Eucalyptus_deglupta-trees

A Home Among The Gum Trees

Firstly, let me welcome you to the first blog of 2019! Time seems to be moving ever faster but what a glorious start to the year it has been. On our way up to our holiday accommodation, I was musing….mesmerised by the glorious scenery along the way,  inspired by the colour palette that Mother Nature created for us. I was dreaming about ways I could use these palettes in another creative project.

One tree that continued to catch my eye along the way were the gum trees. The streaky trunks painted in watercolours bleeding into one another: muted greys, mauves, soft golds, dustry pinks, aubergines and chocolate.

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Eucalyptus trees in Hervey Bay. Supplied.

The summer skin of the gums standing there strong and proud…freshly naked. Freshly shed, brilliant bright orange in colour: an intoxicating tequila sunrise.

And who could forget the ghostly white gum tree? Pale and creamy,  illuminated against the backdrop of bright blue skies, and the thick green scrub.

Like many others I’m sure, I had assumed all gum trees were native to Australia, so like me you may be surprised to find that this is actually not the case.

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One evening I was chatting to one of my best friends,  who just so happens to be a very talented,  inspired florist.  She was talking about this AMAZING variety of Eucalyptus, The Rainbow Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus deglupta. I’d never seen it or heard of it for that matter!

Source: Sarefo, via Wikimedia Commons.
This image shows the distribution of Eucalyptus. The Rainbow Eucalyptus is the only species occurring naturally in the northern hemisphere. Source: Sarefo, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Rainbow Eucalyptus is also known as the Rainbow Gum or Mindanao Gum and is native to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and The Phillipines. But what is also pretty unique is that this is the only Eucalyptus that extends into the northern hemisphere naturally.

In areas of the USA, the trees only grow to approx 100-125 feet tall, which is approximately half the height they grow to in their native environment. But, if you can provide them with a frost free environment,  you can grow a Rainbow Gum of your own…though remember it is a huge tree so it’s probably not suitable for most residential settings.

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The defining feature of the Rainbow Eucalyptus is the multi coloured bark. The older bark sheds each year,  at different times, revealing the new layers of bright,  lime green trunk underneath. As the new layers age and mature,  the colour changes and deepens, revealing a multitude of vertical coloured stripes: in lime green, blue, purple, orange, red, maroon and grey.

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The colours appear brightest and most intense when planted in native regions. The Rainbow Eucalyptus loves full sun, and rich, medium to wet soil. It does not tolerate frost, so is suitable for subtropical and tropical regions only.

It is the kind of plant that is almost unbelievable. But believe me, it’s real, and this is all completely natural. Wow!

Fwf x

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House Proud Plants

There are certainly popular house plants. They are the same plants that people have been adorning their homes with for years, and probably will continue to, for years to come. Plants such as Spathyfilium (Peace Lily), Maiden Hair Ferns, Cyclamen and African Violets.  But if you like to do things a little different, here is a list of some other plants you can try which are exquisite to look at, and will provide the gorgeous green foliage that you desire. The benefit of decorating with house plants is that they last longer than cut flowers, whilst still bringing life indoors.

Cyclamen plants have pretty flowers and dainty foliage
Cyclamen plant

A few years ago, Fiddle Leaf figs became extremely popular and continue to decorate homes everywhere. They have a rich dark green glossy leaf in the shape of a fiddle, hence their name. They tolerate low light conditions so are great for indoors, but are equally happy planted outside.

Fiddle leaf figs are popular house plants
Source: Pinterest via City Mouse

Monsteria leaves and Philodendron leaves are both popular choices of green house plants with their luscious leaves. They are also popular cut foliages, lasting for weeks in fresh water. Devils Ivy, is often confused for a Philodendron, but is not the same. It is also sometimes known as the ‘Money Plant’.

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Devil’s Ivy grows well in vases in water as well as in pots in soil.

