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What is an Order Gatherer and How Do They Affect the Floral Industry

What do YOU do when you want to send flowers to an unfamiliar area? Like most people you probably type something into google and pick the first (relevant) option, right?

Beware! The first few results are paid ads that sit at the top of the page by order gatherers. The problem with that is that these third party businesses are set up with the sole purpose of aggressively promoting the hire/sale of the goods/services you are seeking, with the intention to broker your business to local companies for fulfilment. This all happens for a fixed processing fee and commission….but this is not adequately explained when you make your purchase with them.

This isn’t something confined to our industry, this kind of thing is present in every industry on some level I’m sure- I’ve experienced it myself when hiring a car. The issue for florists however is that when you accept and fulfil orders from these so called ‘order gatherers’ you are never able to present your work in the best light. This is because the customer has paid a commission to the order gatherer, on top of the delivery and handling fee. What is left, (a fraction of the customers total spend) is all the executing florist can create the arrangement with. Can they do a $100 arrangement with $60 worth of flowers? As a customer do you think you would be satisfied with that arrangement considering what you have spent?

Flower fails from order gatherer

The customer often has selected a picture from a catalogue and therefore has expectations that the order will look like that on the other end. These catalogues tend to be fairly generic, and do not take into account each florists unique style, or what stock is available to them. This varies greatly, particularly in remote and rural areas. Often substitutions have to be made based on what they have in store, or what is in season.

Order gatherers are sneaky. They have domain names that sound like a little family business using a person’s name in the title like ‘Joanne’s Juicy Blooms’. This conjures up images of a cute little bricks and mortar corner store style set up. The reality is NO STORE even exists. They use names that include the suburb or city you are searching for…surely that means you have gone directly to a local business right? Wrong. They are savvy, and they rely on people making assumptions and being complacent or confused…

Order gatherers give you the impression they are a real store, but they are not.

Look, I’m not sure whether we need order gathers…but perhaps the biggest issue is the feeling that these companies seem to be misleading consumers rather than disclosing all relevant information. If the consumer is fully aware of all the costs and commission amounts that will be deducted from their total spend before the arrangement can be made, AND understand that the order will be forwarded to a local business with no guarantee that the order can be fuflfilled as pictured, then I see no issue. At this point though, order gatherers do not make it easy for the consumer to see what value of their order will actually be translated into flowers.

Many businesses have begun distancing themselves from relay services and order gatherers as they feel they are having a detrimental affect of the industry. Instead they are developing their own floral networks throughout the country so that local businesses can execute the work with integrity.

Florist With Flowers is your local Carlingford florist, we deliver locally and to surrounding areas our own, fresh product.

We do offer relay services and can guide you in your choices when sending flowers elsewhere, explaining what costs are involved in that service.

As a local family run business we rely on word of mouth by providing you with quality fresh flowers and great customer service.

Each order that we execute is potentially our first introduction to a new customer. That means of course we want to put our best foot forwards does every small business, so where possible try to order direct. Shop small. Support small.

Fwf x

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Australia Day 2019

Australia Day Reflections

Australia Day… for many it is a sad day. Also known as Foundation Day, Survival Day or Invasion Day, it continues to spark debate each year. And while much of the country may be divided on that subject, one thing is for sure, Australia is an amazing place to call home.

Australia Day is a day to reflect on what it means to be Australian. This includes all Australians, whether you are new to the country, from a family that has called Australia home over several generations now, or if you are one of 65,000 Torres Strait Islander, or Aboriginal people.

Today, I have come up with a list of things I love about Australia’. Feel free to add to the list via our Facebook page.

1. We live on the world’s largest Island.

Now technically speaking, as Australia is a continent, Greenland is considered the largest island of the world, but for all intents and purposes, we do live on mass of land entirely surrounded by water….so that’s an island in my mind. Folks travel to islands for holidays, and we live on a spectacular sub tropical island every day of our lives.

