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The Underdogs of the Floral World

For something a bit different, I thought I’d take a minute to write a post on underrated flowers because let’s face it, everyone already appreciates the spectacular blooms!

As a florist, working with different blooms is part of the program. We cannot only work with the blooms we love, because at the end of the day, we aren’t the customer and we need to create what our customers want and love. Aside from that, in order to have a successful business you need to ensure your staff are using the material at the correct retail price and costing arrangements properly, rather than giving away your profits by slipping an extra stem in here and there. Equally as important is ensuring your stock is being carefully rotated. We always try to stick to the first in, first out mindset so you are being mindful of your usage and not leaving stock to the side only to throw it out. You can also be sure that you are not selling stock that is too old when you stick to this method.

Underrated flowers have there place certainly. When you begin your studies as a florist, you are taught about the importance of picking a strong focal flower, but in order to create a cohesive arrangement you also need line flowers and transitional flowers.

Source: Mr Fothergills

Transitional flowers lack the ‘punch’ of a focal flower. That is not to say they are not attractive, because they certainly are. Where a focal flower has (usually) a single, eye catching bloom, a transitional flower generally has clusters of individual flowers on the stem. Transitional flowers are used to fill in spaces between the focal and line flowers.

Transitional flowers are like the chorus line in a show. Without them, the show just would not be complete, but in many ways they are not the ones you are there to see. Their job is to support the stars of the show, to make them look their absolute best. Some examples of transitional flowers include asters, chrysanthemums, babies breath, spray roses, stock, Queen Anne’s lace, Geraldton was, lisianthus, Tea Tree, hellebores.

Focal flowers, the show stoppers, are the ones you pay to see. But let’s be honest, a vaseful of peonies or Columbia’s roses would just cost a crazy amount. Aside from that, without transitional flowers or foliage in an arrangement these expensive, special flowers will not sit beautifully in a vase. They will not be spaced out, each with enough room to garner the attention they deserve. Instead they will be sitting in each other’s space, leaning on one another unsupported.

Focal flowers are spectacular flowers like peonies, disbud chrysanthemums, Columbia’s roses, lilies, gerberas, crab claws.

Line flowers creat movement throughout an arrangement. They guide your eye so that you can appreciate the whole design. Examples of line flowers are liatris, amaranthus, heliconias, orchids. Often you use them to direct the movement within the arrangement, and therefore use their natural shape to guide you in that.

Many flowers that were thought of as pretty drab and uninteresting a few years ago, are being reinvented. Babies breath, which people used to turn their noses up at the suggestion of, is now used as the feature flower of some displays. Entire arrangements are made with it in fact.

So whilst in a traditional arrangement the role of these flowers was to support the star of the show, some are now pulling quite an audience of their own. Check out the following images of so-called transitional flowers holding their own.

Fwf x

Feature Image

Gorgeous babies breath wedding. Source : Strictly Weddings
Babies breath wedding via Strictly Weddings

 

Bridal bouquets made entirely of babies breath, source: Hi Miss Puff
Amber Gress Photography, via Brides.com

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Imported flowers

The Cost of Imports

When I first entered the floristry industry, imported flower varieties were really only just taking off despite flowers being brought into the country for some 45 years. In those days you were paying premium prices for the stock, which was coming into the country in pretty small numbers, and the quality was hit and miss. The industry was in the midst of a major change back then. Wages and environmental factors as well as a market saturated with some lines was making it hard for Australian growers to survive. Many made the decision to leave the industry over the last couple of decades, while others adapted.

Imported Kenyan roses
An imported Kenyan rose. Source: Bagala Bros

Imported flowers have always had some risk as it is largely unregulated….and it’s BIG business. ABC reports that approximately $67 million worth of flowers are imported every year from Columbia, Ecuador, Kenya, Singapore and other destinations.

Last year, after the 2017 review found less than half of imported flowers complied with environmental safeguards, the Federal Government announced they would increase our biosecurity measures. These steps would include the flowers being fumigated in their country of origin before being shipped here. This would add costs to the imported stock, and in turn impact the product shelf life. Even now, stock arriving from South America can be over a week old before it arrives on the florist shop floor.

