Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Flame Giants are Blooming!

The Leucospermum Flame Giants are putting on quite a show here on the farm.

Of all the proteas that flower in spring, the Leucospermum, especially the Flame Giants, provide a dazzling display. We have thousands of plants scattered on several parcels high up in the hills of Rainbow. When they bloom this time of year, the fields erupt with spectacular color… vivid orange with golden tips. The textural blooms are formed mainly with long, sprout-like structures that end in a round knob called a pollen presenter.

Flame Giants, famed for having some of the largest flower heads reaching 5 to 6 inches wide, were originally introduced from a seedling raised in 1974 and registered in South Africa under the name 'Vlam' in 1981. This name means "flame", "flash" or "blaze" in Afrikaans. They’re also called Giant Orange Nodding Pincushion. Flame Giants thrive perfectly in our Mediterranean climate and make ideal landscape plants.

Friday, May 26, 2023

King Protea - The Talk of the Table

One of the biggest perks to planning a spring social or event is the abundance of in-season protea just begging to be harvested for floral arrangements. Early in the season you can look for serruria, leucospermum and waratah while in late spring you can expect Protea cynaroides or king protea in hues of pink, red and white.

Known for its crown-like shape and dinner plate sized blooms, kings epitomize everything we all love about spring: Their shades complement nearly any seasonal-inspired color palette, their shape is bold yet organic, and the texture smooth and hardy. In short, they hit all the senses.

There are over eighty varieties of kings and they're divided into groups according to their leaf type. The leathery leaves vary from large and rounded to small and narrow. The artichoke-like appearance of the blooms nod to the name cynaroides, which means ‘like cynara’… the artichoke. Each flower-head consists of numerous small, tubular-shaped blooms or also called an inflorescence.

So, make the most of your spring gatherings and let these chic beauties become the talk of the table. We guarantee your guests will be captivated.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Spring’s Finest: Leucospermum – Pincushions

From the vibrant yellow blooms of High Gold to the soft, golden-peach hues of Brandi dela Cruz and the bright tri-color shades (red, orange + yellow) of Erubescens, we are falling for these classic spring-Leucospermum (and many more) all over again this season.

These prolific plants deliver breathtaking living color in the fields from March through June. The textural blooms 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 includes some forty-eight species as well as several new hybrids. 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.

Inspired by this fanciful protea and ready to grow your own? Here are a few tips:
  • Leucospermum flourish in full-sun exposure with good air movement around the plants. 
  • When transplanting, 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.

When harvested, Leucospermum are stunning when displayed in a vase on their own, or mixed with more traditional flowers like roses, tulips, ranunculus, snapdragons and more.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Waratah

The Waratah or Telopea is one of Australia’s most iconic flowers and one of the most spectacular members of the Protea Family. While there are many different species, Telopea speciosissima or more commonly known as the New South Wales waratah, is the most recognizable.

The name Waratah, an Aboriginal name for “beautiful” comes from the Eora people, the original inhabitants of the Sydney area. The botanical term for this flower is perfect, seeing that the blooms are big and visible from far away... Telopea which comes from the Greek word “Telepos” literally means “seen from afar”. Anyone who has seen a waratah in the field would agree with the appropriateness of the name.

The round, crimson blooms, razor green leaves and long stems are truly a standout in the field during the springtime. Each waratah flower is comprised of a group or cluster of flowers. Exactly how many depends on the species… ranging from as few as 10 to as many as 240 individual flowers, surrounded by a circle of delicate floral bracts.

When buying Waratah look for:
  1. Choose blooms with 1/2 of the flowers or styles open. 
  2. Avoid blooms with drooping bracts or leaves.

Flower Care:
  1.  Keep cool. 
  2. Strip leaves from the bottom half of each stem. 
  3. Re-cut at least ¼” off the stems and place in cool water. 
  4. Replace water frequently.

With its stunning crimson-red blooms and lush, dark green foliage, Waratah are stunning focal flowers when showcased in spring bouquets and arrangements.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Creating a Festive Easter Arrangement

Creating a festive Easter arrangement is simple when you gear up for the holiday with spring’s best textures and tones - like Proteas, Australian wildflowers, and lush, greens. Your design should act as inspiration for your table settings and other floral arrangements on display in your home.

