Monday, 10 December 2012

the truth behind naughty, nice and lists...

The bad news...
Forget about making a list and sending it to Santa, he is far too busy to spend time on anyone over the age of 12.

The good news...
To address this sad situation some of the elves on James Street North and Cannon have devised a Wish List of our own, and here is how it works:

- pick up a Wish List at any of the participating retailers

- take a little stroll along James North and Cannon and jot down the items you covet, and the store where you found them

- give your completed list to your personal Santa (or, seriously, you can use it to shop for yourself!)

- bring the Wish List to the participating store and you’ll get 15% off your heart's desire.


You can find and use the Wish List at i fiori and at these other fine shops:
White Elephant
Hawk & Sparrow
Art Gallery of Hamilton Design Annex
Hansen & Lubbers
Mixed Media
O’s Clothes
Mulberry Street Cafe

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Deck that hall

Its time!
James Street North is officially in holiday gear, and i fiori is bursting with branches and berries and boughs and ideas to bring the best part of the winter season into your home. And, as usual, we can tailor what we have in the shop to your needs.

fresh BC cedar garland by the foot
We have fresh BC cedar garland available by the foot, and arriving fresh every few days (as opposed to sitting in some wooden box since last October... Hmmmm... can we mention 'fresh' one more time?)
If you just want a piece to trail down the centre of your table - let us know how much you need. We will cut the garland to your requirements - it is as simple as that.

birch poles cut to size

And can we discuss birch...?
We have birch poles. Lots of birch poles.
This Saturday we will be able to cut the birch poles - to the size you want - while you wait.
So whether you are making a centrepiece or putting your own spin on an urn or needing a new curtain rod - you can have exactly the length you need.

dogwood branches

and then there are branches...
cardinal red dogwood and wild curly willow and rosehips and sweet huck...

It can make you like winter!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

the holiday season begins on james north

The timing is about right, the approach is not too 'in your face'... the holiday season is begins this week on James Street North.
Most of the shops and studios will be open a bit later on Thursday and Friday evenings and we are all looking a bit more festive. For those of you who have been in the shop lately, high-stepping over coils of grapevine and getting tangled in wild rosehip branches, you know that i fiori has become a hive of activity.

What's ready this week? amaryllis & cypress!

amaryllis bulbs are in the shop & ready for planting now
Amaryllis are ridiculously simple to grow:
- they thrive in virtually any growing medium
- place gravel in the bottom of the pot for weight and to improve drainage
- heavier clay pots are preferable to plastic ones
- plant them with the top third of the bulb above the soil's surface.
- place them in a well-lit spot.
- water when you remember.

the lemon cypress trees have arrived!
Lemon cypress are evergreen trees that have naturally bright greenish-yellow foliage. The leaves give off a citrus fragrance, especially when cut. It is a hardy, versatile tree, requires very little care and can be used both indoors and out.

lemon cypress topiary
The cypress - like all of the plants at i fiori - are born and raised in Ontario greenhouses. They will thrive in a variety of climates but try to avoid extreme heat or cold. They prefer moist, well-drained soil - do not let the roots become waterlogged. And as you will probably keep them in the house this winter - your cypress will also appreciate a misting once or twice a week to offset our dry indoor heat.

When planted in a container, either indoors or outdoors, you should prune the tree occasionally to keep it at the preferred height and shape.

We have 4" pots with mini shrubs - perfect for tabletop or mantle displays, classic topiaries and larger 6" potted shrubs.

Great colour,  fresh scents and a subtle nod to the season - what is not to like?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

flowering plants and bulbs for forcing

Narcissus Bulbs

The Narcissus bulbs have arrived!
In the shop now and ready to 'force', narcissus or paperwhites can be planted in soil or simply nestle the bulbs into pebbles with water just touching their base. The roots will begin to set, and in 4 to 6 weeks you will have beautiful fragrant narcissus flowers.

A few bulbs, a simple vase or jar and some pebbles make a perfect holiday gift. When started in late December, they will deliver a burst of early spring flowers in late January... when just about everyone needs a little burst.


