Floristry Feed

Dry Your Own Flowers

Drying Botanicals
Dried Flowers
There are lots of ways to dry botanicals, (flowers, foliage, seedheads),including the use of presses, silica and commercial freeze drying but I want to share with you the gentle and the more natural way of letting your specimens slowly release the moisture of life on their own and become something that is still indicative of their living form. You will need a place that is very well ventilated, shaded to dark and cool to dry your botanicals. Hanging them upside-down in bunches is the method that suits most but make sure that flower and seed heads are not touching each other. Bind bunches no more than the thickness of two or three fingers with elastic bands that can be tightened, if need be, as the bunches dry. I use part of a patio that is rather dim and the darker areas of my garage. Some flowers need support as they dry, and a clever idea is to thread them through a soil sieve suspended from the ceiling. Another way that is popular uses wire racks. This method works best if the racks are resting on a supports or legs so that air can circulate completely around the botanical materials. Finally, the evaporation method works well for plants that need a slower process. Strip leaves from stems and place in fresh full vase of water. Place in a cool dim area and leave until water evaporates.

Grow Your Own
Although you can dry and use just about anything in your arrangements, some plants are better for the job than others. So, let’s firstly explore what you could grow in your garden. When selecting plant material, you will always find that stems that are woody rather than fleshy always dry best and will be far easier to handle and less likely to break. This list is just a tiny fraction of suitable plants and the best drying method. 

Everlasting Daisies (Xerochrysum bracteatum) Hang. Cut before flowers fully open. Banksia Evaporation or hang dry. Kangaroo Paw Hang. Cut stems low on plant. Mulla Mulla Hang. Wait until flowerhead is fully open. Billy Buttons Hang. Cut stems low.Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) Hang. Leave leaves on. Roses (Rosa spp.) Hang singularly or in bunches. Baby’s Breath(Gypsophila spp.) Evaporation method. Immortelle (Helichrysum italicum) Hang. Buds and flowers can be used. Statice (Limonium spp.) Evaporation or hanging. Harvest stems from base of plant. Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascene) Hang. Cut when flowers are in full bloom and keep leaves on. Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) Hang or flat on wire rack. Harvest when fully open. Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) Use the seed heads by cutting when they are still green and hanging to dry. Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) When flowerheads are being to die, cut stems from bottom of plant. Strip leaves and place in vase of water and let evaporate.

Only permissible on private land where you have permission. Be mindful because picking native flora is public spaces is against the law and that goes for fallen and dried materials. Stay away from roadside areas that could be sprayed with herbicides and other chemicals.
Gum Leaves (Eucalyptus spp.) This foliage makes the most beautiful draping design element which suits circles, wreaths and hanging arrangements. It can also be wired or wrapped around vines to form shapes. Harvest small branches when they have begun to naturally droop and dry themselves or have fallen. Best used when in this semi-dry state and letting dry in your display.
Ferns Cut from plant when they are beginning to lose their structure and droop. To retain their form these are best dried by pressing although some ferns do look pretty when hung to dry. They will usually curl.
Palm Leaves Collect when fresh or dried. They usually dry very well standing or hanging but if you want a bit more control, dry flat on wire racks. I personally love the stringy way the edges dry but if you prefer, you can trim the leaves to make them neater. Palm leaves make dramatic displays on their own or as background elements to other arrangements.

Interesting Botanicals

When foraging or even in your own garden, watch out for empty curled seed heads, interesting sticks and branches, withered dried stems, twisting vines and interesting seed pods. These can all add amazing texture, colour and interest to your displays. Dry out by hanging or placing on wire racks. I have also found that the flowers and seed heads of the Allium family, (garlic and chives for example), make brilliant, dried elements for your crafting. Palm inflorescence are another interesting element that you can usually spy when out and about. This is the flowering stem of palm trees and dries to look like a twisted little tree.


