Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Can you believe we are saying goodbye to 2013?  The year seems to have flown by so fast and the Christmas Season has been so busy that I have hardly come up for air!  In Tasmania the long summer days linger and the summer solstice occurs just before Christmas.  It's a lovely time of year.  

The main flower we're harvesting now is the Leucospermum, commonly known as a Pincushion.  Its beautiful summer colours provide inspiration for me when it comes to festive decorations.  I love fresh Christmas wreaths.  They make great table centrepieces, especially with a candle in the middle.  

I love the challenge of combining colours and textures to create these wreaths.  Foliage plays a big part in the overall feel of the wreath and its fun foraging around the farm for beautiful fresh foliage to use.

I love the wreath above using some late Tasmanian Waratah and button bush or Berzelia.  I've also used some Dryandra Formosa, an Australian flower from the protea family that I did a test plant of a few years ago.  The golden flowers are surrounded by lovely foliage that looks like strips of green zig zag.  Dryandra flowers dry well too and last for years in a dried arrangement.

During spring I noticed a wonderful eucalypt in my local area that was laden with gum nuts.  So heavily laden was it that the branches were weighed down to the ground.  I snipped a few branches and dried them, looking forward to when I could use them.  They were a perfect addition to this wreath, I thought!

Orange Leucospermums and yellow Leucadendron Pisa make this wreath really summery and fresh.  The Pisa can be used at various stages.  I picked some quite early to use it in its flowering stage.  Later the central cone enlarges.   It is silvery green and beautifully surround by yellow and lime green bracts.  

Geraldton Wax flowers and Leucadendron Jubilee Crown, also known as Christmas Cones fill out the bright citrusy wreath.  I couldn't resist adding some more gum nuts!

Foraging around the farm lead me to seek out a small holly bush that had been overgrown in the last two years.  After a bit of bush-bashing, accompanied by my trusty sidekick, I found the bush and was delighted to discover that it had grown significantly, even though it had been almost hidden by bushy growth.  Needless to say I've now cleared around it.  The holly was fun to play with in wreaths and Christmas bunches too, although it was a little prickly to deal with. 

I also found, during one of my foraging walks, some impressive cones on a big conifer our family imaginatively calls the Christmas Tree!  When I first started doing the local farmer's market I was excited to use some foliage I found which had pink immature cones on it.  These are the same cones a couple of months later.  I really don't remember this tree producing such impressive cones before! The photo doesn't do them justice - they are shiny and deep purple.  Wonderful for an addition to a Christmas wreath!!

I saved them for my own Christmas wreath.  I added Leucaspermum Scarlet Ribbons, some wild foraged Ozothamnus (white Rice Flower)  Tasmanian Myrtle foliage, Leucadendron Safari Sunset, Christmas Cones, and Goldstrike, and of course, some of the gum nuts.  Knowing it was my own wreath I probably tried to pack too many things onto the one wreath, but I'm glad I made the time to make a wreath for our own table.

It was a beautiful summer day in Tasmania on December 25th.  We had Christmas brunch on the deck in the open air.

It was a memorable day.  As I write this, the wreath is still relatively fresh and sitting on the table beside me.  I love to enjoy the flowers I grow in my own home!

I'm looking forward to 2014 - it promises to be a very exciting year.  In the meantime, we are still working to pick the rest of the summer crops as they bloom.  I'm looking forward to doing some wedding flowers this week, and then maybe getting a short break toward the end of January before the year really begins in earnest.  I hope 2014 is happy one for you - enjoy!!

Farewell until next year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What's in the Basket

Spring went by in a flash here.  And just as summer arrived, so did the pincushions or Leucospermums.  I love these beautiful flowers from the protea family for the range of cheery summer colours that they offer.  In the basket this week was the first real harvest of some newly planted pincushions called Leucospermum Scarlet Ribbons.  The plants are not quite 3 years old and are starting to flower really well now.  It looks like summer in a basket to me!

The Scarlet Ribbons start off with a slightly pink/purple tinge due to the hairs on the sheaf that contains the "pin".  As the pins emerge the overall colour impression changes.  The spines are a salmon pink and the sheaths curl to reveal a scarlet interior.  Then as the flower ages, it becomes more intensely red.

I love the summery colours of pincushions.  There are 3 varieties in this shot of my picking trailer.  Don't they remind you of gelato flavours?  Raspberry, mango and tangerine!