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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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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Wonderful Waratahs

Over the past few weeks my Instagram feed has been flooded with beautiful specimens of native Waratahs. Waratah flowers only have a reasonably short season, generally beginning sometime in October and continuing throughout the month of November, so essentially they are currently in their prime. The blooms are available in stunning reds, as well as pink tones, white, creams and lemon.

Waratah (Telopea Speciosissima)
Image ; Alexandra Simpson via National Parks Waratah (Telopea Speciosissima)

Telopea speciosissima, the most well known of the Waratah species, was named the floral emblem of New South Wales on 24 October 1962 after being used for many years informally. Telopea, derived from the Greek word ‘telopos’ means ‘seen from afar’ and refers to the fact that the rich red flowers could be seen from a distance. Speciosissima, is from a Latin word meaning ‘most beautiful’. Waratah was actually the Aboriginal name for the species. The Waratah was said to be popular with the Aboriginal people thanks to the rich nectar they would sip from the flowers.

Telopea is an Eastern Australian genus. The Waratah is part of the Proteaceae family, a family which also includes Grevillea, Banksia, Macadamia and Hakea. These plants are predominately found throughout Australia and South Africa. The defining feature of those within the Proteaceae family is the inflorescence;  very large, brightly coloured and showy, and consisting of many small flowers densely packed into a compact head or spike. The Waratah certainly fits the bill, with it’s rounded head full of compact flowers which generally measure 7-10 cm in diameter. The long woody stems are adorned with dark green, long and leathery leaves.

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Image; Pink Waratahs- East Coast Wildflowers

The Waratah makes a fantastic cut flower as it is long lasting, has a lovely long, straight stem, and a large, eye catching  bloom. The Waratah also has very little scent so makes a good choice for those who suffer from allergies.

Did you know that cutting Waratahs from the bush is an offence? These days many native wildflowers are protected, however, some twenty years ago it is estimated that as much as 90% of the Waratahs sold at Flemington Markets were bush picked.

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Image via Pinterest

Waratahs are generally sold per stem and the price will be determined by both the quality of the inflorescence, and the length of the stem. Like many other wild flowers, Waratahs are a tree. Therefore it is understandable that it takes quite some time for a tree to grow and produce a decent crop- approximately 3-5 years in fact! When you conosder that for a moment, it’s a substantial amount of time to wait to collect on your investment. Add to that the fact that Waratah cannot simply be planted and then forgotten, even more so. The Waratah does require a level of maintenance, as well as insecticide management and water throughout the drier months. It has also been known to have problems with Borers. For flowers like lilies, or gerberas you are only looking at 12-16 weeks for a yield- that equates to 3- 4 crops a year!

Waratahs are certainly a spectacular bloom endemic to our homeland and with only weeks left in their season, you’ll need to be quick to enjoy them this year! We also offer lovely native arrangements like the Wild Native Box which makes a gorgeous gift. Check it out here!

Fwf x

 

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Summer Rain

You’d have to be blind not to see that something is going on with the weather…. And not just this year, for years things have been changing. This winter has been one of the driest on record, and if you have a look around you, you could be forgiven for thinking that grass was supposed to be brown. I mean, it’s the norm now right?

So whilst we have all been praying for rain for the last few months, experts believe our wish is about to be granted….in a much bigger way perhaps than we had intended. At this stage BoM suggests there is approximately a 50% chance of this weather event becoming a reality, however this is DOUBLE the normal risk.

What weather event am I referring to?

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) are currently on La Nina watch. La Nina, or “the little girl” is the positive phase of the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) and occurs less often than El Nino’s or “the little boy”. It brings about heavy rainfall in Northern and Eastern Australia, and cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.  El Nino’s effect, on the other hand, is that Australia’s weather conditions become drier than normal.

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Photo: AFP/Queensland Police Service

For all us lucky ones who live on the East coast, La Nina threatens to wash out our summer; bringing heavy rainfall, flooding, and even the possibility of cyclones.