Devils Ivy is an attractive, leafy plant. And whilst the pot plant has always been popular, given that Devil’s Ivy can grow easily from cuttings, it is becoming extremely popular to display in vases. Simply snip the plants tendrils and place them in fresh water. These cuttings will continue to grow and flourish. Be sure to change the water regularly, however you do not need to recut the stems as you would with fresh flowers as you will notice that roots start to sprout.

Zanzibar Gem plants are low maintenance, ever green plants perfect for indoors
Zanzibar Gem are low maintenance plants

If you like an ever green house plant Zanzibars are a fabulous choice. These plants are extremely low maintenance only requiring monthly watering, and tolerating low light positions too. It isn’t particularly dense, but the leaves always look extremely lush and turgid.

Rhapis palms, also known as the lady finger palm, have been a popular cut foliage for florists for many years,  but they also make a great house plant. If you like a variation in the colours of the leaves, get your hands on the verigated rhaphis which has a beautiful, yet subtle stripe to the leaf with lime highlights.

Dracena Deremensis Compacta are a slow growing ever green plant which is perfect for indoors
Dracena Deremensis Compacta are a slow growing ever green plant which is perfect for indoors. Source: Jardineria On

A personal favourite is the Dracena deremensis Compacta. It is a dense head of short glossy leaves; favouring low light conditions, and extremely slow growing.

Apart from the aesthetic beauty indoor plants bring into your home,  we have known for some time that being surrounded by nature has health benefits too. NASA’s first Clean Air study was published in 1989, and both the Rhapis and Devil’s Ivy are featured on their list of air quality improving plants 🌱 🌱 👍🏻👍🏻  So whether you are looking at buying something for your own home, or for a gift for someone special, think about choosing a unique house plant.

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.

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Pretty pink Pampas Grass Source: Walmart

 

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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.

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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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Birds eye view of a woman gardener weeding an organic vegetable garden with a hand fork

The Wonders of a Winter Kitchen Garden

Life is busy, but not too busy to become complacent with what we are eating and putting in our bodies. Over the years the trend for eating locally, eating organic, eating ‘whole foods’ and eating ‘clean’ foods has grown exponentially and anyone who frequents the grower’s or farmer’s market scene knows that it costs considerably more to eat this way. The all important trade off is that you know where your produce is coming from, what conditions it has been grown in, whether or not it has been sprayed with any chemicals….PLUS, it’s fresher.

Growers markets have become more popular as people take more interest in their health
Growers markets have become more popular as people take more interest in their health. Source: Australis

Growing your own vegetables will save you money and is great for your health. But more than that, reconnecting with nature is incredibly beneficial for our health; time in nature is shown to reduce stress, improve your mood and be soothing. Plus, it is said to improve kids attention span as nature moves at a slower pace. Today’s youth are so accustomed to things moving quickly…..busy schedules, rapid movement via screens, and instant gratification. Setting up your own vegetable garden is easy and a fun project to do with the kids.  But It’s also a great way to slow down life’s pace whilst teaching them about nature.

Now, you don’t have to have a huge space to work with to get started. Prefabricated garden bed kits are readily available and super easy to assemble. Alternatively, wall hung systems are great in tiny spaces, as you use otherwise untapped real estate.

indoor herb garden wall mounted - Nice Indoor Kitchen Herb Garden Ideas Lovely Hanging Indoor Herb Garden
Indoor herb garden that is wall mounted. A great solution for those tight on space. Source:Live to Manage

What is incredibly important to consider however, is how much sunlight your plants are going to get. Let’s face it, without sunlight, your herbs and vegetables just aren’t going to grow. Ideally your garden will need to get approximately 6 hours of sunlight a day. It is also going to require regularly watering, so make it part of your daily routine to check over your plants and give them a drink.

You can get started with a selection of your favourite herbs, and plant them at pretty much any time of the year. Think carefully about what you love to cook with and plant those! It makes no sense to have oodles of something you don’t enjoy or rarely cook with.

