Thursday, March 21, 2013

Autumn Flush

We're well into Autumn now and we are finally getting some autumn weather.  We have had a long hot summer here in Tasmania, with some record temperatures lingering well into March.  But I think the Indian Summer has drawn to a close now, and the rain and cooler weather has arrived.  Autumn is often thought of as a season where things wind down and nature gets ready for the hibernation of winter, but here in Australia that's not the case.  We see a definite autumn flush of growth.  The Leucadendrons particularly flourish in Autumn.  Mid to late summer, they start to push out their new stems for the season and it seems that they almost grow while you watch them.  They can grow such long stems - up to 1 metre - in just a few weeks.  Above are a crop of Safari Sunset,  with their flower heads just firming up and plumping out, almost ready for picking.  

It's as if the cooler weather gives them new energy and they thrive.  New seasons growth is always so bright and clear, and the colour seems to really glow.  These are our Red Gem, just ready for harvesting now.  

These Sylvan Red Leuco's have shot up over the last few weeks but their flower heads are still small and not well formed.  If you pick them too early, their heads flop and their colour fades quickly.

There are plenty of fresh Pink Ice Protea which the bees are loving.  I found three different species of bees in this flower at the one time.

It's great to see some of our new plants flourishing with the autumn weather too.  This Leucadendron is a hybrid called Lemon Spice.  It's stems have shot up over the past couple of weeks and it seems to be reaching for the sky.  This lovely pale yellow flower with a tight tulipy shape won't be ready until spring but most of its stem length will be put on in autumn.  

These new Protea Compacta plants have doubled in height over the past couple of months.  The long stems have small flower heads hidden in the rosette of leaves at the top.  These will be lovely deep pink flowers with a rich red centre.  I'm looking forward to picking the first usable flowers from these plants this year.  We planted them as tiny tube stock coming up to 3 winters ago.  

The Thryptomene is starting to form tiny red flower buds all along its branches, ready to burst into a mass of white flowers later in the year. 
Autumn is a lovely season in Tasmania.  There are still warm days, but the air is fresh and the grass greener than in summer.  The sunsets are spectacular in autumn too.  
Stay tuned in the next few weeks for some tips on keeping cut flowers fresh for longer, and some amazing plant geometry I'm hoping to share with you.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Week in Flowers

Yesterday, I did some flowers for a wedding at the Port Arthur Historic Site, a world heritage listed historic site - and probably Australia's most famous.  If you've never been there, its definitely worth a visit.  Beautiful, fascinating, and thought provoking.  The locals call it "the Site".  Until the 1980's, it was just part of the local township.  Many of the buildings that are now part of the site were once peoples homes.  It has a fascinating history and its a place I love.  I think it would be a fabulous spot for a wedding. 
These little pots were table decorations for the dining tables.  Simple seasonal Pink Ice Protea with lots of lovely foliage, including some Grevillea, Risdon Peppermint and Thryptomene (not yet in flower but with lovely red flower buds dotted along the stems).  There is also some foliage from Brunia Albiflora - the bright green soft furry stems, and the first of my leuco's for the season.  Red Gem are often my first to be ready.  They are a spectacular colour at this time of the year - new, bright and fresh.  Every year I forget what fabulous colours they can produce and they really took my breath away this week as I picked them.  They glow.

I did some larger arrangements too, but ran out of time to photograph!  Its been a busy week with earthmoving machinery, doctors appointments, orders and a wedding.  

Earlier in the week, as often happens with the floral industry, there was an order to remember the death of a loved one.  Flowers really do say it all!  
Hope you all have a great week ahead.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

What's in the Basket

I did a spot of picking for a few small orders this week, accompanied by my cat Tabitha. Tabby has been with us since she was very young, found by a forestry worker in the bush and abandoned by her wild mother.  She has always come picking with me.  Until I had her, I didn't know that cats liked to go for walks with their significant humans!  She frolics around while I pick, and talks to me every now and then.  When I'm finished, I whistle and she comes running to go home.  Just like a dog really ...
In the basket, I have some Pink Ice Protea, a lovely Banksia Occidentalis in deep red, some (hidden) new season Red Gem Leucos which seem to be a bit late this year.  The deep pinky red at the top are a plant I've only added in the last 18 mths.  They are a lovely variegated form of Leuco called Jester - rich pinky red with a central green stripe. This is the first time I've picked them to use, and while there's not enough for a commercial crop yet, they are lovely to use in small bouquet orders.  There are also some fabulous stems of eucalyptus foliage.  I'm not sure of the variety but they are a type of peppermint I think - they certainly have a similar growth habit.  The leaves are covered with that lovely greyish blue bloom that some eucalypts have, and they smell fabulous. The insects haven't found them either so they are lovely and clean.  Fun to use in a bunch adding colour and texture.  You can also see some short stems of Brunia Albiflora I've picked in readiness for a wedding this week.  They are smaller flower heads and will be great in the table arrangements in short pots.