Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Allure of FYNBOS

Fynbos is one of the earth’s hot spots because of its exceptional biodiversity. It’s little wonder that Fynbos which literally means ‘fine bush’ has been touted for its unique type of vegetation that accounts for more than 80 percent of the plant species in the Cape Floral Kingdom. And, more than two-thirds of these plant species are not found growing naturally anywhere else in the world. Many of these amazing plants have been used for their decorative and gardening purposes, medicinal purposes and even their magical powers. Despite the growing interest in fynbos, it still remains a mystery to many people. Some species can be found growing right under their noses and they don’t even realize it.

Fynbos is composed of approximately 100 families with the three largest and most well known families being: the ericas, proteas and restos. With that in mind, there are plenty more families to get to know – Here are just a few of our favorites:

Agapanthus means ‘Flower of Love’ and is derived from the Greek agape’ meaning ‘love’ and anthos meaning ‘flower’. They are also known as the ‘lily of the Nile’ and the ‘African lily’ even though they are not a lily. Did you know in the world of magic the agapanthus is a highly respected plant? The roots can be used to make a love charm and their magical powers even ward off thunder. And, agapanthus can serve as a fire-break if you plant it close enough to the house.

Egyptians called the aloe vera plant “plant of immortality,” 6,000 years ago. Cleopatra applied the moist middle of the spiky plant to her body as part of her beauty regimen. Greeks used it to cure everything from baldness to insomnia and the Native Americans called it the “Wand of the Heaven.”

Leonotis leonurus is also known as wild dagga and lion's tail. Wild dagga flowers and leaves were smoked by the Hottentot tribe of southern Africa because of its euphoric effect. In traditional healing, wild dagga is used to treat fevers, headaches, coughs and skin rashes. It's also used as a charm to keep snakes at bay, and has been used to treat snake bites.

Tulbaghia Violacea or wild garlic is also called Society Garlic because Dutch settlers thought it was a more polite spice to use for flavoring dishes than true garlic particularly for social events. And, the Zulu used both the flowers and the leaves to make hot seasoning with meat and potatoes. Tulbaghia is a disinfectant, and the bulb has been used to treat cough and colds.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Heath or Heather?

Did you know the Ericaceae family is divided into two different genera of plants: heaths and heathers? Although both belong to the same family, they are botanically different and are divided into the Erica genus and the Calluna genus. The heaths belong to the Erica genus and there are approximately 4,500 species worldwide and of these 700 occur in the Cape Floral Kingdom, making them the largest family of fynbos . 

The Erica with its upright spirals of brilliant blossoms can be described, as simply elegant. The vibrant blossoms vary in shape and size from tiny to several inches in length and come in virtually all color combinations except blue. Other than heaths' greater susceptibility to cold weather, the main difference between heaths and heathers is that heaths have needlelike leaves rather than flat leaves; and come in taller shrub forms and even some small trees.

Here’s just of a few of our favorites grown here in Rainbow:

Erica Sparsa

Erica Verticillata

Erica Versicolor

Erica Baueri

Erica Baueri - White

For a glimpse of more heaths here’s a link to our Pinterest Board!

Ericas have become a welcome addition to our world of flowers!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pomegranate – The Tree of Life

Did you know many scholars believe pomegranate to be the true biblical Tree of Life, and that it was actually a pomegranate fruit, not an apple, that Eve enjoyed?

The English word ‘pomegranate’ is from Latin ‘pomum granatum’ which means ‘apple of many seeds.’ Because of their many seeds, this fruit has been associated with love, fertility and abundance. And, the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, is credited in Greek mythology with planting the first tree. The pomegranate appears as a romantic symbol in sonnets and literature dating back centuries.

So naturally, now that pomegranate season is upon us it brings a wonderful opportunity to explore some of the amazing decorative possibilities of this ‘sinful’, yet sensuous fruit!


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Kings Rein

If you’re thinking brides have gone wild for Kings, you’re right— just take a look at some of the recent wedding blogs.  It’s safe to say we’re seeing these awesome protea being used in wedding bouquets and centerpieces at least several times a week - and we’ve got the Pinterest board to prove it.  There’s a little something there for every King connoisseur, from featuring single stems to creating more lavish designs with an array of fabulous blooms and a King as the focal flower.  If you’re as crazy about these chic flowers as we are, we suggest spending a little time in the Cynaroides’ realm.