Over the last couple of weeks, Queensland regions have already suffered through some torrential rain, severe thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes and flooding. The Authorities from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries are still assessing the situation, however it is set to spill into millions of dollars worth of damage. Some areas are still cut off due to flood waters. Dr Watkins, manager of climate prediction service at BoM told Fairfax Media that La Nina’s were usually evident from autumn or winter, unlike this year: “It’s quite unusual to be so late in the year.”

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On the upside all this talk of rain is easing the threat of a potentially devastating bushfire season but it is important not to become complacent. After an incredibly dry winter,  there is plenty of fire fuel, the soil is dry, and any rain that we have, quickly evaporates with the soaring temperatures. “With continuing high temperatures, dry soils and drying out vegetation, the fire risk is still quite high. We will need to assess that as we go through the event.” Dr Watkins continued.

What does this all mean for the flower industry? Well…we all know that we need rain for things to grow, but believe it or not, too much rain can spoil all the beauties in the garden. As we are now in peak wedding season, heavy rainfall threatens to damage any varieties that are grown outside such as many garden variety roses. However rainfall can damage sheltered stock when the flowers begin to form mildew. This is most obvious on the outer petals, but unfortunately the whole bloom can begin to rot from within. Garden roses like David Austin roses can often show the effect of rainfall.

In the past whole crops have been known to be destroyed by heavy rainfall or hail. Obviously this will influence prices in the marketplace- as the supply declines, but the demand remains the same, prices will soar.

High temperatures also influence the vase life of flowers. Be sure to keep vases of fresh cut flowers away from direct sunlight and draughts. Clean the vase and change the water regularly. Remove spent flowers as ethylene emitted from deteriorating flowers  will cause new blooms to age more quickly.

Throughout the warmer months choose your cut flowers wisely. For longevity Native and Tropical blooms are best- they are made for this weather.  English garden flowers will struggle to last in the hot and humid conditions, so be mindful that as gorgeous as they are, they will only be enjoyed for short periods.

Choose wisely flower lovers 🌱🌼🌹🌷🌺🌻 😍

Fwf x

 

 

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Quick Stick Decorating

Winter is a time to spend a little more time cosied up on the couch, or near the fire, so it makes great sense that we create an internal space that makes our hearts and soul sing.  The cooler temperatures mean that we are less social spending more time in our own homes, so it is nice to spend some of our energy doing some simple decorating. It is easy to stick your tried and tested methods of decorating, adding an indoor plant or a vase of cut fresh flowers, but winter offers up some interesting and long lasting alternatives to your regular fresh cut flowers or indoor plants.

Disiduous branches and sticks are a fantastic way of filling a vase for weeks at a time. Depending on what you choose you may or may not need to add water to the vase- and for someone like me who hates cleaning dirty vases of stinky water, this spells H-E-A-V-E-N! Some sticks, such as magnolia branches or cherry blossom for example will flower and bloom and will require a vaseful of fresh water, but believe me, the floral display is certainly worth the effort! Other branches are sold more for their architectural qualities and are striking in a vase en masse. In this case, you can choose to display them in a vessel without water. Any sticks that are displayed this way will become more brittle with time but in general, their appearance changes very little. As the branches become more brittle, it is advisable that they are not moved often, as you will see the branches breaking and becoming damaged.

So what can you get your hands on in the coming months? Well, consider these;

Budded magnolia branches are divine! The naked branches are shapely and interesting alone, but for a matter of weeks you can enjoy the pretty blooms in soft cream, mauve and pink tones. When the blooms are spent, simply pinch them off the stem, and enjoy the naked branches.

 

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Image via Pinterest

Lichen covered sticks are super interesting to look at;they look a bit moody and mysterious. The leafless branches are covered in silvery green flakes that resemble peeling paint. The branches bring a certain woodland vibe,  and the natural beauty of the forest.

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Image: Etsy

Dogwood is stunning throughout winter, with its reddish, golden glow. It is so different to the other sticks available with its vibrant colour, and adds visual warmth to a room or an arrangement.

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Pussy willow have furry buds called catkins along the length of their stems. Before they come into full flower, they are covered in a fine, grey fur, which leads to the comparison to ‘pussies’ or small cats.