Beautiful, elegant and easy to grow if you follow a few guidelines
-  they prefer bright, indirect light. Do not place in direct sunlight.
- keep compost/soil medium moist, but not drenched, allow to dry slightly between watering, ans never let the plant roots sit in excess water. The plants appreciate misting to keep the humidity level up
- they prefer warm temperatures, so the average house temperature is fine. Keep them away from cold drafts which can discolour the flower spathe
- anthuriums can be toxic if ingested. Take care with anthuriums around animals and small children.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

lavender and more from Weir's Lane

I am happy to announce that i fiori will now have products from Weir's Lane Lavender & Apiary in Dundas - a family run farm which feels like a small piece of Provence - but oh so close to Hamilton. The farm itself is open for tours, be sure to check their website for the days and hours they are open.

Why so crazy about lavender? It is a natural antiseptic, and its properties as a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal agent are well documented.
Research also shows that breathing in the smell of lavender makes you drowsy, apparently the scent lowers heart rate and blood pressure, putting you in a relaxed state.
Culinary lavender buds are rich in phytonutrients (good-for-you plant compounds) as well as polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) which can help reduce the 'bad' bacteria in your gut and calm your stomach.

At i fiori you can now find:
- lavender sachets 
       small size for drawers, to place between your pillow case & pillow, or gym bags
       large size for closets
- lavender hand cream
- lavender & beeswax lip balm

- lavender pillow and linen spray
- lavender hand soap
- all purpose household cleaner
- yoga mat/exercise equipment cleaner 

- herb de provence blend with lavender, thyme, savory, marjoram and rosemary

- lavender essential oil

One of my favourite things at home and in the shop is to place one drop of lavender essential oil on the tip of a cotton boll - for a beautiful, natural looking, and low-tech room scent

...stems of cotton bolls are always available in the shop

Monday, 8 October 2012

the season of branches and pods and berries!

w-h-e-w. It has been a long, busy time between posts!

Thanksgiving is behind us, a time which means turkeyturkeyturkey to most, but many more of us celebrate the harvest vegetables that we are so fortunate to have in abundance in southern Ontario. I'm not sure if the turkey can trump roasted root vegetables tossed with fresh herbs, or beets drizzled with balsamic vinegar and accented with creamy goat's cheese... But I digress.
Like the turkey and Thanksgiving - many tie autumn with mums. ...pots and pots of mums.
Well, at i fiori we have some beautiful mums... and the shop is bursting with other tempting ideas to help you bring some fabulous autumn colour into your home or business.
white spider mum
green fuji mum
Now, combine these beauties with interesting branches and seed pods - and you have a fall arrangement that just might surpass that mum-in-a-pumpkin centerpiece.

We can help you select the branches, pods and flowers which will combine to offer autumn colour with great structure and unexpected texture.
bixa seed pods

kangaroo paw - a shop favourite 

asclepias 'moby dick'
- actually a subset of our common milkweed

asclepias 'scarlet milkweed'

...and the popular japanese lanterns

As an added bonus many branches and pods will last and last - so they only need to be updated periodically with fresh flowers to change their look.

You can always expect the stock at i fiori to be changing and evolving with the season, with our passionate commitment to locally grown fresh flowers and irresistible accents.

See you soon - maybe this friday during the october art crawl!

Friday, 27 July 2012

the air plants are here!

ahhh, tillandsia
Finally, we have an assortment of air plants in the shop!
elegant and sculptural shapes
A type of bromeliad... oh what the heck, let's get all nerdy and call them by the right name, they are "tillandsia".

Essentially these are small plants that have latched onto a host plant or tree (think: rain forest) and draw their nourishment - not from their roots or soil - but from the dew and the air. It is the ultimate low maintenance plant.

air plants in our hanging terrariums
care of air plants
Not much to say here. You will need to water your airplants occasionally, to mimic the moisture they would get from dew or rain. Maybe mist them twice a week or so depending on how dry your home or office is, and every couple weeks give them a good dunk in water, let them air-dry and reposition them in your arrangement. They can go longer without water, but are happier and healthier with a little bit of attention.
They like bright light - artificial is just fine. Be careful if you place them in a glass terrarium - keep them out of direct sunlight - the light and heat will be too intense.
See you in the shop! As usual there is a dizzying assortment of succulents to choose from, a fluffy fern or two to help clean your air and some of the freshest flowers you can imagine.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

mojitos & pasta tossed with fresh asparagus and garlic scapes...

