4 how to promote single posts.  Looking back on this day the ideas are similar but a little more in depth.  

We were to spend 10 - 15 minutes figuring out who are desired readers were.  For me they are as follows:
  • Flower Lovers
  • Our Shoppers
  • Our Friends
  • Other Shop Owners
  • Anyone looking to order flowers
  • Anyone looking for plant & flower care tips
We needed to figure out where our desired readers were gathering online.  I would say the majority of my readers are the facebook type of folks.  They want to stay in touch with friends and family.  Most are looking to network and build relationships.  

We then had to figure out how we can promote our blog on those type of sites.  For me it is leaving links, talking it up to our fans, and letting my customers know about not only my blog but my facebook page.  At work we have our facebook page on the back of every business care, we also ask customers to review us there.  These are all great ways to promote the blog.  I will be looking at more ways in the future as well.  

Sunday, August 15, 2010

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 28

Today's Task ~ Write a Review Post
I have not yet had the opportunity to write a review post, thought I have read many.  I like the idea of testing a product, service, or even just watching a movie and telling others what I have to say.  I do it in my everyday life when I come across something I like or dislike.  Why not put the pen to paper, or in this case fingers to the keyboard and give it a go.

31 Days to Build a Better Blog.  By: Darren Rowse

As many of your know I have been following an e-book by Darren Rowse.  This book is designed to take you step by step, in 31 days, to better blogging.  As of day 28 this book has delivered on it's promises. 

When I first started out with my blog I really did not know what direction I was going to take it.  I knew it would be a little about the family, a little about me, but mostly about our flower shop.  One night while surfing the web I came across a challenge.  I am always up for a new challenge so I decided to check it out.  The gals over at SITS were about to embark on a 31 day journey to better blogging.  I joined up with the group, grabbed my notebook, and a cup of coffee, and here I am on day 28.

What I have Loved: 
     I love the fact that it is broken up into daily challenges.  I have wanted to improve my blog but had no idea where to start and always felt overwhelmed when learning about it.  This was a one day at a time stadegey and I could see the results at day 1.  When you have a family, own your own business, and so much more you need daily tasks.  This really did help me keep it all in perspective.
     I also loved that each day he told you not only what you were doing but why you were doing it.  Whenever I train someone I always explain to them why what they are doing is important.  There is nothing like telling someone "cut flowers under water" and walking away.  When they go to do it next time it may just seem silly and they could skip it.  If I take the time to explain why they are doing it then they will be more likely to remember it and do it on their own next time.
     He kept the tech speak to a minimum.  I am a novice at blogging and I have dabbled with HTML in the past.  I will be the first to admit, if it sounds hard I will not even attempt, it will go back on my list.  Some of the tasks were a little more advanced then others, but once I understood why I was doing it I took the time to learn.  
    I also loved that it was not specific to one type of blog.  I did not feel like I was reading a book dedicated to making money on my blog or blogging to a mass of readers.  This let me feel like I was growing at my own pace.  I could concentrate more on tasks that I felt would help me the most.  Two that I use the most, and plan to for a long time, are days 11 and 12.  Coming up with post ideas and writing a schedule for them.

A few things I did not Love:  
     We all have them, and here are mine.
     There were a few days that I thought maybe too much information was given for a single day, an example of that would be day 6.  This day was a list of 21 must read tips.  Well on day 6 I did not have time to read 21 tips, and I must say that I have not been back to do this.  I understand though that the information is right there waiting for me and I should go back and read them all, one day at a time.  
     I also was not a big fan of Day 15 ~ Find a Blog Buddy.  This is not because I am anti-social.  It is because finding a florist blogger with an active blog is just HARD.  I have looked and only found a handful.  I am also aware that the life of a small business owner is fast paced and full of things to do.  I am still a little hesetant at reaching out to the few that I have found.  Again this is not a bad mark on the book by any means.  Plenty of fellow challenge users have found a buddy and it looks like it is working well for them.

Well as you saw this is my first review.  Since I am a florist I think I will use a flower scale to show how much I like things I review.  We will say 1 to 5 flowers to keep it simple.  

I give "31 Days to Build a Better Blog" by Darren Rowse 4 Flowers out of 5.

I would recommend this book to:  A
nyone who wants to improve their blog, learn about blogging, or just wants a good challenge.  

