Monday, March 6, 2017

Late March Wedding

March is a great month for a wedding in Tasmania.  The days are still warm but the autumn rains have usually begun meaning that the tired summer grass is refreshed and the landscape starts to green up again.  In March 2016, I provided flowers for a wedding in Northern Tasmania.  March is great for native flowers too.  The flowers that are blooming have a fresh, autumn glow the combinations of colours and textures can be so beautiful.

Wanting soft pinks, greens and creams, I was able to use one of my favourite late summer flowers, the Banksia Baxterii.  It is a creamy white banksia also called the Birdsnest Banksia because of its shape. I teamed it with a Protea White Ice, a gorgeous creamy white protea that in autumn has a purplish tinge to its centre. 

Flowering Brunia Albiflora, with the "berries" completely covered by their flowers was also one of the focal flowers, with 2 Protea Compacta in clear pink either side.   I love the leaves of the Banksia Baxterii which you can see in this photo.  They are a striking zig zag shape which add to the structure of the the design.

Flowering lemon-scented tea tree foliage, blue Eucalyptus Risdonii foliage and the purplish silver swirls of Leucadendron Galpinii were some of the foliages used.  A few early green leucadendrons and some silvery grey gum nuts were the final ingredients. 

For the groom, I used a Banksia Baxterii leaf with its strong zig zag shape.  It was softened with more blue eucalyptus foliage, some flowering tea tree and a fine, yellow-green leucadendron.  A gum nut and  some Brunia Albiflora 'berries' in flower were also used.  

Boutonnieres look great all lined up!  I loved using these special little gum nuts. 

I really enjoyed using the super-fresh autumn natives to create this bouquet - its a pleasure to work with blooms that are looking their best.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

March Flowers

What native flowers are available in March?  

I often get asked what will be available at certain times of the year.  Maybe its a wedding, maybe a big event but to plan ahead, its always helpful to know what flowers might be available.  At Swallows Nest Farm, all our flowers are grown out in the paddock, not in poly-tunnels or controlled environments, so they are dependant upon the seasonal differences in rainfall, temperature and sunlight to bring them into bloom.  This means that the plants will often flower earlier or later according to the variable conditions.  Having said that, we can make some predictions based on past years performances.  I decided to do a series of blog posts, one for each month of the year to provide some guidance with planning ahead for weddings and events. 

So here's what you can expect from Swallows Nest Farm in March.

Protea Pink Ice
Protea Pink Ice are a favourite in the flower industry because of their beautiful clear pink colour, and their growth characteristics.  In Tasmania, we have Pink Ice for almost 12 months of the year.  March being the beginning of autumn, we see a flush of flowers with lots of beautiful clear pink proteas.  I really think Pink Ice are at their best in Autumn.

Gum Nuts - Corymbia Ficifolia
Gum Nuts can be sourced all year round too, as the nuts are retained by the trees after setting seed.  But because the Corymbia Ficifolia are often just finishing flowering in March, the gum nuts are in the forefront of our minds.  They come in grey-brown as above, when they have been on the tree for more than 12 months.  Under 12 months they still retain a green outer colour but are big and plump and woody.   If picked too soon after setting fruit, the nuts will wither and wrinkle rather than keep their shape.  

Bright Pink Corymbia Ficifolia - Flowering Gum in a range of red, pink and orange
Flowering gum is a mid to late summer flower in Tasmania.  In March there will still be trees that are producing blossom like this stunning hot pink.  There is a diverse range of colour in this species of tree - very light pink so that it's almost white through to the richest blood red, as well as bright orange, coral, salmon and all the variants in between.  A truly gorgeous flower!

Bouquet by Swallows Nest Farm
This bouquet from an early March wedding shows Protea Pink Ice, Flowering Gum and Gum Nuts in use.  

Photography by Sarah Williams
It also uses a range of foliages in blue-grey. 

Burnia Albiflora
The bouquet above also has one of my favourites, the Brunia Albiflora.  It is a summer flower here in Tasmania and we have never picked it before Christmas here.  It begins to be ready for picking some time in January and continues to flower through February and March and even into April if it is not all picked and sold!

Brunia Albiflora starting to flower
In March, depending upon the seasonal changes, it can start to flower.  Tiny little flowers begin to burst forming a ring around each ball.

Brunia Albiflora in full flower
The flowers continue to open until all the entire bunch is covered.  Brunia a great to use at any time during its flowering process.  

Red Mini King Protea
Here at Swallows Nest Farm, our red Mini King proteas have flowered in Spring Summer and Autumn.  Early Autumn seems to be their favourite time to flower, so you can expect to see some availability in March.