The same goes for your vegetables….beans, lettuce, tomatoes and peas are all easy to grow, but you should consider what you like to eat. If you live in sub tropical areas beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, peas, lettuce, rocket, peas, garlic and snow peas are ideal to plant throughout June. In more temperate environments try Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beans, radish, turnips, swedes, garlic, lemongrass, mint and strawberries.

Winter vegetables are interesting and varied.
Planting throughout winter does see slower growth, however once the plants take off you should still see a hefty harvest. Source: Pinterest

In our house, our favourite winter crops are zucchinis and coloured spinach: both take a little while to get started, but once they take off, you are left with an abundance of fresh produce. You will need to get creative in order to use your hefty harvest, but winter is a great time for making stews and soups, so you can throw a handful of each into most of your concoctions.

If you are trying your hand at beans, peas or tomatoes, try growing these at the back of your garden bed on trellises. That way you are able to harvest the produce in front easily whilst the crops are supported and out of the way.

Keep your vines like tomatoes and beans at the back of your garden supported on trellises
Keep your vines like tomatoes and beans (far right of adove picture) at the back of your garden supported on trellises. Source: IN Gun Owners

It is a great time to get into the garden as the sun is more gentle and it makes the day far more pleasant was you are working. Things do tend to grow slower in the cooler months so it also makes an ideal time to pull out the weeds and make sure your garden is ready for spring!

Happy planting

Fwf x

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Image of a flower cart on a beautiful garden

Plant Babies For The Time Poor and Cash Poor

Now I think pretty much every person on the planet has heard the term ‘fur baby’; a term defined by  the Oxford dictionary as ‘a person’s dog, cat, or other furry pet animal’. It has come to be understood that these ‘fur babies’ are on a level equal to that of any beloved member of the family, like one of your children even. Our pets have indeed become more pampered, primped and cared for over the years, with a booming business having emerged to keep up with this new level of love and maintenance. Having an animal is certainly hard work but it is also rewarding, after all, a fur baby will show you a level of affection, which makes the commitment worth it.

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Florist with Flowers stock a wonderful range of low maintenance plants such as cacti and succulents. Photo Credit Mashtal Egypt

But let me ask you this…..have you ever considered having a ‘plant baby’?

According to an article in The Star Advertiser Honolulu, some are choosing to fill their lives with house plants instead of housemates. They suggest that many people lack the time and means to take on the commitment of pets, or having children, so are choosing to embrace house plants. Allegedly, these house plants are being given names and being talked to on a daily basis, or having music played to encouraged ‘growth’ 🤣 Now, while these methods are not scientifically proven, it can’t hurt right?

Houseplants do require a level of commitment if you want them to survive, however you can choose the best fit for you and your lifestyle. Not home often and tend to forget to water your plants regularly? Try low maintenance plants like succulents, cacti or the lush Zanzibar, a plant accustomed to dry, arid conditions, yet with a lush, supple, tropical appearance.

Image of gorgeous and lush Zanzibar plants
The Zanzibar appears lush, but unbelievably can be left with no worries whilst you go on holidays. It makes the perfect houseplant for those with limited time and experience caring for living things.

Or perhaps you like something elegant and colourful, and can make the time to water it weekly? Orchid plants are such wonderful value as they flower for weeks to months, and when cared for correctly will flower once or twice a year.

Do you like something to have dual purpose? Why not create a gorgeous garden of edible flowers and microherbs in a sunny spot near the kitchen? Not only will it look gorgeous, but you can harvest what you need at each meal.

Image of Edible flowers and herbs create an attractive houseplant
Combine edible flowers with herbs that you like to cook with and create an attractive house plant like this gorgeous planter created by Brolly via Garden Therapy.

I also love good old favourites like Boston ferns or Maiden Hair ferns. They do require a shady spot that gets just gentle sunlight. Ferns are also one of those wonderful plants that actually help clean the air; absorbing pollen, bacterias and moulds, whilst taking in carbon dioxide to process into oxygen. Ferns look great in hanging baskets or pots allowing them to become pendulous. They can also work in tabletop pots or terrariums.