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Image: The Spruce

 

Tortured Willow is a unique tree that is also known as curly willow, twisted willow or corkscrew willows due to its wiggly stems. It is a plant native to Korea and North Eastern China that was introduced to Australia for ornamental purposes, but when left, it invades riverbanks and creeks. All species of willow are considered weeds due to their invasive nature, as they have aggressive root systems that cause damage to footpaths and drains.  However as a cut material, it looks beautiful in its simplicity. Tortured willow does not require water, however if left dry, it will also become brittle, and break easily. If it is placed in water, the tortured willow will remain malleable, easily manipulated into different shapes- making it ideal for creating sculptures and wreaths. It will also quickly develop roots in water, so can be planted again.

An abstract composition of a twisted willow tree
Image; Texas Tree Trimmers

 

Fruit tree Blossom are always popular, particularly cherry blossom, but there are many more fruit tree blossoms available such as peach blossom and apple blossom.

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Image; Apple Blossom by Pixabay

So, instead of sticking to what you know, give something different a go.

Fwf x

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Gifts from the Garden- II

After last weeks post on harvesting some of your gardens gifts, I noticed that on various social media platforms many other Sydney Florists had been having the same idea. Throughout this last week, keen gardeners have been busy bottling up their garden in preparation for the months ahead. And really, it is the perfect time to do so, before the cold weather really starts! Winter often brings on the undeniable desire for comfort eating, so following on from last week, we have a couple more treats for you to create from your flourishing garden that should hit the spot. Citrus should be in full swing now, so it makes it the ideal time to preserve lemons which you can utilise in a variety of sweet and savoury recipes, AND a gorgeous lemon curd; an excuse to make a delicious tart or a pie for dessert! YUM.

Preserved Lemon:

Preserving lemons is a pretty straight forward process, but to speed up the maturing process and to soften the rind, Taste suggests freezing the lemons first, letting them thaw overnight before preparing them with the salt.

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Image: Organic Gardener
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Image: Delicious
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Image; Former Chef

What you need;

5 Lemons

1 1/2C lemon juice *freshly squeezed from additional lemons

1/2C sea salt

You might also like to add 1 cinnamon sticks and/or 3 cloves for a twist on the traditional. Alternatively you can use bay leaves between each layer of lemons. You must work into sterilised jars to ensure that mould does not spoil your efforts.

Ensure that you clean the lemons sufficiently so that no dirt or dust remains on the exterior. Cut the lemons in quarters but not all the way down. Fill each lemon with as much salt as possible. The salt draws out the juice from the lemon, softening the rind. Pack the lemons into the jar and top the jar with the remaining salt. Pour the lemon juice over the lemons so that they are all covered. The jar should be stored in a cool spot, away from direct sunlight for at least 4 weeks. As the lemons settle you may find you need to add extra juice to ensure the lemons remain covered.

When you are ready to use your lemons, remove the pieces required from the jar and wash under cool running water. Use a sharp knife to remove the flesh, and pith from the rind. Discard both the flesh and pith. Finely slice/dice the rind to use.

Preserved lemon is a great addition Middle Eastern inspired meals and salads, it works brilliantly with roasted chicken, and it is fabulous to utilise in desserts. This little gift from the garden project will certainly be worthy of the time you invest.

Lemon Curd:

Curd is a dessert spread/topping/filling, that can be made from pretty much any fruit however generally citrus fruit is used. We have included a recipe using lemon, but you could just as easily use lime, mandarin or orange depending on what you have growing at home, as well as passion fruits, or berries.

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Image: The Pioneer Woman
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Image: Epicurious

Creating the Curd;

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

3/4 C caster sugar

80g chilled unsalted butter

2 lemons, juice and zest

Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks and caster sugar in a pan until smooth, then turn to a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk continuously until thickened. Strain through a sieve.Curd usually keeps in the refrigerator for approximately two weeks.

Warm up the curd to add to pancakes, or as part of a sweet crepe filling, use it to top your cheesecake, a filling for a tart or just spread it on buttermilk scones. I think it is optimistic to think that it may keep for around two weeks….