You can pick up a copy of this e-book at : Problogger and while you are there take a look around their site.  It has page after page of useful information.  

By the way, thank you Darren for writing this guide that helped me to build a better blog and for all my friends at SITS for cheering me on along the way.  I may not have stayed this motivated without all of you.  

And this post proves that I paid attention on Day 7!

You can see all the days of this journey here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

31 Day blog challenge ~ Day 27

Today's Task ~ Hunt for Dead Links. 

Because our blog is very new I am pretty confident that the links work the way they did when I set them up.  It is a good idea for everyone to check for dead links on a monthly basis or even more regular if your blog contains lots of links to different places. 

I have written several link posts since the challenge suggested this and we will have to follow up on those links over time.

Dead links can make your blog look out of date.  This can harm your reputation as a Go-To blogger.  It may even harm your SEO rating with search engines.  There are a wealth of free sites that search for dead links.  When we go out to do our hunt we will probably be using either or Xenu's Link Sleuth.

I hope that you are enjoying the challenge so far and have learned as much along the way as I have.

Friday, August 13, 2010

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 26

Today's Challenge ~ Improve Another Blog

Helping another blogger can help your blog as well.  Leaving constructive comments can help them by giving them ideas or future topics.  They may also allow you to guest post for them, this would increase your readers and theirs as well.  You could also email them ideas or topics that you would like them to discuss.

When you help another blogger it can have a positive effect on your blog as well.  You may gain new readers when they see the comments and feedback you have left.  

I have been building a relationship with the author of Smile Blog.  She is a fellow blogger in my niche that I enjoy reading.  She has been a wonderful resource for my shop and the ladies that work with me.  I have left comments in the past and discussed a few topics on facebook.  I look forward to working with her more in the future.  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 25

Today's Challenge ~ Ask your reader a question.

I have tried this a couple of times on my blog.  We love to hear from our readers, it makes our day to see them engaged in conversation.  

We post questions to Facebook and Twitter as well to see what our readers think about different topics.  Today we will post a few questions here for our 31 day blogging friends.

1.  What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned over the past 25 days?

2.  Do you feel that your knowledge of blogging has grown due to the challenge?

3.  Have you seen an increase in traffic and readership to your blog since the challenge has begun?

4.  What great blogs have you found because of the challenge?

5.  What one thing will you continue to do to improve your blog after the challenge has ended?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 24

Today's Challenge ~ Find inspiration from a magazine.

Well I love flipping through flower, wedding, and business magazines so today's challenge was a lot of fun.

I looked through magazines to see what caught my attention, what colors and shades were in effect, and what marketing ideas they use to draw you in.

I draw inspiration from magazines in my day to day work and also  for ideas for our blog.  I have written several articles on funerals and plant care because of articles I have read recently on each.

I still have much to learn. I know that looking for inspiration in many different places will give me a wealth of ideas to choose from.

I can not believe we are this close to the end of the challenge.  I am thrilled to have participated and feel I have come a long way.

We Can Do That Wednesday ~ World Wide Shipping

Did you know that we can now ship your gift selection world wide?  Have you ever wanted to send one of our gift baskets, wreaths, or cute containers to someone who lives far away?  Well now we can!

How it works: Simply select a gift from our shop.  We will then pack and ship your item using USPS or UPS to the person of your choice.  We can even have you fill out one of our enclosure cards to send along with your gift.

We will calculate the shipping for you and add a small service fee for our packing materials. 

This is a wonderful way to surprise someone on their birthday, anniversary, or just because.  Don't forget we can also send flowers and plants across town or across the globe. 

Stop on in and see what we can do for you today.  Our fall wreaths are up and ready for your choosing.  What a wonderful way to brighten someones day.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top 5 Selling Blooming Outdoor Plants

How does your garden grow?  Here is a great list for beginning gardeners.  These are the top 5 outdoor plants that even a novice can grow and enjoy.

Hosta ~ We find that a hosta is beautiful in bloom and out.  The foliage of these plants will grow full and thick and has some beautiful color to it. Hosta plants grow best when they can get a good dose of shade.  You will find the foliage has better and brighter color if it can get enough shade.  Make sure they have plenty of water and nice drainage so that they do not sit in the water.  If you remove the stalk when the bloom is gone you will get the best results.  This helps the rest of the plant receive more nutrients.  In the fall remove the leaves as they die off.  This will prevent pests from making them into a snack and harming your plant.