2. Our Beaches are Enviable

Anyone who travels to Oz will remark on the beauty of our waterways and our clean sand. Beaches around the world just cannot compare. And whether you are looking for a beach for surfing, simple paddling or fishing, there are plenty on offer. Tourists will come in search of Bondi or Manly Beaches, but locals know that these are not the best on offer…sssshh….let’s keep the best kept secrets, just that 😉

Whitehaven beach

3.  Natural Wonders

Did you know that Australia has 19 World Heritage listed sites? 😳 Add to that over 500 National Parks to explore too. WOW, just wow.

4. Work/life balance.

With consistently low unemployment, Australia is a good place to get a job….apparently. And with a beautiful environment surrounding us, we are known the world over that we work hard, but we play just as hard. Enjoying our environment, and making the most of our down time are key Aussie qualities.

5. Multicultural

People from more than 100 countries have migrated to Australia, making our nation one of the most culturally diverse. Some areas are more culturally diverse than others of course, but generally speaking, Australians are thought to be open and accepting of other ethnicities.With all this diversity comes many bonuses. Acceptance, tolerance, empathy…and amazing foods as well. Australia has a huge range of culturally diverse food and fusion foods on offer. 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

Australia is made up from many different ethnicities

6.  We live in a SAFE country

Like any country we have crime, and will hear our fair share of scary stories across our lifetimes. In Mercer’s Quality of Living Index 2018, all Australian cities ranked within the global top 40. Sydney and Melbourne were both in the top 20, at 10 and 16 respectively.

7. Space

While there are many beautiful destinations throughout the world, few can compare with Australia’s great open spaces. While the USA and Australia are not too different in physical size (Australia is 7,5000,000km2), our populations differ greatly. Our current population (as at 9pm January 22, 2018) is 25,230,635.

Native kangaroo paw

8. Amazing Fauna and Flora

Koalas, echidnas, kangaroos, and platypus- they really are animals that have to be seen to be believed. With nothing like them anywhere else in the world, they make a trip to Australia all the more memorable.

Australia has phenomenally beautiful native flowers. Native cut flowers are long lasting, and they also are aesthetically unique. They make a great gift deal for travellers, and amazing displays for Australia Day. Contact the store to see what fresh cut flowers and what fresh native flowers are available this weekend.

Enjoy the festivities everyone, and the long weekend. See you on the flip side ✌🏻✌🏼✌🏽✌🏾✌🏿

Fwf x

Feature Image Source 

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Craig Scott from Eastcoast Wildflowers

Drive You Wild Flowers

A familiar face from the Sydney Flower Markets, Craig Scott of East Coast Wildflowers was featured on last week’s episode of Gardening Australia. A fourth generation flower grower, Scott’s passion is evident in the way he talks about his work and his love of Australian Flora.

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If you missed it, and are interested in watching the segment, you’ll find it here.

Craig’s great grandfather, William “Robbo” Robinson, the first in the family to start in the flower trade, sold flowers via a mixed business between the train station and Woronora cemetery.

His grandfather grew a range of traditional flowers on his farm in the Southern Sydney suburb of Menai, and sold a selection of ‘bush-picked’ native blooms long before the restrictions on picking natives were in place.

Craig’s father Col was instrumental in developing Scott’s love of Australian native flowers. As well as growing some traditional blooms, Col began selling native flowers in the market and in 1968 he bought a 50 acre farm at Mangrove Mountain where the business still exists today. Craig and his father shared a love of the outdoors. Col was a rock climber and Craig, an interested hiker. They would often spot interesting flora on their adventures and this fuelled their inspiration.

Approximately half of the farm is native bushland, while the other half is cleared with several glasshouses set up. They grow a range of native flowers including waratah, billy buttons, mulla mulla, grevillea, wattle, eucalyptus, paper daisies and a large kangaroo paw range which is a key line in their business.

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Eastcoast Wildflowers Farm. Source: Try booking

Craig is one of those growers that has built a great business based on a combination passion and hard work. For years he has offered florists a wonderful range of Australian flowers; flowers that get florists excited to create. Australian Native Flora is stunningly unique in appearance; they have gorgeous colour variations and a particularly interesting texture.