Dried Display and Care
The easiest way to display your dried bounty is in a vase, just as you would fresh flowers but don’t miss the opportunity to make wreaths, small posies for gift giving and even hanging dried flower ‘chandeliers’ .
Your arrangements will last a very long time but exactly how long will depend on the botanicals you used. Everything breaks down eventually and deteriorates so they won’t look perfect forever. You may find a time comes when you will need to send them off to the compost pile. To keep them looking good longer, position out of direct sunlight and away from wet or damp areas. Clean regularly with a hair dryer on the cool setting to blow off the dust and you might find a microfiber type feather duster helps with this as well.

late autumn - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via:

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 


Growing Cut Flowers



It’s been a week when the local markets have been flooded with flowers but have you considered growing your own cut flowers? Not just to fill your garden with colour, perfume and beauty but for a focused harvest? While it can be difficult to lop off the stems in your garden design, if you set up purpose-built gardens, just as you would for say veggies, then it becomes a whole lot easier to cut down bunches of flowers. Don’t get me wrong, your harvestable flower crop will still add interest and colour to your garden!
Just as you would any garden, you will need to make a plan. Factors to consider before deciding on which flowers to grow on your site include soil composition, light, access to water and possible environmental challenges such as wind and visitors that may become pests. You may find you will need to adjust the soil to suit the flower type you have your heart set on growing but as a baseline, a rich, loamy soil that is high in organic matter and free-draining will be required. Using raised garden beds, no dig mounds or just areas set aside for your cut flower growing adventure.
Cut flowers are just plants with purpose other than hanging out in your garden so a good idea is to plan for succession planting. Popular with veggie garden growing, it involves planting out the same type of seed every couple of weeks for a period of time so that come harvest you have a continuous crop and are not overwhelmed with too much of one flower. Starting seeds off in planting cells rather than directly into the ground can help protect them from pests and environmental factors. I’ve found it impossible to direct plant sunflowers for example as the birds and ground creatures simply dig them up in my garden. Getting your flowers to a sturdy seedling stage while under protection saves time and resources.
Growing Care
All plants have different growing requirements so do your research to ensure that feeding, watering and general care are maintained. You will also find that certain plants will need support via staking or a trellis and that light requirements will vary. For your own and the environment’s health, use only organic methods of pest and disease control. Following the advice for individual plant spacing, planting and care ensures healthier plants that are more resistant to challenges.
Pinching Out
How do you encourage your flowers to grow lots of blossoms? Well one way that is popular in the commercial industry is ‘pinching out’, but it can be more than a little daunting. Only suitable for some multi steamed annuals, it encourages the plant to produce more branches from its base and flowers that will also have longer stems. When your plants are over 20cm in height, take off the top 8cm just above a set of leaves. Flowers that this method is most suitable for include dahlias, cosmos, branching sunflowers, snapdragons, amaranth and zinnias. Double check first to see if this method is suitable with your flower selection.
Picking your flowers at the right time will mean that they last longer which is especially important if you are planning on giving or selling them. Harvest most before the flowers are fully opened as this will mean a longer life. Of course, it is good garden practice to leave some of your crop standing for the pollinators and for seed saving. Harvest in the early morning when flowers are most hydrated. Remove all foliage that may sit below the waterline and place them straight into a bucket of cool, clean water. Let them sit for a few hours before arranging or bundling for sale.
What to Plant Now
As we are coming into autumn the following are suggestions of what can be planted now. These are by no means the only flowers but will get you started. Plant seeds of Amaranth, Asters, Black-Eyed Susans, Chrysanthemums, Chinese Lanterns, Japanese Anemone and Sunflowers. Spring flowering bulbs can also be planted such as tulips, daffodils, jonquils, freesias, iris and hyacinth.

Growing Flowers Locally- Suzie German

One person who is growing cut flowers successfully is local Permaculture Gardener Suzie German of Hidden Valley Harvest Edible Flowers. She has a passion for edible flowers and this season is growing zinnias, marigolds, dahlias, cornflowers and snapdragons to name just a few but Suzie also reminds us of another source, “We often forget that our herbs and vegetables have flowers as well and these can all be used.” While it will depend on the season right now Suzie suggests that sunflowers can be planted now as can Zinnias. “Coming is all sorts of colours and shapes including the flashy double pom-pom zinnias or there are lower growing varieties. Just two of many that grow well here on the Central Coast” All flowers are important in the garden she says whether for eating or pleasure as that they provide an important role for the environment, especially for our pollinators. You can find Suzie on Facebook: Hidden Valley Harvest Edible Flowers.