You are on the i fiori blog.
Summer is here, and the hot weather makes sitting on the balcony, sipping a mojito and eating a pasta salad with local asparagus and scapes seem like the right thing to be doing.

The latest and the freshest plants in store this week are rosemary (or as one customer said, "this is the best-looking rosemary I have ever seen..."
More English lavender arrived on Thursday, as well as bushy, healthy mojito mint
mojito mint
There are so many different varieties and flavours of this herb, but if you want the essence of real mint try the mojito mint. With a pure mint flavour, it is perfect for salads, vegetarian and meat dishes, jams and preserves - and of course - mojitos.

the Mojito
In an 8 to 10 ounce glass, combine 10-15 rinsed fresh mint leaves and 2 teaspoons superfine sugar.
With a muddler or a wooden spoon, coarsely crush mint leaves with sugar in the bottom of the glass.
- 4 to 5 tablespoons light rum
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Mix well.
Fill glass with ice cubes and top off with chilled soda water.Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
Makes 1 serving.

And what about garlic scapes?
These curly, deep-green stalks are the flower shoots that grow from young garlic bulbs and are available to us in southern Ontario in mid-June. They meander and twist elegantly in vases, and the best part? After you enjoy looking at them for a few days… you can eat them!

They are a bit like asparagus in texture, but have a subtle garlic aroma and gentle taste - much milder than the garlic cloves. The entire stalk and flower are edible. They are wonderful additions to puréed dips, pestos, marinades, fritatas, salads, pasta dishes, stir-fries - any dish that you want a really fresh-tasting hint of garlic flavour (try them with new baby potatoes!). You can use them raw, gently steamed or stir-fried.

I have a small amount of fresh scapes in the shop, and like fresh local asparagus - they will not last long.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

terrariums & succulents

This week a limited number of hanging and tabletop terrariums will arrive in the shop. These are beautiful blown glass orbs - the hanging terrariums have an integrated glass loop on top, and both the hanging and the tabletop terrariums can nestle onto a ceramic ring for use on flat surfaces.
They are ideal for small tropical plants, filled with pebbles and mixed mosses, or planted with a selection from the many succulents we have in the shop.

This season has seen a renewed interest in succulents - for good reason! Succulents are
  • easy to care for
  • adaptable to most environments and light conditions
  • drought tolerant 
  • they come in an amazing variety of shapes and colours

With one of the largest assortments of succulents to choose from, i fiori has an ever-changing and expanding selection.

large, sculptural flapjacks
the delicate and whimsical 'string of pearls'

finishing moss
New in store are packages of finishing moss for use with plants, orchids, and ideal for the terrariums.
Choose from 3 different types or combine them as part of your design:
  • sheet moss: sometimes referred to as woodland moss, it is sterilized and dormant (dry), but is easily reconstituted in warm water to create a natural looking, classic soil cover
  • spanish moss: remains dry and used primarily for texture interest or to cover the soil
  • reindeer moss: fluffy clumps used for texture interest and as a soil cover

sheet moss   :   spanish moss   :   reindeer moss

Thursday, 10 May 2012

art crawl, taste of downtown, mother's day... oh my!

You have to love James Street North - nothing seems to unfold gradually anymore. Thursday we welcomed the grand opening of CBC Hamilton, Friday is the May Art Crawl, Saturday we are the thoroughfare for Taste of Downtown in support of the United Way, and Sunday is Mother's Day - with no shortage of great restaurants on the street to 'treat' those special women in your life'.

And of course there is i fiori! We have so much to choose from - the fridge is stocked with beautiful fresh peonies, roses, astilbe, lisianthus, freesia... we can put together an elegant, pretty and custom bouquet for you in minutes. A very popular arrangement this year is the garden jar. This is a small jar with a wire handle ideal for hanging on a patio or deck this summer to hold tea lights - but you can give it filled with a perfect little bouquet of fresh blooms.

