Friday, July 28, 2023


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 (like Mimetes pictured above). 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 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 coughs and colds.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Brunia Albiflora – Coffee Bush

Whenever this beautiful botanical is seen, it is often greeted with curiosity and wonder as if it has never been seen before. The mysterious, almost alien looking Brunia albiflora is also called coffee bush and coffee-scented berzelia after its coffee scented berries or actually "small-ball shaped flowers". This single-stemmed shrub has long leafy branches with beautiful dark green foliage that resembles a pine tree but is much softer. In early summer, the berries form into tight spherical knob-like inflorescences that are clustered into flat, rounded heads in a deep green hue touched with silver.

As the season evolves the flowers start to open in a ring, starting on the outside of the berries and working inwards. Each tiny flower is about ¼” long, white with yellow stamens sticking out, giving the inflorescence a cream colored nuance.

Whether used in its berry stage or flowering, albiflora not only provides interesting texture, but it also adds a whimsical feel to designs. Plus, it blends well with most flowers (especially proteas), it's hardy and dries extremely well. And on a side note... in the Language of Flowers, it symbolize Chivalry.

What to look for:
  • If possible, buy before the flowers are open as branches with cones last longer than open flowers. 
  • Leaves should have a glossy green appearance. 
  • Avoid bunches with flowers showing brown marks.
Flower Care:
  1. Keep cool. 
  2. Strip leaves from the lower half of each stem. 
  3. Recut at least ½” off each branch and place in water. 
  4. Don’t use a preservative as this may open the flower buds. 
  5. Add a half cap of bleach to the vase. 
  6. Replace vase water with fresh water every 2 days.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Eucalyptus Macrocarpa – Mottlecah

Evergreen plants, which have flourishing leaves or needles year-round, are often the foundation of a beautiful landscape or floral arrangement. Place them in the correct spots, and you'll frame your garden or centerpiece with a natural, leafy border. Plus, since many varieties offer colorful foliage, flowers, and cones, evergreen shrubs can add color and texture to any creative endeavor.

Eucalyptus, one of my favorite evergreen plants, is a large genus of more than 700 species in the Myrtle Family. While some species are tall trees, others have a multi-stemmed shrubby tendency like the flamboyant macrocarpa or “mottlecah” (the Aussie name). This distinctive species of eucalyptus has what Australians usually refer to as a “mallee” growth habit (varieties that are multi-stemmed, grow from an underground rootstock and thrive in harsh conditions).

It’s obvious why this amazing plant is celebrated for its grayish-white or bluish-white leaves and its long, sturdy branches… they make for a stunning display both in the field and in floral designs.

The usual flowering time for macrocarpa is typically late winter through spring. For months before the flowering commences, the silver dollar sized buds are visible as white domes with pointed tips, and within is a cluster of stamens. As the stamens expand, they pop off the white cap and provide a splash of bright red and yellow. The gum nuts which follow the flowers are also an interesting feature of the tree… they’re very large and have a powdery grey covering.