Friday, June 24, 2022

In the Field: Protea Aristata


Ready for a big “did you know” protea moment? That’s what June is all about. To make summer in the fields a little more colorful, check out the, beautiful, Protea aristata that blooms in hot, dry conditions from June through August. We’re taking a deep dive into the wonders of aristata – a favorite summer protea – with information you’ll want to know and share.

Protea aristata (aristata = sharp-tipped leaves), was first collected in 1928 near the town of Ladismith in the Cape Province. Although thought to be common in the Seweweekspoort region, aristata could not be found again until 1953, prior to which it was believed for quite some time that it had become extinct. Aristata, also known as Ladismith sugarbush, Ambassador sugarbush, small pine sugarbush and Christmas sugarbush, has become one of South Africa's most famous proteas despite its relatively late 'discovery'.



This distinctive protea has unusual pine-needle like foliage which provides a lovely background to its striking large and bright crimson flowers. And, of course when harvested, aristata beckons. It’s simply stunning when mixed in bouquets and arrangements.





Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Enjoy the Proteas of Summer in Garden Inspired Arrangements


Summer. It's a time for relaxed, carefree living. In this moment, gardens abound with a rainbow of color and texture, inviting us to fully savor all the bold and bright blooms of summer. There's no need to focus on one particular flower as they’re all so awe-inspiring.

In keeping with the no-fuss seasonal vibe, that's what we have for you here in this collection of summer arrangements mingled with protea, pincushions, banksia, leucadendron, roses and more. So, sit back and enjoy these seasonal designs.


Since you’re possibly foraging a wide array of muti-colored blooms from your garden you’ll appreciate this design. In addition to a textural pincushion in shades of orange, this arrangement is combined with so many awesome blossoms like grevillea, everlastings, alstroemeria, callas, yarrow, lions tail, roses and dahlias.


Garnish your arrangement by adding fresh fruit like peaches to the mix. A vintage ceramic urn fashioned with protea, banksia and pincushion plus a few dahlias and callas for a splash of extra color makes this dreamy combination perfect for any summer gathering.


If you’re a fan of yellow hues, then you’ll love this playful summer design for a spruced-up Sunday brunch. Pincushions, kangaroo paw, callas, grevillea, fennel infuse this vase with a bright and cheery spark.


This basket full of posies has just the right combination of delicate and hardy. Foxglove, agapanthus, roses, canterbury bells and yarrow deliver the soft touch while pincushions, protea and dahlias provide the textural feel making this design fun, festive and fabulous.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Quick Tips to Improve Protea Life


The demand for Protea has reached fever pitch as their sturdy stems and long-lasting blooms make them the perfect cut flowers. The family tree originates in South Africa and these blooms love sun and sugar, especially Eximia, Latifolia, and Dutchess varieties.


Contrary to popular belief, Protea are not tropical flowers… they are actually Mediterranean flowers, and they can be stored in a floral cooler, especially during warm summer days. Here are some quick tips to improve protea life: 

  • Unpack the flowers immediately. 
  • Cut up to 1/2 inch off the stems and remove leaves that will end up in the water. 
  • Store flowers in a well-lit floral (protea prefer to rest with the light on) cooler or refrigerator between 43-50 Fn. 
  • Removing a few leaves around the flower head will enhance the flower display. Note, some Protea are prone to leaf blackening and even with the best post-harvest care, it can still happen. So, if the flower looks fresh and healthy to you, just remove those leaves as well.
  • Use a flower preservative or a teaspoon of sugar for added longevity. 
  • Check water levels frequently as protea get very thirsty. 
  • Keep then out of direct sunlight whenever possible. 
  • With proper care, blooms can last weeks in a vase. Then, they don’t die… they dry beautifully! Many Proteas retain their structural design and to some extent their color. When used in dried flower arrangements or wreaths, they are as permanent as almost anything the botanical world provides.


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Majestic Vibes: Protea King


It’s May and we're definitely feeling majestic vibes! It is safe to say our spring King harvest has been bountiful. These chic beauties offer an enchanting world filled with color, texture, and sizes to try. Captivated by the King? We figured if you love them as we do, you’d want to know a few interesting facts about this stunning Protea.