Harry's Wholesale Nursery imports 70% of the stock for their business
Harry and Stephen Papadopoulos from Harry’s Wholesale Nursery import 70% of the stock for their business. Source: ABC

So why do Aussies continue to import stock rather than use local products? Well, the answer is simple. As Harry Papadopoulos of Harry’s Wholesale Nusery puts it : “What we import are only the flowers that our clients demand and that aren’t available here, locally or interstate in Australia.”

The ABC reports that Perth based Florist Matthew Landers believes social media has paid a big part in this. Consumers see what they want, and if it is not available locally we are often able to import it.

The Papadopoulos family believe adding the extra biosecurity measures is unnecessary, and by implementing these changes, the stock quality will suffer. Harry’s Wholesale Nursery is a business that imports approximately 70% of its stock, any changes to our biosecurity systems will affect their business greatly.

Local rose grower Joe Nati
Joe Nati of Nati Roses, grows his roses locally and says any changes made to the biosecurity systems for imported flowers may have a positive affect of his business. Source: ABC News

Local roses businesses such as Nati Roses, have been growing their own roses for generations. For the most part, they grow old fashioned varieties of roses, that open all the way up, and are scented. This is what sets his business apart from the imports. As a local business he is also able to ensure his stock is fresh, and in most cases, what you buy today was picked the day before. He hopes that the rising costs of imports will be good news for his business. Along with other growers he would also like to see a Country of Origin labelling system brought in.

So what is the answer? Bernard Pollack of Pearsons Florist believes that local and imported stock needs to somehow coexist. Availability, quality, and quantity greatly affects why we need all options on the table. From an environmental stand point, it certainly would be better to utilise what we can produce ourselves. Aesthetically however, sometimes we cannot achieve what we need to artistically with the stock on hand. Event work, as well as Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day put great pressure on us to source great quality produce, in vast numbers and sometimes that just isn’t possible from our small pond.  And for a small business, we certainly understand the value of local, community support….but what happens if your business survival depends on offering the imports?

Love to hear your thoughts

Fwf X

Feature Image by Ivan Kashinsky via Smithsonian Magazine

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Ants marching suggest rain is coming

Rain, Rain – Go Away, or Stay?

This week we have had armies of black ants marching single file along the length of our verandah… Miss 4 was alarmed and interested as is often the case with inquisitive little people and I told her what I had been told when I was small. Today, I know it to be true from observations. The ants are a sign that rain is coming 🐜🐜🐜🌧🌧🌧

Many believe that a change in ants behaviour can indicate that the weather may also be changing. You may notice that ant mounds begin popping up all over your lawn, or that the mounds that were already there start getting bigger. You may simply observe the armies of ants running. Inevitably they are looking for clean, dry shelter, which sometimes means they come inside. They are searching for food, and water of course, and as they travel, they leave a scent along the path to ensure they will be able to find their way back to the nest once the sun has dried out all the rain. ☀️☀️☀️

 

The night blooming cactus in flower suggests rain is coming
Source; Bill Lane via ABC
Peruvian Apple cactus has some pretty impressive flowers
Source: Amazon

Similarly, a variety of cactus, found in Central Queensland but originally from Peru, has caught the attention of weather watchers and gardeners as it appears to have weather predicting abilities. It won’t replace the weather reporter anytime soon though, and has now been determined ‘a pest’ and ‘biosecurity risk’.

Earlier in the year, Bill Lane, from Emerald, a thriving rural service centre in the Central Highlands of Queensland, shared a picture of his cactus via social media which flowers before it rains. Well, obviously this sparked amazing interest from other gardeners who wanted to get a cutting of the plant, and see for themselves.

The ‘cereus uruguayanus’ is also known as Willow Cactus, night blooming cereus and the Peruvian Apple Cactus.

Dense crops of the Rain Cactus are throughout the Central Highlands of Queensland
Source: Central Highlands Regional Council
The night blooming cactus is said to predict rain when it flowers
Source: Amazon

But like other species of cactus with delicious fruit that birds enjoy, the thousands of seeds within are spread easily. Cactus are plants that are able to survive in the most arid conditions, where very little else can, so these tough little guys can pop up everywhere, and have been, causing farmers great difficulties. This plant can be devastating for farmers, and many are pleading for people to be mindful of the consequences of sharing this species around.

This particular species has been on the list of priority pests since 2015, and whilst they have had some success with stem injection, physically injecting each plant stem in dense crops proves time consuming.