When people talk about natives, often an image of a dull coloured arrangement comes to mind, but that simply is not the case. Native flowers can be incredibly bright. Telopea, for example is derived from the Greek word ‘telopos’, meaning ‘seen from afar’  and refers to the robust, brightly coloured head of the red Waratah which can be spotted at a great distance.

Craig also shared a glimpse into the glorious colour range that they grow on the farm of kangaroo paw. Paw grows for approximately 8 months of the year, making it incredibly important for their business.

Flannel Flowers (Actinotus helianthi)
Flannel Flowers (Actinotus helianthi) Source: National Parks

Flannel flower, which is incredibly popular for wedding bouquets with a more rustic feel, gets its name come the texture of the blooms. The elegant flowers are soft and furry, with delicate petals. According to Scott they have a reputation for being quite difficult to grow commercially,  but he has found that growing the plants in pots has been very successful.

What I enjoyed most was hearing and feeling his energy when he spoke about working with flowers and being out in nature. It is obvious that Craig has achieved what most of us only hope for, to turn a passion and a hunger for spreading that inspiration, into a thriving business. His gentle demeanour and overall feeling of calm beautifully illustrated the effects of working with nature and in nature.

Fwf x

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Celebrity Florist Predicts Floral Trends For 2018

Every florist secretly fantasises about achieving a certain level of success. To reach that level where their work so revered, their reputation for artistry is so reknowned, that celebrities are literally beating down their door to work with them. Few florists will reach this pinnacle, and make it to the elite level that commands this degree of attention and admiration. They are the florists that have the freedom and the budget to create those jaw dropping installations that many of us merely dream of, the ones who created the pictures that we so often have brought in as inspiration at our own floral concept consultations. One florist who has made his way to the top is Jeff Leatham.

I tend to find that when you design too far ahead, you lose the inspiration.

-Jeff Leatham

Using one flower en masse is a way to create drama whilst keeping your fresh flowers simple and chic.
Legendary florist Jeff Leatham was originally a model before landing a job in the florist within the Four Seasons Hotel. Photo credit Four Seasons

His story is quite an interesting one, as becoming a florist was really never in his plan. Leatham was enjoying a career in the modelling industry and had returned from jobs in Milan and Paris looking for some work. Coincidentally, a job was going at a flower shop in the Four Seasons Hotel, and voila, Jeff Leatham took his first steps toward becoming a forward thinking, boundary pushing, exciting and  successful florist.

When Leatham began, he entered the industry making garden bouquets and arrangement much like any florist. Sure, they were beautiful he says, but he wanted to create something different. Speaking to Teen Vogue, Leatham says “…we were creating something, this new style that I created 15 years ago, it was innovative and changed the way people think about flowers. I know that sounds strange, but before I started with flowers, flowers were just pretty garden bouquets and different things. I remember the way I did flowers before, just kind of mixing flowers together and doing just mixed bouquets. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t clean and simple. Then [we started] creating things that are very simple and all one flower in a vase. This whole idea of all one flower in the vase and keeping things really simple and clean and chic. Doing flowers in different ways, wrapped around a vase and bent around like this.”

Use the natural line of a bunch of flowers to create movement in your floral arrangements.
Leatham’ signature style is unmistakeable. He creatively anchors groups of flowers in a variety of cases. Phot credit Popsugar

Leatham’s signature style was exactly that. He followed the rule of 3; never using more than three colour tones (where possible keeping it monocramatic), and never using more than three types of flowers. Leatham’ strongly grouped bundles of flowers, the same flower en masse, were uniquely anchored in vases, creating strong lineal movement, and stunning blocks of colour.