Oh, and remember as the weather cools down, fresh flowers generally have a longer vase life. It makes it a great time to treat yourself or someone special. You can find great gift ideas on our website that can be delivered throughout Sydney, or pop in store to see what delights we have on offer!

Fwf x

Feature image credit: Couponclippingcook.com

 

 

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Last Chance to Bury Your Bulbs for Spring!

Quick! With May coming to an end, Autumn is almost over and Winter is on it’s way.  If you haven’t planted your bulbs already, it’s time to get busy! Now is the time to put in your last ditch effort to give yourself gorgeous flowers throughout Spring.

What can you plant? There are many different types of bulbs that may appeal. Many bulb plants can be poisonous, so be careful what you choose.  Common plants like the daffodil are one of the most frequent causes of accidental poisoning- can you believe that!!?? They contain toxic alkaloids that can cause dizziness, abdominal pain and when eaten, even convulsions. Generally the symptoms are fairly manageable and treatment at home is sufficient, still, you should be careful.

There is also a wide variety of plants that have beautiful fragrances so make gorgeous additions to an already established garden.

Popular springtime bulbs include;

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Image; Daffodils

Daffodils- there are many varieties of daffodils, so you can choose one, or plant a mixture throughout your garden for interest. Daffodils generally flower naturally late winter/early spring although you will see some varieties being ‘forced’ to flower earlier in the year commercially. Daffodil day takes place on August 25th and there are always plenty around.

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Image; Freesias via Thompson- Morgan

Freesias- freesias blooms are gorgeously delicate and highly perfumed. They are available in a variety of colours. Interestingly after a few seasons, you will find that the coloured varieties will revert back to white/yellow blooms, which is the natural (un-hybridised) version of the species.

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Image; J Parkers

Gladioli- long and dramatic blooms. Although not technically a bulb, but a ‘corm’, Gladioli can add a touch whimsy to your garden, almost as though you have fallen down the rabbit hole. They are available in a variety of pastel and bright colours as well as stunning white. Inconveniently, gladioli do not like tap water due to the levels of fluoride. They have been found to be extremely sensitive to fluoride which causes petals edges to deteriorate, florets will not open, and the sheaf burns/yellows or darkens.

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Image; Hyacinth via Longfield Gardens

Hyacinth- highly perfumed short stemmed blooms in whites, creams, pinks, mauves, blues and violet.

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Image; Siberian Iris via Gardening Know How

Iris- dramatic leafy spears sprout from the ground opening to striking blue, yellow and white frilly blooms.

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Image; Lily of the Valley via God’s Growing Garden

Lily of the Valley- are an extremely popular wedding bloom due largely to their divine perfume and delicate appearance. This makes them a gorgeous addition to your garden if these blooms were used in your wedding bouquets, plus as an added bonus, they have lovely lush foliage as well.

Certainly a gorgeous (however not exhaustive) list of bulbs that you could plant in the next couple of weeks. Just think, a little work now, could have outstanding results over the next few months.

Enjoy.

Fwf x

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Rise of the Ginger

With summer’s high temperatures and humidity comes an array of beautiful tropical blooms.  Tropical blooms tend to be bright in colour and quite differently textured to many traditional garden blooms so they provide great contrast in your plantings or vase work.

The Zingiberaceae family is incredibly diverse, including approximately 1300 species. Ginger falls into one of two categories; cooking ginger, or ornamental ginger. The common ginger, Zingiber Officinale, as well as Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), Tumeric (Curcuma longa) and Galangal all form part of this family of plants; ingredients often featured in exotic Asian style cooking.

Gingers are some of the most stunning flowers we have in our garden, and each species is entirely unique and special. Like some other tropical plants such as Heliconias, the Ginger is a rhizome. Flowering gingers are closely related to the common ginger however belong to a different genera including but not limited to Alpinia, Globba, Zingiber and Curcuma. Gingers are the perfect plant choice if you are trying to create a lush, tropical garden space with Asian influences. Many gingers are evergreen, although some varieties lose their leaves in winter.

The Beehive ginger, Zingiber spectabile is often found in florists. They have stunning rounded heads with a waxy surface, and are covered with a series of pockets which form a hive-like texture. They are available in yellow, peach and chocolate tones. Beehive gingers are a great focal flower, and are incredibly long lasting.