Image of Maiden Hair Ferns plants
Maiden Hair Ferns are a delicate old favourite of mine. They do require regular watering and the perfect position, but when they are happy, they certainly let you know with their full head of glorious ‘hair’. Photo Credit: Botanique Workshop

I guess the most important thing when choosing something to become a part of your life is to consider whether you have the time and room in your life to care for it. So whether you choose your housemate to be human, furry or leafy, consider whether you are ready to commit to caring for it, and giving it all that it requires to thrive.

Fwf x

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Threatened, endangered and extinct

For animal lovers, the increasing number of creatures that end up on the threatened, endangered, or extinct list is devastating. Many organisations get behind animal conservation and mainstream entertainment activities such as visiting a zoo, or aquarium bring these issues to the forefront.

But you may be surprised to find that many plants also face extinction. In fact scientists estimated that a huge 20% of the world’s plants face extinction- that’s one in five plants. The World’s Botanic Gardens act as a safe haven for many rare plants. And while Botanic Gardens worldwide are popular tourist attractions, the purpose is also to serve as valuable research centres; for learning and educating and for important conservation work.

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Image via Wiki Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

For the first time, a detailed global study has been conducted of plants grown in botanical gardens, where they recorded more than 100,000 species. The study, conducted by the researchers from Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), has given great insight into what they have (of course), but probably just as importantly, what is lacking in the gardens. The Botanic Gardens is a huge resource of living collections as well as seed banks, and it is thought that perhaps more effort and energy should be focused on growing what they are able to uniquely grow, as there are no other parties able to do so.

Sydney Botanic Gardens
Image via Sydney.com of the beautiful Sydney Botanic Gardens

Dr Samuel Brockington of the University of Cambridge, and co curator of the study believes the global network of botanic gardens is our best hope for saving some of the world’s critically endangered plants.

Whilst the study showed a great cross section of living plants, Tropical plant varieties were under represented as were the Earth’s most ancient living flora, primitive plants such as mosses. Tropical plants only accounted for 25% of the gardens stock, however in reality, the majority of plant species in the world are Tropical. This is something they need to change; “Non-vascular species are the living representations of the first plants to colonise land,” Brockington said. “They are essential for understanding the evolution of plants.”

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Image via wiki Nong Nooch Tropical Botanic Gardens

He goes on to say;

“Currently, an estimated one-fifth of plant diversity is under threat, yet there is no technical reason why any plant species should become extinct. Botanic gardens protect an astonishing amount of plant diversity in cultivation, but we need to respond directly to the extinction crisis.”

“If we do not conserve our plant diversity, humanity will struggle to solve the global challenges of food and fuel security, environmental degradation, and climate change.”

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Image via Singapore Guide- The Singapore Botanic Gardens

The study which was published in the journal Nature’s Plants covered the shortfall in plants across 100 institutions. As the majority of the gardens were situated in the Northern hemisphere, the lack of tropical plants is understandable. To maintain the species would require heating and glass houses. Of course these species are more readily exhibited in their natural environment, however there are less gardens in the Southern hemisphere.

What was most interesting for me was that only 10% of the collections worldwide were dedicated to threatened species. Surely there is more that we can do to preserve some of the world’s most vulnerable plants!?

Fwf

 

 

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Xanthorrhoea- The Story of the Black Boy Plant

The Xanthorrhoea plant is uniquely Australian. It grows in the South East of Australia thriving in well drained, aerated soils with low nutrient content. It is a plant that can suit most gardens, and being endemic to Australia means it is ideal for our climate and environment.

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Image; Xanthorrhoea_drummondii via Australian Seed

All species of Xanthorrhoea are very slow growing BUT they are also long living; some elderly specimens are among the oldest living plants worldwide. They live for hundreds of years, some have been found to be up to 600 years old. A plant with a metre long trunk for example may already be 100 years old!!!

