Saturday, October 27, 2012

Giving Flowers

In the last two weeks I have picked flowers for so many occasions.  It has caused my mind to wander about the gift of flowers.  I can think of no other gift that is appropriate for congratulations, and commiserations, to celebrate and to encourage.  We use them in weddings and funerals.  They are given to celebrate birth and to sympathise in death.  Flowers say "I love you", "I'm sorry" and "Thankyou".  They say "Welcome Home" and "Goodbye".  I find it quite amazing!

A friend recently passed on a book called "The Language of Flowers"  by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  It was a great read!  It is based on the Victorian idea of expressing thoughts and feelings through the gift of flowers.  The Victorians had a very sophisticated flower language.  I want to do some more exploring in this area now - I've been inspired!  At the back of the book was a paraphrased list of flowers and the meanings assigned to them through this floral language.  Of course, I was keen to look up Protea, and was really surprised by its meaning.

Proteas mean courage.

I rather like their meaning!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I'm Having a GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to my first giveaway!  We are celebrating spring, and new beginnings.  We've changed our name officially to Swallows Nest Farm and we want the world to know!  And who doesn't love a giveaway?! For those of you who don't know, as well as running Swallows Nest Farm, I am also a practicing artist as well as having an online shop called trees4thewood where I sell small artworks and handmade cards, all inspired by the flowers and birds here on the farm.  Yes, life is full, but I love it.  

And I love it when everything comes together too!  In the shop, this years Christmas cards are based on the beautiful Tasmanian Waratah that I featured in the previous post,  and seeing as we've officially changed our name (we were previously trading as Parson's Bay Proteas - boring huh?!) we thought we'd celebrate with a giveaway.

So what's the prize, you ask?  You get

Set of 6 professionally printed postcards of flowers from Swallows Nest Farm
Pack of 5 handmade Tasmanian Waratah Christmas Cards from trees4thewood
Pack of 3 Welcome Swallow Fancy Edged Note Cards from trees4thewood
A hand painted Tasmanian Waratah bookmark from trees4thewood

Thats a prize worth $50+!!!  

What do I have to do to win this fabulous package, I hear you ask?!?

Thats simple!  I'm using Rafflecopter to run the giveaway.  There are three ways you can enter - and if you do all three, you get three entries! Entries are open for three weeks. Follow the prompts below and good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tasmanian Waratahs

This week, I picked my first Tasmanian Waratahs for the season.  I have one bush that flowers in late October - just a bit earlier than the rest.  Almost over night, it seemed to be covered in bright red blooms.

Most people associate the Waratah with New South Wales, probably because its is that states floral emblem, but Victoria and Tasmania are also home to some wonderful species of waratah.  At Swallows Nest Farm, we are lucky to be growing the waratah endemic to Tasmania called Telopea Truncata. It is a smaller flowered plant to its mainland cousins, but size isn't everything!  The Tassie waratah is about the size of a carnation and looks a bit like a cross between a "normal" waratah and a grevillea.  It has lovely bent styles the give it a charming sculptural quality.

The Tasmanian Waratah grows as a large shrub to 3 m, but can that can get to over 8 metres tall.  In the wild, it grows in wet forest areas and flowers in November and December.  It is often picked in the wild for the flower trade. The flowers are striking red making the bush really stand out when its in bloom.  Very rarely, the flowers are actually yellow.  The yellow form has been used to make hybrid waratahs which are available to purchase as garden plants called "Shady Lady Yellow".  It is the only waratah to have a yellow variation.  

I love it that these cheery Tasmanians are ready to pick in the lead-up to Christmas.  As a flower grower, its the plants that help to mark the seasons and this one is such a lovely Christmassy flower.  It brightens up a bouquet and compliments the other flowers that are available in the Christmas season. 

The Tasmanian Waratah is best propagated by seed.  After the plant has flowered it produces some fantanstic seed pods.  I'm a bit of a collector of seed pods and waratah seed pods are definitely worth collecting!

Look out for Tasmanian Waratahs in your florist or in the wild during November and December.  They are a real treat and a great reminder that Christmas is fast approaching!

If you'd like to have a go at growing your own Tasmanian Waratah, you can buy fresh seed collected from Swallows Nest Farm here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

More Waratahs

Spring is definitely upon us here in Southern Tasmania.  There are beautiful warm days with glorious blue skies, followed by bitterly cold days with snow and hail, and ferocious winds.  The grass is thickening and lush green, and there is a smell in the air that promises summer.  

At Swallows Nest farm, the flower thats getting the most attention is still the Waratah.  We have a few  varieties - there are the large early flowering ones, and then the later pinkish ones.  We have some late flowering rich reds and some wonderful Wirrimbirra White.  They flower from September through to October and into November when the Tasmanian Waratah, Telopea Truncata, starts to flower.  

I came across the following picture on the internet recently and thought it was a wonderful use of a pink waratah.  I certainly hadn't seen them in a bouquet like this before.  Our white waratahs are popular for wedding bouquets, but these look fabulous and striking too.  Great idea.

Of course, as the rest of our waratahs begin to pop, I will be putting up pictures of them.  The differences in varieties can be quite amazing. 

The other news is that I'm planning a small giveaway! Stay tuned - details will follow ...