Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

flowers Archive



June 2017

Roses: Rosa Hybrid Pink Promise Tea Rose

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Last year, Wes and I planted our first four rose bushes. While roses are delicate and relatively high-maintenance, we enjoyed our experience with the beautiful blooms so much last year that we planted a fifth rose bush (rosa hybrid pink promise rose) early on this season (beginning of May).

pink promise roses

Planted in a different location of our garden than the other bushes, we were impressed with the rich green foliage of the Pink Promise hybrid tea rose from the very beginning. The pink promise rose bush was already about two feet tall when we purchased it, and with the addition of blooms, it continues to grow (this hybrid tea rose bush grows to be about 4 feet tall at it’s maximum).


While initially I was so excited that the latest addition to our rose garden seemed healthy, it wasn’t long before we noticed some clusters on the bush. After some research and polling my #gardenchat friends on Twitter, we realized we were dealing with aphids. You may know aphids as “plant lice”, and whatever you call them, they’re a total pest and they feed on new plant growth.


The good news is that a swift blast of water on the leaves and bloom of our pink promise rose bush seemed to get rid of the aphids. The problem is that they tend to come back. We’ve been keeping an eye on the pest situation, and we think we may be dealing with more than just aphids, as now we’ve got almost transparent spots on the leaves of our pink promise rose bush. From the experience with our other four hybrid rose bushes last year, I’m fairly sure we are dealing with sawfly larvae again.

pink promise roses

Besides the potential for pests, hybrid rose bushes are some of the most beautiful and rewarding plants to enjoy in your garden. There is something so satisfying about watching the development of new blooms on a rose bush that is both beautiful and inspiring.

Our pink promise hybrid rose bush has just produced its first bloom, and we are looking forward to many more throughout the summer.

The pink promise hybrid tea rose requires 6+ hours of daily sunlight, which makes it a perfect fit for our front garden. The elegant pink flowers have a creamy white centre, and are a classic choice for cut roses (they work well in a floral arrangement or as a standalone bloom).

While we were promised that the pink promise rose is incredibly disease and pest-resistant, I’ve got to say between the aphids and the sawfly larvae that we put them in the same category as our other rose bushes: Delicate and high-maintenance.

For more on our experience with roses, check out these posts on the other rose bushes in our garden: Our bolero floribunda roses, singin’ in the rain roses, ten-ten hybrid tea roses, and our beloved Oscar Peterson roses.



May 2017

Gardening: Double Late Tulips

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tulips double late tulips

A few years ago at Savour the Flavours, I purchased a brown bag of tulip bulbs. Planted late in the fall that year, these tulips have added a burst of colour each spring season since.

I trimmed the tulips and gave them as a floral arrangement, and there were several comments about how much the blooms looked like peonies. Interestingly enough, while there are tulip-peony hybrid flowers, these blooms are indeed tulips. Double late tulips, to be exact.

An excellent reproducer, these double late tulip blooms are beautiful, low-maintenance, and love the sun — perfect for a garden that gets 6+ hours of sun each day. This year, I documented their growth from first blooms to cut flowers (check out the photos below).

Double late tulips are also known as peony-flowered tulips. They’re called double late because their flower is double the average tulip (in size and leaf). Typically, double late tulips bloom in the late spring (ours sprouted up late April, with blooms showing in early May).

Double late tulips prefer lots of sun. LOTS of sun. They require very little maintenance, and make excellent cut flowers. If you’re looking to plant your own double late tulips, do so in the fall, before the first hard frost.

Did you know that there are more than 3,000 registered tulip varieties?