Dancing Lady Gingers, Globba winitii, are one of my absolute favourites. Dancing Lady Gingers favour a sheltered position in a garden, so are suited to positions where they can sit under the canopy of other plants. There flower cascades naturally, so are ideal for using in bridal bouquets. They are long lasting and available in an array of colours.

Red Ginger, Alpinia purpurea is also commonly used in the floristry world. The have a stunning pink –  red bloom, and are a long lasting cut flower. As a plant, they can grow up to 2m with lots of lush foliage.

Lipstick Ginger, Costus barbatus are also known as Spiral Gingers. The bright red bracts are small and pine cone like, with small yellow flowers that ‘pop’ outwardly. The stems corkscrew beneath lush foliage hence the name ‘Spiral Ginger’.

Torch Gingers, Etlingera elatior are available in white, pink and red. They have a similar appearance to a Waratah in the size, shape and colour of their bloom, but they differ in that their overall texture appears to be waxy.

Siam Tulips, Curcuma alismatifolia,  are also known as the Jewel of Thailand or Hidden Gingers as they have large displays of foliage that can cover the blooms. They are available in pink, mauve and white tones. There are approximately 80 species of Curcuma, with some available in yellow, golden and orange tones, as well as varieties with verigated foliage.

Enjoy your choice of Ginger blooms while they are at their best. You will find that choosing tropical blooms for your vases during summer makes sense- they grow in the heat, and therefore last in the heat too, so you get better value for money!

Fwf x

 

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BEEHIVE GINGER Image; The Wild Papaya
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DANCING LADY GINGER Image: Zooky World
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RED GINGER Image: Eureca Plants
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SPIRAL GINGER Image; Gardens Online
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SPIRAL GINGER STEM Image; ILandscape
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TORCH GINGER Image; The Wild Papaya
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TORCH GINGER Image: Hortulus
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SIAM TULIP GINGERS Image: BK Plant

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Helleborus- The Winter Rose

Winter’s Rose you would assume, like anyone, was some gorgeous variety of rose bloom. And fair enough, too. But in this case, you would be wrong, much like when people think a ‘peony rose’ is a rose. It is not.

The Winter Rose, or Helleborus, can also be known as a Snow Rose, Lenten Rose, Christmas Rose (more for the Northern Hemisphere as Christmas occurs in winter) and Oracle Rose however it comes from the family Ranunculacea, and has 20 herbaceous and perennial evergreen flowering species. As their name suggests, they tend to flower in late Winter and into Spring.

I love Helleborus, as I find their ‘faces’stunningly beautiful, and the range of colours are to die for. After years of cross breeding and hybridisation, the colour range has been transformed with them available from darker plum shades, burgundy and almost blacks, to vibrant yellows, bright, clean whites and a whole range of pinks and soft greens. You will also find some of the blooms are plain, whilst others are intricately patterned.

By Nzfauna - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34203793
By Nzfauna via wikipedia
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34203793
By Nzfauna via wikipedia
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By Nzfauna via wikipedia
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By Nzfauna via wikipedia

They make a gorgeous addition to any garden and tend to favour more shaded spots, underneath the canopies of deciduous trees, with little attention required, and left to go to seed. They flower from late winter to spring, and the blooms last months on the plant. Throughout the autumn months, the plant provides a clumpy green covering. They are also often planted among other plants with complementary colourings where they can grow up throughout creating a wonderfully intricate display.

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Image: Gorgeous low clumping Helleborus foliage when not in flower via Carolyn’s Shade Gardens

These days you can get your hands on all the standard varieties; flowers shaped like a cup or bowl, mostly single, with five petals,  as well as double-flowered and anemone-centred plants. It is no surprise really that, they are a popular wedding bloom, and fittingly so, have just come into season in time for the starts of wedding season!

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Image: Wedding bouquet featuring Helleborus via Brides.com

I love Helleborus as a cut flower, and certainly have a special spot in my heart having used them in a very dear friends wedding some years ago. Each year as the time approaches and I see all the wonderful ingredients we used begin to appear again and I am reminded of their anniversary and the hoot we had in the Southern Highlands, freezing our socks off, working on the outdoor porch making the arrangements.