The willow cactus is a priority pest
Source: Central Highlands Regional Council

This cactus, as pretty as it is, is something we should avoid. These clues from Mother Nature herself may help those (like me) who are struggling to know when to hang the washing out, and when to cut your losses and head straight to the laundromat 😉:

Frogs croaking in the evening suggests rain. The louder the frogs, the more rain. 🐸

Ants build the walls of their anthills steeper when rain is on the way.🐜

Spiders retreat from their webs when rain is imminent. 🕷🕸

Cats clean their ears when rain is coming. 🐈

If there is dew on the grass in the morning, there is unlikely to be rain that day. ⛅️

Cattle lie down in the field when a severe storm is on its way. 🐄

The scent of flowering plants is stronger when rain is coming 🌸

A Halo around the moon at night (caused by the refraction is ice crystals in the upper atmosphere) suggest rain is going to fall within 24 hours. 🌝 🌛

Fwf x

Featured image L Church on Flickr

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Wild Hibiscus

Walk on the Wild Side with Hibiscus

Have you ever seen a wild hibiscus in flower? Or, better yet, have you watched one bloom in a glass of bubbly?

Hibiscus blooms added to sparkling wine
A Rosella bloom unfurling in sparkling wine. Source: Elle Decor

Rosellas, are a tropical annual, which are also known as Wild Hibiscus, Florida Cranberry, Royal Roselle, Red Tea, Guinea/Indian/Red/Natal/Jamaican Sorrel, Jamaica tea flower, Java Jute, Nubia tea, Pink Lemonade, Queensland Jelly Plant, and Sour-Sour. The plant, originally from South Africa, grows beautifully throughout tropical and subtropical regions of India, Australia and Southeast Asia.

If I’m really honest, I may have sold Rosellas as a Native flower at some stage over my career 🤔 I’m sure I’m not the first, nor the last to do this….The Hibiscus is often associated with Australian bush tucker, and has been popular with Indigenous Australians since being introduced here, so I guess I just assumed they had been native. They grow prolifically in Queensland and Northern Australia. Having grown here for thousands of years now, there are some differences in our plants characteristics from those in neighbouring countries.

The Hibiscus grows on the edge of forests and rainforests, and in sand dune regions. It is a hardy, drought resistant plant however it is sensitive to frost. Rosellas have a unique tart flavour, making them popular for use in jams, cordials, teas and as a decorative addition to your drink.

Rosella blooms
Source: A Kitchen Garden in Kihei Maui

Their botanical name is Hibiscus sabdariffa, and they are a member of the Mallow family. The seeds, leaves, fruits and even the roots of the Rosella are used in various foods. The fleshy red calyx, and the characteristic 5 petalled funnel shaped flower is perhaps the most popular part of the plant.

Hibiscus macaroons
Hibiscus macaroons. Source: Mushita

The product that has become internationally recognised is the Wild Hibiscus flowers in syrup, which were first produced by an Australian family business, headed by Lee Ethrington. After initially producing the wildly popular Rosella Jam for local markets, he then branched out to a range of Australian Bushfoods seeing the potential for both international guests and loving locals. Queenslanders were mad for the Rosella Jam, made from the Hibiscus growing all through the north of the state. Believe it or not, but according to their website, the moment of discovery that led to the creation of their most popular product, was entirely by chance:

“…Lee and partner, Jocelyn and their guests dropped a rosella flower into a glass of champagne (the flowers and other native fruits were always on hand for making the bushfood produce). Watching in amazement as the flower started to unfurl and look particularly special in the glass, the idea was sparked by Lee to create the first bottled whole hibiscus flowers in syrup.”

Rosella fruit stems
Rosella fruit stems. Source: Robin Powell

 

The flowers are preserved in a concoction of sparkling water and cane sugar and can be used up to 36 months after bottling. Due to the seasonal nature of the plant, demand was not being met, so they were forced to travel and establish a supply network across the Australasian tropical belt. Wow!

I think it is incredibly interesting to see flowers used in ways outside floral arrangement. We know that many creatures in nature find sustenance from flowers, so why not us too, right?

Fwf x

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Weeding out the bad wedding trends

The Effects of the Weeding Industry

I know what you are thinking….you think we have made a spelling error title, but I can assure you, it’s not.

