Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fynbos: A Treasured Natural Heritage

In the early 1600’s when Dutch settlers first landed on the shores of South Africa they hoped to find wood to use for building ships, but instead what they found was short flowering shrubs. “What are we supposed to do with this?  There is nothing here but fine bush”.  This is the tale of how ‘fynbos’ got its name.

Fynbos is derived from the Dutch word fijnbosch meaning fine leaf bush. It is the name given to the special vegetation growing in the Cape that accounts for more than 80 percent of the plant species in this region of South Africa. 

These shrubby bushes were obviously not suitable for building ships, but they exhibited such an amazing diversity and rareness that this region was eventually declared one the six floral kingdoms of the world!  Although by far the world’s smallest Floral Kingdom, it is the most diverse with more than triple the floral species of the Amazon Jungle.  Within this 55900 mile area there are over 100 different fynbos plant families and approximately 9000 different species.  In addition, nearly 70% of these plant species are not found growing naturally anywhere else on the planet. 

Fynbos plants can be grouped into four major families:

1. Protea shrubs with large leaves

2. Flowering shrubs like heathers and erickas

3. Restoids or wiry grassy like plants

4. Geophytes or bulbous flowers and herbs

Another amazing and inspiring thing about fynbos is how it flourishes in such harsh and poor conditions.  It endures sweltering droughts, heavy winter downpours, fierce windstorms, nutrient-poor soils and wildfires and yet these cruel conditions are the nuts and bolts of its survival.

Fynbos’ fragile beauty and awesome diversity is truly a treasured natural heritage!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Flannel Flowers: A Symbol of Purity

Did you know Flannel Flowers, a popular Australian native wildflower, has became sought after as a symbol of purity in many festival and religious ceremonies?

These dainty flowers have a daisy-like appearance with a raised textured center.  Each bloom has 10 or more floppy petals that are soft and feel just like 'flannel'.  Some varieties of flannel flowers have petals with light grey-green tips, but for the most part, the flowers are white.  The leaves are silver-grey and velvety in texture as well. 

When these fabulous flowers are mixed into bouquets or designs along with protea, grevillea, fillers flowers, leucadendron or eucalyptus they add a unique touch of sophistication, elegance and purity.

What to look for:
  • Buy when flowers are half to fully open and have a fluffy appearance.
  • Avoid bunches with droopy brown tips.

Flower Care:
  1. Keep cool at all times.
  2. Strip leaves from the bottom half of each stem and wash thoroughly.
  3. Re-cut at lest 1/4" off each stem and place in cold water.
  4. Always use a preservative as this will help the buds to open.
  5. Replace water every 1 to 2 days.
  6. To dry, hang upside down in a well ventilated room.

Interesting Facts: 

The 'flannel-like' texture of this flower is due to a film of fine hairs that cover the whole plant. The hairs reduce the loss of water from the plant, protecting it during times of drought.

The Flannel Flower has been chosen as Australia's national symbol to promote mental health awareness because of its inherent beauty and strength.  Several varieties are commonly found growing wild in the bush throughout Australia.  The Flannel Flower, as with all native Australian plants, needs to be adaptable and enduring in order to survive.

The flowering heads can be cut off and placed in a bowl of water.  Treated in this way these 'floaters' will last considerably longer.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Flower Trends: Confetti

What comes to mind when you think of 'Confetti'?  Small pieces or streamers of paper, plastic, mylar or metallic material which are usually thrown at parades, New Year's celebrations or weddings? 

Did you know this year Confetti is also a flower trend?  Yes, according to the Flower Trends Forecast: A Publication from of International Floral Distributors, Inc (IFD), "The Confetti event is colorful and joyful.  The expressiveness of bright hues and bold patterns create unending unique combinations that shout fun!  Tangerine, fuchsia, bright green and sunshine yellow are all part of the colors of Confetti and reflect the playful, fun personality of the event's host.  Gerbera daisies, poppies, dahlias, carnations, mums, pincushion protea and gloriosa lilies in bright colors create the expressive explosion of Confetti." 

With that colorful, joyful and fun description in mind, I felt inspired to share some of our favorite flowers and foliage that definitely create 'an expression of explosion' in any bouquet or design!

So, as they say at IFD, "Make it bright, make it playful, make it confetti." Enjoy!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Protea Attraction

Despite being our favorite flower, proteas have never received the same amount of love and attention as they have in recent years - this 'protea attraction' has become particularly evident when it comes to weddings. 

However, they're not only catching the attention of brides, the ability of protea to attract nectar-seeking birds is one of their greatest advantages. In South Africa’s Cape Floral Kingdom protea are primarily bird-pollinated, and it is common to see the beaks and heads of birds covered in pollen that is being efficiently transferred between flowers. 

In addition, protea are an excellent food source, especially over the long winter months. In the Cape Floral Region, Cape Sugarbirds are seldom found far from the Proteaceae, especially in the early morning when nectar flows in abundance attracting a multitude of insects which in turn attract the Sugarbirds. Each bird has its own personal bush which it guards jealously from the other Sugarbirds. For the artist or photographer, these birds are a welcome subject since they do not flee at the sight of a human being. 

Protea have not only caught the eye of wedding photographers - check out these great nature shots! 

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Tinus Lamperecht


Ismael Resendiz

Diana Roy

Andi Wolfe

Greg Miles

Australian Plant Society