Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Black Fringe

There are hundreds of species of Protea - and so many more when you add the lovely hybrids.  One of the most well-known traits of a Protea flower is the fringing.  At Swallows Nest Farm, we grow a small number of bushes of this lovely Protea Neriifolia, which as you can see, has a spectacular black fringe.  This pink variety reminds me of a 1950s party dress, with its bright colouring and black trim.  The Neriifolia flowers over a long period of the year, and at the moment is producing some beautiful flowers on lovely long stems.  I have had fun photographing these beauties, trying to capture their shape, colour and texture.

This is a close up of an immature flower, showing the "hairy" fringe beginning to turn black.

This photo captures a whole flower bud.  You can see that the fringing is white at this stage.  The black develops as the flower reaches maturity.

In this picture, you can see the difference between the Protea Neriifolia, and the hybrid that is the staple of the cut flower industry, the Protea Pink Ice.  The shape, arrangement of petals and black fringing are immediately apparent.  The centre mound of flower spikes differ in colour too.  

At this time of year, the pink of the proteas looks spectacular with the yellow Inca Gold Leucadendrons, and the dainty pink and white Thryptomene.  

The Protea Neriifolia are a stunning addition to a bouquet.  I really love them! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Inca Gold

One of the leucadendrons that begins to "sparkle" at this time of the year is one called Inca Gold.  For most of the year it is a limey green with little red tips but in winter, after the solstice here in southern Tasmania, it starts to turn bright yellow.  

This picture was taken in May.  The flower heads had formed but were still slim, with more growth to come.  It's pretty at this stage with its pink stems and tiny red tips, but not spectacular.  It's good for filler in a bouquet of cut flowers.

This photo was taken mid June.  The flower heads look more plump and the stem length is good, but they are still lime green.

The Inca Gold begin to change around the beginning of July and make a fabulous contrast with the Safari Sunset Leucos.

When they reach their brightest, its easy to see why they are a winter favourite in the cut flower trade.  Spectacular cheery colour and long lasting blooms make these Inca Gold worth waiting for.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Winter Colour

Winter has produced some beautiful blue-sky days for us lately, and today was no exception.  This stunning unedited colour (taken with the trusty iphone4) shows where this variety of leucadendron gets its name - the Safari Sunset.  As they begin to flower, the red bracts around the flower presenter change to yellow and you can see this starting to happen here.  Flowers sold at this stage are often called Tri-Colour Leucadendrons, because they turn from red to pink to yellow, like a sunset.  And with that wonderful blue backdrop, they are particularly stunning!

This leucadendron is of the variety that I most recently wrote about in Lovely Leucos part 3.  If you want to compare the colour change, click on the link.  A few short weeks ago, these Red Gem leucadendrons were a bronzey red.  Now as they start to flower, they become a warm clear yellow, with red tips.  This bright yellow will last until the flowers and pollen presenters have done their work, and then the bracts will close around the centre again and return to being red.  

Leucadendrons are such a colourful cheery plant to be growing in winter.  And at every season they provide different colour.  I'm so happy to be growing them!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Photos Around the Farm

I love to take photos.  I thought I'd share some of the ones I've taken lately around the farm  These first two are of an area that has been planted out in the last 12 months.  Although it looks a bit like a bunch of headstones in a graveyard, give it a couple of years and they'll be rows of productive large shrubs.  It's a very satisfying thought!  

We get a great view of Mt Wellington in the distance from this point in the plantation.

A couple of days ago I got my first ever photo (in focus, that is!!) of this wonderful Wattle Bird.  We have so many of them around the farm.  They have a very distinctive birdcall - not what you'd call pleasant, but distinctive.  And despite being quite large (maybe 40cm long) they are hard to catch on camera.  They love sitting in the Silver Tree (Leucadendron Argenteum).  They are called Wattle Birds after those dangly yellow "wattles" that hang below the eye, not as you would expect, because they like wattle!

A beautiful Silver Tree seed pod on a female tree.