The wedding industry is fuelled by fad and fashions, and we as florists are guilty of running with the herd when a trend takes hold, it is a business after all. The question is, are we making short sighted decisions based on profit, perpetuating the problem of glamorising the use of weeds.

What is a weed, anyway?

A weed is generally a term we use to describe ‘a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants’.

The reality is, sadly, many of the plants florists use all over Australia, are restricted plants. A restricted plant is a plant that poses a threat to primary industries, the natural environment, livestock, human health and people’s livelihoods. They are invasive plants that need to be managed to ensure that they do not spread to unaffected areas of the state or country.

Cut flowers are often transported large distances before and after sale. This means that the damage restricted plants poses to the environment, rises substantially and so does the cost to the community and the environment in the greater sense.

Pretty pink pampas grass
Pretty pink Pampas Grass Source: Walmart

 

Pampas Grass wedding arbour
Gorgeous wedding arbour featuring Pampas Grass. Source: Hooray Magazine

While the current wedding trends favour Australian Native flowers, many florists are teaming these flowers with noxious weeds such as asparagus fern and pampas grass. Many florist pages I follow (read: drool over) regularly use things like Pampas grass in their gorgeous arbours. The scary thing about Pampas Grass is that each head contains up to 100,000 seeds!  These tiny seeds are easily picked up by the wind and carried great distances. If the plant then becomes established in an area, it takes over and restricts the growth of native plants. Pampas Grass is also a fire hazard.

Cotton bush, also known as Swan pods are also a restricted plant in some states. Here, in Sydney, you will pay top dollar for the lime green balls. Unfortunately the pods contain hundreds of seeds. What the concern is, is that when the floral arrangement is disposed of, those hundreds of seeds will have the opportunity to germinate, and therefore the plant may spread in a far wider sense than if the seeds were carried by wind and rain naturally.

Navy blue or black Privett berry

Another couple of favourites are Privett Berry, and doddavine. Despite being restricted plants, these are hot sellers in the flower market. Whether lime green, or ripened in a deep navy blue, the Privett berry provides a cost effective, and textured choice for bouquets and arrangements. But as you can imagine, when those tiny little berries begin to dry and drop off, they become sprinkles of destruction.

Strangleweed
Strangleweed Source Melbourne and Suburbs Wholesale Florist

Doddavine, which is also known as ‘Strangleweed’ grows everywhere, and in the Australian bush as the name suggests, it strangles everything in it’s path.

There is of course a way you can have your cake, and eat it too, so to speak. If you have your heart set on a restricted species, such as Pampas Grass, you can make sure that you source the product from overseas or that it has been treated by way of irradiation. Some venues and wedding planners may even insist on a treatment certificate to ensure that are able to continue to protect our beautiful environment.

It is certainly going to take some time, and it will be extremely hard to regulate but it seems that a change is coming. Now it’s time for us all to decide if we are going to run with the herd this time…or be left behind.

Fwf x

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Naked man Orchid, just one of many examples of wonder, beauty and humour from Mother Nature

Freaky Flowers

This week I saw a post on Facebook that surprised me. After something like 18 years in the flower industry I have seen many spectacular blooms, but realistically, I probably haven’t even seen 10% of the beauty and wonder out there. But one flower that I have seen almost day in and day out, either in store or in gardens surrounding me, has surprised me this week, and I suspect I am not alone….

This is the post I saw on Facebook via several pages this week;

Strelitzia flowers resemble exotic birds
Source; Twitter

The Strelitzia, is also known as a ‘crane flower ‘ or ‘Bird of Paradise’ because of its likeness to an exotic bird. The explanation doesn’t go any further, and you are left to connect the dots yourself so if like me, you assumed it was simply the head of a gorgeous bird with showy plumes, I have now come to realise how very wrong we were. And now that the illustration has been shown to me, I can’t believe I never saw the whole bird body in flight before 🙄

Perhaps this is just a case of not seeing what is right below your nose, because as I said, Strelitzia flowers are readily available, both to florists and also as a common garden variety plant. But there are many amazing flowers that look like other things in the plant kingdom; they offer a combination of wonder, beauty and humour courtesy of Mother Nature.

Take for example Impatiens Psittacina, more commonly known as the Parrot flower. These dainty blooms look like a brightly coloured bird complete with fluttering wings and a long tail.

