Sunday, December 20, 2015

Waratah Wedding Bouquets

Waratah season is short and sweet.  They are very much a spring flower.
Swallows Nest Farm Waratah Bouquet
  This year has been unusually warm and the waratah season seemed to fly by more quickly than usual.  Here at Swallows Nest Farm, you can see the first pickable blooms in mid to late September, with October being the high season. Some late flowering varieties keep going until mid December, but due to the warmth, it been a shorter season.  It's made me a bit sad, and so to console myself, I've compiled a little collection of waratah wedding bouquets. 

Flowergirl's bouquet Swallows Nest Farm
Some are my own, and some are ones I've found on my internet travels.  All of them feature the wonderful waratah in different ways and different styles. 

These first two bouquets are from an early October wedding.  The waratah's are just coming into their peak season and are vibrant and fresh.  The colour in these "Shady Lady" variety is really rich.  Teamed with the lipstick boronia it makes for a really colourful statement.

This one is an early spring bouquet from mid September.  The waratah in this bouquet is not fully open and the colour is not as vibrant, but the pink makes for a more subtle look and I love the petals still arching up around the flower.  Pretty and fresh.  

Good Grace and Humour
What a great image!  I love the red and white!  In this wedding the white waratah makes an appearance.  I think it really works!

Good Grace and Humour
Red waratah for the bride and white for the bridesmaids.  Fabulous!

October Waratah Wedding Swallows Nest Farm
From mid October, this bouquet celebrates the waratah in its peak season here in Tasmania.  The first early Tasmanian waratah makes an appearance towards the back left.  The Tasmanian waratah starts in October and peaks in November, usually, with some lingering into December. 

October Waratah Wedding Swallows Nest Farm
 I love this combination of fresh colours celebrating spring.  Simple style to highlight the flowers at their best. 

Spring Native Wedding Swallows Nest Farm
This trio of bouquets is from early October.  Lots of cream and white, with touches of gold from the Dryandra/Banksia Formosa make a great background for the waratahs.

November Native Wedding Swallows Nest Farm

Novermber and the first of the Pincushion proteas have emerged but the waratahs are still going.  I have found that our white waratahs flower a little later than the red, and this means that they can be available for weddings as the weather warms up.  The texture the waratah gives is an important ingredient of the success of this bouquet.  I love playing with colour blends using the white waratahs too.   

White Waratah Spring bouquet, Swallows Nest Farm
This bride's bouquet features a white waratah too, but with a different style and colour scheme.  The theme was "rustic vintage style" in classic pink and soft tones.

White Waratah Spring Wedding Swallows Nest Farm
I love the texture in the bouquet.  A more subtle colour scheme lets you really play with texture.

Tasmanian Waratah bouquet Swallows Nest Farm
November is Tasmanian Waratah month here at Swallows Nest Farm, and a gorgeous bride who loves her Tassie Waratahs chose November for her wedding so she could have one of her favourite flowers as the centrepiece of her bouquet.  Simple, beautiful fresh flowers.

Swallows Nest Farm 
A wedding featuring the Tasmanian waratah couldn't have been held in a more perfect setting.  This classic Tasmanian beach scene with the gorgeous blue of the sea and the characteristic orange lichen on the rocks.  Beautiful!

Waratah and Kangaroo Paw by Good Grace and Humour
I love this dramatic combination of Kargaroo Paw and Waratah.  What a great bouquet!  A truly Australian native wedding bouquet with the waratah as the star.

Field and Coppice Floral Design
I love this joyful bouquet by Field and Coppice Floral Design in the Canberra area.  The rich red waratahs in the centre of the bouquet are just beautiful.  

Field and Coppice Floral Design
This bouquet of waratahs is also by Field and Coppice, but it has a completely different feel.  Its simple, understated and old-world, and just gorgeous!

Waratahs are a stunning spring favourite for weddings. Keep an eye out for them!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Early Spring Wedding

Spring is a fabulous time for native flowers, and a fabulous time for weddings.  I get to put the two together when I'm doing spring wedding flowers!   Early this spring,  I did flowers for a lovely Hobart bride who wanted bouquets with highlights and pops of colour. 