Dramatic blocked colours makes arrangements stand out
Jeff Leatham created eye catching and dramatic colour blocked displays. Photo credit Sperr

Jeff predicts that the trends of 2018 will see a decline in the popular flower wall. He says, “It used to be really cool, and sometimes its still pretty, but I think its just been overdone. Everyone wants a flower wall and no one realizes how expensive they really are.” That is certainly something that we find to be true in retail floristry; budget never quite matches the vision and expectation. Instead, he believes 2018 is going to see flowers dripping from ceilings. This look has started gaining popularity recently, and if his Instagram pics are anything to go by, this trend will continue to gather momentum as the year pushes on.

“Most trends — things that are really popular and what people love — usually happen on accident. It’s either something falls over or I change my mind the last minute. I’m like, “No, take that down and move that over there.” That’s usually how our trends start. It’s just very last-minute. That’s really the way I design. I tend to find that when you design too far ahead, you lose the inspiration.”

Fwf x

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What if you missed out on Valentine’s Day?

So Valentine’s Day has been and gone for another year, but believe it or not, a florists work is still not done.

Some people will have arrived home to a pretty unimpressed partner, angry or disappointed that they were not remembered on the day of love. What does that say, they think? How does that look, they ask.

So in a quest to right any wrongs, February 15th can quickly turn into another busy day. But on February 15th, things tend to return to normal. The flower shop will be stocked with a wide variety of stock, perhaps just not as full to the brim as in the days preceding.

Many florists have perfected their ordering systems, using a combination of examining previous figures and forecasting their needs based on pre-orders as Valentine’s Day approaches. This is great news for everyone as it means there is less wastage and that the stock is fresh post Valentine’s Day too. What it may mean however is that red roses are not as readily available. After all, if you were a rose grower, would you prefer to sell your roses at premium prices leading up to the day of love, or cut prices once the day has been and gone? Growers plant their roses with the hope that they will be perfectly timed with Valentine’s Day. Stock that blooms perfectly the week after could have devastating consequences for our local growers.

If you are one of the people who needs to order flowers for a loved one on February 15, use it as a real opportunity. What do I mean?

Instead of just going ahead and getting the red roses you were supposed to get, choose something totally unique, and something totally beautiful. Given that we are still enjoying the heat of summer and all that comes with it why not consider something that is unique to this time of year?

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Garden roses are gorgeous

Garden roses are a rose of course, but rather than being grown for their perfect head, or the length of their stem, garden roses are perfectly imperfect and have a scent that is unforgettable.

Garden roses will truly open up, revealing the gorgeous centre of the bloom, with gorgeous prickly foliage running up and down the stem. They will evoke all 5 senses. Believe it or not, the scent is so intense, you can taste it!

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Pretty Proteas are endemic to South Africa so enjoy our warm climate

If you are looking for an alternative to roses (and perhaps intentionally avoided buying them on Valentine’s Day) you could consider blooms that will handle the heat with ease. Tropical blooms are made for these conditions as are many native flowers.

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Fashionable Flowers

We have all heard the saying “What’s old, is new again” and flower preferences, like fashion change. According to House and Garden, 2017’s most fashionable flowers once again gaining popularity in gardens and as cut blooms are some truly old favourites.

Each of these flower varieties will hold a special place in your nanna’s heart, and for many years were seen as ‘naff’ or unsophisticated. Oh how times have changed.

With time, many of these once drab and boring flower varieties have been reinvented. With many hybridised variations, and available in so many beautiful colours and textures.

So what flowers made House and Garden’s list?

  • Dahlias
  • Gladioli
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Delphinium

Dahlias are a full and fluffy bloom. I have been known to use them in place of peonies at times where a big showy, petal-ly bloom is required.

The dahlia has many forms; some varieties are soft in colour tone, and soft in appearance with rounded petals. Others, like a firecracker of colour, are vibrant, and have pointed petals that appear more sharp and pointy although the texture remains the same.

Dahlias are not a long lasting bloom, they have a vase life of up to about 5 days. BUT for the price tag, Dahlia’s provide real bang for your buck as they have large blooms and easily fill a vase.