The Parrot flower resembles birds a flutter
Source; EarthPorm

Or check out these gorgeous babies all swaddled and cosy. Believe it or not but these gorgeous little cherubs are Anguloa Uniflora, also known as a Tulip Orchid, originating in the Andes regions around Venezuela, Columbia and Ecuador.

Source; Architecture n Design

This orchid variety (Habenaria-Radiata) is found throughout China, Japan, Korea, and Russia, and resembles a white egret with its plumage puffed out.

The White egret flower was so named as it resembles the bird with its wings out
Source; EarthPorm
White Egret birds with their wings outstretched resemble the orchids with the same colloquial name
Source; Tgonature Center

We also have the fascinating Monkey Faced Orchid, Dracula Simia, where each bloom appears to have a primitive face staring back at you. These orchids are rare and grow in South America, in the cloudy high altitude forests of southeastern Ecuador and Peru. Plus, when the bloom is fully developed, it smells just like a ripe orange 🍊 Well, fancy that.

Monkey Faced Orchid
Source: I Find Viral

Another Orchid, Orchis italica, is commonly referred to as the naked man orchid, and resembles a well….naked man. The Orchid is native to the Mediterranean.

Naked man orchids are native to the Mediterranean
Source; 1001 Gardens

By no means is this list exhaustive….there are so many weird and wonderful varieties of plants out there that look like something else.  If you have seen something fascinating, feel free to share it via our Facebook page- we love seeing all things weird, wild and wacky. Who knows, perhaps you can shed some light on something that has long been under our nose, that we haven’t quite ‘seen’ yet.

Fwf x

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Paper Flower Maker Makes Her Mark on the Industry

As a florist, it goes without saying that I find natural, fresh cut flowers absolutely beautiful. Nature creates the most exquisite intricacies in each flower petal, so that each bloom is stunningly unique. These are the details that we look to exploit when we put an arrangement together; we look at the minute differences and play around with the variations in colour and texture to build an arrangement that is eye catching and exquisite.

Often, our clients also have a vision when they walk through our doors. Perhaps they have a particular bloom in mind, or a specific colour. It is made all the more important when this detail is central to a theme for a party or event….so what is a florist to do if what the client wants is just not available?

IMG_0073
Cetti’s garden roses Picture Credit: The Green Vase

“There is a place for faux flowers today,” says Whitney Robinson, editor in chief of Elle Decor. “They are essentially copies of what you would buy fresh…not everyone has the time or budget to be able to buy fresh consistently. We are entering a new era in faux flowers as well, toward a new generation of paper flowers that takes the artistry to the next level.”

Coleus blooms and foliage are crafted from paper
Cetti creates individual Coleus pieces with gorgeous foliage Picture Credit; The Green Vase

It seems that with our busy lifestyles today, consumers are looking for a way to decorate their homes/offices or events without the maintenance that fresh flowers require. In the last few years many florists and homewares stores have begun stocking larger quantities of faux flowers to keep up with demand. With modern materials and more realistic production, these faux flowers are a very suitable alternative to the real deal. Sure, they do require some dusting and fluffing but they make sense for many spaces.

Some people will still turn their noses up….that is unavoidable, and sure, there are some blooms that look better and more realistic than others, the key is making the right choice for your space. And believe it or not, it is not only the humble working class that are embracing these no fuss, floral alternatives, faux flowers have got some real street cred.

Paper anenomes handmade by Livia Cetti
Handmade paper anenomes by Livia Cetti.
Hibiscus flowers are fragile, so these paper versions are a great alternative for arrangements
Gorgeous paper hibiscus created by Cetti. Michelle Obama used these in arrangements for a Korean State dinner at the White House. Picture Credit; The Green Vase

When Michelle Obama, the then First Lady had tables adorned with hibiscus envisioned for a Korean State dinner, artist Livia Cetti set upon designing exquisite handmade paper ones as the fresh version was far too fragile to be up for the task at the White House. In fact, paper flowers are moonlighting at some of the best addresses, and are being accepted by decorators, designers and influencers around the world. Cetti, once a stylist for Martha Stewart has now written two how-to books on paper flowers. She supplies her paper flowers to some of the high end shops in New York and sells them on her website, with prices starting from $35 per stem (some are priced at $200 a piece!) “People like the fact that paper flowers stay around for a while,” Cetti says. “My objective isn’t to be as realistic as possible; it’s to find the character and feeling of each flower and interpret that.”