Bell’s Killcare Garden Tours 11.00am - 12.00pm. Friday 24th February. We invite you to meander through our abundant kitchen gardens with Megan, whilst learning about our organic growing techniques, Closed Loop Composting System, and see what we have growing and why! $15 per person includes a coffee/tea & pastry from Bells Bakery on arrival. Bookings essential and numbers limited to small groups. For further details or to book: email [email protected] or phone 4349-7000 
Come and Share My Garden
, Niagara Park. 10 – 11am Saturday 25th February. $15 per person. Join Carin Clegg, Dietitian and Eco-Warrior in a short tour of her permaculture designed garden. There is a lot to see and talk about so discussion will be guided on the group. You will get a few packets of seeds and plant cuttings of your choice. Bring your own jar if you would like to take home some plant cuttings. A share table will be available so please bring any garden related items you wish to give away, share or swap. Plant sales will be available by cash sales only. Address will be emailed to you prior to the event. Info and booking call Carin on 0407 492 278
Woy Woy Produce Swap 10 – 11am 26th February, Woy Woy Peninsula Community Garden. 85 -87 Moana Street Woy Woy. It is a very casual affair and nobody keeps score. By bringing your produce you are saying that you are happy for other swappers to take what they need because it is excess to your needs. It is simply a way of sharing the food you have grown with the fellow growers in your neighbourhood and a great way to meet local gardeners.

Late Summer Temperate Gardens
This week you could plant: culinary herbs, beans (dwarf), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages,  carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions (spring), parsnips, peas, potatoes (tubers), radishes, rhubarb (crowns), salsify, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, turnips, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, cineraria, coneflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria,  lobelia, lupin, nasturtium, nigella, pansy, poppy  (Iceland), primula, statice, stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn writes the 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper each week and this originally appeared in The Coast News as below: 
NEWS cut flowers

Cheralyn Darcey is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3, on air locally or streaming by asking ‘play coastfm963’ Archived articles:
Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]


Gardening Book Review:A Lavender Affair by Marian French


Book review French

A Lavender Affair by Central Coast author Marian French
ISBN: 9781922444998 Shawline Publishing 2021

Chatting with author Marian French was a delight as she guided me through the creation of this precious historical reference and personal journal about one of the garden’s most beloved flowers, the lavender.

A garden reference book that is also filled with Marion’s insights, observations, and obvious love of the garden. The gorgeous illustrations by Robin Ross bring to life Marion’s warmth and make this a lovely addition to any gardener’s library. “A gardening book, yes,” Marian explains. “but with interspersed stories and trials that were encountered as we restored a derelict farmhouse and establish a flower farm.

Along the way, we met with tentative locals, dealt with perverse builders and ventured into beekeeping!” A Lavender Affair is the story of an Australian gardener, a Central Coast gardener, with a wealth of botanical wisdom and a lifetime of caring for our environment that makes her book a stand out in the historical memoir field but also a valuable resource for those wishing to perhaps grow their own patch of lovely lavender.

Say it with Flowers

Red roses for love, yellow ones for friendship and daisy to wish happiness but did you know that all flowers have meanings, and they are not all that hard to find? You may be growing them, or plan to or maybe just want to grab a bunch to share or enjoy so this week, let’s explore the fascinating Language of Flowers.
People of the Victorian period (1837-1901) made the 'language' of flowers extremely popular. Blooms were used for secret messages between friends and lovers, and even between enemies. It was a time when communication between each other was dictated by social standing and the expected morals of the day played a huge part. The Language of Flowers was used as a code, to pass these messages on to each other. Flowers were also used in their jewellery, furnishings, artworks, textiles, and in gardens and floral displays. Not many not many people of the Victorian era would dream of organising a dinner centrepiece without careful consideration of the meanings of each blossom.

In Victorian times it was that fascination with the connection of science and nature, along with the arts that helped them explore these meanings, which had related to herbalism for centuries. The way a flower and its plant looked, smelt, tasted, its medicinal properties, all of these things lead to defined ‘meanings’. In the past the meanings of flowers were commonly known because people lived within nature but these days, unfortunately, the closest that many come to, for example, a chamomile flower will be chopped up in a tea blend.