The only problem with the Helleborus as a cut flower is that their heads tend to droop rather quickly, so they are best used with other flowers or foliage used to prop them up and support them. Some people also find the age old trick of scolding the base of their stems helpful in extending the vase life.

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Image: Cut Helleborus flower blooms via UCANR

To scold flowers; simply cut the base, and place about an inch of the flower stem into boiling water for approx 30 secs, remove the stems and place directly into a vase of cold water.

Alternatively, why not cut off their heads and float them in a bowl of water? That way you get to enjoy all the intricacies of the blooms without watching them droop and decay so quickly, and you know what, anybody can make that vase of flowers look good! You’re welcome 😉

Fwf x

Gorgeous featured image by Marcia Mitchell 

 

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Luscious Living House Plants- Caring for your Cymbidium Orchid

Aside from being spectacularly beautiful, Cymbidium orchids are a fantastic plant as they require very little from you when they are not in flower. That makes them a great house plant, and an even better gift.

The Cymbidium orchid is sometimes known as the Boat Orchid, and has 52 evergreen species. They generally live in tropical and subtropical regions of Northern Australia, as well as Asia, Borneo, the Phillipines, Malaysia, Northern India, and Japan. The climate in most Australian capital cities is suited to growing cymbidium orchids in a sheltered, shady area. This differs from many of the more tender tropical species of orchids such as the slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum) and moth orchids (Phalaenopsis), which need warmer/humid climates or hot house conditions outside the tropics.

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Image: Flower Pictures

Their blooms have a diameter between 5 and 10cm, and generally bud and bloom throughout the winter months from May, through til September. Each flower spike can have 15 or more flowers, and are available in a variety of shades including; white, cream, green, yellow, brown, pink, red, orange and even black. Flowers are incredibly long lasting, so whilst they can seem a tad expensive per piece, they do provide great value for money, with them lasting up to ten weeks. Some orchids produce up to four flower spikes from each bulb and have erect, fleshy leaves, and once they are in flower the plants can be brought indoors into a bright room where the blooms can be enjoyed for many weeks.

Some varieties of Cymbidium orchids are fragrant, (some of my favourites) and often these are cultivated varieties from China.

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Image: Event Scene

Cymbidium orchids are what some believe to be one of the easiest orchids to grow but sometimes they need a little encouragement to flower. I was always told in my floristry training, that Cymbidiums are best being neglected throughout the year until flowering time came, perhaps sitting them under the canopy of other plants to provide some shelter. This is somewhat true as Cymbidiums do not want hot harsh sun to burn their leaves, but rather filtered light throughout the day. Light is in fact the most important factor to getting your orchids to reflower; too little sunlight will reduce flowering.

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Image: Everything Orchids

Once the plant has ceased flowering, you should begin your fertilising program. Ideally use something like Dynamic Lifter pellets, and simply feed your plant with a light sprinkling approximately every 6 weeks. In the summer months you should switch to a flower promoter, and apply every fortnight. You can also divide your plant throughout spring, so that the plant is not over crowded. Be careful not to split the plant into too many small sections as it takes longer for smaller clumps to reflower.

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Image: Flower Power

Keep an eye on your plants foliage. Ideally your Cymbidium should have a light apple green foliage. And whilst lush dark green foliage may look attractive, it is usually a sign that the plant is getting to much shade.

Avoid positions where the plant will be ravanged by the elements, battered in strong winds or being in very exposed positions.

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Image: Flowers Pictures

Cymbidiums hate having wet or cold roots, so whilst the plant is in flower (throughout the winter months) you should reduce your watering. Poke a pencil into the pot and if the pencil appears damp when you remove it, the plant does not require watering. Cymbidiums are often tree dwelling, with thick water absorbing rots that help them survive. They should be planted in a coarse orchid mix making sure that the plant has plenty of drainage.

Whilst we are already in the throes of winter, it is not too late to invest in one of these beauties and enjoy their large, bright blooms and lush foliage.

Fwf x

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