Fwf x

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Gorgeous native bouquet by florist flower

People Going WILD For Wildflowers

Trends come and go, and what is deemed ‘current’ will invariably influence the way people create the aesthetic for their wedding day. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, native flower growers are currently struggling to keep up with demand, as the population favours wildflowers for both wedding flowers and for their homes.

It is a far cry from five years ago, when many of these growers were struggling to just keep afloat. Many native flower businesses relied heavily on the sale of dried native bunches, but as China began to produce artificial flowers (a.k.a silk flowers) the interest in dried flowers, well, basically dried up.

Australian natives were given centre stage at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, with all bouquets designed to have a strong Australiana feel, featuring some of our beautiful flora. At that time, Australian native production was at its peak. Then, after a tough drought, and a period where the Australian dollar was weak and unstable, production fell dramatically and never quite recovered. The few growers who were left were expected to pick up the slack, which was near impossible.

The current trends for fresh flowers includes a clear market for Australian native flowers, and so called ‘wildflowers’. They provide an interesting variety of textures and colours to work with, and a mixture of often long lasting, large focal blooms and small filler flowers. Florist with Flowers offers a variety of fresh flower arrangements available for Sydney delivery such as our native box arrangement and native bouquet, or alternatively you can speak to one of our wonderfully creative staff about what you can put together yourself.

Australian’s have become accustomed to a huge influx of imported fresh flower products, altered and dyed to be any and every colour in the rainbow….or the entire rainbow in some cases! In their pursuit to create something unique, the result has actually become somewhat predictable. Fresh native flower growers have focussed their energies on growing varieties of flowers that no-one else grows, creating their own niche markets. They have reinvented themselves into boutique businesses with products of real value and quality.

Brides come into floral meetings using descriptive words such as; natural, rustic, raw, quaint, earthy, organic, relaxed, textured…. and native blooms can fulfil their design brief with ease. With the increase in interest in native flora, there is consequently an increase in pressure to produce, and the ABC reports that our suppliers are not keeping up.

Craig Scott, from East Coast Wildflowers, is one such grower. He says that many of the industry head straight to his stall at The Sydney Flower Markets at opening time to see what fresh, new and interesting material he has on offer. He has increased production over the years and has a wide variety of stock on offer at any one time. As florists it is incredibly important to stay inspired and interested. Whether the piece has an unusual texture, or spectacular colour, or has an awesome line; these small differences in material can be the difference between creating something average or awesome.

Craig Scott has also run workshops interstate, and found there is a demand for his product there too. Unfortunately he is unable to get it there, but perhaps this just shows there is a gap in the market, and therefore an opportunity for someone else.

I have always been a fan of various Natives….how about you?

Fwf x

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pine lily cover

Gorgeous Summer Flowers – Add Pineapple Lilies to Your Floral Arrangements NOW!

If you want to create an instantly eye catching, dramatic and long lasting arrangement throughout summer, here’s a hot tip…

Pineapple Lilies.

Never heard of them? You are probably not alone…these striking bulb plants have not always been a popular cut flower, although I do not know why. Aside from being aesthetically beautiful, they prove to be amazing value as they are reasonably priced AND long lasting. Pineapple lilies can give you WEEKS of viewing pleasure!

Pineapple Lilies (which are not at all related to Pineapple fruit plants) are a seriously interesting addition to your flower arrangements. Pineapple Lilies (Eucomis) are like a floral representation of the tropical fruit, a long central stem with miniature flowers closely clustered together beneath a leafy top. They are a bulb plant, native to South Africa, and as they are endemic to a similar climate to Australia’s growing conditions, they grow well here and make a fantastic cut flower.

pine lily 3
Image; Gorgeous close up picture of the Pineapple lilies flowers via Top Tropicals
pine lily 5
Image; Pineapple lilies are available in a variety of colour tones like this gorgeous specimen via Easy to Grow Bulbs

Pineapple lilies come in a variety of colours including a white and green variety that works well within neutral colour schemes as well as bright colour schemes. They also come in a gorgeous burgundy variety which looks absolutely divine with rich and romantic colour tones (think pinks, reds, chocolate, plums, purples etc…) While some varieties are harder to come by commercially as a cut flower, the varieties that are available are very versatile.

