Cheerios Giving Away Free Wildflower Seeds to Help Save the Bees

Cheerios, in partnership with Veseys Seeds, is doing their part to save the bees by giving away free wildflower seed packets for people to plant—100 million seeds, to be exact.

The giveaway is part of their new #BringBacktheBees campaign, in which they are also promising to recreate their oat farms into 3,300 acres of nectar and pollen rich wildflowers by 2020. Cheerios and General Mills have also temporarily removed their bee mascot from cereal boxes in order to bring attention to the drastically declining bee population. More than half of all bee species are on the decline, and a quarter are at risk for extinction. Since 70 of the top 100 human food crops are pollinated by bees, we should be pretty damn concerned that some species of bees are on the endangered species list.

Sure, Cheerios and General Mills’ #BringBacktheBees campaign is certainly a marketing stunt capitalizing off of the looming threat of catastrophic bee extinction, but they’re doing a hell of a lot more than some people by actually acknowledging the problem and creating bee-friendly natural environments. The wildflower seed giveaway is a nice touch—over at Paste, we’ve already signed up to receive a seed packet to plant around the office building once it warms up a little bit outside. We definitely wouldn’t have thought to do that without Cheerios, so PR stunt or not, they’re doing some good. You can sign up to get your free seeds here, and watch Cheerios’ promotional video below.

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How to Buy Her Great Flowers for Valentine’s Day

If there’s one thing we know about Valentine’s Day, it’s that it isn’t about us. In actuality, Valentine’s Day is all about her—making sure we show her that we love and appreciate the time and effort she puts into being with us (as we know, we can be handfuls). Alas, we’re men. We’re simply excited by the prospect of a steak and a good after-dinner cigar. But her reward for listening to us prattle on about those things should be anything involving fancy dinners, small tokens of appreciation, handmade cards, flowers, and a whole bunch of other cute shit.

One thing men always seem to get wrong, no matter how hard they try, are flowers. It’s one of the mainstays of the holiday, yet we still tend to half ass it just for the sake of saying, “But honey, I got you flowers!”

This year, put some goddamn effort in.

First of All, Stop Ordering Flowers Online

The appeal of ordering a floral arrangement online is evident: They’re super convenient, and because online shops don’t have the overhead of maintaining (and paying for) a physical shop, their prices are usually relatively competitive. That said, specific delivery date fees and other less-obvious charges can add up.

The problem is, the flowers delivered by quick-and-easy delivery sites are often of disappointingly poor quality. There’s no telling what kind of quality they’re going to be beforehand, because there’s no way of knowing how they were stored, where they came from, or how old they are. You’re essentially clicking a button, placing the order, and hoping for the best… which is dumb.

Plus, local florists hate online services. The service is supposed to connect local florists and customers, but most of the time, they take the profits and the florist ends up losing money. One florist in California ended up $2000 in the hole one Valentine’s Day. So shop smart. Go to an actual store.

Do NOT Buy From Roadside Stands

You’re scrambling home from the office because you might be late for you dinner reservations, and there he is, parked outside the gas station down the street from your building. He has a sign that says, “Dozen Roses: $15.”

It’s convenient, it’s affordable (read: cheap), and since you didn’t care enough to order beforehand, it’ll likely get you out of some hot water when you get home to the missus. Only, you’re totally wrong. Those flowers suck, and she’s not dumb—she’ll notice.

Even in dire circumstances, you can always find some chocolates and a stuffed bear in a CVS or somewhere similar. Just don’t ever bother with the roadside cheapsies, because the last thing you want is to show up to greet her with buds literally falling off their stem.

Don’t ask us how we know…

Pick a Florist, But Not Just Any Florist—You Get What You Pay For

Flower shops are one of the most popular independent businesses for creatives because florists require no actual training. All a florist needs is a deep understanding of color palettes, an eye for complementary design, and a creative touch. For you, it means that every florist is different from the next. Rather than Googling “Florist in [City Name]” and picking the first option, do some research and find the best one in your area or the one whose style best matches your (or her) own.

We know, we know—it sounds like a lot of work. But that’s kind of the point.

Look around on Google, Yelp, and elsewhere to find a florist that people seem to really love. Additionally, don’t be afraid to actually walk into the shop and talk with the florist before you order. Hell, for all you know, this store’s about to claw you out of a self-dug ditch.

