Thursday, June 20, 2024

Banksia Robur


Banksia-obsessed? Maybe a little... 😊 (Hard not to be with so many wonderful species to choose from right now!)

And like clockwork… just before the summer solstice, we’re starting to see some Banksia robur or also called Swamp Banksia and Broad-Leaved Banksia.

These showy, tightly packed metallic, greenish-blue & purple blooms embody the signature qualities of this protea genus, a bottlebrush or spike-like inflorescence with hundreds of tiny flowers. The leaves are large, with toothed margins, glossy green above and light green beneath. The name robur is Latin meaning “strength” which likely refers to the robust nature of the plant or its large leaves.

Originating from the Central and North Coasts of NSW and Southern Queensland, this species is found in swamp or wetland regions (hence the name) and it's often the most visible plants... due to its size. Robur is easy to grow and makes a nice addition to a garden, as long as it has adequate water and plenty of room to spread out in the full sun.


Creating an eye-catching summer arrangement with robur is simple when mixed with other similar hued and textured florals. In this design, robur is the main focal flower and the leucadendron, leucospermum, kangaroo paws, grevillea and eucalyptus along with a few calla and rose stems blend beautifully and render a unique and exotic vibe.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Star-Spangled 4th of July Flowers


Beautiful centerpieces are a lot like wonderful guests. They add a festive ambiance, entice the eye, and spark interesting and inspiring conversations. With the summer’s abundance of fabulous florals, anyone can easily assemble an arrangement that's dynamic, alluring and intriguing.

Consider hosting a 4th of July gathering and set the scene with a colorful arrangement fashioned with proteas and an array of other flowers and foliage. The good old red, white and blue is a classic color combination that will never go out of style, especially if your gathering is on Independence Day. Take this arrangement for instance, the patriotic color scheme is vibrant and cheerful, and the textures convey a real “Star-Spangled Banner” theme.

The Leucospermum Scarlet Ribbon are the fireworks in this design and the white King Protea along with the Leucadendron Safari Sunset add color and contrast. Stems of Grevillea Ivanhoe and eucalyptus provide a lush green foundation. And, for a spirited touch, I’ve mingled in some spiky blue Eryngium or Sea Holly and sprigs of white Lepto Roundifolia and Jasmine Vine.


Why not compliment this year’s firework celebration with your favorite red, white and blue flowers? They'll add an extra special spark to the day and help create lasting and memorable moments for your friends and families. Happy 4th of July!

Friday, May 31, 2024

Designing with King Protea


King Protea are awe-inspiring flowers, bursting with texture and perfect for designing. From stunning hand-tied bouquets to elaborate centerpieces and displays, these amazing blooms add a regal twist to designs. California King season peaks from April through June, during which time these blooms are at their showiest and most spectacular.


It makes sense, then, that few things say spring like Kings, and I thoroughly enjoy designing with them when the occasion arises. The key is to create an arrangement that highlights the character of the King you are using. This particular design features an array of seasonal proteas that complement the beauty and majestic form of the King. The Flame Giants + Brandi dela Cruz along with some Ashbyi, Pink Duke, Linifolia and Ivanhoe add vibrant color and texture, while the Rotundifolia and eucalyptus provide a welcome contrast. And, for a spirited touch, I added a little spiky Eryngium or Sea Holly. The main thing is to pay attention to the King’s shape, color, and natural tendencies—and work from there to create an arrangement that fully complements the character and beauty of the flower.


Materials 

  • Leucospermum ‘pincushion’ Flame Giant and Brandi dela Cruz 
  • Banksia Ashbyi
  • Protea Pink Duke 
  • Leucadendron Linifolia 
  • Grevillea Ivanhoe 
  • Lepto Rotunifolia or Blue Lepto 
  • Eucalyptus Parvifolia 
  • Eryngium or Sea Holly Big Blue
  • Round ceramic container 
  • Floral Foam or poultry netting 
  • Clippers

Steps 

  1. Place the floral form or poultry netting in your container and secure with floral tape.
  2. Begin designing your arrangement by creating a base of Grevillea Ivanhoe and eucalyptus Parvifolia.
  3. Place the King Protea off center in the container. 
  4. Continue to build around the King with the Leucospermum, Leucadendron, Protea and Banksia. 
  5. Once you have a nice base and shape, insert the Blue Lepto. Make sure to cut the stems at an angle to allow maximum water absorption. 
  6. For the final touch, use a stem of Sea Holly to bridge the color palette of the arrangement.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Rotundifolia


Looking for alternatives to Chamelaucium or commonly called waxflower? We've got you covered! Consider Lepto Rotundifolia, a member of the Myrtle family and related to clove, eucalyptus, and guava. This Australian native filler flower is often referred to as Blue Lepto or Lavender Queen, and blooms in late spring when it’s waxflower relative is finishing up for the season.