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips


tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips

tulips double late tulips




February 2017

Gardening | How to cut roses

Written by , Posted in Gardening

how to cut roses gardening

Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda rose | Img src Hope Reflected

There are thousands of rose varieties in the world. Some natural, some hybrids, roses can be separated into three groups: Species roses, old garden roses, and modern garden roses. Species roses are natural, old garden roses were cultivated before 1867, and modern garden roses were cultivated after 1867.

how to cut roses gardening

White Bolero Floribunda rose | Img src Hope Reflected

In our garden, Wes and I have started a collection of hybrid roses, each of a different colour and variety. A hybrid rose is created by the cross-breeding of two types of roses. While some hybrids are more hearty than others, hybrid roses make for a beautiful addition to any garden in full or partial sun.

how to cut roses gardening

White Bolero Floribunda roses | Img src Hope Reflected

If you’re looking to trim back your garden roses to enjoy indoors or to give away, there are some steps you’ll want to take to ensure you get the most out of your cut roses.

Tips for how to cut roses:

  1. Make sure your garden shears are clean. This can affect the quality of your cut roses. If you’ve been working with plants in your garden that have disease or bacteria, you don’t want that to spread to your rose bush (either the cut rose or the rose bush that remains in the ground).
  2. Cut the roses at the right stage. A good rule of thumb is to cut roses from your garden just after they’ve matured from a bud to a flower, when the petals are starting to blossom. This can vary depending what variety of rose you’re working with.
  3. Cut your roses first thing in the morning. If you can’t cut your roses before 9:00am, the second best time would be in the evening after the sun has gone down. You want to catch the rose bush when it’s still cool and holding water. This will not only make your cut roses last longer, it will also assist the remaining rose bush in recovery and regrowth.
  4. Cut your roses at the right angle and place. Don’t cut the rose stem straight across, you’ll want to trim the bush at a 45 degree angle. This will assist in drinking when you put the cut roses in a vase. Cut the stems as close to the base of the rose bush as possible.
  5. Remove any leaves that will fall below the water line. A good rule of thumb for any cut flower (not just roses) is to remove any leave that could potentially sit in the water of your vase. It’s important to leave some leaves higher up on the stem to assist the flower in drinking water, however any leaves that would fall below the water line should be removed before you put the roses in the vase.
how to cut roses gardening

Red Ten-Ten hybrid tea rose | Img src Hope Reflected




September 2016

5 Fall Flowers for Your Garden

Written by , Posted in Gardening

There’s certainly (hopefully) still some warm weather to enjoy before we’re full-blown into Fall, especially if our ferns, hydragneas, and rose bushes are any indication. That being said, Wes and I have been putting some thought into Fall flowers and considering what we’d like to incorporate into our yard in the future.

I’ve been pinning some great Fall flower gardening options over on my Pinterest, and I’ve got to say, the options for flowers in a Fall garden are endless! There are so many varieties of blooms out there. We’re already planning ahead what perennials we want to get growing for next year. In the meantime, here are 5 Fall flowers for your garden:


1. Aster. Ah, the aster flower. In hues like purple, white, pink, and even blue, asters provides excellent colour to stand out in your Fall garden, long after other blooms have died off for the year. While they look similar to mums, don’t be deceived. Asters don’t come in as many varieties or colours as mums.

5 fall flowers for your garden asters

img src prariemoon.com


2. Colchicums. Beautiful, bold, and bright, colchicums (like the Waterlily variety pictured below) provide a lovely spread of blooms throughout the Fall. Available in white and pink hues, colchicums are a great perennial to plant and enjoy year after year.

5 fall flowers for your garden colchicum flowers

img src Brecks Bulbs


3. Sedum. These flowers are a sure sign to me that autumn is in the air. I can remember sedum flowers growing in my Mum’s garden when I was a child. This perennial features clusters and clusters of flowers, most commonly in a reddish pink colour. Sedums are a beautiful Fall flower!

5 fall flowers for your garden sedum flowers

img src Fine Gardening Magazine


4. Helenium. How cheerful are these daisy-like flowers?! Heleniums look like a happy flower. Featuring velvety petals and available in a variety of autumnal shades, heleniums boom very late Summer and they love sun.

5 fall flowers for your garden helenium

img src Jacky Parker Floral Art Flickr


5. Mums. Chrysanthemums are probably the quintessential Fall flower. Available almost everywhere, fall mums are a classic flower to add some colour to your yard throughout the autumn months. Mums are beautiful, bright, and hardy.

