Friday, September 21, 2012

Maui Sunset

The next spring flowering Leucadendron I'm featuring this year is this gorgeous blushing beauty called Maui Sunset.  It's creamy white bracts are tinged with delicate pink and the shape is almost rose-like.  For most of the year, Maui Sunset is a fairly unremarkable green.  

There is a tinge of brownish pink, but its not what you'd call a "stand-out" colour.  Over winter, the pinkish tinge begins to increase, and the green slowly starts to lighten. 

By late winter, these lovely leuco's have thrown off their cloak of invisibility and are definitely beginning to shout "look at me"!  But they continue to lighten until they are almost white, glowing, and rimmed with pink.  The ridge along the top of the hill where they grow is transformed.

Maui Sunset are not widely found in florists.  They don't have the same long stems that other leuco's have.  I think the colour and beauty of them make up for the shorter stems!  We often leave some of our bushes uncut and allow them to grow two seasons, giving them a multi headed stem with longer length.    Then, they are really useful in larger bunches.  

The Maui Sunset on top of the basket above show how this second years growth give the effect of many flowers on one stem.  I picked 6 or 7 stems here, and each stem had 3 or 4 flowers on it.  

The spectacular colour transformation of these Maui Sunset are a very obvious sign of the change of season around the farm, and their effect is so cheery and bright - they are definitely a spectacular spring flowering Leucadendron.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Waratah's Are Out

Today, I picked my first Waratah of the season.  What a stunning flower, the Waratah is.  It is an Australian Native, and the floral emblem of New South Wales.  We grow a number of different Waratah or Telopea hybrids at Swallows Nest.  They are characterised by their long (up to 1 metre) strait stems, and large red showy flowers that are long lasting.  

The Waratah is from the Proteaceae family and grows from a lignotuber, a swelling in the root crown that acts as a protection from fire.  The plant stores nutrients and buds in the lignotuber, and can sprout from below ground level.  Because of this, cutting the flowers of a Waratah encourage more stems to sprout until you get a very bushy plant with many many stems.  Some cut flower growers have very prolific plants producing up to 400 stems each, in a season.  Ours are not quite up to that yet, but we are working on it!  

Over summer the plant focuses on producing stems.  Each stem forms a single bud.  Then over late winter the bud begins to swell.  

Over a period of weeks, they begin to open and reveal the flower.  Waratahs seems to slowly unpack themselves in stages.  The outer "petals" are actually modified leaves called bracts.  Inside the bracts are many small flowers arranged in a dome shape to form what we think of as the Waratah flower.  These individual little flowers seem to unfold and arrange themselves in the recognisable domed shape before they start to actually open.  

You can see in the picture above how the little flowerets begin to open at the outside and work their way to the middle of the dome.  

A tip for buying or picking Waratahs is to select ones that have just begun to open their little flowerets.  This will usually start on the sunny side of the plant.  Once a few of styles are open, they are ready to pick.  This will give them a much longer vase-life.  When buying Waratahs, look for ones that are not completely open.  This will give you longer to enjoy them.

At Swallows Nest Farm, we have a number of different varieties of hybrid Waratahs.  The first flowers usually appear in early September, and later flowering varieties keep appearing until mid to late December. We have some beautiful white ones too, which I'll feature when they start to flower in a few weeks.  

These popular flowers are a wonderful bold statement that spring is here!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Flower Show Time

Spring is Flower Show time in Tasmania and our District School hosts our local flower show.   I  have always felt that, as a local flower grower, I really should be involved in a local flower show! But because of various reasons beyond my control, I have never actually been to see our local show until this year.  I was also able to be involved, by donating a few bunches for fund raising.  

I had fun doing a quick pick, mostly of the vibrantly coloured spring flowering Leucos.  I probably should have taken the trailer, because my poor old faithful picking basket got so over-full that I nearly broke it!

Simple bunches of Leucadendrons in cheap and cheerful plastic wrap were snapped up.  I also did simple bunches of Protea Neriifolia, which are looking particularly fabulous at the moment.  They all sold out before I got to the show.  

I had a lovely time looking at the Daffodil exhibits, with some amazing variations that I've never seen before. 

 There were also some stunning floral arrangements.  Having checked out the competition, so to speak, I'm considering entering an arrangement in next years flower show!  I'm sure you'll hear all about it when it do!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

We've Struck Gold

Please excuse the cheesy title of this post, but this beautiful spring flowering leucadendron is called Safari Goldstrike.  I wrote about it earlier in the year.  It was our first new planting after we took over the protea farm 4 years ago, and it has been a great success.  This year is the first big harvest, with the plants beginning to produce lots of saleable stems.  If you want to see the before and after shots, click on the link.

For most of the year, Safari Goldstrike are a green leaucadendron with a slightly pink tip, as seen in the photo above.  Many florists use them at this stage.  They are long lasting and a great accent flower, the green really glowing among soft pastels, or natives. 

You can see them being used above in this native arrangement.  Depending upon the weather conditions, sometime in August these unassuming leuco's decide its their time to shine, and they begin to change colour and open into the large golden blooms that give them their name.  

They really glow with colour and their large, teacup shaped flowers just shout "look at me".  

We are so proud of these great flowers - our first planting.  They are versatile all year round, but are definitely a spectacular spring-flowering leucadendron.