The messages of flowers or even just their presence is comforting in times of grief and stress. Personally, I had a really hard time when my grandmother passed away as we were very close. Coincidently I was making a military house move of my own at the time and the new home had a horribly barren backyard, except for one plant. It was a gardenia, her favourite flower. So, whether a coincidence or just that my heart was looking for comfort, seeing that divine white flower in this rather empty garden was such a huge comfort to me.

When it comes to love, picking flowers that express your admiration for someone, longing and passion would naturally entail flowers that were precious, perhaps rare, red of colour to indicate passion, sweet smelling to swoon the recipient and the meanings that the accepted ‘language of flowers’ of your era and area had already bestowed would make it a lot easier to get it right. Important if you were wooing the person of your dreams and didn’t have the skills of the written word or might upset the etiquette of the time.

How to Buy Flowers
When choosing a bunch of blooms for someone else, it is important to think of them for a minute before walking into a florist's shop. A problem with most people is they choose what they like, not what would suit the other person’s taste or needs. A simple way to get this right is to look towards the recipient's personality. If they have a bright and happy personality or they are feeling sick or a bit down, maybe a bunch of sunflowers would be fantastic. They mean power, strength, happiness, and good health. Now you could google this or look it up in a book but just look at them! They look like big bright happy suns and that’s exactly what they mean.
Flowers 4
Although you may want to say I love you this week, this handy reference guide will help you connect with other flowers and their meanings. You can give them to others, buy or even better, grow them for yourself.

New Job - Delphiniums mean new opportunities, possibilities and even leadership, so they are good to use as gifts or decoration when seeking a new job as well as celebrating landing one.

Get Well - Sunflowers are wonderful flowers for those who are unwell or facing health challenges. They mean strength, happiness, confidence and generally "get well soon".

Birthday - Gerberas are the perfect birthday flower. They mean happiness, celebration, appreciation and wishes for a happy life.

New Home - Cornflowers are wonderful to add to an occasion celebrating a new home because they speak of protection, new home blessings and new friendships.

Funeral - These are very personal occasions, but should you wish to give flowers which offer support then heartsease are a compassionate way to say that you are thinking of those affected and that you are there for them.

Wedding - If you would like to give flowers to someone to celebrate news of a wedding then you might consider a flowering cactus. They mean love which will always endure.

The Meanings of a Few Popular Flowers

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus): get well, strength, happiness, confidence

Red Rose (Rosa):  love, courage, respect, passion, lust, relationship, beauty

White Rose (Rosa): truth, honesty, purity, protection

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus): victory, support, vitality, independence

Dahlia (Dahlia): encouragement, dignity, generosity, faith, resiliency

Violet (Viola): faithfulness, answers within, subconscious, modesty

Pink Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus): love, encouragement, gratitude

Daffodil ((Narcissus pseudonarcissus): hope, inspiration, respect, renewal

Red Tulip (Tulipa): desire, passion, declaration of love, belief

Peony (Paeonia officinalis): happy marriage, honour, wealth, health, nobility

The Language of Australian Flowers

While the traditional Victorian Language of Flowers focuses on blossoms that were popular in the Northern Hemisphere, a close study of the botanical history of the plant and ethnobotany, (the uses humans have made of plants) can reveal to us the meanings of any flower and plant, including our Australian Natives. For example, a bright bunch of Billy Buttons (Pycnosorus globosus), are the perfect way to say sorry. A pathway lined with Bottlebrush is perfect for busy families to walk through before coming into the home to leave the troubles of the day behind them. 


Banksia (Banksia spp.) “I love being with you”, “Congratulations”

Boronia (Boronia spp.) “Good luck in your exams”, “Can we work this out?”

Billy Buttons (Pycnosorus globosus) “I’m sorry”, “I want to begin again”

Everlasting Daisy (Rhodanthe spp.) “I’d like to be your friend”, “I hope this last forever”

Flannel Flower (Atinotus helianthin) “I love you”, “I trust you”

Flowering Gum (Eucalyptus spp.) “Get well soon”, “I will not do it again”

Geraldton Wax (Chamelaucium spp.) “You can do this”, “Be mine” 

Grevillea (Grevillea spp.) “Good luck”, “I wish you well in the future”

Gymea Lily (Doryanthes excelsa) “I believe in you”, “I’m proud of you”

Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos spp.) “Please forgive me”, “I forgive you”

Mulla Mulla (Ptilotus spp.)”Bon voyage”, “I wish you well in the future”

Waratah (Telopea spp.) “I wish you strength”, “I am by your side” 

Wattle (Acacia spp.) “Congratulations”, “You make me happy”

You & Your Garden
How Do I Make My Cut Flowers Last?