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Image; Quotes Gram
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Florist with Flowers Instagram

Gladioli conjure up images of Dame Edna Everage for me; flamboyant and showy. Rarely was the iconic 1980’s star pictured without the stems, often throwing them out to her audience to wave back at her!

The gladioli was named after the Latin word “gladius,” which means sword, due to it’s sword like appearance. While there are over 260 species within the group with varied appearances, the spectacular giant flower spikes we see today are the result of centuries of hybridisation.

The colour range available make gladioli extremely versatile. Flowers are available in pure whites, lemon, apricot, tangerine, lime green, soft mauve, soft pink, pink, purple, hot pink, red, coral, plum, and more.

Nothing is more stunning than a tall vase filled with just gladioli en masse, and simple leaves around the base of the vase.

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Image via Pinterest

Chrysanthemums, or ‘mums’ as they are fondly known are traditionally reserved for Mother’s Day. Over the years they have gained a bit of a reputation for being uninteresting, and ‘common’ and have therefore lacked appeal. Common varieties flooded the market and filled the supermarket and petrol station flower stands but meanwhile, other varieties were unknowingly and unnecessarily being overlooked. Lime green button chrysanthemums, Polaris, Spider and Disbud chrysanthemums, have all started to gain attention for the right reasons. Offering interesting colours and textures, and varying sized blooms has meant that the humble Chrysanthemum has been able to fill a gap in the market at an affordable price. And what’s more, Chrysanthemums are long lasting blooms.

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Image; The Garden Helper

Delphiniums were once reserved for traditional herbaceous borders in the garden, and when this style lost popularity, sadly, so did the pretty delphinium blooms. Delphiniums are available in soft pastel blues, mauves, pinks and white, and have delicate blooms along the length of a long thin stem. They are ideal for adding height to an arrangement yet maintaining a soft cottage garden feel. Delphinium are lovely to use in a bridal bouquet; they are a delicate, feminine bloom that are one of the few natural, true blue tones.

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Image; Swallowtail Garden Seeds

Remember Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy fresh cut flowers as you get a little longer from your blooms with the more moderate temperatures. Check out some of our Season’s Favourites for home or for a gift for someone special.

Fwf x

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Carnivorous Plants- Hungry For Life

When you hear the term ‘Carnivorous’, if you are anything like me, you imagine not merely a meat eater, but perhaps even a flesh eating creature, hell, a man eater. But in the case of plants, a carnivorous plant, simply eats insects and other anthropods. The plants have adapted to life in areas where the soil is thin, or poor in nutrition, but where there is ample light. They are structurally designed to capture their prey in order to survive, and absorb the necessary nutrients from that prey, to thrive. Carnivorous plants derive most of their nutrients from eating animals they have trapped within their plant structure, an adaptation due to the environment in which they are found. Charles Darwin wrote the first literature on this plant type, ‘Insectivorous Plants’, in 1875.

There are at least 583 species of carnivorous plants that trap and kill their prey, each displaying one of the 5 different trapping mechanisms;

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The basic trapping mechanisms of carnivorous plants. Image via pinterest
  1. Pitfall traps.
  2. Flypaper traps.
  3. Snap traps.
  4. Bladder traps.
  5. Lobster pots (aka eel traps).
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Image via Science Daily
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Brocchinia reducta Image: University of Conneticut

Pitfall Traps: generally trap their prey within a rolled leaf structure which contains a pool of digestive enzymes at the base. They are a passive trap, attracting prey with nectar secretions. The pitcher plant uses this trapping mechanism. The inside of the pitcher plant is covered in a slippery wax, which causes the insects to fall into the pitcher. Once inside, the digestive enzymes and bacteria begin to break down the prey so that the plant can begin to absorb it.

Like most of the plants within the pineapple family, the Bromeliad Brocchinia Reducta has a tightly packed spiral of waxy leaves that form somewhat of a cup. Water collects in this cup and often provides a habitat for frogs and insects, however in this case, the cup turns into a specialised insect trap.