5 fall flowers for your garden mums

img src thriftydecorchick.blogspot.sg

If you’re looking for more inspiration for your Fall garden, head on over to my Pinterest page and follow along!




August 2016

Roses: Rosa Hybrid Singin’ In the Rain Floribunda Rose

Written by , Posted in Gardening

A couple of weeks ago, I shared the first photos of the Bolero Floribunda Rose bush that Wes and I planted. Today, we’re sharing photos of our Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda Rose, one of three rose varieties that we planted in our front garden this Spring.

singin' in the rain floribunda rose

New bloom on our Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda Rose

On the receiving end of 6+ hours of sunlight each day, our front garden is the ideal spot for roses. Wes and I have been very impressed so far with the performance of our rose bushes so far this year. We water the roses regularly, and we’ve also been using a rose fertilizer every 10-14 days.

singin' in the rain floribunda rose

Our Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda Rose bush after we first fertilized

We got a few blooms right in the beginning, and then we trimmed the bush back. After fertilizing the first time, we saw thirteen more blooms, which we’ve since pruned back (and we’re now seeing more blooms). The Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda Rose is a brilliant copper-apricot peach coloured flower on a deep green leaf.

Singin' in the Rain Floribunda Rose

The brilliant peach-coloured blossoms of the Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda Rose

Admittedly, Wes and I have had some struggles with two of our rose bushes this year. Our Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda Rose and our Ten-Ten Hybrid Tea Rose have been plagued with sawfly larvae (more on that later). After treating the bushes and trimming them back, the new blooms appear unaffected.

singin' in the rain floribunda roses

Trimming back our Singin’ in the Rain roses after they were attacked by rose sawfly larvae.

Growing up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, many people choose to use Singin’ in the Rain Roses as part of a plant hedge, by planting multiples of the rose bush in one place. Roses in general are also a great plant choice if you’re looking to attract bees to your garden.

Singin' in the Rain Floribunda Roses

Our Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda Roses after fertilizing.

You can see in the above photo how the hue of apricot/peach deepens with each new bloom. Older blooms are apt to be lighter in colour. The Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda Rose is an excellent specimen if you’re looking to trim and enjoy the cut flowers inside. Just beware that this specimen of roses has a thick spine and thorns.

Singin' in the Rain Floribunda Roses

We’ve been enjoying our Singin’ in the Rain Floribunda Roses this year!

If you’re looking to plant rose bushes in your yard, we’d recommend you choose to plant them in the Spring, in an area of your yard that receives lots of sunlight. Also, watering and regular fertilization is key. Wes and I have been using Miracle Gro, however there are other rose fertilizers on the market with good reviews. We are enjoying this particular rose variety, and look forward to many more blooms even before the end of this season!



April 2016

Flower Container and Planter Inspiration

Written by , Posted in Gardening

I think it’s safe to say that Spring has sprung, and that means people everywhere are readying their yards and porches for the agreeable weather ahead. If you’re looking for front porch inspiration, check out these flower container and planter ideas. There are so many beautiful planter combinations out there!

  1. Bright Potato Vineflower container and planter ideaWith any planter, a good rule of thumb is to include some plants with height, and others that hang and add interest. Enter the vivid green potato vine. Easy to combine with almost any other flower, potato vine adds contrast in this planter.

2. Rainbow of Colour

flower container and planter idea

While sometimes it’s cool to keep colours classic (think whites and greens), filling a container with flowers of several shades is like an instant encouragement! The pops of purple, yellow, and red in this planter are so bright! And remember, a great container garden has height as well as hang — and this planter is a perfect example.

3. Cabbage!

flower planter and container idea

While this container is more suitable for the cooler fall months, I’ve gotta say, I’m LOVING the colourful cabbage and ornamental kale in this planter! Add to that the white pumpkins, and you’ve got a container that’s as interesting as it is beautiful.