pine lily 1
Image; Pineapple lilies come in stunning rich tones too, like this plum bloom via Longfield Gardens
pine lily 2
Image; Pineapple lilies make fantastic pot plant too like this example via  Longfield Gardens

These flowers can also be allowed to ‘go to seed’ before being cut which means that the centre of the bloom is allowed to become enlarged and firm. It gives the bloom a unique look, and the cut flower still last extremely well. This is one way that growers get creative, essentially creating a new line that may allow them to build on their business by extending the plant season (cutting the crop later than usual) or attracting new customers (by offering something totally unique). It also gives florists different textures to work with, allowing us to be more inspired when we create floral arrangements.

pine lily 4
Image; This pineapple lily has gone to seed, resulting in a plump berry like centre to each bloom via Top Tropicals

Pineapple lilies are grown locally which is beneficial because the cut flowers have not spent extended periods of time out of water or in unfavorable transit conditions. Buying local ensures you know the age of the produce, the conditions that they have been grown in and also provides jobs in the community.

Our staff are very knowledgeable, so ask us what flowers are grown locally if you want to continue supporting small business. By choosing this Carlingford Florist for flowers for home or deliveries throughout Sydney you are supporting a family business that actually care about it’s customers, and cares about it’s community.

Fwf x

 

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stem cover

The Easiest Ways to Extend the Life of Your Fresh Flowers

Just as we know that eating right and exercising makes our bodies healthier, there are some key points to looking after living plants and fresh flowers that are often overlooked. I like to think that after almost 20 years in the industry, I have a fairly good idea of how to look after most house plants and how to keep my vase going for as long as possible, but even I am guilty of skipping some of the steps on occasion.

Just a couple of weeks ago, in the busy days leading up to Christmas my darling mother and I made a horrendous error in judgement. Knowing that we had 4 places to go throughout the day, and enjoying gloriously hot, summery days, we chose to buy an orchid plant at our first stop. It certainly was the most convenient time to buy the orchid logistically on that particular day, but after sitting in the car for some 4 hours, the poor orchid plant was left scalded and burnt. The flowers and foliage were all wilted and sadly, that orchid was not going to be sitting centre stage on any table this season, if at all.

stems 3

I stifled a little laugh as we approached the car, not because it was funny, but because I really couldn’t believe that my mother, a orchid enthusiast, or myself as a florist had done something so obviously stupid. I guess it was just a case of the silly season getting the better of us.

An orchid enjoys humidity, however cannot handle direct sunlight ESPECIALLY throughout the middle of the day. The car would have created an oppressive, hot and dry environment that the orchid simply could not handle. Had it been a cactus it would not have had the same effect…

Obviously leaving any living thing in a hot car is going to have disastrous effects. Just as you would not leave a child, an animal or even fresh milk in the car, fresh flowers and plants should not be left in the car for extended periods of time.

Some of the most common mistakes people make when (not) caring for fresh flowers include;

RECUTTING STEMS

stems 1

Fresh cut flowers have been cut from their life source; from the source of their food and nutrients, as well as water. For this reason, the cut stem seals to ensure that excess moisture is not lost, and therefore needs to be opened or ‘re-cut’ before being placed in fresh water.

Who has ever been in a rush- run inside their home with fresh flowers and either left them on the bench, or thrown them directly in water before recutting them? You are certainly not alone, but by leaving the stems sealed, or worse, without water for extended periods of time, will drastically effect vase life.

Cut flower stems on a diagonal, removing approximately 2cm from the length.

CHANGING THE WATER REGULARLY

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Cleaning your vase every couple of days and refreshing the water will extend your vase life too. As your flowers deteriorate, bacteria breeds in the vase water, and in turn shortens the vase life of your blooms. By emptying the vase and using cleaning agents to ensure the bacteria is removed from the vase surface, the fresh vase water will stay fresher for longer.

KEEP FLOWERS FROM DRYING OUT

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Keep your fresh flowers and plants away from direct sunlight; unnecessary, harsh sunlight will deplete your blooms of moisture and dehydrate them prematurely. Keep your fresh flowers out of the direct line of draughts like air conditioning or windows.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you, in harsh, hot conditions like we have been having, fresh flowers and plants can suffer. By choosing hardier blooms, tropical and natives you will enjoy a longer vase life.

Fwf x

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