PlantSomething for the Environment

Environmentalists have celebrated Earth Day since 1970 to activate the environmental movement around the world. This year Earth Day falls on Sunday, April 22nd and this post is to celebrate the environmental efforts gardeners make around the world.

Gardeners are environmentally conscious people who make a difference every time they dig in the dirt.  When resources are invested in a garden, nature becomes a huge component of a gardener’s life. All of a sudden weather patterns, bugs, animals, and soil become important and it becomes easier to see how everything’s interconnected.

Gardening provides habitat and food sources for native birds, bugs, animals and bees. By choosing to create a garden, it helps restore destroyed ecosystem and let’s people live in harmony with wildlife while reducing the impact on the local environment.

Plants are also great at cleaning the carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere. They absorb the CO2 from the air, capturing the carbon particles and releasing oxygen into the air. This cleans the air and helps reduce the impact that we have on global climate change. A happy Win-Win situation.  The Union for Concerned Scientists shared tips on gardening for climate change in their publication, ‘The Climate-Friendly Gardener: A Guide to Combating Global Warming from the Ground Up.’

Here are the 5 tips outlined in the publication for keeping carbon in the soil and CO2 out of the air.

Step 1: Minimize Carbon-Emitting Inputs

Some gardening equipment and products emit carbon into the air, negating the positive environmental benefits of the garden. Here are a few of the carbon-emitting inputs used in gardening:

  • Gasoline-powered tools; such as lawn mowers and leaf blowers
  • Synthetic fertilizers
  • Pesticides; insecticides, herbicides and fungicides

Try to replace these carbon emitters with manual or organic solutions when possible.

Step 2: Don’t Leave Garden Soil Naked

Soil is typically left bare when the plants aren’t growing. This can leave the soil vulnerable to erosion, weeds and carbon loss. Using a cover crop during the winter months covers the soil and helps avoid nitrogen losses, absorb carbon, avoid weeds, and absorb rain water. When you turn the soil over in the Spring, the ground cover provides soil fertility and a productive garden.

Experts recommend grasses, cereal grains or legumes that can be grown during the fall and winter months as suitable ground covers.

Step 3: Plant Trees and Shrubs

The amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere depends on the size and speed of growth of the plants, making trees a hero of climate change. Aside from removing carbon from the air, trees also reduce the amount of carbon released into the air.  Well placed trees can shade or block wind from surrounding buildings which impacts the energy use inside. For this reason, trees can stop CO2 emissions before they start.

Step 4: Expand Recycling to the Garden

Turn leaves, grass, woody garden clippings, dead garden plants and kitchen waste into mulch or compost and use it in the garden. By re-using waste in the garden you will reduce methane emissions and increase the garden’s soil nutrients, a win-win solution.

Step 5: Think Long and Hard about Your Lawn

Your lawn likely contributes to the largest number of plants in your yard. As the grass grows in the Spring and Summer months, the lawn quickly absorbs the CO2 and is a green alternative over gravel or cement. Another trick is to leave the grass alone after mowing; the fallen blades of grass decompose and trap carbon in the soil while providing added nutrients.

 

Hopefully this Earth Day encourages you to Plant Something… Bee Friendly!

Find a garden centre near you on our interactive map – the world will thank you!

Tips on Creating the Perfect Bee Garden

You can make a significant difference by planting a flower. It may seem simple, or a bit silly, but the world needs you to plant more flowers. Why? Because, food. Actually, there are tons of reasons but today we are talking about the food. Both for us and the bees.

Bees’ food is the pollen and nectar produced within flowers. Bees collect the food by flying between flowers and ‘accidentally’ pollinate the flowers through the process. After pollination the plant can produce fruit, seed, squash, nuts, ect. Without the bees’ help many fruits and seeds we eat everyday would disappear.

So, why do we need to plant flowers for bees?  As the province continues to develop the bees’ food sources diminish. This makes it difficult for BC’s native bees to survive in urban centres. The native bees help maintain a healthy landscape in our cities as well as provide efficient pollinating services for the farms that surround our cities. Without the bees, our gardens would look bare and the abundance of fresh local fruits and veggies would diminish.