Xanthorrhoea plants are also known as Balga Grass Plants.  ‘Balga’ is the Aboriginal word for black boy and for many years the plant was fondly known as a “Black Boy”. It is thought that the Aborigines called the plants Balga because after a bush fire had ravaged the land, the blackened trunk of the Xanthorrhoea would be revealed beneath the burned lower leaves, and would resemble a child like black figure. Others believe that the plant, with it’s bush fire blackened trunk and long flower spike resembled an Aboriginal boy wielding a spear. Whatever the case, as the years have passed, it is seen as an extremely racist name, and is thought to be very offensive to the original custodians of the land, so the plants are more commonly known as Grass Tree, because let’s face it Xanthorrhoea is a bit of a mouthful.

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Image; Xanthorrhoea_preissii via Australian Plants

The Xanthorrhoea was invaluable to the Aborigine people. It was a source of food, drink and building material.

Food; Fleshy white parts of leaves and the succulent roots of the plants were frequently eaten. The seeds were collected, ground into a powder and used to make damper. They also collected grubs from the base of the plant.

Drink; The flower of the Xanthorrhoea was soaked in a trough of water extracting a thick sweet nectar which could be enjoyed as is or fermented for  3-5 days in order to produce an alcoholic brew.

Material for tools; The leaves of the Xanthorrhoea produce a hard waterproof resin, which is liquid form when warmed, but sets hard when cooled. The Aboriginals used the resin as a super glue type of material to attach blades to spears and as a waterproofing material for canoes.

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Image; Flower Spike going to seed via Anpsa

There are 28 species of grass trees in Australia. Xanthorrea Johnsonii is just one of these species, but is a popular variety in Australian gardens due to it’s singular trunk which can grow up to 5 metres tall. When you see a grass tree where the trunk changes direction, has major bends or even multiple heads, this is generally caused by new growth after the plant has flowered, or if the tree has been involved in an accident (another tree falling on top, or pushing against the grass tree). So essentially, the survivors turn into architectural masterpieces; each trauma, and struggle spurs them on, making them ever more interesting and beautiful. Each tree is totally unique and proudly displays its history in its shape.

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Image; Xanthorrhoea Australis Flower spike in bloom via Gardens Online

These plants often flower as a direct result of fire, quickly bringing an essential food source to the surrounding birds, insects and other wildlife. It is often the first spurt of colour in an otherwise blackened environment. The flower spike of the Xanthorrhoea is the growth point; after flowering, you will notice that the tree will remain dormant and cease producing new leaves for months or even years. Many people panic, but there is no need. The plant does not require extra water or fertiliser- it just needs your patience. This is the way of nature, and the Xanthorrhoea has survived just like this for hundreds of years; this is a defense mechanism. To encourage continuous growth, you will need to remove the flower spike as soon as it appears.

Fwf x

 

 

 

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Garden Inspirations- Palm Springs

I love conceptualising; Looking at ideas, researching a theme or a design concept and then building on it from there. Currently, I am finding inspiration from the gardens of Palm Springs. These gardens best suit the quint essential mid century modern home, however can be appropriated to work with modern day architecture where garden spaces are sleek, grouped, and focus on the balance between planted and empty spaces.

Obviously it is always important to look at the environmental factors, such as aspect and exposure to the sun within the garden and make appropriate plant choices. What is the soil quality like? Is there good drainage? How often are you prepared to water the garden? These are all factors that need to be considered when designing a garden.

Gardens that take inspiration from the South West of America focus on the intricate differences in colour, shape, size and most importantly texture. These gardens are often defined by the absence of grassy areas, and with the inclusion of rock beds, large feature rocks, stone pavers or gravel. These are appropriate options that have been considered, and make sense for the original environment; a hot, desert climate.

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Australia’s natural environment is often compared to California, and so many of the choices would be appropriate for our climate also. Instead of using mulch, or bark to retain water within the garden beds, a rock layer is a popular choice.