Peony- They grow on beautiful bushes in the spring, this may be the way we know them best.  If you love big fragarent blooms Peony might just be for you.  Peony plants love well drained soil and plenty of sun.  Full sun is best but if your area is prone to excessive heat, a little shade would suit this plant just fine.  Because the blooms are large and heavy it is best to support your plants with stakes or cages.  These will help them grow taller and stronger.  You will not need to divide these plants like you do most perennials.

Siberian Iris ~ This brand of Iris grows best in well drained, moist soil.  The first year that your iris is in the ground you may not see much growth.  You will see better results over the next couple of years, as you see over to the left they are worth the wait.  They are easy to care for after the first year but they do like a weekly watering, or more in dry periods.  They will grow tall so you may want to plant them towards the back of your garden plot.

Lotus Corniculatus ~ If you are looking for a beautiful filler for between paving stones or other plants these are the flowers for you.  These plants can grow in good sun or in a shady patch.  Corniculatus do not mind what they eat, they can even grow well in poor soil.  This plant will add a lot of color to your walks, yard, and garden.  

Daylily ~ If you are looking for a plant that can withstand dry, shade but will thrive in sunlight.  This beautiful lily will surprise you day after day with beautiful blooms.  The blooms only come out during the day so do not worry when it dies away in the evenings.  

We hope that this article helps you pick the perfect plant for your garden.  

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 23

Today's Challenge ~ Call to action.

Our challenge today was to write a post to call our readers to action.  This could be done in several ways.  Ask for comments, make a poll, ask readers to follow you, suggest a product, or a long list of others.

What I realized is we do this a lot in our blogs.  Some of our recent posts in this challenge has been to ask for feedback and comments.  We have even asked our customers to support a local charity and support local businesses.

I love to get readers involved in our blog.  This is the way, I feel, you form a true bond and get them to open up to what they want to see and do here.

So loyal readers ~ Tell me ~ How do you get readers to open up to you on your blogs?  What has worked well in the past?  Feel free to leave links so that we can all see what you have done.

I am officially calling you to action!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Memorial Ideas for After the Services

We often have customers that want to find a way to pay tribute to a loved one even after the service is over.

A few ways to do this are to purchase a Grave Saddle or Side Piece that can be displayed at the grave side.  Grave saddles can be placed on the tombstone or on the ground for a long lasting tribute.  These flowers are made of silk and will last for a long time.  This will provide comfort to the visitors that come to the graveside.  You will need to check with your caretaker to see what form of tributes are allowed and when.  Some of the graveyards in our area will only allow items on the ground during holidays or certain times of the year.

A Stepping Stone is a wonderful way to pay tribute to someone you love in your home or garden.  Stepping stones can be placed in your garden to give you a quite place to remember your loved one.  Our stones come with an optional easel for inside your home use.  These stones also make a very nice gift to send to the home or funeral.  We often suggest as stepping stone as a tribute at the visitation for someone who is looking for something unique.

This is one of our newest items.  It features "The Chain" written on the pages.  This is an actual book that has been weathered to look old and worn.  The poem has a beautiful picture for a back ground.  The book comes with it's own stand.  We recommend this for people who want to send a personal touch.  This book can be displayed on a mantle or on a small table. 

This memory box has openings all along the outside for pictures, poems, cards, and more.  The inside has 3 separate hanging photo albums.  Each one holds 12 pictures.  The inside also has an opening to store cards and memories.  We have also found it is a nice space for a plant, silk, or even an urn.  We think that this would make a wonderful gift.

This is a new creation for us.  We created this silk floral to hold an urn.  Then we discovered it was perfect for this angel we had in the shop.  The silk flowers are in the shape of a circle along the front.  The back then has taller flower that add height to the arrangement.  An urn can then be placed in the center.  This arrangement can be used at the service or in the home.  Another idea would be to place a picture frame inside the ring at a visitation or memorial service.

This is another top selling item for our shop.  We suggest this as a gift for someone who has lost a close friend or family member.  We think that on a particularly difficult day they could wrap up in this throw to give themselves comfort.  We normally wrap these up with a ribbon and have delivered them to homes and visitations. 

