Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Banksia Book & Farm

Banksia are amongst Australia's most iconic plant-known to the generations who have lived there-and, through writing and art, to many who have never visited the land. The Banksia book describes and illustrates all 78 known Banksias. It provides the history of their discovery, their evolution, how to find and grow them and how they have inspired artists and artisans. With some 400 beautiful color illustrations it is a complete, up-to-date guide to these unique, fascinating plants.

The Farm and B&B Experience: Possums and bandicoots, birds, frogs and reptiles have moved into the thriving ecosystem created when Kevin and Kathy planted a variety of Australian plants (mostly banksias and dryandras). Interactive talks allow you to experience the hands-on feel and taste of banksias, their evolution, pollination, discovery and aboriginal usage. And, for peace and quiet, great bird & wildflower strolls and top quality country comfort, you can enjoy luxurious accommodations in a unique stone homestead overlooking the ancient Porongurup Ranges.

For more information on the Collin's Banksia book and Farm: 

A Passion for Banksia

Kevin Collins has pursued his passion for Banksias for 25 years, developing Banksia Farm at Mount Barker in Western Australia where all known species are grown. Banksia Farm includes the Joseph Banks Fine Arts Gallery and CafĂ©, a specialty plant nursery and a seed product centre. This month Kevin and his wife, Kathy, made a special trip to Rainbow, CA to share their passion and knowledge about Banksias with us.  It was an interesting afternoon which began right in the Banksia fields where Kevin taught us about propagation, cultivation, disease control, pruning and harvesting these wonderful Australian native plants. 

Later that evening, the California Protea Association hosted a dinner and lecture, where Kevin and Kathy shared their experiences growing Banksias on their farm in Western Australian.  In addition, the Collin’s recently co-authored a new book called “Banksias” which brings together the best current knowledge concerning all 78 known species of Banksia.  Our thanks to Kevin and Kathy for traveling to California and sharing their passion for Banksia with all of us!  Stay tuned – we’ll share more details about the "Banksia" book in our next blog.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Discovering the True “Gem” of Gembrook

Last week I visited Gembrook, a small country town situated in the picturesque hills of the Dandenong Ranges, in Melbourne, Australia’s outer east. While in Gembrook, I had the pleasure to tour Ausflora Pacific, a 100 acre cut flower plantation and nursery.

As I strolled through their prolific flower fields, I realized there was much, much more to the town’s name “Gembrook”.  Ausflora Pacific is known for their Telopea “Gembrook”, a spectacular and hardy crimson flower, and certainly a true floral “Gem”.

Telopea is one of the most spectacular of all Australian native flowering plants and is the floral emblem of New South Wales. The Aboriginal name for telopea is waratah, and it is by this name it is most commonly known. Some beautiful hybrid forms of the telopea have been developed in recent years, with their long-lasting flowers appearing from late winter into spring. These fabulous flowers can also be found in shades of pink, yellow and white.

As you can see telopea’s are currently blooming in Australia and Tasmania, with a very short season of three to six weeks.  In California, telopea season usually begins in February and runs through March.  So, enjoy some of these floral treasures - “Gems” soon, their season is fleeting!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It's Pink Ice Season

Yes, it's that time of year once again when our fields are covered in gorgeous Pink Ice Protea, and here are some great ways you can enjoy these blooms in your home and office! 

In hand-tied bouquets.  

In decorative wreaths.

In colorful centerpieces.

Or, fresh from the fields in your special design?