Banksia Occidentalis
Banksia Occidentalis is a rich red banksia that starts to flower here in late summer and continues on until early winter.  It has a beautiful clean red colour in Autumn and is a joy to use.

March Wedding Bouquet by Swallows Nest Farm
This March bouquet uses the red Mini Kings and the Banksia Occidentalis. You can also see a flowering Brunia and some mature gum nuts.  The proteas used a variety of P. Compacta which has a rich red centre and soft pink outer bracts, giving a slightly different look to the Protea Pink Ice.  We have a limited supply of this Compacta protea available in March.

Wedding Reception Decorations by Swallows Nest Farm
Flowering Brunia, Protea Pink Ice and Banksia Occidentalis are the main flowers used here in these table decorations for an early March wedding.  The orange Pincushions are a Leucospermum called Fountain, and are a late flowering variety that we grow here at Swallows Nest Farm.  It can vary in colour from apricot through to deep salmon.  When the flowers first begin to open, they are lighter and have a purplish tinge to their unfolded tips.  Then, as the flower opens and matures, the colour deepens.

March Wedding Decorations by Swallows Nest Farm
In this close-up of the same table arrangements, you can see Banksia Occidentalis, Brunia starting to flower,   

These colourful table decorations for a wedding in late March show plenty of March flowers being used - the rich red Banksia Occidentalis, creamy yellow Banksia Marginata, flowering Brunia, Pink Ice Protea and some new season Silvan Red Leucadendrons.  

A detail of a large urn arrangement for a march wedding using Pink Ice, Banksia Occidentalis, flowering Brunia, and lots of lovely fresh foliage.  

Protea White Ice
Protea White Ice flowers from spring through to autumn here in Tasmania but it can vary in numbers depending on the season.  In Autumn, the colour is clear and clean - so beautiful!

Banksia Baxterii - Birdsnest Banksia
Banksia Baxterii is a gorgeous Australian Native that flowers in late summer and autumn.  We are planting more of these beauties because we love them so much.  Their foliage is gorgeous too and can be used in arrangements as a feature in itself.

March Wedding Bouquet by Swallows Nest Farm
This bouquet from late March shows the last of the Fountain Pincushions bringing some colour amongst the creams and whites.  There is a White Ice Protea, Banksia Baxterii, smaller Banksia Marginata, and flowering Bruina.  Some early green leaucos, Gandogerii, Silver Tree, Wattle, Flowering Gum and Tea Tree are all in the mix too.

Rison Peppermint in bud
Risdon Peppermint is a gorgeous blue gum foliage that is native to Tasmania.  It's juvenile leaves, when the new growth has had time to harden off, can be stunning, especially when it it in bud as it is here.  Its a joy to use in arrangements and bouquets.

Leucadendron Argenteum - Silver Tree
Leucadendron Argenteum, also known as Silver Tree, is a stunning foliage plant that is ready to use in March.  In early summer, it is growing and can't be picked because its tips are wilty, but by March the new growth is soft, silky and luscious and ready for use.  It is difficult to photograph how silvery this amazing plant is.  

Silver Tree Cones
The Silver Tree also produces beautiful silvery cones at the end of summer, and these are available in March in limited numbers.  Silver Tree cones are rare as they are only produced on mature female trees.  We feel so privileged to be able to provide them.  

Fountain Pincushion
We grow a late flowering pincushion here at Swallows Nest Farm that continues to flower until autumn.  We have two slightly different colours - a rich orange and a pinky deep salmon.  These are usually still available in good quantities in March.

Protea Repens - Sugarbush Protea
Protea Repens begin flowering in Autumn.  Depending on the seasonal differences, they will begin appearing in March.  We have a range of colours from rich pink to red, light pink and creamy yellow.

This late march bouquet combines 2 varieties of protea - White Ice and Red Compacta, with a Banksia Baxterii and a flowering Brunia.  Lots of late march foliages including lemon-scented tea tree and Leucadendron Galpinii are also used.

I hope this gives some ideas as to what sort of flowers you might expect from Swallows Nest Farm in the month of March.  All flowers are subject to availability and you are encouraged to contact us if you need more information.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Stonefield Wedding in Autumn

The colour theme for this mid-March wedding at Stonefield in Brighton, was neutrals.  The bride loved lots of interesting texture without the strong colour so I began collecting my ideas for this wedding by selecting the foliages.   Foliage is such an important part of a bouquet.  It can make such a difference to a design.  I began with a palette of blue-green foliages in different shapes and sizes.  In Autumn, the Eucalyptus Cordata, a beautiful spicy-fragranced blue leafed gum, was budding and just beginning to flower so it was a must.  I also used Tasmanian myrtle beech foliage - small glossy deep green leaves sitting prettily on stems that fan out.   I also used Irish Juniper - a beautiful variegated fine-leafed Juniper that is a tad prickly.  I forgive it because I love the blue green colour and texture it adds.  And finally for foliage, I used a beautiful blue-green cyprus that has a lovely bend to its branches.  

