Saturday, August 13, 2011

Garden Love Leads to the Perfect Garden Gift

I have the “dirt” from those who know best: the garden’s spirited gnomes and sprites. 

Here’s what they whispered, on condition its scandalous “nature” would alarm the butterflies and honeybees:
Garden art flirted with botanical science a few years ago; when the romance blossomed, (ahem), their love child was born in a magical place: BloemBox! 
Every since, their progeny has become ever cuter, smarter, more clever and well, as Kate and Pippa’s parents might say, “To the royals they belong!”

You don’t believe the sprites?
Indeed, BloemBox is that rare garden gift item that has admirers tripping over their Roget’s.  I defy you to hold up and showcase any BloemBox like a pert cocktail or 50”s game show girl without hearing a medley of “Too cute!” or  “How sweet” or “It’s adorable.” 
And then, like seeing a kitten or cuddly puppy, they reach out expectantly, and insist on holding it.  As in “Let me see that.”  
Give it up. They will not be denied.

I first wrote about this happy discovery after receiving a hummingbird flower box from my sweet godchild, Erin. (,May 2011)  I was in rapture.  They had me at Bloem! That one still has a place of honor.

Since then, Laura Quatrochi, Designer and brainy, savvy Botanist behind the Bloembox brand, shared her line of six edible Heirloom veggies and herb garden treasures with me, earlier this spring.
Mea culpa.  It’s not her fault I was so shanghaied by my book deadline (Long Island Homegrown about chefs and their inspired gardens and growers. Due out early 2012) and some pressing family matters that, combined, delayed my posting. 
The elapsed time is in no way indicative of a lazy lover. Rather my ardor for the BloemBox compelled me to compose a fitting tribute that would tell you what a unique and smart item this is.  At least I Tweeted a number of times (@gardenglamour) to fan the flames of Bloem love. 

The full line of Veggie & Herb Gardens includes six gardens:

  • Nantes Carrot and Herb (for spring and fall planting) with bright orange baby carrot and feathery leaf top.  How horticultural thoughtful to have provided a Nantes carrot!  Described as “Almost perfectly cylindrical,” this high design carrot might make Bugs blush.  It’s no wonder the BloemBox geniuses took their inspiration from the carrot that bears its name from the French city on the Atlantic coast that is a kitchen garden favorite. (According to  
  • Veggie Italian Heirloom Eggplant & Herb Garden features a rich purple eggplant and ribbon perched atop  
  • Veggie French Heirloom Lettuce & Herb Garden (for spring and fall planting) displays a layered red-tipped head of lettuce and a green bow  
  • Veggie French Heirloom Tomato &  Herb Garden with a red-ripe fruit sitting there, just waiting to be coddled with some fresh ricotta
  • Veggie Heirloom Sweet Pepper & Herb Garden putting its sexy, red pepper on display along with a red ribbon at its throat.  
  • Veggie Heirloom Radish & Herb Garden (for spring and fall planting)

When I asked Laura about the Veggie and Herb Gardens introduction she wrote:
The seeds are “channeled” – I couldn’t help pause here to reflect what a true garden lover she is because she doesn’t say give or provide or… she is sensually nuanced to note she is the provider.  Ahhh… 

Further, she adds, "The seeds are organic, untreated, non GMO. With the increasing interest in “growing your own” and the home farming movement, I wanted to provide a gift assortment that nourishes and grows! 
Another sigh.  Non-GMO is a love letter to gardeners and farmers and those that care about their health and the well being of the planet.  Nice.

Here’s a quick Q&A with Laura about the new line of Veggies and Herbs:

How long did it take you to finalize this line?
Seed Ribbons nestled inside BloemBox 
Seeds peeking through ribbon; eager to garden
About 18 months. I had to carve the vegetables to size and shape, make molds, work with a company to manufacture the shapes and paint the forms. Select varieties, procure seed (I own a wholesale seed company), produce the seed ribbons, write/print planting instructions/gift tags, collate seed ribbons, assemble and tie tags on each gift with satin ribbon.  