For something different look at our succulents, orchids, hanging vases and planters. Here is a small glimpse of what is in store...
european hand-tied bouquets
garden jars

perfect for desks or night tables

3 or 4 on a table create a centrepiece you can actually see over

chocolate hazelnut truffle 'eggs' in a sweet little nest - sold-out at Easter,
 I have brought them back for mother's day

lemon  or tahitian vanilla/coconut marshmallows

lavender plants - happy indoors or the garden, and lavender sachets

magnetic test tube vases perfect for fridges, steel doors, filing cabinets (seen here attached to the original tin ceiling tiles from the historic Dominion Furniture Building - soon to be the home of the Art Gallery!)

ceramic hanging planters for plants, tea lights, bird seed

I hope to see you this weekend!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Art Crawl, Lavender and the Environment

Between the good weather, the Lister Block grand opening and the April Art Crawl - James Street North was buzzing with activity on Friday. Time and again, throughout the evening, people said to me, "This is the first time I have come to an Art Crawl - I had no idea how terrific it was!"

Hmmmm. Perhaps the secret is finally getting out?

During the crawl i fiori partnered up with the ECOScene people to help them fund-raise in order to support their endeavours. Founded in 2008, the ECOScene Film & Arts Festival is a collaboration between the local arts and environmental communities to raise awareness of environmental issues through the arts. ECOScene is the only festival of its kind in Canada dedicated to supporting the local creative community. The festival’s charitable partner, Arts Hamilton, assists local filmmakers and artists in creating environmentally-inspired works that will be featured at upcoming festivals.

Films, workshops and exhibits continue this week and until the end of the month and are worth investigating:
For my part, i fiori featured lavender plants (who doesn't want a lavender plant?) Net proceeds from the sale of each plant during the Art Crawl last Friday and throughout this week will be donated to the ECOScene festival.
I have 4 types of lavender in the shop, each with its own purpose and attraction. Scroll down to the 'lavender post' for more information.

Monday, 2 April 2012

more than chocolate bunnies

By now you should know to expect something a little bit different at i fiori, and you can forget the mass produced chocolate rabbits (and I use that term 'chocolate' loosely...).
For the next few weeks only, we will have chocolates and truffles and marshmallows from Saxon Chocolates. Hand made in small batches, natural ingredients, Belgian chocolate... all beautifully presented and ready to give as a little treat.

sweet little hatboxes filled with hazelnut truffles
marshmallows made with tahitian vanilla and rolled in coconut

delicately flavoured lemon marshmallows
...move over marshmallow peeps!

shop hours during Passover & Easter

Just a reminder that the hours i fiori will be open this week are a little different. If you are thinking of picking up flowers or plants, I will be open friday and saturday. If you want something in particular, please give me a call or email me so that I can have it ready for you!

sunday 1 / monday 2: closed as usual

tuesday april 3: open from 11 to 6pm
wednesday april 4: open from 11 to 6pm
thursday april 5: open from 11 to 1:30 & 4:30 to 7pm
friday april 6: open from 11am to 5pm
saturday april 7: open from 10am to 5pm

sunday 8 / monday 9 / tuesday 10: i fiori will be closed

the lavender is here

The first lavender is in, and I have 4 varieties to choose from:

jagged or fern-leaf lavender
  • compact foliage with tall graceful stems
  • subtle fragrance
  • plant outdoors if you like, this is a tender perennial and will have to be protected in winter - or brought inside in the fall

english lavender 'munstead'
  • the lavender you think about when you think about lavender(!)
  • traditional, intense fragrance
  • the flowers are edible. Like most herbs, use them fresh for a sweet subtle taste, or dried for a more intense flavour
  • plant outdoors if you like, this is a hardy perennial 

fragrant butterfly lavender
  • this is truly the fancy cousin from the big city
  • traditional, intense fragrance, with a very showy flower
  • plant outdoors in the summer, this is a tender perennial and will have to be protected in winter or brought inside in the fall
lavender 'grosso'
  • tall and fragrant French lavender
  • excellent for pot pourris, and also used for jams, jellies and baking
  • plant outdoors in the summer, but this is a tender perennial and will have to be protected through our winters or brought back inside in the fall