How-to-make-cut-flowers-last-longer-2-copyWendy of Long Jetty asked me this week via social media and whether they are cut from your garden or bought from one of our lovely florists, we all want the love to last as long as possible. As soon as you receive your flowers, remove all foliage from the stems that will sit below the waterline in a vase. Rinse the stems and cut on an angle. Place away from full, direct sunlight and heat and away from drafts. Change water every second day, remove any dead flowers and recut stems that look dried.

You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, beans, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, marrow, mustard, onions (spring), parsnip, potato tubers, radish, rhubarb crowns, salsify, silverbeet, swede, sweetcorn, turnips, zucchinis, ageratum, alyssum, boronia, begonia, calendula, cleome, cyclamen, forget-me-not, nasturtium, pansy, poppy (Iceland), stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Down in the Garden is looking for Central Coast gardeners who would like to share their garden with us.We are particularly looking for: Home Nursery Businesses, Hanging Basket Gardens, Water Feature Gardens, School/Children Gardeners, Commercial Kitchen Gardens, Medicinal Plant Gardeners but all gardens and gardeners are welcome to have a chat with Cheralyn: 0408105864

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden coordinator and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963. She is also co-host of @MostlyAboutPlants a weekly botanical history & gardening podcast with Victoria White.

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]


Article first published in Central Coast Newspapers - The Coast News and The Chronicle 

Beautiful Australian Native Orchids

With over 800 species and around ten new plants discovered each year, there will be an Aussie Native Orchid I’m sure you will fall in love with! For cultural and showing purposes, Australian Native Orchids are placed into one of two groups. The first being the most popular with home gardeners and collectors for their relative ease of care. Accounting for around 25% of the native orchid population, this group is known as the ‘Epiphyte Orchids’. These grow upon trees and rocks. In botanical terms, a plant growing upon rock void of soil is further classified as a ‘Lithophyte’.
Orchids 1

The second group, the ‘Terrestrial Orchids’ makes up the rest of the population, which is 75% and although this group is much larger, it isn’t always as well represented in collections as they can be a lot more difficult to cultivate, and many are extremely rare to begin with. As their name suggests, they grow upon the ground.

Central Coast Native Orchids
What’s even more exciting is discovering and growing our own local orchids. These will be easier to care for and the success rate of cultivation will also be higher in general because they are at home here. Still, you will need to be mindful of their ‘micro-environmental’ needs. Just because it is a plant that is native to this area, doesn’t mean it can grow as happily in a shaded mountain-area as it will on the windswept full-sun coast.

Here are a few locals you might like to try growing at your place:

Tree Spider Orchid (Dendrobium tetragonum) grows naturally in trees and upon rocks along small, shaded waterways. In your garden, you will need a semi-shaded, sheltered moist spot. Expect the highly fragrant, spider-like flowers to appear in the springtime.  You will need good air circulation, and although it can be grown in a pot, does a lot better when mounted in a tree or upon a board. Keep moist throughout the year but a lot drier in the winter months.

Ironbark Orchid (Dendrobium aemulum) likes to grow on Eucalyptus trees but if you are growing in pots, use a course, loose bark and make sure that you keep the roots covered. Flowers are a brilliant white that turn pink as they are spent. It’s a late winter through to early spring bloomer which delights with a divine soft fragrance. They are happy in the heat, prefer some humidity but also need very good airflow. Ironbark orchids prefer full sun but will tolerant some shade. Ensure the medium is kept moist but be aware that they don’t like to be overwatered at all. A free-flowing growing medium is super important with this orchid.

Rock Orchid (Dendrobium speciosum) would have to be my favourite orchid. It grows as both an epiphyte and a terrestrial and is rather drought and heat tolerant. They must have good air-circulation and you should give them semi-shade, but they will enjoy full sun from late autumn and then throughout the winter. Rock Orchid likes to grow in a course bark, pine bark is recommended, and watering should be monitored because they easily fall victim to root rot if water is left to pool. As a general guide: water every 3 to 4 days in summer, decreasing to once every week or 10 days in the colder months.