Here are some tips to get the most out of your bee garden:

Calluna vulgaris HEATHER

Calluna vulgaris HEATHER

  • Be selective when choosing your flower colours. Bees see in the ultraviolet colour spectrum, plant flowers ranging from yellow to deep purple. Avoid orange and red, these colours are invisible to bees.
  • Group flowers together. By having the same flowers grouped together, the bees don’t need to relearn how to enter each flower. This increases their efficiency to pollinate the garden and provide food for their hive.
  • Plant diverse types of flowers in your garden. Having a range of flowers in your garden will encourage many types of wild bees to visit your garden. Some flower shapes are perfect for the large bumble bee while smaller flowers are better for other native bees. Offering a range of options also provides the bees more variety and nutrients as they collect food.
  • Stick to single petal flowers. Although double petal flowers can be attractive, bees have difficulty navigating the flowers to find the pollen. For this reason, the single petal flowers are the way to go!
  • Provide a dish with water and small rocks for landing pads. Bees get thirsty too. Having a small dish of water allows bees to find water while they are working in your garden. Make sure you add small rocks for the bees to land.
  • Choose plants that bloom successively. This will provide food for the bees throughout the gardening season. By having flowers that bloom in the early fall and late winter, the bees can find food at the most crucial times.
  • Try to avoid wildflower seed mixes. Unless you know exactly which plants are in the mix and how they will react to the environment, there’s a possibility that the wildflower mixes include invasive plants. But don’t be afraid of planting wildflowers in your garden when you know they are native to your region.
  • Look for Neonic free plants. Research is currently being conducted to determine if Neonics have a negative effect on bees. It’s best to steer clear of plants grown with this chemical until we know how it effects bees.
  • Find locally grown Bee Friendly Plants. We’ve compiled a list of popular bee friendly plants  you can include in your garden. Our list was carefully selected by local nursery growers to help you select plants that are grown in communities around BC. Using locally grown plants is particularly important as it helps reduce the risk of introducing invasive plants, bugs and other issues that can impact BC’s biodiversity.

What’s the difference between pollen and nectar?
Watch our video to find out!

Use our searchable map to find local garden centres and landscapers in your area to help you create the perfect bee friendly garden in your yard.

Finding the Right Landscaper for Your Project

We’re lucky to have a mild climate in BC. When you’re a gardener, this is extra special because the mild temperatures provides 4 full seasons – meaning more time in the garden.

But what happens when you need a little extra help your garden? Maybe you’re installing a water feature or having the yard leveled. Or maybe you need some professional to create the garden of your dreams.

That’s when you look at hiring a landscape contractor. With over 2400 landscapers in BC, it should be easy to find a landscaper that to help you with your project, right?

Unfortunately, not all landscapers are created the same. Some landscapers have specializations and others may not be the right fit. Also, landscapers have varying levels of skills and education. With low barriers of entry into the industry, some landscapers are experts in the industry, while others have little-to-no training at all. This skill variance can make it a challenge to when hiring a landscape contractor.

Asking what accreditations their staff hold is a good way to differentiate the pros from the amateurs. Although an unaccredited landscaper can still do a good job, knowing that your contractor has additional knowledge and training can provide piece of mind. Here are some accreditations you can look for.

Red Seal Certification
Landscape Horticulturist is a Red Seal Trade, meaning that a Certified Journeyperson has completed up to 4 years of combined education and experience. Landscape Horticulturist is a broad term to mean an individual who grows and maintain plants, creates and modify landscapes, constructs and maintain gardens, or installs and maintain hard landscape elements. In addition, they advise clients on issues related to horticulture and landscape construction.

Before completing the program, a Red Seal Journey person must undergo 4 years of technical school and 6,480 hours of on-the-job training. This training is conducted under another certified Journeyperson or qualified tradesperson who is a designated trainer. With this training, employers and post-secondary institutions recognize that the student has participated in specialized, career focused programming.

Landscape Industry Accredited Company
The Landscape Industry Accredited Company program recognizes lawn and landscape companies for their commitment to excellence. Accredited companies focus on certification as a cornerstone of their business practices, conduct their business affairs responsibly, value community and customer relations and maintain high standards of workmanship and environmental stewardship in residential and commercial settings. Before becoming accredited, the company must show their commitment to excellence by pledging to:

  • Employ Landscape Industry Certified, or trained equivalent, employees;
  • Provide clear, customer communications about service programs and contracts;
  • Follow applicable provincial/territorial/state, local and federal licensing requirements;
  • Maintain current insurance policies;
  • Advertise truthfully and ethically in accordance with the Canadian Competition Bureau;
  • Verify employee references, driving history and criminal background check;
  • Maintain a drug-free workplace;
  • Participate in the provincial/territorial workplace safety programs to enforce safety initiatives

Landscape Industry Certification (Manager / Technician / Designer)
The Landscape Industry Certification program is supported and used internationally by the Canadian Nursery and Landscape Association and the National Association of Landscape Professionals. This program shows commitment to best practices and knowledge in the industry. To become certified, an individual must complete a series of written and hands-on evaluations.