This angel would be beautiful in a garden full of flowers.  We have also had a few customers that wanted to use this inside as a tribute to a loved one.  This angel has beautiful coloring and is holding a small child.  The loss of a child is always difficult.  This could be given to a mother that has recently lost a child of any age.  It would provide great comfort to her in her time of need.
We get several requests for these crosses during the year.  We sell these for not only funerals but for tributes at the graveside.  Memorial day is the most popular time of year for these.  We have also had a request for these to mark milestones such as birthdays and special occasions in the life of the deceased.

We hope that this guide has given you a few ideas on how to pay tribute to a loved one.

If you are looking for a tribute for a funeral please see our selection guide.

31 Day blog challenge ~ Day 22

Today's Challenge: Pay Special Attention to A Reader.

Well as you can see from our followers list I am new and just getting our blog legs.  I appreciate all of my followers and love when they comment on my blogs.  So today I had a hard decission.  I had to pick one of those beloved readers and highlight them in a blog post.

I actually used our Family Blog to take part in this challenge.  That is where we talk a little more about our personal lives, our family, and more.

I highlighed one of our favorite bloggers ~ Kludgy Mom.

If you are looking for a snarky, light hearted, fun read, we suggest you check her out and tell us what you think.

You can read our post about her here.

Roses are Pink, Peach, White, and Beautiful ~

This week we have a great in store special!

Pick up 1 dozen mixed roses for just $19.99.  These beautiful roses are wrapped and ready for you to take with you.  

This offer is valid in store only and not for delivery.  Stop in today and grab yours while supplies last.

The Secret Garden
1215 E. Pershing Rd.
Decatur IL 62526

Once you get them home use our care guide to keep your roses looking fresh longer. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Top 5 Selling Blooming Indoor House Plants

At The Secret Garden we love house plants.  The majority of the plants we sell are indoor house plants.  Dish gardens are nice, and green plants provide a lot of joy.  Blooming plants are our favorite, and our customers favorite, hands down.

Here is a list from with some of our own insight to help you find the plant that is right for you.

African Violet ~ One of our best sellers.  With a little love and care an African Violet can bloom year around.  With a careful watering, a nice dose of humidity, and bright but indirect light your violet will do wonderful.  They are small and compact.  The leaves are soft and velvety.  The blooms are small and you can find them in a variety of colors and shades.

Poinsettias ~  The Poinsettia receives the title of "the single most popular houseplant in the world".  Christmas is when almost all of these plants are purchased.  We have seen poinsettias in beautiful colors besides the standard red shown here.  In the past few years Pinks and Champaign colors have sold very well for us.  Most of the time it is very difficult to get a poinsettia to bloom again the following year.  When buying a poinsettia please consider your source.  Some of the big box stores stock up with cases of these beautiful plants and can not provide the care they need to become healthy and beautiful. If you want to find the healthiest and best cared for poinsettia you will want to check with your local florist or green house.  They may cost a bit more but you will be able to enjoy your blooming plant longer.

Peace Lilies ~  Our number one selling flower to express sympathy for a loss of a family or friend.  We always recommend this plant because of it's beauty and ease of care.  A peace lily will droop when it needs water and spring back up when it receives the care it needs.  Because they are so easy to take care of we suggest these to people with busy lives and not a lot of time to care for plants.  They really are beautiful will bloom best with warmth and humidity.  Look for the best blooms in late summer.  We have blooming peace lilies year around because of the excellent growing conditions in green houses.

Bromeliads ~  This plant will add a tropical flair to your home.  Bromeliads grow in many different colors, styles, and even claim the pineapple as one of their own.  The flower stalk is produced in the center of the plant and grows up before it blooms.  We have found that the stalk lasts several years.  It will only bloom once in it's life but will be worth the wait.  The colorful stalk will remain and your plant may even produce a pup.  A pup is a smaller version of the main bromeliad and can even be taken off and planted to grow and bloom.  We have written a guide on bromeliad care that you can find here.

Kalanchoe ~ Another one of our favorites.  These little plants pack a lot of blooms and come in a variety of vivid colors.  Kalanchoe plants are easy to grow and easy to care for.  Given bright light and a nice supply of water and these plants will give you beautiful blooms.  They bloom the best in the springtime but can be found blooming year around at most florists and green houses.  The flowers bloom in small clusters that add to their beauty and full look.