If You’re on a Budget, Head to the Grocery Store—No, Seriously

Buying good quality flowers without getting ripped off isn’t impossible. Believe it or not, many grocery stores (again, do your homework, here) store their flowers much like actual florists.

In fact, the bigger super-stores like Publix, B.J.’s, etc. have their own in-house floral shops. If you can find one of them, you’re golden, because they offer the exact same quality as your local florist, but usually at a price that’s 10-15 percent less expensive. We still recommend hitting up a local shop if you want a more personal touch, but, like we said, this is good if budget’s a concern.

The only tip here is don’t head in there on Valentine’s Day expecting to get a good bouquet. Order a few days in advance, and they’ll usually even ask you what time you’re going to be in to pick them up so that they stay in the freezer as long as possible.

Make Sure You Select Healthy Flowers

Doubling down on the grocery store suggestion above, if you’re going to go that route and are trying to select your own bouquet, you’re going to need to know how to select the right flowers.

First and most importantly, don’t look for flowers that look like they’re in full bloom. The idea is to select tight buds that are going to open up over the course of the next couple of hours. If they’re already in full bloom before you fork over the cash, you’re in for a disappointment.

Look at the flower’s calyx (the base, right below the bud). Is it a healthy green? If it’s a darker green or even slightly brownish, the flower is on its way out.

Don’t be afraid to touch the stem—how does it feel? Is it strong and firm, or does it feel softer and flexible? A healthy flower—especially a rose—is going to have a good strong stem.

Learn What She Likes

Even though roses are the symbolic Valentine’s Day flower arrangement, not every girl digs roses. Do the extra homework and find out what she likes—preferably without her noticing.

There are actually a lot of different types of flowers out there (we know; crazy, right?). Consider orchids, sunflowers, lilies, carnations, tulips, or even daisies. Or something we didn’t list, because there are a lot more of those too. We don’t need to tell you every woman’s preferences are different.

If She’s Allergic to Flowers, Do NOT Get an Edible Arrangement

It’s actually kind of ridiculous that we need even comment on this phenomena, but while doing the supplementary research for this story, we saw an alarming amount of men asking if it was acceptable to replace a Valentine’s Day bouquet with an Edible Arrangement and/or fruit basket if their girlfriend is allergic to flowers.

No. It. Fucking. Isn’t.

Edible Arrangements are awesome just about every other time of year (especially when they come with the chocolate covered bananas!), but on Valentine’s Day, if you show up with an Edible Arrangement, fruit basket, or anything else that says, “Hey, thank you for your business; you’re a wonderful client!” you should smack yourself in the face.

If she’s allergic to flowers, you can always go for the classic stuffed animals and chocolates routine, or you can even get more personal with things like small jewelry, a heartfelt handmade card, or even concert/event tickets. Just don’t even think about a fruit basket.

There’s Nothing Sweeter Than a DIY Bouquet

Boys, we’re speakin’ the truth here. If you really want to impress your significant other this year, doing it yourself is the way to go. Yes, it’ll take a lot of time and effort. You’re going to have to learn which flowers go with what, what color palettes compliment each other, how to dress a bouquet, and how to actually put it together in a package that doesn’t look like you put a bunch of crap on a table, bundled it up and threw a ribbon around it. But, in the end, it’s going to make you a V-Day hero.

Look into classic flower arrangements, or look at similarly colored seasonals, and then go from there. If you want to be a real Romeo about it, make an arrangement based on her favorite color/s.

There are a shocking amount of resources out there for doing it yourself, so it shouldn’t be toomuch work to pull off. Once you’ve come up with the arrangement style, call your local florist, tell them what your plans are, and then order each type of flower, one by one. Chances are, they’ll be eager to help you out and even give you tips and pointers along the way, because you’re so damn charming and cute.

Veggie Bouquets Are Becoming A Trendy Wedding Alternative To Flowers

The future of weddings involves kale, apparently. Welcome to the exciting new trend of veggie bouquets.

The Telegraph has placed a spotlight on the growing popularity of ditching flowers for something a smidge more edible when it comes to your nuptials. Your good pal fruit is also getting in on the action which has come about thanks to a demand for “looser and more asymmetric arrangements.” That means traditional picks like roses are getting passed over for broccoli, artichokes and attractive bits of citrus.

Here’s a snap of a bouquet styled by Jamison Flowers in Canberra, Australia.

Chris Rose, head florist for UK supermarket chain Waitrose, offered up his take on the growing interest in going veg as a wedding option.