Certified Arborists / Irrigation Technicians
These are two other important certifications to look for. Both of these certifications require continuing education to ensure that the tradesperson is up-to-date on the latest knowledge and skills.

Why should you look for these certifications?

Hiring an accredited company gets the job done right, the first time. Although the lowest quote can be tempting, it can end up costing you more in the end. When your contractor doesn’t have the experience and knowledge behind them they can end up ruining your project, requiring a certified company to fix their errors.

When you hire a certified landscape company, your contractor will spend time explaining what they are doing and educating you on best practices. They are more likely to do the job correctly and help you maintain a healthy budget.

To help in your searching process, look on LandscapeBC.ca to find accredited companies, request a quote and find tools to make the vetting process easy.

No Effort Too Small

 Adapted from an article written by Kevin Cramer, Bloomin’ Easy plants

Think small

Pollinator friendly options exist in every plant category and fit even the smallest outdoor spaces. Whether you have a backyard or a balcony, it’s easy to find plants that work for you. In fact, the amount of sun your space gets is more important than square footage. The experts in your local garden centres are happy to help you find beautiful pollinator plants that fit your space.

Firefly™ Nightglow™ Diervilla from Bloomin’ Easy

Plant for every season

Ideally, your garden will provide pollen and nectar from spring to fall. Look for flowering times mentioned on the tag to help you organize. And don’t worry about finding everything in one trip; visit throughout the season to choose what suits your taste and blooms in the current or upcoming season. The bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds will thank you for providing a continuous energy source.

A place to call home

Pollinators that don’t migrate will need shelter over winter. Bee houses have become popular DIY projects and a quick Google search will offer plenty of building guides. By giving your pollinator friends a place to call home, their numbers and quality of life will grow.

Ask a Landscape Professional

Landscapers are experts at creating ‘bee friendly’ gardens in any space. From large backyards to patios, the experts know which plants will be successful and create visual appeal throughout the year. In fact, every year landscape companies around the province enter projects for a chance to become a BC Landscape Award of Excellence winner. This is a prestigious award that includes projects from condo balconies to multi-million dollar homes. However, BC has thousands of Landscapers throughout the province which can make it a challenge to find the right landscaper for the job. Read our blog article on what to look for when hiring a landscaper.

ParaSpace Landscaping- 2015 Winner

Having your own green-space, no matter the size, is important for both the bees and the homeowner. Besides, after a long, hot summer day, you’re more likely to spend your evenings on the deck instead of inside the home.

 

Kevin has a passion for pollinators and the great outdoors. He’s also the marketing manager at Bloomin’ Easy. Engage with him @bloomineasy

Looking for easy care options? Bloomin’ Easy offers low-maintenance, pollinator-friendly plants that fit smaller spaces. Visit bloomineasyplants.com to learn more about their collection.

Garden Centres and Landscapers PlantSomething Bee Friendly Everyday

Independent garden centres and landscape professionals are crazy about native pollinators. Whether or not you’re in the gardening world, bees are an extremely important part of our food source. Experts say that 80% of our food requires pollinator help – which comes from bees, insects and animals – making it important for us to help the bee population.

Throughout the month of March, independent garden centres received PlantSomething materials to use in their garden centres. These materials include the PlantSomething Bee Friendly postcards and posters, making it easier for you to identify which plants to choose for your garden. By selecting bee friendly plants that bloom around the season helps attract more bees to your garden.

 

In BC there are over 450 types of native bees, however, many of them are solitary and don’t look like traditional bees. Most people can identify a honeybee, or a bumble bee, but garden centres are educating the public about the Blue Orchard Mason Bee, a small bee with a blue-green body. Through workshops at garden centres, gardeners can learn how to position mason bee houses in their yards and care for their new ‘pets’ while helping increase the population of native mason bees in their community.