We hope that this short article makes choosing your blooming house plant easier.  If you have any questions feel free to contact us anytime 

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 21

Today we were tasked to look over some of our older posts and breath new life into it.

I have been blogging for about 8 months but have not started posting regularly until about two months ago.  We had a few posts that needed some work and look forward to sprucing them up.

We also have plans to writing a few follow up posts to our older articles.  This will bring them back into the lime light.  We have gained new followers and new readers.  We hope that breathing new life into these posts will get them some attention and comment love.

It also gave us some great tips on writing posts that are worth reading.  Better titles, great hooks, and a call to action.  All of these things can be used in our future posts as well as most of our older ones.

Have you thought about updating your blog, giving it a fresh look?  It is not to late to get into the SITS 31 days to build a better blog challenge.  Or to just get the book and start your own challenge with your friends or co-workers.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 20

  Today's Challenge ~ Leave Comments for other bloggers.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most about the challenge is reading other blogs.  I have found new blogs in my niche, blogs that make me laugh, and blogs that have an interesting story to tell.  With Google Reader I can read them all with just a few clicks and scrolls.  When one strikes my fancy I head on over to the blog and leave a comment.

We learned today to:

  • Make your comments informative and meaningful
  • Never Spam ~ Example: Great post, here's my link
  • Leave comments everywhere you can, news articles, news blogs, other blogs, and anywhere you can
  • Try to add to the article or post with your own insight when possible.
I try to make my comments informative, responsive to questions, or just to say I agree with something they have posted.  It lets the blogger know that I have read and understand what they are talking about.  When you leave a comment that adds to the content of the blog it also shows you are an expert in that field.

I have had comments to my 31 day challenge that have helped me shape my blog, my posts, and my thoughts on blogging.  I enjoy reading comments and it always makes you feel good knowing that you have engaged the readers.

I am headed out now to do my "homework" by reading and commenting on posts that some of my SITS girls have made!

Friday, August 6, 2010

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 19

Today's Task ~ Write an opinion post.  

Sharing your opinion with readers is an important part of being a blogger.  That is, of course, my opinion.  I have always thought that blogs were an extension of you, your feelings, and your opinions.  As a blogger you can report on a story and then state what you feel about it.

To me blogging is not just reporting the news but letting others know how you feel about it.  Every blogger has their own way of doing this.  As you read blogs you get a little glimpse inside the mind of the person righting the blog.

I have given my views on "In Lieu of Flowers", buying local, ordering flowers from places like pro-flowers, and I even have a full post full of rants once a week.  These give my readers insight into the way I think about things.  I give them important facts and mix in a few of my opinions on the matter.

What we, as bloggers, have to remember is we are not reporters.  We are allowed to think, and post, outside of the box. 

To see where this challenge has taken me go here.

In Lieu of Flowers

"In Lieu of Flowers".  As a florist these words make us cringe.  For centuries people have used flowers to honor the deceased.  As florists we can not imagine a time when this will not be true.  But more and more we are seeing "In Lieu of Flowers" in obituary listings across the country.  Some of our customers have asked us what they should do, they too are accustom to sending a tribute in the way of flowers.

We suggest you make the decision.  If you feel strongly about sending flowers, plant, or any other type of tribute that is up to you.  The family may not want an excessive amount of flowers to take home.  They may also want to support an organization or group that helped them in the past.  Consider sending an arrangement that can be left grave side.  Also most funeral homes take arrangements to nursing homes and hospitals if the family just can not take them home.  Your flowers will not be wasted.  They will find a loving home and provide comfort at the service.  

We always tell our customers that flowers at a funeral are for the living.  Flowers have also been shown to provide comfort in a time of grief.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Easy to Care For House Plants

Are you looking for a house plant that is easy to care for?  Do you have a not so green thumb?

Here are a few house plants you may want to consider for your home.

1. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elaitor) - Sounds sturdy doesn't it?  Well that's because it is.  This plant can grow just about anywhere and flourish.  This plant can be grown inside and out.  It works great for ground covering on the outside of the home or as a small potted plant inside.  This plant can grow in low light, so it would be perfect for the office.  This plant can tolerate temps as low as 28 degrees and can also handle higher temperatures, it is a tropical at heart. This is a slow growing plant so have patience with it.  The sturdy and long lasting tendencies of this plant are suited for a novice grower.
2.  Christmas Cactus (zygocactus) - This plant is just beautiful in the home during the winter.  The blooms start in early winter and should go through the Christmas season.  This flower likes cooler temperatures and should be kept in a nice dark room in the evenings.  We found a wealth of knowledge about this plant here.  This plant does need more care then the Cast Iron Plant but will be a nice starter plant for a novice.  

3. Bird's Nest Plant (Sansevieria) - These plants are easy to grow and can tolerate droughts.  If you forget to water your plants this is a great one to have.  It can go up to 2 weeks between water cycles.  It can also grow in a variety of temperatures and lighting conditions.  

4.  Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum).  This is a beautiful blooming plant that is very easy to take care of.  When it is thirsty it will droop.  This will alert you to when it needs to be watered.  Once watered it will perk back up and look as good as new.  Make sure that your Peace Lily gets a nice spray of water regularly because it does enjoy the humidity.  

5.  Pothos (Epipremnum)-  This is another one of our favorites.  This plant can grow up to 10 feet and can be pruned back to grow fuller.  You can even take the pruned stems off and they will grow new plants.  These plants do not need a lot of water but should not be allowed to dry out to much or it will cause wilting.  Grows well in a variety of lights and is touted as almost impossible to kill. 

We invite you to check out this Easy Care site to find even more great easy to care for plants.  

Make sure you stay tuned for the rest of our series in House Plant Care.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a House Plant

Top 5 things to consider when choosing a house plant.

1.  Pets ~ Some plants can be toxic to pets.  Several types of Lilies for one are very harmful and can even cause death in cats.    Cats have also been known to use the soil in the pot to plant things of their own.  Dogs can also knock over pots and plant stands.  When choosing a plant with pets in your home choose a non-toxic plant.  You may also consider hanging baskets or plants that are small enough for windowsills.

2.  Children ~ Some plants can also be toxic for children.  Children can also place things in the soil that may not be healthy for your plant.  We suggest hanging baskets or keeping your plant up out of reach of the small children. 

3.  Allergies ~   Some blooming plants may aggravate your allergies.  The last thing you want is to decorate your home just to wake up to swollen eyes and a runny nose.  There are several types of house plants that may help with allergies and some that even seem to give relief

4.  Lighting ~ Decide what room in your house you want your plants in.  Watch the sun in that room to see the direction of the natural light.  Will the plant get early light, mid day sun, evening light.  What about the direction, North, South, East, or West.  Knowing this will help you find the right plant for your room.  Most house plants will grow well in any type of natural sunlight.  Some are more sensitive to the degrees of light they will need. 

5.  Your skill level ~ You may want to start out with an easy to care for house plant to begin with if you are just starting out.  As you become more familiar with plants you may want to get more adventurous in your plant buying.  Try things you like, what appeals to you, and what you are drawn to. 

31 Day Blog Challenge ~ Day 18

  Todays Challenge ~ Create a Sneeze Page.  Aaacchhoooo.

This page will list the best and hottest posts that this blog has to offer.

I looked at feedback from facebook, twitter, and blog comments.  I also reviewed the most popular pages according to Google Analytics.

This was very helpful in not only creating my list but to see what my readers like.  We created a tab at the top of our page called: Hot Topics.  This page will connect you, the reader, to our most popular and most read posts.

I also plan on doing something similar on my other blogs as we finish creating our series on funerals, plant care, and fresh flower giving.  These can then be highlighted on the Hot Topics Page for each blog.

We look forward to adding these pages to make the blogging experience better for you.

Your feedback is welcome.  Tell us what you would like to see on the Hot Topics page.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Guide to Ordering Funeral Flowers

We hope that you find the information in this guide useful.  Ordering funeral flowers is never an easy task.  Our goal is to make the process easier on you.

You will need to gather as much information you can about the funeral arrangements.  When you call your florist the are going to need the basic details on the arrangements.

  • The name of the deceased - We know this may sound strange but it does happen.  If you are sending flowers for a family member of a co-worker for example you may not know the full named of the deceased.  We always recommend asking someone close to them for the details or checking in the obituaries.  If you are unable to find out the name we can normally find that out for you based on the details you do know.