How to Grow Epiphytes & Lithophytes
First, find a tree! No tree or desire to grow your orchid in a tree? That’s ok, you can simply use old branches, sticks and even rocks artfully placed in pots. Under this structure, you will need a medium and that is not going to be soil. Your epiphytes will recoil in horror if you plant them in dirt so fill your pot with a chunky medium like bark chips, gravel or charcoal. There are specialty orchid growing mediums which are made up of these things and having a look at them will give you the idea or a solution.

This is rather general advice so make sure you seek out individual care tips for your species. Feed your orchid with a specialised orchid fertiliser but at half strength, (because this is a native plant), from mid spring until mid-autumn. You will find that most of this type of orchid need daily watering through the hottest summer months then a couple of times a week in mild weather, to once a fortnight through the winter months.

Got a tree? Maybe a big rock in the garden? Just tie your orchid to it. Follow the rest of the instructions I have given but also make sure the position suits the species you have chosen. One tip I will share with you, don’t tie that orchid to a Paperbark Tree or other bark shedder.

How to Grow Terrestrial Orchids
For the strong of heart and the patient, these orchids will give you a challenge. I like to enjoy them out there in the bush, but if you want to give them a go, a good starting point is the Donkey Orchid species (Duris spp.) of which there are many, but all have a pair of distinctive ear-like petals. These are an easier than most terrestrial orchid to grow. All terrestrial orchids will need a situation on par with most native plants and if growing in a pot, use 3 parts Australian Native Potting Mix to one part perlite to increase drainage. Many terrestrial orchids are deciduous and will die back to their underground tubers in summer and flower from very early spring. Water well during the growing period but most need you to stop completely when they die back.

Looking for More Native Orchid Adventures?
Go for a walk in our natural bushland and see if you can spot some Aussie Natives but only take photos, not flowers or plants. Not only is it illegal, but you will also be contributing to the extinction of our flora. If you are interested in exploring more about legally collecting and growing these beauties of the bush, get in touch with a local Native Orchid group. One that services the Central Coast is: the Australasian Native Orchid Society, Central Coast and they meet on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the Narara Valley Community Centre. for more information. Also check out the umbrella Australasian Native Orchid Society Website: The Australasian Native Orchid Society is dedicated to ‘promoting the understanding and appreciation of orchids growing naturally not only in Australia, but also neighbouring New Zealand, New Guinea and the adjacent western Pacific.’ The society members enjoy a type of plant-fellowship that includes breeding of species and sub-species, shows, culture, education, and field work.

Guide to Native Orchids of NSW and ACT

By Lachlan M. Copeland, Gary N. Backhouse
ISBN: 9781486313686 Published by CSIRO January 2022
Orchid book
Even if you never grow an orchid in your life, this book is for all the plant curious out there. With 582 species along with over 600 stunning photographs to discover within its pages this is an invaluable field guide to an often-overlooked plant out there in the Australian wilds. As a garden writer, I can attest to the fact that many are not familiar with the native orchids of our land and don’t recognise what they may come across. Come and explore these beauties from all environments, even the mysterious underground orchids. Personally, I think every home should have this guide and I might be right as it seems to be selling out quickly!

You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, beans, beetroot, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, marrow, mustard, onions (spring), parsnip, potato tubers, radish, rhubarb crowns, salsify, silverbeet, swede, sweetcorn, turnips, zucchinis, ageratum, alyssum, boronia, begonia, calendula, cleome, cyclamen, forget-me-not, nasturtium, pansy, poppy (Iceland), stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden coordinator and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963. She is also co-host of @MostlyAboutPlants a weekly botanical history & gardening podcast with Victoria White.

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]
This article first appeared in Central Coast Newspapers ( The Coast News and The Chronicle)

Learn Green Witch Gardening Online with Cheralyn Darcey

Green witch garden sq

Learn Green Witch Gardening and how to Create a Home Apothecary​ Online 
lifetime access online
 with ethnobotanical gardener, author and artist Cheralyn Darcey


begins 1st March 2020
​(start anytime thereafter and complete at your own pace) very special early bird enrolment $66US booking now
with Instagram code:
(code expires end of first week of Feb) 

No experience is needed. 
Content is suitable for enjoyment and knowledge no matter current garden setup. 
Suitable for indoor or outdoor plants. 