With long woody stems that produce clusters of lavender blooms, Rotundifolia complements the beauty of proteas as well as other seasonal flowers. It’s versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. The long stems are excellent for adding line to an arrangement and are especially chic in oriental and contemporary designs. Rotundifolia stems can also be shaped into decorative handles for baskets, added to dish gardens or simply placed in a bud vase as a charming accent flower.

What to look for

  • Buy stems in the bud stage to ensure the longest vase life. 
  • Avoid bunches that are shedding or flowers that are turning brown. 

Flower Care 

  1. Stems should be re-cut with pruning shears. The stems are very woody and may be tough to re-cut, but worth the effort as it will increase longevity. 
  2. Place stems loosely in a bucket of flower food solution and place in a cool place where they will get good air circulation. 
  3. Rotundifolia has a vase life of 7-14 days.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Praemorsa – Cut-leaf Banksia


We’re turning up the texture with the exquisite Praemorsa or Cut-leaf Banksia!


Wow… texture in this banksia isn’t just limited to the flower, check out the foliage as well! Praemorsa leaves are firm and leathery, with toothed margins and truncated or cut ends (hence the name). The bloom which is often seen in spring consists of hundreds of individual flowers growing out of a woody 10” long and 3” wide spike. And the colors... a wine-red bloom with tips in a blue-green and the grey-green foliage adds even more character to this superb banksia.




After flowering the bloom then turns into a hard cone of follicles that store several winged seeds. The follicles can take years to mature and open, usually needing a fire or a long drying out period. Once seeds are freed, they typically take 30 to 49 days to germinate, and four to five years (plus lots of patience) before you ever see a bloom.


A lovely reminder of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famed words, "Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience." And yes, praemorsa’s amazing textures and true beauty are certainly worth the wait!

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

In Celebration of Earth Month - The Hummingbird


Despite being stunning cut flowers, proteas not only add color and texture to floral designs, but they also attract a symphony of nature's nectar-seeking guests like birds, bees, and butterflies. Once you've had the pleasure of observing these pollinators in action, it's only natural to want to see them more often, like my favorite... the hummingbird.

Hummingbirds love proteas thanks to the flower's abundance of both pollen and nectar, especially over the long winter months. The small size, rapid wingbeats, mid-air acrobatics, and hovering flight are fascinating to witness. During courtship dives a hummingbird can reach speeds up to 60 miles per hour and can average speeds of 20 to 30 miles per hour. It can rotate its wings in a circle and it's the only bird that can fly forward, backward, up, down, and sideways. Such high-energy movement requires that these birds feed every ten to fifteen minutes, and proteas certainly satisfy that hunger. These amazing pollinators bring so much excitement and wonder to the field.

Our top 3 Hummingbird-Friendly proteas….


Grevillea Flowers


Leucospermum – Pincushions


Protea

Monday, April 29, 2024

Proteas: Think Twice Before You Fertilize


Did you know California is one of five Mediterranean-climate regions on the earth where proteas are grown? It’s true! And since springtime is a popular planting time… I have an important growing tip for you.


These amazing plants are cherished for their exotic flowers and foliage that symbolize diversity and resilience. Thanks to their wide variety and low maintenance, proteas can easily be grown in California and bring long-lasting color year after year.


When it comes to resilience, proteas are notorious for thriving in poor, infertile soils. Why? They have ‘cluster’ roots that benefit from nutrients released from decomposing leaves. What’s intriguing is their ability to access enough phosphorus when there is very little available. It’s due to the citrate acid that is released by their roots and is bound to the soil. The citrate frees the phosphorus allowing it to be taken up by the roots. Proteas are very sensitive to phosphorus, and so phosphorus fertilizers can be deadly. Most plants stop absorbing phosphorus when they have their fill, but proteas don’t know when to stop. They take it all… making them sick to the point of dying.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Here Come the Leucospermum


Are you ready for the excitement of Leucospermum? It’s time to breathe more life into your spring arrangements with these fanciful blooms.