Professional landscapers are also helping the native bee populations through bee friendly garden designs and suggestions for bee friendly plants to their clients. PlantSomething Bee Friendly magnets are added to the back of landscape trucks to show their commitment to bees.

Bee Gardening Tip #1:

Group like flowers together. By visiting the same flowers bees are able to efficiently collect pollen and pollinate the flowers. Otherwise the bees are constantly re-learning how to enter the flowers to collect the pollen and nectar.

Bee Gardening Tip #2:

Include a small water dish for bees to grab a drink while they are in your garden. Bees, just like us, get thirsty while working in the sun, by providing a little watering hole for the bees you will attract more bees to your garden. Make sure you add small stones to the dish so the bees have a landing area.

Bee Gardening Tip #3:

Using a variety of plants in your garden will help more bees find food. Some bees need smaller flowers with a large landing pad. Other bees, like bumble bees, need larger flowers to access the pollen.

Also make sure that you have flowers that bloom in late winter through to fall. Bees require food as soon as they emerge and the sooner they can find food helps increase their chance of survival.

 

Use our interactive map on PlantSomethingBC.com to find landscapers and garden centres near you.

Learn more about BC’s native bee population. The Pollination Ecology Lab at SFU is a great resource to explore the different bees that call BC home.

Rain Gardens and Low Impact Design Gardens

World Water Day is celebrated to raise awareness of the importance of water each year on March 22nd. Hosted by the United Nations, the 2018 theme for World Water Day is ‘Nature for Water,’ exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face today. Anne Kulla, a local landscape professional and owner of Huckleberry Landscape Design, explains what home owners can do in their yard to help the reduce the impact of rainfall in BC.

Rain Gardens and Low Impact Design Gardens – One of the Newest Trends in Garden Design is also a Great Environmental Plus

By Anne Kulla, CLT

Many would say that living in the Lower Mainland is sometimes like living in a rain garden. On average the Vancouver area receives just over one metre of rain every year. Low Impact Development (LID) is a landscape design strategy which helps mitigate flooding from rainwater and limit chemicals and nutrients getting into our waterways through rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs and permeable pavement.

A rain garden is a form of storm water management. The rain water falls and flows into our storm drains and streams, and eventually into the ocean, taking oils and chemicals from vehicles and other waste with it.  Our storm drain systems are reaching capacity due to the increase in unique weather events in the past few years, our increase in population, as well as our aging infrastructure. To mitigate the cost of repairs and upgrades, governments across the country are searching for ways to reduce the amount of water going into our drainage systems. Federal, provincial and local governments are implementing new bylaws, restrictions and taxes in an effort to keep water out of the drains.

One simple, low cost and effective solution is to build rain gardens.  They are a deep garden bed with a layer of topsoil planted with a variety of plants that can survive periods of wet feet during the winter and spring, and dry feet during the summer (think water restrictions).  A rain garden placed at the bottom of a slight down-slope can capture water from driveways, patios, walkways and other hard surfaces, allowing the water to slowly absorb into the ground.  Even the downspouts from your roof top can be re-routed towards a rain garden, further reducing the amount of water going into your storm drains.

The designs for rain gardens are limitless, as each one is unique to the individual landscape setting.  The location, shape, size and style of garden will change depending on the homeowner’s personal style and tastes. Different mulches, different plants and different locations all go towards making that rain garden one of a kind and unique.

Rain gardens are effective and beneficial by lowering the amount of water flowing into our storm drain systems, reducing some of your home’s water usage costs and by increasing your property value by adding a beautiful landscape.  The bonus is that you are helping the environment by keeping harmful chemicals and waste out of our rivers and oceans.

If you need assistance designing your rain garden, call a professional landscaper to help ensure you have the correct location and plants for your home. Visit LandscapeBC.com to ‘request a quote’ easily from your computer.

Anne Kulla is the owner of Huckleberry Landscape Design, a landscape design and installation company based out of Surrey, BC. She actively supports her industry as a Past Chair of the Landscape Commodity for the BC Landscape and Nursery Association and is currently active in the association’s Landscape Advisory Group.

5 Ways Gardening Makes Us Happy

Today marks the first day of Spring and for gardeners, we couldn’t be happier.