4. Unlikely Flowersflower container and planter idea

If you’re like me, when planning a flower container garden, tulips aren’t the first flower that comes to mind as a good candidate. That being said, I’m loving the look of these planters, filled with lots of seasonal favourites, including several varieties of tulips. These containers are also a great example of the rule of threes: Try combining three planters of varying heights, filled with complementary flowers.

For more flower container and planter inspiration, visit my Pinterest.



April 2016


Written by , Posted in Gardening

A couple of years ago, I purchased some tulip bulbs, which sat in my kitchen through the winter, until one day when my Mum was visiting, she planted them. Last Spring, when the tulips bloomed, they were the most vibrant red.

Those same tulips in our garden started to sprout up with the warm weather we had a few weeks back. Wes and I both intended to cover them, however — as frequently happens in life — things of more importance took precedence.  Since then, we’ve had sleet, snow, ice, rain, more snow, and as a result we’ve been questioning whether or not the tulips will bloom when Spring finally makes an appearance.

red tulips bouquet

Being the incredible man that he is, Wes brings me home flowers every Friday. This past Friday, he picked up the most beautiful, fresh tulips from Elora St. Flowers — and they’re red, just like the ones in our garden. *sigh* I’ve been enjoying these beauties the past few days, and I have to say, they make me eager for warmer days and to see our outdoor flowers!

Like robins, tulips are a sure sign of Spring. Part of the lily family, tulip flowers come in a wide array of colours, and there are more than 3,000 varieties of the flower. You may associate tulips with Holland, and rightfully so, however tulips are thought to have originated in Central Asia.

red tulip flowers

While the tulips in our garden are midseason bloomers (late April/early May), you can purchase tulips that bloom as early as March and as late as mid-May. These attractive flowers offer a lot of vibrance for very little maintenance.

On a more important note, April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and the tulip is the symbol of hope for a cure.

red tulip flowers



March 2016

Hope Reflected: 3 Ways to Be Encouraged

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work


This column was originally published in early February 2016, in the midst of winter.

So far this winter, – knock on wood, – has been relatively mild, bright, and manageable. We’re just over halfway through the season, and there haven’t been too many days filled with dark skies and endless grey clouds. And for that, I’m thankful (seasonal affective disorder sufferers, rejoice!). That being said, it’s most common that when we reach just beyond the halfway point – whether in seasons, personal or professional goals, or schoolwork, – that we can begin to feel restless or ready to give up. If you’ve ever fought feelings of discouragement, you know what I mean. For those times when you’re feeling down, fatigued, or even restless, a little encouragement can go a long way.

I’m thankful to be surrounded by several people who inspire courage, and I’m also aware that sometimes the people who freely give support or encourage others are the very people who need encouragement the most!

If you’re reading this today and you find yourself fatigued, or restless, or in need of a little pick-me-up, here are three ways to find encouragement today:

  1. Write a gratitude list. David said in Psalm 103:2 (KJV), “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits”. If you need some encouragement, count your blessings and create a gratitude list. It’s easier said than done, but often I take for granted the very things that people in other parts of the world long for – a peaceful neighbourhood, a pillow for my head, and a place to call home. That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of God’s blessings.
  2. Go for a walk or pick up some flowers. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 (KJV), Solomon wrote that, “He [God] hath made every thing beautiful in his time”. Even though I don’t have a green thumb, I always find it encouraging to be surrounded by flowers and other examples of God’s creativity and handiwork. It’s amazing how a walk outdoors and some fresh air can help you feel encouraged.
  3. Get into God’s Word. Not familiar with the Bible? The Psalms are a great place to start, and within those pages you’ll find some of the most encouraging truths. These timeless poems and songs contain some of the most poignant phrases, which are uplifting to read and to recall to mind.

There are more than three ways you can encourage yourself, but these three provide an effective starting point. It is true what they say, that a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. It’s an incredible gift to serve others, but don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. It’s easier to encourage another when you’re at a place of positivity!


Originally published as “3 Ways to Be Encouraged.” Minto Express. February 10, 2016: 5. Print.



