Thursday, July 28, 2022

Christmas in July - Protea Angels

It's no secret that I love protea. And I'm a firm believer that it's never too early to start preparing for Christmas! I’ve been watching the Hallmark’s Christmas in July movies and getting into the spirit. If you want to start doing a little Christmas in July crafting read on for a fun project, you can start making today!

DIY Protea Angels - Is there anything better than Christmas decor that is hand-made and natural?

Protea angels are not only pretty ornaments on a tree though… Imagine how sweet they could be sitting on a shelf, or adorning a holiday table? Best of all, they only take a few minutes to make.

First, you need to gather your supplies. Here's what I used:

  • Dried protea blooms and pods 
  • Protea leaves 
  • Everlastings and other decorative flowers 
  • Small wooden doll head 
  • Sharpie markers 
  • Hot glue gun 
  • Twine

To make these you need to drill a small whole in the bottom of the wooden doll head and then design the face (eyes, nose, mouth and hair) with the colored markers. Repeat this step for as many angels as you'd like to make.

Then select the dried protea blooms you prefer to use for the body of the angels. Next you need to affix the wood doll head to the stem of the protea flower using the hot glue to secure it in place.

Cut a small piece of twine, twist it in half and attach it to the head with a dab of the hot glue. Finally, use the everlastings and other decorative blooms to fashion the angels with a floral crown and dress garnishing.

Just like a snowflake, no two protea angels you create will be exactly alike. That’s the beauty of nature and handmaking your own Christmas ornaments. Each is unique and different and beautiful.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

CPA Brunch

TOGETHER AGAIN! It has been three [long] years since the California Protea Association (CPA) - had its last member gathering. Yes, after the dark days of Covid, events are back and this month we went all out and hosted an alfresco brunch at the Institute of Contemporary Art - in Encinitas. How appropriate is that? This brunch was a real culinary treat as we partnered with Chef, Flor Franco - once again, and I’m so delighted to share it with you.

Garnering acclaim and a reputation for excellence, Flor Franco has served as the Executive Chef for several award-winning venues and restaurants, two Sundance Film Festivals, one Conde Nast dinner, hundreds of the world's best events, and has had the honor of designing and executing menus for Hollywood elite, dignitaries, national political figures and of course, CPA members.

We added festive protea flare to the brunch by designing a gorgeous wreath to welcome guests and created 20 colorful arrangements to garnish the tables and to set the scene.

Everyone mingled throughout the brunch, enjoying the delicious Spanish cuisine, and refreshing beverages plus, the lively mariachi band.

A unique group of farmers and gardeners gathered in one place for one moment to share the most universal human conversation: a meal. Chef Flor and her team created an amazing menu that left us all feeling like we had just eaten at a Five Star restaurant.

I hope this alfresco brunch in the museum gardens inspires you in some small way. To me, it felt like the perfect way to rekindle relationships with fellow protea farmers and friends as well as celebrate... July – American Grown Flowers Month!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Grevillea Flowers

Grevillea flowers or also nicknamed Spiderman + Bush Lollies bloom pretty much year-round here on the farm putting on a show month after month. They’re what we call “Australian native superstars”. These come-back friends – are fuss-free sun-lovers that stand up to the rising mercury and deliver some much-needed color - especially during the summer. These lollipop-like flowers provide masses of unique blooms in an array of wonderful colors, and their texture, can only be matched by the Leucospermum - pincushion.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, this Australian Proteaceae genus – named in honor of Charles Francis Greville - is now being grown in many parts of the world. There are over a hundred species and cultivars being grown in the United States, with the majority found here in California. Grevilleas are also grown in South Africa, Mediterranean Europe, South Asia and of course, extensively in Australia where over three hundred species have been identified.

Luckily, now is the perfect time to think about adding some of these fun and awe-inspiring blooms to your summer designs. Read on to learn about some of our favorites.

'Sylvia' - Large dense, deep red flower spikes are produced on the plant for most of the year.

'Honey Gem' - A fabulous of cultivar G. banksii and G. pteridifolia. Flowers are apricot with orange-yellow style and the leaves have silvery reverse.

“Moonlight’ - This popular variety has attractive deeply divided foliage and bears beautiful, lemon-yellow toothbrush flowers.

'Misty Pink' A vigorous and hardy free flowering shrub with grayish leaves. Spectacular pink and cream 6 to 7” blooms in terminal clusters of six or more.

'Superb' - One of the best bloomers with pink, peach and creamy colored flowers.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

July: American Grown Flowers Month

July. There’s something about the month, perhaps it’s the fact we’ve reached the year’s halfway mark or maybe because it’s American Grown Flowers Month… that seems to muster up a little nostalgia. With that in mind, these ‘dog days of summer’ aren’t easy to shake off. Whether you’re planning a cozy outdoor rendezvous, catching up on the latest floral trends or simply spending more time relaxing at home, we’ve created a summer inspired arrangement. A few of our favorite proteas are included, like Banksia, Grevillea, Leucadendron and Leucospermum, with the foliage choices as a nod to the ‘summer essentials’ trend, as well as some dahlias, lion's tail, zinnias and kangaroo paw for an extra splash of color.

Scroll down for a glimpse at our American Grown Flowers Month recipe, as we hope it will inspire you to create your own seasonal bliss!

Friday, June 24, 2022

In the Field: Protea Aristata

Ready for a big “did you know” protea moment? 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.