Get the look;  Cactus, Prickly Pear, Agaves and other geometric Succulents, Palms, Vertical plants like Mother in Laws Tongue, Shapely feature plants such as the Joshua Tree. There are hundreds of Palms available, and it all comes down to personal choice, but the Ponytail Palm will give you that special Palm Springs inspired look. It has a bulbous trunk and crazy head of leaves. You could also consider including a Australian Grass Plant, Xanthorrhoea- which for many years was known as the Black Boy. These plants often last for hundreds of years, require little water, and are striking in their appearance.

Joshua Tree, California Desert, Desert flora, desert cactus, desert plants, desert landscape, photography by Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach
Joshua Tree, California Desert, Desert flora, desert cactus, desert plants, desert landscape, photography by Jim Caldwell Redondo Beach
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Xanthorrhoea Grass plant via Trek Nature
Southwest Garden Designs | Great Southwest Landscape Design Ideas
Via Pinterest
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Amazing bulbous Ponytail Palm via Gardenia
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Besser blocks and feature rocks finish this garden design Via Kelly Go Lightly

Accessories; Gravel, Stone Pavers, Besser Block feature walls, Large feature rocks.

Colours; The gardens within this style tend to feature green, grey and white. Often the buildings are stark white, with strong coloured features (walls, entry doors, lounge/pool furniture etc). You can also include orange, red and chocolate coloured foliage plants for extra colour.

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Rock features and stone pavers in a neutral colour palette
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Pavers and rocks complete with a linear design of cactus= awesome Palm Springs garden via Kelly go Lightly

The Palm Springs inspired garden is not for everyone, but if you like low maintenance gardens, it could be a good fit. The rock layer reduces the watering, and as the plant choices tend to be hardy specimens which favour a more arid environment, they do not require daily watering. This garden style will complement formal settings, and sleek, modern architecture as well as vintage styling.

One thing to note is that many of the plant varieties that feature in this garden style are costly. Golden Barrel Cactus for example are hard to come by, and are slow growers, so even small plants will set you back a bit. You also need to consider that for the cluster plantings and linear plant work in this design style, you will require substantial numbers in many plant varieties. On the upside, choose wisely and this garden design will be low manintence and have great longevity.

Fwf x

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The Whole Big Banana

I’m pretty excited. This week, after a whole year of suggesting, asking, pleading….I have finally managed to get myself a banana plant for the backyard. It is no secret that we are a family that are pretty fond of growing as much produce as we can manage to eat, and at the moment I can see a huge discrepancy between the amount of bananas we eat (approximately 5 kilos a week) and the amount we produce (a big fat ZERO). What’s more, I have discovered that bananas have plenty of health benefits not just from the yellow fruit, but from the stem, the leaf and the flowers as well. The banana plant produces large pinkish/purple buds from the heart which develop into tubular, white flowers. The blossom hangs at the end of the cluster of bananas. On occasion I have seen fresh banana flowers (complete with cluster of bananas) in the Sydney Flower Market, but it is a rare treat.

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Image; Secretly Healthy
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Image;Dr Srevathi

Banana flowers are often used in Asian and South East Asian cuisines, almost in place of a vegetable in curries, soups and salads. The banana flower is sometimes compared to an artichoke in terms of its texture and taste, and like the artichoke,  both the fleshy bracts and the heart are edible.

Banana flowers are a rich source of Antioxidants, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, Potassium, Magnesium and Fibre, making them an excellent food choice. Antioxidants are essential for health because they reduce stress on cells throughout the body and therefore help slow down the ageing process. Magnesium is said to help reduce anxiety and boost your mood, so for those of you who like to eat your way to health, they are a natural anti depressant. Magnesium also helps promote restful sleep. Potassium is fuel for the brain, so helps with concentration, making you more receptive to learning. It has been shown to be an effective remedy to high blood pressure, and has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Fibre is an important addition to any diet (both soluble fiber and insoluble) as it helps make digestion more efficient and reduces the instances of constipation.