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Sundew Plant Image Huffington Post via Rhys Marstons Horticulture
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The Cape Sumdew Plant uses its Fly Paper trap to secure this Dragonfly dinner. Image: Huffington Post

Flypaper Traps: use a sticky mucilage, like glue. The leaves have mucilage secreting glands, but also a rapidly responsive leaf surface with responds to the prey; rolling the leaf blade to prevent the insect being washed away by rain, or the leaf creating a dish like surface underneath the prey to form a shallow digestive pit.

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Image: A Learning Family
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Image: Lighthouse News Daily

Snap Traps: The most well known snap trap is the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea Muscipula). The trapping mechanism has sometimes been described as a mouse trap/bear trap or man trap referring to the speed of movement and the shape.

The Snap Trap is an active trap as it used rapid movement in order to trap it’s prey. Snap traps have fine hairs inside the lobes which are sensitive to touch. They also have a hinge -like mechanism along the midrib, which changes in shape, and is caused to quickly slam shut when the hairs are triggered. The process takes less than 1 second!

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Image via Pinterest

Bladder Traps:  pump ions out of their interiors, with water following which creates a partial vacuum inside of the bladder. At the opening of the bladder sits a small opening/door which has a pair of long trigger hairs. When the hairs are touched, the door is opened and the invertebrae is sucked in.

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Image via The Orchid Source Forum

Lobster Pot Traps: have a chamber that is easy to enter, but extremely difficult to exit because the exit is either hard to find obstructed.

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Image: Apartment Therapy

There is a great variety of carnivorous plants available that can be grown in your gardens, and they make an interesting addition to arrangements too, undoubtedly due to their unique shapes, and colourings. Experiment with these delightful plants for something fun, new and interesting- you are sure to create a talking point at least!

Fwf x

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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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Oh My, Bonsai

bonsai
1. the art of growing ornamental, artificially dwarfed varieties of trees and shrubs in pots.
2. an ornamental tree or shrub grown using the art of bonsai.

They say good things come in small packages right? And in this case, it is certainly true. Bonsai plants, are uniquely grown and make a fabulous addition to any gardener’s collection, or a gift for people with a special interest in plants willing to take the time to care for them.

BUT Bonsai are not for everyone. They have been slowly and carefully grown to a point and once established, are planted in a display pot before sale. But unlike your average indoor plant, Bonsai are a tree, and the implications of that is that the Bonsai require careful consideration, care and upkeep.

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Bonsai are often thought to be simply a dwarfed plant, however dwarfing generally refers to plant cultivars that are permanent, genetic miniatures of an existing species. Bonsai does not require genetically dwarfed trees, but rather is grown from regular stock and seeds and uses cultivation techniques such as pruning, root reduction and potting to produce small trees that mimic the shape and style of mature, full-size trees. Bonsai  meaning “plantings in tray”, is often used as a blanket term for all miniature trees in pots. The ancient Japanese tradition dates back over a thousand years.

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Bonsai is grown for different reasons than many ordinary plants, that may be grown say for medicinal uses, or for food. They are grown both for the viewers contemplation and the pleasure in the effort in shaping and growing the plant. It is a long term commitment.

A Bonsai may be started from a cutting, seedling or a small tree of a species appropriate for development. They can be created from nearly any shrub species that produces true branches or perennial woody stemmed tree that can be kept small by way of pot confinement, and crown and root pruning. Some species are more popular for Bonsai cultivation as they are more visually appropriate, having small leaves or needles. The species needs to be shaped and kept small to meet the aesthetic standards of Bonsai.

