Since it got frosty the summer blooms have finished at Cherry Road Flowers and Bellfrey Flower Farm. For now farmers, Claire, Dot and Nev, are waiting for their winter bulbs to come on.
Meanwhile, at Fair Food we’ve been on the lookout for banksias and proteas and have finally found Anna and Ray, owners of 302 Flower Farm in Gisborne.
When I call Anna, the first question I ask is how the weather’s been?
Anna says she’s never seen anything like this week’s storm.
Perched 600 metres up in the Macedon Ranges, she and husband, Ray, had front row seats to what felt like a tornado hit their house.
Around the farm Anna says some plants were stripped bare and ten large trees, including some of her original protea plantings, came down or were crushed under other fallen trees.
A few days later and Anna’s amazed at how well most things have come back – plants are incredibly resilient, she says.
Almost thirty years ago before they became flower farmers, Anna and Ray were teachers living in suburban Avondale Heights.
On a weekend drive up Mt Gisborne Rd Anna and Ray noticed the incredible view out their back window. When they turned back they immediately saw a for sale sign in front of them – it was number 302 Mt Gisborne Rd.
Anna remembers falling in love with the place that day and when they were back in Avondale Heights she couldn’t stop thinking about being back up there.
To save for their deposit they moved back in with her parents.
When they finally shifted into their 80’s brown brick farmhouse Anna was pregnant with their first of their two sons.
A love of gardening dictated Anna and Ray’s decision to farm flowers.
Lack of water dictated whatever they grew had to be hardy.
A neighbour had thriving proteas – so that’s what they planted.
I ask if the flowers attracted a lot of native birds
Anna laughs and remembers a flock of cockatoos eating 75% of her protea flowers in an afternoon, but then quickly recovering within a few weeks.
They’re amazing plants – they just survive. I love watching them regenerate.”
Anna explains her garden’s renewal is an ongoing reminder to stay hopeful, she also believes gardens are emotionally regenerative.
“A garden frees your head and helps you breathe. ”
When I ask if there a farming book that’s been influential on her approach and philosophy Anna thinks for a bit but instead nominates her parents.
“They were Greek and believed in returning nature to nature – composting scraps, collecting seed, reusing things”
We have a laugh as she describes her parents philosophy as – “The recycle of life.”
“As a kid I thought they did these things because we were poor, but it was actually because they had an understanding that all things had value and should be respected.”
I ask how this plays out in 302’s chemical-free bee-friendly approach.
“My dad had bees – he got me interested and now my sons are into bees too. It’s a wonderful relationship; we feed the plants, the plants feed the bees, the bees feed us.”
Anna says 302 Flowers are busy year round with Proteas, Banksias, Billy Buttons, Leucadendrons Chrysanthemums, Salvia, Scabosa, Agastache, Hellebores, Daffodils and so much more.
Anna says she grows flowers that interest her – her bouquets are a reflection of her passion and closeness with her garden.
My mother talked to plants and so do I. I love plants and when I grow a plant I have a relationship with it.”
From this Wednesday Anna and Rays flowers will be on sale in the webshop – you can find them here. Bunches are limited so be quick.
And remember set your shopping cart for a Wednesday delivery and they’ll appear in stock.
My final question was for Anna’s advice on how we can take best care of her flowers.
Her advice was:
– snip the stem end on a 45 angle
– make sure no foliage is under the waterline
– keep flowers out of direct sunlight or heat
– change the water every 2nd day
Have a great week