Work at your own pace with information that is relevant anywhere and any climate in the

Garden Design with Magick
​You will learn how to plan and design a beautiful garden space (indoors or out) while learning magical correspondences that will empower, protect and boost the energies you will be working with.
​Plant, Grow, Nurture
Lessons to help you start, renovate and get your garden growing with plants you can use for healing, magick and culinary purposes, all grown naturally by you. 
Cheralyn elder

Create A Home Apothecary
Learn how to best gather and preserve your harvest and where to obtain additional items to create your personal at home Magickal Apothecary.

The Language of Sunflowers

My first Sunflower of the season!
Sunflower 1

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) will assist you in finding happiness and focusing on it. Sunflower will also support those who require additional strength and resolution at the moment. Self-esteem boost.

Language of Flowers Oracle:
A turn in fortune is indicated and a chance to mend matters of the heart as well. Friends could be very helpful and projects which require groups who are in some way connected through friendship or a mutual passion for the subject are also indicated.
Masculine and patriarchal connections are very strong when any Sunflower is showing it's energies to you.

Flower Lore:
Many myths, legends and stories (early references outside of the Americas) which speak of the sunflower are actually speaking of other flowers (such as marigold) which are also Heliotropic (follow the sun) although, Helianthus annuus is not truly Heliotropic. Young plants do follow the sun in their development but once the flower blooms, you will find they forever face the rising sun direction.
The Incas worshiped the Sunflower and it is believed this is because they found magick in it's geometry. Indications of sunflower are found in abundance in their temples and spiritual artworks.
It is said that if you wish to find the truth in a situation, you can sleep with a fresh sunflower under your pillow or bed and it will come to you.
Pick a sunflower right at sunset and make a wish to have out granted before the sun goes down the following day.

Gardening Notes:
Depicted in this card is a Wild Sunflower which is distinguished from it's domesticated sibling by it's branched stem and multiple flower heads. If you do obtain seeds from a Wild Sunflower, growing notes are the same.Although they will grow in part shade you really will do best planting them out in a full sun position with a loamy soil.
Plant your seeds after the danger of frost has passed in early Spring. I plant every 4 weeks a few times over so I have a summer full of sunflowers. Feed every few weeks.

bunches of love,
Cheralyn🌻 xx

card: the Language of Flowers @rockpoolpublishing @weiserbooks

🌸 Flower of the Day ~ Jasmine (Jasminum spp.)

Found - The Flower of the Day

Jasmine (Jasminum spp.) will assist you in succeeding. Perhaps one of the best flowers in fact to align with if you are finding sticking with goals, promises, commitments or staying on course at all challenging. Very supportive of those who feel they have lost hope with something. Jasmine naturally attracts financial gain as well so is really good to have around if you need a boost. The flower is a powerful aphrodisiac and assists to attract love.

🌸 Flower of the Day ~ Chrysanthemum


For longevity, optimism, joy, longevity and cheerfulness
the glorious Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum spp.) 
They are the national flower of Japan, the birth flower of the zodiac sign Scorpio, the flower of the month of October in Japan and China and in Western culture, November.
Chrysanthemum are the 13th Wedding Anniversary flower and their powers are strongest non Saturdays and Sundays and during the full moon.

The shorter days of Autumn will signal to the Chrysanthemum that it is time to flower and these beautiful long-lasting blossoms with brighten dull days and lift spirits anywhere.
Where grown in a pot of garden, They need a sunny spot with at least 5 to 6 house of direct sunlight a day.
Remove flowers as they are spent and at the end of winter, cut back all dead flowers and leaves and feed well with a liquid fertiliser.

Colours will add additional layers of energies ~
Bronze: friendship
Red: love, passion, invitation, proposition
White: truth, trust, promise, sweetness, innocence
Yellow: refusal,boundary protection

bunches of blessings,
Cheralyn xx 🌻
PS: This Chrysanthemum was part of a gorgeous bunch my daughter Maddison gave me on my birthday last week


How Do you Find the Best Plants and Flowers for Your Office?

