Things to do with the abundance
 of flowers in your garden

Nancy Gmeiner
Adams County Master Gardener

What are you going to do with the abundance of flowers in your garden? Make a flower arrangement, a corsage or .... you could try something different - a Hawaiian lei, for instance.

Black-eyed Susan
Rudbeckia hirta

Check your garden for daisies, roses, carnations, orchids - and yes, even, black-eyed susans. If you are fortunate enough to have a plumeria, you have the flower known as the Hawaiian lei flower. In Hawaii, they have flowers galore because the temperature is ideal for growth, but you can use whatever is in your garden and the result will be very similar.

To start, you will need a tapestry or doll needle, waxed dental floss, scissors and colorful plastic straws cut in one-inch pieces. The plastic straws are to be used between each blossom. The original lei needle that can be 12 inches or 18 inches long is difficult to find in this area. It is very expensive to order from Hawaii, so a tapestry or doll needle will suffice.

Measure the dental floss from around your neck to your waist and then double it. Knot your thread 3 times about 3 inches from the bottom, thread your needle, and begin. Please note that you may also use silk flowers to make an artificial lei. With silk flowers, you must cut away part of the blossom so the hole will be exposed.

A small lei will take about 38 blossoms, an adult lei takes about 50 blossoms. You should check and see how many of each flower you have so you may form a pattern, e.g. 3 roses, 9 daisies, 4 carnations, 2 orchids, etc. until you have reached your desired amount. You can also add silk leaves every so often if you wish. You can choose all the same flowers or use your imagination for the design.

Push the needle through the face or the receptacle part of the flower to start, add the one-inch colored straw and then another flower. Continue to alternate a blossom and a straw piece until the lei is of the desired length.

Make a lei by yourself or get a group together. This is an especially enjoyable group project, as the group members can bring whatever flowers they might have in their gardens, providing a greater variety of flower choices and combinations for the leis.

In the summer it can be a lot of fun to have an outdoor Hawaiian party called a luau. Hawaiian food, fun and assorted activities can make a great theme for an engagement, a birthday, an anniversary, graduation or other special occasion. Making leis can be a great icebreaker activity for adults. Children especially enjoy making leis - a tiny one for a doll or a larger one for each child - either challenges a child's creative genius and will surely be a hit at the Hawaiian-theme party.

A great special gift idea is one that my son-in-law used - he ordered a lei from a florist to give to my daughter on their wedding anniversary. What a unique way to celebrate in place of a flower arrangement! While it can be a bit expensive, it is certainly a unique way to give a gift of flowers. And if you use your own garden beauties, the cost is minimal and the result magnificent. Be creative and add a Hawaiian twist to your next celebration - ALOHA!

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