March 2016

Hydrangea Plants

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Every Friday, Wes has been known to bring me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. This past weekend, we celebrated Easter with some beautiful Hydrangea blooms. We have two Hydrangea bushes in our outdoor garden (which usually bloom mid-summer). Since it’s too early for blooms outdoors, these indoor plants were a welcome addition to our kitchen, brightening up the space with their voluptuous shape and vibrant colour.


The name Hydrangea comes from the Greek “Hydro“, meaning “Water“, and “Angeion“, meaning “Vase“. As you know, Hydrangea plants love their sun and they love their water. The plants have two flower arrangements: One is the mophead flower (pictured here), and the other is the lacecap flower.

pink and white hydrangea.

The Hydrangea plant was originally discovered in the 1730s by an English-American botanist, John Bartram. Bartram became King George III’s botanist and is widely known as the “Father of American Botany”.


While white is the most common colour of Hydrangea, in some species the plant can also be pink, purple, blue, and even green. Regardless of the hue, Hydrangea blossoms remain some of my favourite. Not only is the flower itself beautiful, but these plants have healthy green leaves, which make for a lovely contrast.





May 2014

3 Essential Perennials for Every Garden

Written by , Posted in Gardening

I’m slowly developing my green thumb, with some outdoor plants that, as my Mum puts it, are “low maintenance”. While I have to discipline myself to water on a regular basis, thus far things are looking lovely, and this Spring I’m up to the challenge of adding a few additional plants in my garden. Before I get to that however, I’d like to share three essential perennials for every garden. These are low maintenance, easy enjoyment plants that everyone should have in her (or his) garden.

A perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. Perennials will (or should, if you plant them correctly) bloom year after year, and provide you with long-term gardening success. Long after the blooms and leaves die off for the season, the root remains and will sprout up each Spring or Summer.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had some hearty perennials planted, which are sprouting well so far this Spring. Here are three essential perennials I’ve got growing in my gardens:

Beautiful periwinkle blue forget-me-nots in my garden. img copyright hopereflected.com

Beautiful periwinkle blue forget-me-nots in my garden. img copyright hopereflected.com

1. Forget-Me-Nots (perennial, good in part sun to full sun): Tiny little forget-me-nots are sweet, delicate flowers (mine are blue, but this perennial is available in pink and white). Forget-me-not blooms are rather short-lived (they bloom early in the season), and they spread well because of their generous seeds. [Note to fellow amateur green-thumbs: If you don’t want these blues to spread, then best plant them in a pot or collect and dispose of unwanted seeds once they drop.] Two years ago, I transplanted my forget-me-nots along the edge of my gardens, to use as complementary edging. It’s worked out well, and with each passing year they grow more and more.

My peony garden. img copyright hopereflected.com

My peony garden. img copyright hopereflected.com

Deep magenta peonies in my garden. img copyright hopereflected.com

Deep magenta peonies in my garden. img copyright hopereflected.com

Pretty pink peony. img copyright hopereflected.com

Pretty pink peony. img copyright hopereflected.com

2. Peonies (perennial, good in part sun to full sun): Peonies are perhaps the most well-loved perennials out there. I’ve yet to meet a girl who doesn’t love these resplendent blooms. Peonies can be light pinks, reds, even whites or yellows. The pretty petals in my garden are a mixture of the most feminine pink and also a rich deep magenta. The long-fingered green stems usually bloom early Summer (the pictures here I took last June). If you plan to enjoy indoors as part of a bouquet, pick early to avoid ant infestation in the blooms.

Hosta in my garden. img copyright hopereflected.com

‘Formal Attire’ hosta in my garden. img copyright hopereflected.com

Hosta and hydragnea in my garden. img copyright hopereflected.com

‘Aztec Treasure’ hosta in my garden. img copyright hopereflected.com

3. Hostas (perennial, good in shade, part sun): Hostas are hearty plants. There are more than 50 different hosta varieties, and I was fortunate enough last Spring to have a neighbour give me about ten hosta plants (of several varieties) to enjoy in my garden. Easy to grow, hostas make a lovely accent in any garden. [Cool idea: For a moveable garden, try planting a hosta plant in a container.]