Australia has some breathtakingly beautiful native flowers on offer

Growers and Florists Unhappy as Games Forget the Flowers

The 2018 Commonwealth Games, which started on April 4th is currently being held on Australia’s Gold Coast, and runs until April 15th. Just a few weeks ago, our blog post was on the growing popularity of native flora, which shone so brightly under the international spotlight back in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. So given that the Gold Coast has been playing host to the Commonwealth Games recently, it came as a bit of surprise to many I’m sure, that no bouquets of flowers were given to the medal winners.

a lovely combination of native flora including banksias, paper daisies, grevillea, Geraldton wax and more
Medallist Leisl Tesch with her beautiful native bouquet. Photo Credit: Sport the library/Ryan Gormly Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games Wheelchair Basketball

Traditionally , all medal winners at sporting events have been presented with a bouquet of unique native flora, and it provides a wonderful platform for local growers and businesses in the process.

It is estimated that Queensland growers alone have missed out on approximately $12 million worth of business opportunities after the Commonwealth Games organisers made the decision to cut the Australian flower gift bouquets. Instead, the medal winners were gifted a plush toy, a decision that has angered many within the flower industry, frustrated at the wasted opportunity to showcase what the State, and Country has on offer.

Waratahs, billy buttons, grevillea, wax flower and other natives are combined to create eye catching and unique bouquets for the medallists.
Hundreds of these gorgeous bouquets were made to present to the medallists at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The unique combination of wonderfully wild flowers were mesmerising. Waratahs, kangaroo paw, grevillea, Billy Buttons, Geraldton wax and Eucalyptus were used to create warm, earthy bouquets which were unforgettable. Photo Credit: Geocities

This fight has been going on for the last two years, with Flower Association of Queensland executive officer Shane Holborn working tirelessly to get flowers presented at the Games. And unbelievably, the flower association even offered to provide the flowers for free. They were certain that the opportunity to turn the spotlight on our Native Flora and provide world wide exposure, would have had a profound long term affect on the industry.

“It was not about selling the flowers to them – we even offered the flowers to them for free,” Mr Holborn said.

“Media from all around the world would have seen what we have to offer,” Mr Holborn continued.

No flowers for Commonwealth games medallists in 2018
Gold medallist Isis Holt celebrates her win and poses with her Borobi plush mascot. Photo Credit AAP Dean Lewins

A spokesperson from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation said that the decision to given the plush toy rather than flowers was made so that the medallists could take the special memento home with them, something that could not be done with flowers for biosecurity reasons.

It certainly does seem a shame given that in the past a gift in addition to flowers has been presented like in Glasgow where medallists received a two handled drinking cup/bowl (a quaint) as well as an arrangement. In total 590 flower arrangements were created and presented.

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There is a large flower industry growing in Bundaberg, and many more growers sprinkled through the state of Queensland, so this would have presented a fantastic business opportunity and exposure. Certainly for any florist designing and creating arrangements for the Games would have been a fantastic experience also.

Whilst the challenges with biosecurity can be understood, the medallists go home with quite a magnificent memento as it is, and it seems a shame to miss such a stellar opportunity for an industry which so often does it really hard. For anyone who works in agriculture, or commercial growing of any kind, it is such a hard slog, and is so often affected by forces far beyond your control. It certainly would have been a much needed boost to an industry that has it’s fair share of challenges.

What do you think? Did you notice the absence of flower bouquets at the games like I did?

Fwf x

Feature image Credit: Backcreek Country

 

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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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tea cover

How Do You Take Your Tea?

Have you ever wondered why the Tea Tree was given it’s name? Well, if you have traveled or holidayed at Myall Lakes, Byron Bay or Fraser Island, then perhaps you could guess.  Tea trees are believed to have been named after observing the brown colouration of water caused by the leaching of tannins from the leaves of the tree in both salt and fresh waters. There are over 200 species of tea tree.

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Image; Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) via Australian Seed
Image; Common Tea Tree via ABC

Many people believe that bathing in water that has been leached by the Tea Tree has health benefits. When a water mass has Tea Tree plants growing in close proximity their supernatural oil slowly migrates into the water, creating what some consider to be a ‘medical bath’. The colour of the water resembles a cup of tea, with an oily film on top, which to be honest, is not all that appealing upon first inspection. But think about how the Tea Tree can work on your skin. Tea Tree oil has antibacterial properties, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, so can help keep away the bacteria that can cause spots. After a good ole soak you’ll come out looking refreshed, rejuvenated and revitalised. Many people also believe that swimming in Tea Tree waters slows down the ageing process!