No wonder today is also the International Day of Happiness. In 2011, the UN General Assembly recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal [that] promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples” and since 2013 we’ve celebrated the International Day of Happiness on March 20th.

As gardeners, we know that our plants make us happy, but do you know why? Here are 5 things that happen when we spend time with plants:

Healing Qualities

Working with plants is proven to promote feelings of comfort, soothing and relaxation. People are designed to be outdoors but now we spend most of our time indoors creating a disconnect between nature and ourselves. This can lead to Nature Deficiency Disorder and increased stress.

When working with plants, or even being around plants, blood pressure is reduced and people’s nerves are relaxed. Allowing them to be able to concentrate longer and heal faster from illnesses than if plants are absent.

Plants also help filter pollution out of the air. In fact, two mature trees can produce enough oxygen for a family of four. Indoors, having plants in the home, office or school, promote better health and fewer days absent from work or school.

Healthier eating

Everyone knows they need to eat fresh fruit and vegetables but few consume the recommended daily amount. Eating healthy can be a challenge, especially when trying to get kids to eat their greens. People who grow their own food are more likely to eat larger quantities of vegetables over those who buy their food at the store.

Also, growing your own food give you control over the quality of your food. Brian Minter, owner of Minter Gardens in Chilliwack, talks about how certain varieties of vegetables have more nutritional value and antioxidants than other varieties in the same food group in a recent Vancouver Sun article. By growing your own veggies it allows you to control how much harmful pesticide residues touch your food and how much your food bill comes to.

Exercise in the garden

According to the Queen’s doctor, Sir Richard Thompson, the benefits of gardens to mental and physical health have been known for centuries. By encouraging people to become active, it helps reduce illnesses caused by inactivity while improving the environment.

As gardeners, we know how much work it takes to plant and maintain a garden. In fact, 30 minutes of exertion can burn 160 calories raking; 180 calories weeding; 200 calories digging; 240 calories using a push mower and 240+ shoveling.

When working with the earth, the bacteria in soil, Mycobaterium vaccae, helps trigger the release of serotonin in the brain. The increased serotonin levels acts as a natural anti-depressant and help strengthen the immune system, making you happy naturally.

Increase cognitive abilities

Gardening is known to help with overall brain health and there is some research that even suggests it can lower the risk of developing dementia. Alternatively, exposure to natural scenery and lush greenery can have positive results on children’s cognitive ability, and help them to achieve higher test scores.

To test the effects of gardening and green spaces on children’s cognitive abilities, a study out of Barcelona asked young students in Spain, Norway, and the United States to write four cognitive tests at three month intervals over a year. The students who were exposed to more greenery ended up improving more in their working memory and attentiveness by 5%.

Allows for adventure and imagination

Finally, spending time in the garden allows the mind to wander. Gardeners start to experience things that they wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise. From thinking creatively about garden layouts to exploring new insects; gardening frees the mind from every day and allows the gardener to experience life around them. Because of this, some may say that gardening actually allows them to be better in other aspects of their life.

 

So if you needed another excuse to get gardening, do it because it makes you happy.

Check out our interactive map to find local Garden Centres and Landscapers around BC! https://plantsomethingbc.ca/search-local/

Buzz by PlantSomething Bee Friendly’s Table at the 20th Annual Nature Day, Hosted by Amsterdam Garden Centre

  PlantSomething Bee Friendly will be at Amsterdam Garden Centre for their 20th Annual ‘Nature Day Event’ on Saturday, March 17th from 10 am to 4 pm. Our table will be loaded with PlantSomething Bee Friendly posters, postcards, magnets and booklets that you can take home or share with friends. We will be discussing why Bee Friendly plants are important for gardens, no matter the size and how to plant for efficient pollination.

This is the second year that we’ve attended Amsterdam’s event. Last year the attendees were a mix of young families and gardeners at every skill level. The event provides an opportunity for people to learn more about the environment around them and to understand the impact that a personal garden can have on the area around them. The Nature Day Event is free to attend and provides entertainment and learning opportunities for people at any age.

Jennifer Kok, Assistant Manager at Amsterdam Greenhouses and Garden Centre, tells us that their main focus is to promote environmental awareness in the community through free displays and presentations. The garden centre has invited over 20 local nature groups to share their displays and raise public awareness on issues that impact the environment in the lower mainland. A few of the organizations who will be on display include the Alouette Field Naturalists, Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, Burns Bog Conservation Society, Invasive Species Council and more.