Some of my favorite Easter design ideas don't require a fancy vase— utilizing a clear glass container works just fine, especially when you add a whimsical touch by including some fresh produce or sweet treats from your local market or grocery store. These extra touches bring in a fresh element of color, texture and shape, and they’re often the recipe needed to transform designs from beautiful to festive, eye-catching and unique.

No matter how you pay homage to spring, these simple Easter arrangements will give you plenty of inspiration for your own holiday display.

This centerpiece plays up the vivid colors of heirloom carrots. You'll need them with their stems still attached and a clear vase to show off the roots. Pair the carrots with yellow and orange pincushions, leucadendron, and lush green foliage. Wash the carrots thoroughly (but don't peel them) so that the water in the vase stays clear.

Create a fresh spring bouquet by bundling asparagus stalks around a vase full of proteas and ranunculus.

Bring fresh fruit to your table with this dazzling centerpiece of protea, tulips and kumquats. Place a clear drinking glass or thin vase into the center of a large-mouth vase and stack the kumquats around the glass.

Celebrate the sweetness of spring with an Easter centerpiece that features seasonal proteas, boronia and leafy greens. Fill a large glass container with jellybeans, insert a small vase in the center, add water and your flowers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Latest Floral Inspiration

Golden State – is Still the One for Fresh Flowers

While it’s a reality that even our local flower market is a part of the global economy, the Market enters its next 100 years with its feet firmly planted in Golden State soil. California remains a leader and trendsetter for what is in demand for floral artisans here and around the world thanks to the vibrant and versatile flower, plant, and foliage offerings from its farms.

Read more here.

A Conversation with Certified American Grown

Come with us as we learn more about Certified American Grown! Q1. Can you tell us more about yourself and how long you have been in the industry?

Certified American Grown (CAG) is a non-profit organization. We are an independent national trade association representing a unified and diverse community of American cut flower, cut foliage, and potted plant farmers from the United States.

Read more here.

Discover The National Flower of South Africa:
The King Protea

South Africa is an incredible country with a wide range of climates, people, and animals, so it’s no surprise its national flower is the astonishing king protea. With a name like that, you know it’s going to be good! Let’s discover the national flower of South Africa: the king protea and why it symbolizes the South African nation so well.

What is the National Flower of South Africa?

The national flower of South Africa: the king protea is also called the sugarbush or the cape artichoke flower.

Read more here.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

CGCI Floral Design Forum

As a protea lover and passionate flower farmer, whenever I have the time, I enjoy sharing my knowledge of this amazing family of flowers and foliage with floral enthusiasts and gardeners. There’s so much to learn about the 73 genera and more than 1500 species in the Protea family. Plus, the cultivation of proteas is always an important and fascinating topic.

I’m equally excited to show flower lovers and gardeners how you can create stunning works of art with proteas. During this month’s California Garden Club (CGCI) Floral Design Forum, I had the opportunity to immerse their members in the beauty of designing with proteas. I created six seasonal arrangements using an array of proteas, plus some eucalyptus foliage, fruited branches, and Australian wildflowers along with a few bunches of ranunculus and anemone from our local farmer’s market. I love demonstrating how beautiful proteas are when displayed alone or mixed with more traditional florals.

Enjoy the photos I took - it was a fun and inspiring forum!

This simple hand-tied bouquet is a lovely mix of proteas, berzelia, waxflower and eucalyptus foliage.

Mixing fruit branches into designs is alway a hit. The kumquats in this arrangement added texture and a pop of color. The ranunculus provide a delicate spring feel, and the proteas take the design to the next level.

A foam wreath frame is the base of this peach hued candle centerpiece with pincushions, ranunculus, calycina, Grevillea, Leucadendron, berzelia and eucalyptus.

My version of a floral Easter basket filled with plenty of colorful proteas, eucalyptus, calycina and blue anemone plus a grapevine handle to top it off.

Door d├ęcor provides a ‘cheery welcome’ especially during spring holidays. The grapevine frame is lined with moss and a piece of floral foam. Camellia leaves surround the base and proteas, eucalyptus + peach blossoms adorn the basket.

Art in a French galvanized container. Overflowing with plenty of proteas, berzelia and eucalyptus… simple yet stunning!