How did you choose the veggies for the tops?
First I selected the most popular vegetable types. The seed size is also a determining factor in that it must be small enough to fit inside the channel of the tissue paper. Then I selected the varietal types by taste and novelty. It was also important to have warm and cool weather varieties. The carrot, lettuce and radish can be planted in early spring and again in the fall for a late harvest. The eggplant, pepper and tomato need heat and are started indoors for planting outdoors after all danger of frost. If seeds are not planted this season but kept in a cool, non-fluctuating temperature environment they are viable for two years.

Everything is so clean and elegant-- how do you produce it all?
My assembly team has been working with me for over 20 years.  Before the creation of BloemBox, they assembled hundreds of private label products that I designed for other seed companies and lifestyle retailers. This is the first time we are producing a product with my name (BloemBox) on it! We assemble and ship all products from our seedhouse in Northern California. We take pride in providing handmade, unique, beautiful gifts. 

What seeds do you use?
 I work with flower, herb and vegetable seeds grown in the US and Europe.  Our premium amaryllis bulbs are grown in The Netherlands and our paperwhite narcissus in Israel. The seeds and bulbs ship from quality growers that I have worked with for many years. 

Do you prepare the seeds?
All seeds are open pollinated, untreated, harvested, cleaned and tested for germination and purity before incorporating them into the tissue paper seed ribbons or seed mats.


And the garden sprites at BloemBox just sent an email reminding edible gardeners about the Autumn Harvest plantings for the three Veggie & Herb Gardens.   (Thank you!)

Visually, the BloemBox is eye candy.  Preppy green little handmade hat boxes fittingly adorned with fetching, sassy silk chapeau ornaments that, better than a Tiffany box, tell you what’s inside. 
For example, the cutey-pie Heirloom Radish BloemBox that is part of the Herb Garden line has three red-as-real radishes and green silk leaves, tied together with a red satin bow, anchored by a matching green gift card. 

While there is a To and From on the back of the diminutive card, it is nonetheless chock-a-block with masterful news of its contents, planting instructions and poetic quotes.  Did I not say BloemBox is magic?

For example, in white print on green that would give Lily Pulitzer cause for a second daiquiri, Heirloom Radish announces itself on the cover, with the message “Nourish the soul – plant a seed and let it grow” beneath. 
On the left inside, the contents are explained:  Here it is Three 5’ Seed ribbons made of plantable biodegradable tissue paper filled with premium seeds for effortless planting.  

On the right side of the open gift tag are the seed’s common and botanical nomenclature, as befitting their royal lineage – and that of BloemBox’s botanist president, Laura:
  • Radish ‘Sparkler’ raphanus sastivus
  • Cilantro  Coriandrum sativum
  • Italian Parsley Petroselinum crispum

A poetic garden haiku of sorts advises “Just tickle the earth with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.”  Douglas Jerrold. 

How precious is that?

Perfect enough for Oprah, where BloemBox was a featured item. 
Along with countless other glamorous garden-lovin’ devotees.

So there you have it.  Or you think you do.
Sweeter than a cupcake; more glamorous than jewelry to look at. 
Filled with a clean, smooth planting ribbon. The gift “cared” is a respectful and appropriate nod to its botanical heritage, and planting instructions, with horticultural prose.

Then you think, “Wait. I know BloemBox is a gift.”  They claim it’s two in one.  I think it’s got a multi-stemmed personality. 
BloemBox is a collectible.  I want to keep them all, But it’s such an ideal gift for a bridal shower or garden party favor; a botanical garden seed-saver; a Christmas stocking stuffer; a house-warming and a hostess gift; a corporate gift for clients or promotion. 

Do you crave bespoke?  The gift tags can be Personalized and hand-tied, adding an impossibly lovely spark to the Bloem cachet.

Visit Bloembox to browse the entire crop of gift items: from Tiny Tin Classics to Minis to Bulbs to Sachets

It’s a glamorous garden temptation.
BloemBox is a “must-have” to dazzle your garden, your garden party and the garden lover.  Shhhh. We know how love ignited this garden gift at first blush…

* Up next for BloemBox here --a profile of Laura and her botanical, magical creativity.

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