There are plenty of activities for children as well. A ‘Nature Day Clue Hunt’ encourages young attendees to interact with the booths and enter their sheet into a draw. A colouring contest and free professional face painter is also available. No matter their age, getting involved in the Nature Day Event is a great way for children to learn an appreciation for nature and how they can help the environment around them.

The Nature Day Event offers the following workshops to help gardeners at any age to become aware of the impact they have on the local environment and to improve their gardening skills:

10:30 – 11:30 am ‘RAPTOR FORCE’ Birds of Prey
Free Presentation by Raptors Ridge Birds of Prey about the owls, hawks & falcons living among us.

12:00 pm ‘THE BEAR NECESSITIES’ – Class for Kids
Free seminar by Ross Davies of K.E.E.P.S. (Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society) where he will use puppets to explain how to be bear aware in our yards and on the trails.

1:00 pm ‘BEE FRIENDLY PLANTS’
Free seminar to learn about which plants are best to attract and feed bees and other pollinators!

2:00 pm ‘STRAWBERRY BASKET’ – Class for Kids
Kids plant their own strawberry Hanging Basket and take it home! $10:50 (incl. tax) per child workshop includes the cost of materials. Ages 7 and under need adult participation. Please register in advance.

3:00 pm ‘MASON BEE SEMINAR’
Free seminar to learn about everything you need to know about mason bees and successfully keeping them as beneficial insects for pollination in your garden.

Amsterdam Greenhouses and Garden Centre is a family run business located in Pitt Meadows and provides  a wide assortment of plants grown onsite, as well as other local favourites. Established in the early 80’s, the staff at Amsterdam Greenhouses are knowledgeable in all things gardening.

PlantSomething Bee Friendly Launches the Spring Campaign at the BC Home and Garden Show

This week marks the Spring 2018 Launch of PlantSomething Bee Friendly at the BC Home and Garden Show. Our booth is set up and filled with postcards, posters and other items that you won’t want to miss. Doors for the popular 5-day tradeshow opened at 4 pm on Wednesday, February 21st and will close at 6 pm on Sunday, February 25th at BC place.

Displaying our bee theme, we are located on the concourse level in booth #2320 and staffed with gardening experts. Stop by our booth to talk to landscape and garden centre professionals and ask questions about bee friendly plants or how they can turn your backyard into a bee’s paradise.

Show attendees are invited to take a picture in our booth to show us how they PlantSomething Bee Friendly. All attendees who take a picture in our booth will receive a Sedum Spectibilis root, which is a low maintenance plant that is great for kids and small spaces. The roots are sponsored by Van Noort Bulb Company, located in Langley, and highly recommended as a bee friendly plant for any garden.

The popular #BCplants photo contest also started on February 21st, giving attendees the opportunity to post their photos on social media for a chance to win a Wheelbarrow of Goodies valued at $250. Last year, this contest was held 3 times over spring and summer and brought hundreds of photos of people gardening for bees. Learn more…

New this year! Our booth will also be promoting careers in the industry and how you can find resources on how to get into the original ‘Green Industry.’ The green industry is filled job opportunities in large and small companies around the province, with lots of opportunities for job advancements and certifications. To learn more, visit www.GreenCareersCanada.ca

Start the Lunar New Year Right with the Right Plants

Today’s blog was written by Frank Shang, owner of MRD Landscaping Inc, to show the important role that plants play in Chinese New Year. Frank Shang is a Certified Landscape Technician in Vancouver and columnist for Home & Realty Weekly.

Start the Lunar New Year right with the right plants

2018 Chinese New Year falls on February 16 and marks the Year of the Dog according to Chinese zodiac.

In China, Chinese New Year (also called Spring Festival or Lunar New Year) has more than 4,000 years of history. Being one of the traditional Chinese festivals, it is the grandest and the most important festival for East Asians. China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and many Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year as national holidays. The dates of celebration are similar because many countries in Asia interpret the lunar calendar the same way. While Asians celebrate the Lunar New Year in different ways, all celebrations have one common feature: family reunions.

Today Chinese New Year is celebrated all across the world, with people coming together to wish each other good luck and a prosperous year ahead.

To traditionalists, families come together to share a meal; give the house a thorough clean to sweep away any misfortune before the New Year starts. Homes are filled with Chinese New Year decorations and Chinese New Year flowers and fruit to promote wealth, longevity, good fortune, and happiness.