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Image via Jend McCarty

Tea Tree is an Australian native, which means that this miracle treatment for just about anything is ALL AUSSIE! Aboringinal people have been using Tea Tree forever.  The Bundjalung people from North East NSW were among the first to use the Tea Tree plant for medicinal reasons. Tea Tree would be used to create a healing tea, but they would also take the leaves, crush them up and rub them into bites, grazes, burns and other skin irritations. Tea Tree can also be used as an insect repellent. According to Bodyecology, one legend even describes a magical lagoon where our native people bathed to heal their burns, cuts, and skin disorders. Tea trees surrounded the pool, and the fallen leaves created a natural healing bath.

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Image; Tea Tree Lkes

These days Tea Tree oil is used for many natural remedies to combat a variety of issues such as; acne, cold sores, warts, dandruff, ring worm, athlete’s foot, softens corns, reduce itch of insect bites and chicken pox .

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Image via Wafex

Some cultivated varieties of Tea Tree are also used as a cut flower that are ideal for native flower arrangements. It is perhaps an underrated material. Tea Tree is not a focal bloom so we use it as a transitional material; to fill spaces and make the arrangement appear more ‘full’. In recent years wholesalers have been offering particular lines in a variety of artificially dyed colours, so at times you may have seen hot pink or purple dyed tea tree. I am not a great fan of dyed products however as natives are often more neutral  or dull in colour, having a vibrant filler allows us to ‘pull’ more colour out of the natural pieces. For example, hot pink tea tree will make proteas appear more ‘pink’.

What are your thoughts?

Fwf x

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Eucalyptus blossoms on the tree

You Beaut Aussie Blooms

Are you like me, and can hardly believe we are already over the half way point of January? Of course I know it is a sign of getting old, (everyone keeps reminding me that) but for some reason I feel like the world turns a whole lot faster these days…maybe its just the pace of our modern lives.

Before we will know it, it’ll be time for our national public holiday in celebration of Australia Day. This is certainly a sensitive subject for our indigenous Australians, steeped in the history and heartache of the day, so instead of celebrating the day itself, I though that for this weeks blog, we could celebrate some of the stunningly beautiful native bloom; Eucalyptus.

Not all Eucalyptus flowers, but the ones that do, certainly pack some punch! Flowering Eucalyptus is available in vibrant red tones, spectacular pinks and watermelon tones, stunning whites, fiery orange tones as well as lemons and limes. Eucalyptus are often regarded as a large tree, and many would discount them for their gardens at home based on this misconception. These days though, many of them are grafted, and therefore can actually develop into much smaller trees. After many years of breeding a range of beautiful small trees are available suitable for pots or gardens. Many of these crosses have tropical genes so are well suited to the humidity of Northern NSW and Queensland. They  are drought and frost resistant once established, but be careful in the first few years as they may not be able to tolerate the frost while young.

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Image: Burke’s Backyard
12454CT Eucalyptus Summer Snow
Image: Linda Ross via Garden Clinic
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Image: Linda Ross via Garden Clinic

As a cut flower, Flowering gum is not long lasting. These little firecrackers, are a summer grown stock, yes, but the heat does encourage the buds to burst open exposing the brightly coloured stamens. The stamens are then quick to dry out and drop, so have your hand vac or dust pan at the ready!

Gum Blossoms are unlike many other flowers in so much as they do not have petals, but rather, a collection of stamens hidden within the operculum (or cap). The blossoms attract insects and birds, so they are a gorgeous addition to gardens if you wish to attract bird life. When the blossoms do not open, and are instead left on the tree, they will develop into large gum nuts which are just as attractive albeit less colourful. The gum nuts make a great dried flower too!

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Image; Wikimedia Commons

If you are looking to create a vase full of flowers with native roots this Australia day, Florist With Flowers has plenty of fresh flowers available in store. You could choose a bright bunch of greens and golds or, talk to our friendly team about what native blooms are available for pick up or flower delivery within Sydney.

Fwf x

Feature Image; Halls on Falls Homestead

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