Plants and flowers should always be included in workspace environments as they bring what is our natural human daylight living state, the outdoors, to us. Although many of our homes may do so, the vast majority of office spaces, if they feature windows at all, usually have views of other offices.
When we are in the presence of plants and flowers, we are calmed, settled and more focused while inside during the day. Flowers bring an emotional change for the better in us. They are the reproductive parts of the plant and so their job is to be attractive to pollinators and they do this by usually being beautiful, colourful and fragrant, all elements that coincidentally make us humans feel wonderful too! Plants are known to improve the air quality, and this can be of great benefit to human health. They do this by absorbing many different types of toxins, volatile gases and even germs through their leaves and roots.

DA01C657-A6E5-4DAD-8CF4-69EDA30D3A0Ea few of my well-loved friends that share my office space

To select the best plants and cut flowers for the office, always start with the most suitable plants and flowers for use indoors and particularly in office environments. Have a chat with your local garden centre and florist but to start here are some good allrounders:
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
Devils Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
Violet (Viola spp.)
Arrowhead Plant (Syngonium podophyllum)

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp.)
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
Orchid (Orchidaceae spp.)
Pansy (Viola tricolor var. hortensis)
Arrowheadmy current Arrowhead crop ready for potting up

Cut Flowers

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) 
Protea (Protea spp.)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Lobester or Crab Claws (Heliconia spp.)

Orchid (Orchidaceae spp.)
Most Australian Natives
Australia Native Greenery
IMG_4604(an Australian Native)
card: The Language of Flowers, Cheralyn Darcey, Rockpool Publishing

Always keep your office plants and cut flowers away from air-conditioning outlets and drafts. Very few plants will survive the drying effects of constant artificial wind. Never place either right next to windows that face full sun for any part of the day as this can lead to burning of the leaves. Ensure that plants and cut flowers are situated away from electrical outlets and you have assessed the possible angles they may fall if bumped. You don’t want water or plant material on or near electrical and computer equipment or your work items. In saying all this, most plants suitable for indoors will enjoy filtered light and you will want them where you can see them of course. The same goes for cut flowers.
Cast iron plant webcardThough not always necessary,
I've taken my Cast Iron Plant outside to enjoy a little fresh air this week. 

To offer the best care to your office plants, keep any information that came with them and refer to it and also look up care tips for individual types. Not all plants need the same amount of light, water, grooming and repotting. Generally, soil needs to be slightly damp and saucers should not usually not be full. Make sure you repot as the plant grows out of its home. Cut flowers do better when all foliage is kept out of the water and the water is changed every second day. Trim away flowers and foliage as they die.

Most cut flowers love a good feed and a home made one:
4 cups of water, 1 teaspoon bleach, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon sugar.

The Language of Plants and Flowers for the Office
Why not include plants and flowers that hold traditional meansing to impart even more joy, energy and good vibes to your office space. The following are traditional meanings of a few office-friendly plants and cut flowers.

Arrowhead Plant (Syngonium podophyllum)  youth, beginnings, inspiration
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) longevity, pride, self-respect
Devils Ivy (Epipremnum aureum) prosperity, protection, boundaries
Pansy (Viola tricolor var. hortensis) remembrance, immunity, loving thoughts
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp.) calm, communication, peace
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica) happiness, cleansing, truth
Begonia (Begonia spp.)transition, creativity, removal of negativity
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) education, development, transformation
Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginate) legacy, tenacity, endurance
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) wisdom, progression, attainment
Violet (Viola spp.) faithfulness, modesty, subconscious
IMG_0060a new collection of plants I've found this week,
some destined for an office home

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) self-acceptance, inner beauty, excellence,
King Protea (Protea cynaroides)  creativity, courage, illumination
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) get well, strength, happiness
Orchid (Orchidaceae) uniqueness, refinement, grace
Heliconia (Heliconia spp.) pride, ideas, attention
Waratah(Telopea speciosissima) survival, courage, passion
Flannel Flower(Actinotus helianthi) calm, healing, trust
Grevillea (Grevillea spp.) creativity, solutions, work
Banksia (Banksia spp.) life, enthusiasm, interest

7B294738-52B6-4DA9-87CD-484B98E4D185an office floristry design I helped create recently 

bunches of love, 

🌿 Cheralyn 🌻

PS: you can find lots of flower and plant meanings in 'Flowerpaedia' Cheralyn Darcey, Rockpool Publishing