Each bouquet also contained Protea Pink Ice, and Protea White Ice as focal flowers.  Some garden grown hydrangeas in subtle whites and green with little flecks of pink added to the foliagy effect.  Some Leucadendron Gandogerii in its green, pre-flowering phase were also used.  It had lovely bronzey-pink tips 

  Among other ingredients I used, were pittosporum berries in a green and white variegated form and  some gorgeous green gum nuts from Corymbia Ficifolia.  At the back on the right, you can also see a Silver Tree cone, the fruit from the female Silver Tree, which is a Leucadendron often grown for its magnificent foliage.  The cones are stunning silvery velvety balls ranging from golf-ball to base-ball size.  The are a beautiful and unusual addition to a bouquet.

Another textural ingredient was Brunia Albiflora which is often seen before it flowers with its beautiful silvery grey balls.  In March it is flowering, so there are lots of tiny white flowers covering each of the balls opening from the outside-in and forming a fluffy white ring around each one.

Even though there is colour involved, the overall blend has a neutral look and the emphasis is on the texture of the bouquets.  

For the boutonnieres, I used green gum nuts.  I love using gum nuts in wedding flowers and they are quite versatile because you can use them at so many stages of their growth from flower right through to mature, dried woody nut.  These green ones are last years fruit that haven't yet aged to a woody exterior.  They're not always available, depending on the time of year.  

The gum nuts were teamed with a leaf from their mother tree, the Corymbia Ficifolia.  It has large leathery gum leaves that work well for the back of a boutonniere.  I also added some Irish Juniper and some pittosporum berries.  The groom stood out with the addition of some E. Cordata blooms in creamy white.

Stonefield - beautiful photography by Fred and Hannah
Stonefield is a beautiful venue!  The bride and groom opted for doing their own table decorations and paid for a selection of flowers that worked with their theme.

It's always lovely to pack a boot full of flowers!  Lots of Protea Pink Ice, at their best in Autumn, Eucalyptus, Myrtle Beech,  flowering Brunia, Leucadendron Silver Tree and some of the other bits and pieces from the bouquets - all ready to play with.

Stonefield - beautiful photography by Fred and Hannah
The reception Venue at Stonefield has an abundance of glass, making the most of the gorgeous gardens.

Stonefield, Brighton Tasmania
It's always nice to see pictures of how it all turned out!

I really loved the opportunity of creating these texture-rich bouquets.  It was a privilege, as always, to be involved in such a special day.  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

His and Hers Wedding Flowers in Autumn

Photo by Jon Jarvela
Sometimes, I am asked to provide the simplest of wedding flower orders - a bride's bouquet and a groom's boutonniere.  I find that these weddings are really memorable, because so much effort goes into making the one bouquet and buttonhole just right.  In Autumn 2016, I was asked to do a simple bouquet and boutonniere for a couple who were getting married in the Huon Valley.  

The bride provided some pictures of the styles and colours she loved.  The inspiration came when I saw what the groom had picked out to wear.  

I loved the sage green in the tie, and the golden yellow and apricot too.  I decided to go for a bouquet with plenty of creamy white and green, with touches of apricot and bronzy gold. 

For the bridal bouquet I used a Protea White Ice, two types of banksia - Banksia Baxterii, the Birdsnest Banksia, and Banksia Marginata, a local native.  Brunia Albiflora in full flower was used along with flowering Eucalyptus Cordata, usually used as a cut foliage.  The apricot came with the use of Fountain Pincushion and Leucadendron Safari Goldstrike whose new growth is tinged with a pinkish bronze.  

The foliage I used includes Grevillea, again with a bronze new growth tips, flowering lemon-scented Leptospermum and the shimmering Leucadedron Argenteum or Silver Tree.  You can also see, peeping out on the left of the above photo, some creamy Leucadendron Pisa cones with their outer bracts removed.  

Other foliage included Eucalyptus Cordata, and some Cootamundra wattle in bud. 

For the groom, I used a small Banksia Marginata in creamy yellow, Grevillea foliage with an orange bud, Cootamundra Wattle with its little buds, tea tree (Leptospermum) and Eucalyptus foliage. 

Photo by Jon Jarvela
Autumn weddings in Tasmania really are special!