“Wild and whimsical bouquets are popular, with a heady mix of flowers, foliage, herbs, and fruit and vegetables.

“Brides are looking for seasonal arrangements and the trend lends itself to locally sourced products.”

According to The Telegraph‘s findings, brides are fond of selecting locally sourced produce when preparing their bouquet. We suppose that’s a more sensible request of a floral expert versus “I dunno, open up a bag of frozen peas and pour that sh*t on there.”

Herbs are invited to the vegetable bouquet party too. The outlet notes that consumers making the purchase are drawn to the “symbolism” provided by their choice of herb. Lavender is said to represent devotion and undying love with thyme ticking the “courage” side of the herb symbolism worksheet.

Ideally this all ends in someone digitally editing the Guns N’ Roses video for “November Rain” so that broccoli-based arrangements are subbed in for flower ones. Make it happen, Internet!

9 Honeybee-Friendly Plants

Avid gardeners take note: It’s never too late to get out your shovel and start planting flowers to help bolster the honeybee population, which is in danger of extinction. Widespread colony collapse disorder is due to environmental stress stemming from overuse of pesticides as well as parasitic attacks, according to experts. This affects not just the honeybees but also our food supply.

“Over 75 percent of the foods we eat require pollination,” says Miriam Goldberger, author of “Taming Wildflowers: Bringing the Beauty and Splendor of Nature’s Blooms into Your Own Backyard,” and owner of Wildflower Farm, the largest (and oldest) wildflower seed company in Canada. “The most effective pollinators of food crops are European honeybees and North American native bees.”

Just think: By adding (floral) inventory to your landscape, you’ll also attract pollinators year-round because more than 75 kinds of wildflowers provide pollen for bees. “The best thing is to plant annuals that bloom all season,” suggests Polly Hutchinson, an organic flower farmer at Robin Hollow Farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island. “That gives bees way more to feed on and it’s a great way to support the population you have on your property.” So, why not roll up your sleeves and read on, as we share the top plants you should consider planting — and you can do it this weekend.

1. Asters

asters

These blue, pink and purple flowers are ideal additions to your garden since they bloom in late-summer and stay in bloom into fall, making them a welcome option for honeybees to feed on when other flowers in your garden are no longer in bloom.

2. Black-eyed Susans

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With stalks that grow to three feet and beyond, these yellow flowers that boast a brown-purple center are a honeybee fave. Best of all, they are long-lived perennials native to North America, so there’s no need to replant.

3. Dandelions

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Technically a weed, this yellow sprout is beloved by bees. “Let them be,” Hutchinson advises. “Yes, dandelions are weeds, but they’re also great for bees and their roots go way down, which ultimately puts nutrients from lower down in the ground up to help feed your grass. They’re a win-win plant!”

4. Lemon balm

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This perennial herb that’s part of the mint family, a.k.a. Melissa officinalis, is a perfect bee-attracting addition to any partly shady garden. It also has a long history. In ancient Greek times, this herb was planted near their bee hives to help keep the honeybees well-fed from the plant’s nectar-rich flowers and to help prevent their bees from swarming, says Aaron von Frank, an expert organic gardener and co-founder of GrowJourney, a USDA-certified organic Seeds of the Month Club. “We grow it in our garden and our neighbor’s honeybees cover the flowers throughout the blooming cycle,” he says. “Lemon balm makes a delicious tea, too.”

5. Purple coneflower

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Otherwise known as echinacea, this resplendent daisy-like flower is a honeybee magnet and provides both pollen and nectar to foraging bees.

6. Snapdragons

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During the day when bees are looking for nourishment, snapdragons release four times more scent, which draws honeybees to them. Adding to the allure: The bees then carry the aroma of the snapdragon back to the hive. This attracts even more bees to the flowerbeds.

7. Sunflowers

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A hardy annual that’s tall and grows into strong stalks, sunflowers are a honeybee must-plant. Opt for yellow or orange sunflowers instead of red ones, since bees can’t detect the color red when they seek out places to feed.

8. Yarrow

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A perennial, these bright flattened buds that come with a signature fernlike leaf are favorite spots for bees to collect nectar. They’re also ideal for cutting and drying once the season is over.

9. Zinnias

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These easy-to-grow flowers stay in bloom for most of the season and are colorful, too. “Anything that has a lot of small flowers on the flower is great for bees,” Hutchinson says. “You want to seek out flowers that can provide more pollen, which ultimately provides that much more food for the bees.”