Chinese believe: “When Flowers Bloom, Prosperity Comes”. It is important that gardens are green & blooming and homes are decorated with healthy, vibrant plants. Care is taken to remove all dead, dying and decaying plants from sight. My post today is about plants and flowers that bring luck, wealth, prosperity and health for the Chinese New Year season.

Lucky tree

Citrus Tree

Citrus fruits play a big role during Chinese New Year.  The words orange and tangerine are similar to the Chinese words for luck and wealth and the orange colour resembles gold or money. Eating and displaying these fruits is said to bring wealth and luck. A pair of blooming lime trees are placed at doorways and living room to bring abundance, good luck and wealth for the coming year. In Richmond, Chinese nurseries have perfected the art of getting the plants to flower at precisely the right time so that during the New Year, the fruits will ripen.

Why is Citrus such an important part of Chinese New Year?

Giving citrus trees or citrus fruit is also considered to symbolize wishing good luck or fortune. In fact, the more fruit a tree has, the more luck and wealth it is thought to bestow. For this reason bountiful calamondin and kumquat trees are often given as gifts at Chinese New Year. Other gifts are often accompanied by fresh mandarins symbolizing prosperity; ideally they should include a couple of leaves to show they are fresh and to symbolize fertility.

Now, can you see why these citrus plants are so popular during Chinese New Year?

Lucky Flower

Orchids

Orchids are undoubtedly the most popular Chinese New Year flower. During the festival, flower markets and shops will be flooded with bouquets, pots, and arrangements of Orchids in a wide variety of colours.

Orchids are delicate, beautiful and elegant flowers, and in China they are considered to be symbolic of ‘many children’ or fertility. Orchids also signify luxury and innocence or purity. These flowers make valuable gifts in this season. They are also popular objects in Chinese art and culture as they are emblems of love and beauty. Their fragranced flowers represent virtue, moral excellence, refinement and reputation. Violet coloured orchids are said to bring the most luck, wealth and good fortune.

In Vancouver orchids can be found year round, however there’s a larger selection during Lunar New Year, especially in areas where there’s a large Asian population.

Azaleas

Red, which symbolizes happiness, is a prominent colour during Chinese New Year. As such, red azaleas are perfect for Chinese New Year. In Chinese, azaleas are called “ying shan hung,” meaning “a glowing mountain of red.” These blooming red beauties will add colour and brighten up your home. Azaleas symbolize happiness, harmony and balance.

Tips: Red Azalea is the No. 1 choice for Chinese. They may also choose other colours like purple and pink, but never white.

Lucky Bamboo

In modern Chinese culture Lucky Bamboo has become one of the most important plants for Chinese New Year. You may see it sold everywhere in Vancouver during holiday season, but this isn’t an accurate name from a scientific point-of-view. Lucky Bamboo is actually a Dracaena Sanderiana which comes from Cameroon in tropical west Africa.

Local growers use the principles of Feng Shui to train plant stalks into the shape of hearts or coils, weaving stalks together to make decorative braids, and potting a “lucky” number of plant stalks together. The Lucky Bamboo is wrapped it in a decorative and auspiciously-coloured ribbon to make an appropriate and affordable salute to the arrival of the symbol-rich Lunar New Year.

According to the Chinese tradition, the meaning of Lucky Bamboo is tied to how many stalks you have. Here are some of the meanings associated with different lucky bamboo arrangements: two stalks represent love, three stalks represent Fu (happiness), Lu (wealth), and Soh (long life),and eight stalks represent luck in wealth.

Tips: Avoid keeping a Lucky Bamboo with four stalks. In the Chinese language, the word used as four sounds very similar to the word used for death. Don’t give four bamboo stalks as a gift except to your worst enemy, as it means you’re giving the recipient a death wish.

Above are most common plants used in Vancouver. Whether you believe or not, bringing any plants into the home or workplace provides a health benefit. Traditional Chinese culture is ahead of the world culture on this. In traditional culture lucky plants are used to attract whatever you need more of in your life in the coming year whether it be health, happiness, love or money.

Thanks to all of you who take time to read this. I cannot thank you enough. “Xin Nian Kuai Le” to all of you, which is Happy New Year in the Mandarin.

Frank Shang
2018.Feb.03