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The practice of bonsai development incorporates a number of techniques including;

  1. Leaf trimming- removal of selected leaves/needles
  2. Pruning- branches/roots or trunk
  3. Clamping- using devices to artificially shape the tree’s trunks and branches
  4. Wiring- artificially designing the formation of the tree’s general form, branches and leaf formation using wire
  5. Grafting
  6. Defoliation- removal of foliage

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Pot confinement is an effective cultivation technique in keeping the Bonsai small, as a typical bonsai container is under 25 centimeters in its largest dimension and only 2 to 10 liters in volume, this restricts root growth. Similarly, the largest bonsai rarely exceed 1 meter and most specimens are significantly smaller, due largely to the cultivation technique of pruning. These major differences in the plants growth affect maturation, transpiration, nutrition, pest resistance, and other aspects of tree biology, therefore to maintain the long-term health of a tree requires specialised care.

  1. Bonsai must be regularly watered.
  2. Bonsai must be repotted at intervals appropriate for the age of the tree/species
  3. Bonsai must be in an appropriate soil composition (usually loose and fast draining)
  4. Bonsai may be kept indoors generally but many species will require periods of time outdoors to fulfil the species light requirements. This is species dependant.

If you like a challenge, then the Bonsai could be for you but remember, this is no ordinary houseplant. The Bonsai requires alot of work to get it to the point of sale, so is not a ‘cheap’ plant, and it will also require a long term commitment of care once you get it home. Happy pruning!

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Frilly Little Fillies- Caring for your Cyclamens

Cyclamen plants are an oldie but a goodie. Still to this day, customers regularly request them, they never last long in store, because they make a great houseplant and a simple gift idea! But sometimes, sadly, we are giving the poor plants a death sentence when the correct plant care is not understood.

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Cyclamens are classified as a tuber (similar to a potato) from which the flowers and roots grow, and they are valued for their frilly flowers and gorgeous variable leaves.  The tuber may produce roots from the top, sides, or bottom, depending on the species. Generally in most of their species, the leaves appear in Autumn, grow through the Winter, and die in Spring, remaining dormant through Summer.

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Flowering time can be any month of the year, depending on the species. Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen purpurascens bloom in summer and autumn, Cyclamen persicum and coum bloom in winter, and Cyclamen repandum blooms in spring.

The florist’s Cyclamens usually start appearing around or just before Mother’s Day when the temperatures begin to drop. Generally the species that florists sell is Cyclamen Persicum, which is frost tender. They should be kept below 20 °C with night time temperatures preferably between 6.5 °C to 15 °C.

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When cyclamen are not kept at the correct temperature, your plant will die slowly. Cyclamens grow in cool, humid environments in nature, so whilst they are readily available and flourish through the winter months, one of the biggest mistakes people make, is keeping their plant in their heated homes. Heaters keep the environment comfortable for us, but far too hot for your plants whilst also severely dehydrating them. If temperatures are too high, the plant will begin to yellow and the flowers will die, fast. When plants are not kept at the right temperature, you can also cause the plant to become dormant, which looks alot like it has died.

Just as important as correct temperature, is adequate (but not over) watering. Cyclamens can be sensitive to both over and under watering. The easiest way to ascertain whether your plant requires watering is to perform the ‘touch test’- simply placing your fingers onto the soil underneath the leaves and pushing downward to determine how much moisture is in the soil. If the plant soil feels dry, you should water it. It is important that the plant is not left in this dry state for so long that the leeaves and flowers begin to droop.

Cyclamens generally like to be watered from the bottom, to avoid getting the leaves and stems wet, which causes them to rot. Make sure that the plant is able to adequately drain after watering it.

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Once the cyclamen has finished flowering, it will go into a dormant state. In this state, is looks very much like it is dying, as the leaves turn yellow and then fall off. It is just sleeping. If you continue to care for your cyclamen throughout it’s dormant period, it will rebloom in a few months. Stop watering the plant once you notice that the leaves are beginning to die. The plant should be kept in a a cool, dark position, and you should remove any dead foliage. Let it sit for approximately two months. Once you see some leaf growth, you can start to water the plant again, resume normal cyclamen plant care, and bring it out into a brighter position. It should rebloom shortly.

Cyclamens are available in an array of amazing colours, and we have often have them in store, call us on 02 9871 1666 to see if they have come in from market today!

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