The artichoke-like appearance of the blooms nod to the name ‘cynaroides’, which means ‘like cynara’… the artichoke. The term does no justice to these beautiful blooms as they are the largest in the genus. Some eighty variants of Kings have been depicted, and they're divided into groups according to their leaf type. The leathery leaves vary from large and rounded to small and narrow and their huge flowers can be wide open, almost like a 12” dinner plate or a narrow funnel shape. These flower heads consist of numerous small, tubular-shaped blooms or also called an inflorescence. Their color can range from greenish white to soft silvery pink and deep red, with each kind having its own flowering time.


King Protea are perennial plants that can survive many years in the wild. They also tolerate fires thanks to their thick underground stem filled with numerous dormant buds which starts to sprout shortly after a fire. Fires also assist with drying the cones and releasing seed, while the wind helps spread the seed and seasonal rain triggers germination.


Kings have evolved to survive in the harsh climates, while attracting pollinators at the same time. Obviously, a very compatible combination as these Protea are some of the most ancient flowers, evolving more than one hundred million years ago.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Visualizing Your Next of Work of Art


If a flower field is a living, sprouting, and evolving creative display, then a floral arrangement is a three-dimensional, interactive art installation. There’s no doubt, I find that I am most inspired when I'm in the field or my garden surrounded by lots of gorgeous blooms. My imagination simply takes over and I start visualizing what I'll use in my next arrangement. So, if you’re contemplating about your next work of art, I’ve got a few suggestions to help you get those creative juices flowing.

Leucospermum, like the Erubescens pictured above, are exquisite and incredibly long-lasting cut flowers, with vibrant, colorful blooms. Then, adding some textural varieties of Banksia and Grevillea take an arrangement from being ordinary to extraordinary.






If you'd like even more variety, mix in blooms like alstroemeria, ranunculus and snapdragons. Sturdy stem flowers are a big benefit, as they will stand up better in the container. Don’t forget to use some lush foliage like Grevillea Ivanhoe as a filler which, by the way, will add even more texture to the design. Most importantly, you're the artist so select colors and blooms that inspire your creativity. Flower arranging is a practice of resourcefulness, which requires experimentation and imagination. If you like what you've made, then you've accomplished the goal!


Saturday, April 30, 2022

May Gatherings: D├ęcor & Gifting


May always arrives with its fair share of RSVPs. From showers to graduations, Mother’s Day to Memorial Day gatherings, it seems every weekend calls for a celebration, and… of course, there are the gifts and decor. What to get? Well, if you love king proteas, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a few of our top picks… our favorite designs, to create and gift!

Not only are kings totally striking on their own, but they look particularly intriguing when mixed in bouquets.





The large central dome that’s surrounded by spiky bracts with a smooth, velvety texture certainly begs a second look. The extraordinary shape of the bracts or petals gives the bloom a regal, crown-like appearance… it’s an oversized statement flower that looks absolutely fabulous in arrangements.




Captivated by the king? Well, when an occasion calls for a little extra ‘king-power’, there is always the Wreath!


Friday, April 29, 2022

Growing Leucospermum – Pincushions


The fanciful Leucospermum plant brings so much pleasure to our hearts during this time of the year. The vibrant red, orange, peach, yellow and bi-colored flowers in bloom (generally mid-winter through spring) are formed mainly with long, sprout-like structures that end in a round knob called a pollen presenter. Together, the mass of styles looks a lot like pins bristling from a “pincushion”, a similarity that has given rise to the popular name for this genus.



Leucospermum include some forty-eight species, of which all but three are endemic to South Africa’s Cape Province. Unlike flowers of the genus Protea, which rely on their showy bracts for visual appeal, Leucospermum put all their art into the colors of the flowers themselves as well as the flowing shape of each curving component.


Leucospermum are considered Mediterranean plants, which is good news for anyone living in central and southern California. These stunning plants provide drama and stature in the fields and in gardens as well.


Leucospermum flowers are gorgeous in a vase on their own, but when accompanied with other proteas or other more traditional flowers like roses, anemones, dahlias or snapdragons they can make spectacular arrangements.





Growing Leucospermum:
  • Leucospermum flourish in full-sun exposure with good air movement around the plants. 
  • When transplanting Leucospermum, set plants into the soil at the same level that they were in the container. 
  • Plant on a mound or slope to promote excellent drainage in soil that is slightly acidic. 
  • Mulch to conserve water but keep mulch free of the crown of the plant. 
  • Water regularly until plants are established. 
  • Protect from frost.