The bride's bouquet combined the creamy white of Maui Sunset Leucadendrons, a late-winter or early-spring flowering leuco, with one of the first of flowers from a newly planted Protea called White Ice.  White highlights were added with Bushman's Bootlace, a local native Pimelea.  

Providing pops of colour were early flowering Waratahs in rich deep pinky red, Protea Satin Mink in pink with black fringing, and the startling pink of Boronia which also smells fantastic, which made working with the bouquet all the more enjoyable.  

Dryandra Formosa, with its glowing golden flowers and beautiful leaves provides texture, as does the fabulous Berzelia.  It's green in early spring and is such a great texture plant right through the season until it bursts into fluffy white flowers just before summer.  I also used some native Tasmanian Richea Dracophylla flowers which you can just see poking out on the left at the rear of the bouquet.  

The grooms boutonniere combined all the colours and textures of the bouquets in a tiny package.  I love the colour combination of the dryandra and boronia.  That pink really packs a punch!

Groomsmen's boutonnieres were a simple combination of the golden dryandra, some berzelia and pimelea.  

I really enjoyed the opportunity to play with these early spring flowers.  I hope the bride and groom had a brilliant day.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Saving Seeds - Phylica

Phylica Plumosa
Phylica are a genus of plants that mostly come from South Africa.  They occur in the shrubby heathland of the western Cape region known as Fynbos.  I have been growing two different varieties of Phylica for a few years now and I love them.   

Phylica Plumosa
The shrubs that are covered in fine hairs and when they flower, the hairs catch the sunlight and seem to glow.  This variety is Phylica Plumosa, characterised by a greenish tinge with light flowers, and sometimes called Green Phylica.  The other variety I grow is Phylica Pubescens which is known as Golden Phylica.  It has a yellowy green appearance and is more hairy on the leaves as well as the flowers.  Both are really spectacular in late winter when they flower.  

Phylica Plumosa in flower
A close up of the "flowers" reveal that there are tiny little flowers tucked in at the base of the feathery, showy bracts.  Phylica are sometimes called Featherhead, and its easy to see why.  

Phylica Plumosa flowers
My plants have been getting older and less productive.   I just LOVE them though, so after searching the web for a supplier of new plants and not finding anyone who could provide them, I decided to do some propagating of my own. 

When in full bloom, the Phylica bushes are swarming with busy, happy bees.  They go from flower to flower and pollinate them.  I have to hold myself back from cutting all the flowers to use!  It's for a good cause.

Phylica Plumosa seed heads
After the flowers are spent, the bracts close around them and those that have been pollinated begin to swell with seeds.  

Phylica Plumosa seed head nearly ready to harvest
Brushing aside some of the bracts, you can see seed pods starting to darken.  The seed heads are ready to harvest in November/December, once they change to a dark brown. The seeds are attractive to ants so its good to check regularly and make sure you get to them first.  Alternatively, cover the flower heads with a little organza pouch and tie them gently closed.  A physical barrier helps to keep them safe until you can harvest them.

I take the entire flower head, which pops off easily, and leave them to dry a little in a paper bag.  

When they've dried out, you can see the seed pods are sectioned into thirds.  Not every section will contain a seed.

Squeezing the pod between your fingers, the sections break apart and if fertilised, will reveal a plump black shiny seed.  Shrivelled or light brown seeds are no good. I have found that the seed stays viable for many years.  I had surprising success in germinating seed that was 6 years old.

The seeds have little "caps" called elaiosomes.  It is these appendages which attract the ants to the seed. They can break off without damaging the seed.
I soaked my seeds overnight in warm water first and had good success with this.  They seem to have a toughish outer casing so the soaking softened up the seeds ready for germination. All the viable seeds sank to the bottom, and I threw out the one or two that floated.

I sowed my seeds in a shallow tray in a mixture of seed raising mix and coarse river sand. The tray was put in a warm sunny position on a north facing windowsill.  From the little information I had been able to find to read regarding germinating these seeds, it was thought that they would take 4 - 6 weeks.  My experience was that they took a little longer than that.  But once they started to sprout, the germination rate was good.  My advice if you were to try your own seedlings would be to continue to look after them until they start to germinate, even if it takes 2 months or more.  Keep them moist, warm and sheltered.