These fanciful Leucospermum plants bring so much pleasure to our hearts during this time of the year. The vibrant red, orange, peach, yellow and bi-colored 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 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 designs. They’re gorgeous when flaunted on their own, however, when mingled with other proteas… they make for a breathtaking display!


Saturday, March 30, 2024

Isopogon


What could be more magical than seeing winter turn to spring? Isopogon celebrates the transition with us. This member of the Australia Proteaceae family consists of over 34 species plus, three varieties. In Western Australia Isopogon are often referred to as cone flowers, while in the eastern states they’re known as drumsticks.


These unique looking spring flowers, born as a solid cone with the blooms spiraling from and surrounding the central cone, look like petite pinwheels. Like many proteas, Isopogon flowers are made up of many flowers that open from the outside in. Its stems are woody, and leaves are green, pointed and surround the flowers at their base.




What to look for

  • Buy when the outer flowers in each flower head are opening. 
  • Avoid bunches with brown tips on the flowers and with yellow leaves.

Flower Care

  1. Keep cool. 
  2. Strip leaves from the bottom half of each stem. 
  3. Re-cut at least 1/4” off each stem and place in cold water. 
  4. Use a preservative as this will help keep open flowers looking fresh. 
  5. Replace water frequently.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Easter Inspiration: Proteaceae


Spring is here and Easter is just days away! Out of all the holidays, Easter has the most vibrant seasonal proteas to choose from. There's just something about this stunning family of flowers that makes my heart swoon and skip a beat.

So, get ready! After filling Easter baskets and planning the ultimate egg hunt, you'll want to create a festive protea centerpiece of your own. And springtime offers the most abundant array of proteaceae like Leucospermum, Leucadendron, Banksia, Isopogon, Protea and textural Grevillea flowers + foliage. Some of my favorite designs don't require fancy containers, utilizing a galvanized bucket, wicker basket, ceramic bowl or wooden box will suffice when you have such eye-catching blooms to showcase. And you can use your centerpiece as inspiration for your table settings and other floral arrangements on display around your home.

The best part? Proteas make great ‘leftovers’ as they will last for weeks after the celebration, and many will dry beautifully... so they can be enjoyed for years. To fully round out your Easter decor, get inspired by these arrangements.





Thursday, February 29, 2024

Spring Protea Pairings


Ready to add allure to your day and seasonal decor? You're in luck. With Leucospermum ‘pincushions’ turning a centerpiece into mesmerizing display is a breeze. Especially right now as they’re zooming into bloom, and there's so many amazing varieties to choose from. This arrangement features Sunrise that flaunts two lovely shades of orange, and Tango that boasts a bend of red and orange. Both pincushions pair perfectly with protea Nitida and Grandicolor, the textural banksia and vibrant flowering Leucadendron. And, for a playful touch, a few stems of yellow Grevillea flowers and Ivanhoe are mingled into the fushion.





The results make for a vivacious centerpiece with a tropical-feel and put a spring-ready twist on these amazing proteas. The orange and neutral shade palette adds a sense of softness that resonates with springtime and the new beginnings.

Materials
  • Leucospermum ‘pincushion’ Sunrise and Tango 
  • Banksia Candles and Integrifolia 
  • Protea Grandicolor 
  • Protea Nitida 
  • Grevillea flowers 
  • Grevillea Ivanhoe 
  • Leucadendron Maui Sunset and Red Devil 
  • Eucalyptus Pavifolia 
  • Round ceramic container 
  • Clippers 
  • Waterproof floral tape
Steps
  1. Create a tape grid across the top of your vase using waterproof floral tape. 
  2. Begin designing your arrangement by creating a base of the eucalyptus Parvifolia foliage. 
  3. Continue to build the base by adding Grevillea Ivanhoe. 
  4. Once you have a nice base and shape, insert the pincushions. Make sure to cut the stems at an angle to allow maximum water absorption. 
  5. Next, insert the protea and banksia randomly around the arrangement. 
  6. Add color and a new texture with the yellow Grevillea flowers and Leucadendron.