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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Flowers for Valentine’s Day

February is the month for lovers, mothers and children. Valentine's Day is commemorated with a plethora of flowers sent from one person to another, to show love, friendship and caring. While the symbolism of sending flowers to your loved one is obvious, many people no longer realize that there are flowers other than roses that can say "I love you." Most people who send or receive flowers are unaware of the history of flower-giving and the meanings attached to individual flowers.

Giving and receiving flowers was once part of an elaborate and lengthy courtship in which many different types of flowers were used to express sentiments and carry messages. Exchanges of flowers would take place over weeks and months, through the seasons, each as a conversation in flowers. Valentine's Day could be either a part of the conversation or the culmination of the courtship.

The language of flowers was a flourishing art in the Middle Ages. It allowed a couple to express themselves without writing or speaking (one could be overheard and letters intercepted) in the presence of peers and chaperons. Since these courtships took place over very long periods of time, the chance of someone noticing and interpreting correctly any one flower in the exchange was slight. Patterned to fit the ideals of courtly love, flower language allowed intentions to be declared, refusals and acceptances to be made, assignations arranged and lovers dismissed. Flowers sent messages depending on context, accompanying flowers, and how delivered. Some flowers had the same meaning but different messages.

To express yourself in the medieval fashion on Valentine's Day, give an arrangement of purple iris, crocus, and ivy. You would be sending a message that your heart was aflame (purple iris) with joy (crocus) and that you wanted her above all else (ivy)—pretty heavy stuff. Red carnations sent to an absent loved one would mean ardor and that you must see him soon. Snowdrops sent to an old lover would say that you wanted to start the romance again.
The medieval flower?language survived into the Victorian age, but the meanings were often changed. During the Middle Ages, white roses said "I do not love you." Slowly, this changed, until white roses meant innocence or “heavenly”. New flowers were added, and meanings of old ones tempered to match the era. The sending and receiving of flowers still remained an elaborate ritual, and many of our contemporary interpretations of "appropriate flowers" stem from the Victorian era.

This year, instead of sending your sweetheart red roses, consider sending a bouquet of white lilies, red tulips and narcissus mixed in with a small amount of stocks. After all, red roses only express "I love you," but the mixed bouquet means "It's heavenly to be with you; I love you, believe me; always stay as sweet as you are; and you'll always be beautiful to me."

Sending someone a bunch of purple lilacs means that you are experiencing the first emotions of love. Mix them with some jonquils to indicate you would like the affection returned.

Mothers and fathers take note! Should your daughter receive Spider flowers for Valentine's Day, the young man has just asked her to elope with him! If you are a diehard rose fan and nothing else will do, send your mother some pink roses to tell her she's still young and beautiful. White roses can mean either the person is heavenly or innocent, or that you consider yourself worthy of that person. Yellow roses express jealousy. Send them only if your relationship is already on the way out. Give Tea roses to your best friend to let her know you'll always remember.

To see more about flower lore and language, see:


Don't let Valentine's Day be just one day of the year. With flower exchanges, you can keep the romance going all year round.

Valentine Gift for That “Special Someone” Gardener

There are certain basics which must be remembered when selecting a gift for a loved one. First of all, get something useful. Next, get something that they wouldn't buy for themselves. Then, make sure it is a very special gift that will creep into every conversation about joyful memories for a long time to come. The acid test for the acceptance of a gift idea is to imagine how you would feel if someone presented the same gift to you. Some go for the sensory gifts, i.e., those that feel nice to the touch or have an unforgettable fragrance. Obviously, there is only one gift that applies perfectly to all of these—manure.

Manure is environmentally safe, and usually, non?hazardous to your health. I use the term "usually" since there are some who view manure as a vile, disgusting material that shouldn't be discussed by those of proper social standing. Obviously, gardeners are not of proper social standing because I have seen them fight over a pile of manure. Gardeners look beyond the objectionable aspects of manure and see the true value of a magnificent pile. They remember the old saying that beauty is only manure deep—or something to that effect.

Manure offers many benefits. The most notable are available soil phosphorus and enhanced water infiltration rates. Normally, inorganic phosphates such as those in 15?10?10, 10?10?5 fertilizers are used for crop production. Chemical reactions with soil?and?water calcium alter the phosphorus to forms that become unavailable to plants. Fresh chemical phosphates need to be applied prior to planting each vegetable crop. When manure decays, organic phosphates are released and the total plant available phosphorus level is also increased. Organic phosphates may persist for many years after manure applications have stopped. The phosphorus also moves much deeper into the soil than do inorganic phosphorus fertilizers.

Manure application also increases water infiltration dramatically compared to plots without manure. In fact, studies indicate that plots without man;ure can be properly irrigated five times faster than non?irrigated plots. Manure also keeps soils from tightly sealing while crops are growing.

There are three problems that can cause manure to be more of a problem than an asset. A source of manure is hard to find with so many gardeners scouring the countryside looking for this barnyard delight. Secondly, one must consider the source of the manure. If the animal that is kindly furnishing the manure has been grazing on range grasses and weeds, chances are that undigested seeds will cause problems in your garden. If animals wouldn't eat so fast and chew their food properly, we wouldn't have this problem! Thirdly, large amounts of salts in the manure can kill garden plants if large quantities are used. Salt content is one of the major problems of using sewage sludge—too many water softeners polluting a potentially excellent manure source—and feedlot manure where cattle are being fed high salt rations.

Naturally, you would not want to give a loved one a gift which might present the hazards listed above. Fear not! I have a remedy! Nurseries in this area have sacks of manure that is pasteurized and sanitized. The manure will be neatly bagged—perfect for gift-wrapping—somewhat deodorized and 99.9 percent pure. The salt levels are relatively low so large quantities can be added to your garden without fear of plant damage. You could even consider a gift certificate for Valentine's Day—certainly enough to assure a loved one that you care enough to get the best.

How much manure should be added to a garden? Instructions on the bags indicate 40 pounds per 100 square feet of garden area. That is a good, safe recommendation, but if you want to be adventurous, double that amount in one section of your garden. Apply the manure at the 80 pounds per 100 square feet (8 pounds per tomato plant which are planted 3 feet apart), till it into the soil, then save a bag or two to mulch with. Plant a new tomato variety or the Texas A&M Supersweet 1015Y onion transplants into that area of "excessive" manure application and let me know how it produces for you. Plant some in your regularly prepared garden area without manure to have a comparison. I predict that you will have an abundance of the largest tomatoes and sweetest onions of your gardening career!

The most productive gardens in South Central Texas have been fertilized with "too much manure." Give a gift for Valentine's that will be remembered and enjoyed for months to come. A gift certificate that will allow a loved one to “manure-ize” the garden will show that you really care!