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.
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.
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 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.