  • The day and time of the visitation - We recommend having the flowers sent to the visitation rather then the actual service.  This gives the family and friends an opportunity to admire the arrangements.  This can normally be found in the paper or online through the local newspaper.  If it is a recent passing it may take a day to get into the local paper.  Your florist can verify the information you have when the paper lists the information.  You can also call the funeral home or have your florist do that for you.

  • The location of the visitation - More and more visitations are taking place at churches.  You will need to know the name and possibly the address of the church.  This again will be listed in the paper or online.  A call to the funeral home handling the arrangements will also help you find the location.

  • Making your selection - You can use our selection guide to help you decide the type of arrangement you would like to send.  If you know what type of flowers or colors are favored then you could even incorporate those into your selection.  Your florist can help you select the arrangement or gift that best fits your needs.

  • What kind of sentiment -  Your florist will have several types of cards to choose from.  Most popular are, With Deep Sympathy, In Loving Memory, and Our Thoughts and Prayers are With You.  Decide how you would like to sign the card.  If it is from a group of you the best way to sign would be something like, The Staff at ABC company or Your Friends at ABC company.  If it is from a family, we suggest, The Smith Family or Bob and Jan Smith.  You want to avoid getting to wordy with this card.  It will be seen from a distance so your florist will have to make it clear and easy to read. 
A few more things to remember.  Your florist will need to have your flowers to the location at least 2 hours before the visitation starts.  This allows time for the funeral directors and staff to arrange the room for the family before the private viewing.  The family viewing normally starts an hour or so before the actual visitation.  In emergency situations your florist can take the flowers to the visitation a little late but this practice is frowned upon by both the florist and the funeral homes.  The sooner you can order the better.   We understand that sometimes word is not received until the last minute, this occurs a lot when family and friends are out of town.  Your florist will work with you up to the last minute, but you may need to accept what they have to offer rather then a custom design.  You can always send flowers direct to the home of a family member if you do not receive word in time.  Also flowers taken to the burial, if the burial takes place on a later date, would also be appropriate. 

Here are a few links that will help if you are sending flowers to the Decatur Illinois area.

1215 E. Pershing Rd.
Decatur, IL 62526

31 Day blog challenge ~ Day 17

Today our challenge was to have someone else read our blog for the first time.  We were to watch them read it, see what drew there attention.  Then we had some questions to ask.

I fixed my husband a big cup of coffee and had him start reading.  He had some interesting suggestions, things I had not noticed.  It always sheds light on the subject when you can look at it from another perspective.

Here is what he had to say:

  • He thought that the layouts were lovely.

  • When asked what he thought this blog was about he said, "31 day blog challenge"

  • It was easy to read, navigate, and understand

  • He thought that it was a bit crowded and maybe going down to 2 columns would clean it up a bit.

  • He suggested moving some of the information to tabs or other pages.

  • He liked the layout and the design.
Overall he enjoyed his experience and I value his input. 

I think the advice he gave can make our blog more appealing to others as well.  I look forward to working on this again over the weekend.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

31 Day blog challenge ~ Day 16

Solve A Problem ~  As a florist we solve problems all day long.  "I messed up, can you help" says the gentleman who looks a bit ill.  The lady on the phone says, "Can you get that delivered TODAY?".  So solving problems comes natural to me.  I enjoy it actually.   So when the challenge asked us to solve a problem I said, "Yes I can do that!"      I am hoping that I have already answered a few questions in my blogs.  This has been an amazing 2 weeks so far and I know I have learned a lot.  If I have passed on a few good pointers to you, my readers, then I have done my job. 
First we have to identify what type of problems our shoppers have.  What do they want to know.  What do they want to learn about. 
On day 11 when we came up with ideas for our blog I came across several posts that I was going write that would solve problems.  We have already writing some of these posts.

Yesterday we published a guide on the easiest to care for house plants.
Sunday we discussed basic care and handling tips of house plants.
We also started a series on sympathy arrangements and how to choose the one that is right for you.

We hope that these series will become a go to guide for our readers.

On a personal note.  When my husband and I took over the shop we decided the way to have people choose flowers and plants as gifts was to educate people on the benefits.  We feel that if people know more about flowers, ordering, plants, independent business owners, and the benefits of each that they will feel confident that we are the right choice for them. 


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