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.
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.