Once they were past the cotyledon stage I potted them up into little pots.  Their roots spread quickly and they began to grow tall - ready for pinching out the tips.  

Phylica Plumosa
I'm looking forward to planting these out into the field next winter, so I can continue to enjoy using these striking and unusual flowers.  Its such a satisfying thing to harvest and raise your own seeds!

Wedding Boutonniere using Phylica Plumosa, Gumnuts, Berzelia, Kangaroo paw and eucalyptus foliage

Monday, September 14, 2015

Winter Wildflower Wedding

Winter weddings are few and far between in Tasmania. The colder months are quiet times for those who provide services for weddings.  This makes me a little sad at times because as a native flower grower, it seems such a waste to miss out on all the gorgeous seasonal flowers that winter brings.  

I was really excited to get a winter wedding request.  It was a small simple wedding with the bride and groom flying in to Hobart from the mainland.  A simple bouquet and boutonniere were all that they needed, but it was such a great opportunity to "play" with some winter blooms.

The brides dress was in deep green silk with rich dark blue patterning.  I decided to go with green and blue and add warm yellow and orange.  The inspiration began with the banksias that were in flower.  In the basket are some Banksia Marginata which grow wild on my property.  The flowers are light fresh lemony yellow.  Wattle was just beginning to bud and I loved the yellow hints with the great texture.  I also picked some branched of Blue Spruce - what a great colour!  And its structure is fantastic too.

Another banksia in bloom was the Banksia Brownii.  Its flowers are less lemony yellow and have a purplish tip.  Brownii foliage is just gorgeous too, and some found its way into the bouquet.

Banksia Ericifolia was flowering prolifically.  I love the rich orange colour with the purple tinges on the tip.  It really worked will with the other banksias.

Going all out with texture, I also added some early Berzelia, some Eucalyptus buds, some Tea Tree and, as blue green highlights, some sweet little succulents.

Winter can be so beautiful!

I love the happy little gum buds sitting proud of the bouquet surface.

You can see the purplish tips of the Banksia Brownii and Banksia Ericifolia here.  I love the way the colour adds depth to the colour scheme.  You can also see just a few Phylica Plumosa flowers.  I picked the very first flowers just days before the July wedding.  Phylica is such a brilliant flower for weddings.

The boutonniere had Phylica too, teamed with the Blue Spruce, Tea Tree and Berzelia, as well as some gorgeous blue green succulents.

It was such a great opportunity to "play" with some stunning winter blooms.  I hope more couples decide not to wait for the warmer weather!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hip Hip Hooray! Celebrating 100 Posts with a Giveaway

Back in January 2012, I wrote my first Swallows Nest Farm blog post.  I began blogging after having to seriously re-think the way I ran my flower farm business.  In 2011 I spent 5 months away from home with my little girl in hospital on the mainland of Australia.  With a sick baby to care for, changes needed to be made.  When I began, blogging gave me a way of focussing on strategies for the future of the farm while not being able to actually get much outdoor work done.  As time has passed, it has become an important part of my flower farm business both for the exposure that it provides, and also for the way it helps me to see where I need to go next.

So here we are, more than 3 years and 100 blog posts later and I'm surprised that I still feel I have so much to explore by way of blogging.  I'm even more surprised at the attention this humble blog receives, with well over 50,000 visits.  I would never have expected it!

So I feel that a celebration is in order!

I am giving away a little pack of celebratory goodness including a
Linocut Hand Painted Waratah Bookmark from trees4thewood
4 Packs of Swallows Nest Farm Seeds
(including Telopea Truncata,
Leucadendron Argenteum,
Conrymbia Ficifolia and
Dryandra Formosa)
A Blue Gum Linocut Notebook with a Myrtle Beech Twig Pencil from trees4thewood
and some Swallows Nest Farm postcards.

You can enter the giveaway by sharing your favourite Swallows Nest Farm blog post, or by visiting our Facebook page (while you're there, if you like what you see, you could follow our page too).
The giveaway will run for a week and a winner will be chosen at random at midnight on Monday 14th September.

Enter using the rafflecopter counter below.
Entry is open to everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for visiting Swallows Nest Farm blog!