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Image; Miss News

Banana are pretty much a super-food for women throughout various stages of life.  Cooked banana flower combined with yoghurt or curd is said to be one of the most effective home remedies for treating excessive (and painful) bleeding throughout menstruation. The unique combination increases the level of progesterone in the body which has been shown to help reduce bleeding. The Banana fruit is also rich in folic acid (required for making blood) making them a great choice for pregnant women who have increased requirements.  On top of that, the bananas high iron content assists in preventing anemia keeping both mum and bubs healthy throughout pregnancy.

Nursing mothers can sometimes struggle with milk supply and Banana flowers have been found to boost milk supply 😄 Any new mother knows making time to eat properly when you are tending to a new baby can be challenging. Bananas are the original ‘100 calorie snack food’; the perfect food on the go! With only 100 calories and high fibre, they will keep you feeling fuller longer.

Now, I’m under no illusions, one banana plant for my hungry tribe is probably not going to be enough, but it’s a start anyhow! And while this list is not exhaustive it’s clear to me, that bananas are certainly a good choice for the garden or your shopping trolley. Bananas are of course readily available, and Banana flowers can sometimes be found in Asian supermarkets. If you are ready to experiment check out this Banana Blossom Salad recipe.

Fwf x

Featured Image; New Vision

 

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Florist Bucket List; The Corpse Flower

When you think of a flower blossoming and coming into full bloom, you conjour up images of soft layers of petals and a sweet fragrances that dance through the air.

But the so called ‘corpse flower’ is quite a different specimen of flower. The Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), is a rare bloom that only flowers approximately every 3-5 years with a pungent odour likened to the smell of rotting flesh. Delightful.

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Image; Plants of the World Online

Amorphophallus titanum, a plant native to the rainforests of Sumatra, is a member of the Arum family. It is listed on the IUCN Red list of Threatened plants, noted as being ‘Vulnerable’. The plant produces the world’s largest unbranched inflorescence in the world, with the flowers measuring up to 3 metres high and 3 metres in circumference! The bloom appears green, however has a richly coloured flesh inside, with ribbed sides and a frilly edge.

Life-Cycle-of-the-Titan-Arum

Right now, there are a few of these blooms expected to open at some prominent gardens around the world. In the Greater Des Moines Botanical Center, Iowa, an approximately 4 foot flower is about to bloom. This bloom is expected to open on or around July 22. For those who are unable to make the trip or perhaps are curious to see it open, but not endure the accompanying odour, the Botanical Centre has opened up a live feed that you can check out here.

The Paignton Zoo, Devon, UK, has just endured (errr….enjoyed) one of two resident Titan Arum plants opening. The second plant is expected to bloom just a few weeks behind. When the second plant was recently repotted, it weighed in at a whopping 56kgs, leaving the first plant to be dubbed ‘Tiny Tim’ in comparison to this giant at the Zoological and Botanical Garden.

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Image; The Mirror, The Paighton Zoo Titan Arum photographed with a staff member.

‘Carrion’ is defined as; ‘the decaying flesh of dead animals’. So Carrion flowers are flowers that emit an odor that smells like rotting flesh. The flowers ‘scent’ wafts through the air (particularly at night) attracting flies and other pollinators.

There are several Carrion flowers, the Titan Arum lily has a few smelly mates within this category, but the blooms are not necessarily related species. The Rock Island Quad City Botanical Centre has a Voodoo lily in residence which also omits a foul scent, and this blooms in late January.

 

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Image; Another Carrion Flower, ‘Voodoo Lily’ from Smart Seeds Store

What do they say ….”Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse.” I’m not sure that any of these Carrion flowers are the most attractive blooms on offer, but when something blooms so spectacularly (size- wise), so infrequently (every 3-5 years) and so fleetingly (living only 24 hours) is certainly still gets on my bucket list.

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Image; Spent flower, Australian Geographic

Have you ever seen a Titan Arum?

Fwf x

 

 

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