Monday, May 04, 2009
Waratah, Waratah Everywhere
If you’re looking for a cut flower that looks amazing in a vase and lasts for a very long time, you can’t go past a waratah. This Australian native plant is actually the floral symbol of New South Wales, our neighbouring state.
The conical flower heads are huge – these ones were just average size, about 15 centimetres (six inches) across, although they can grow much larger. They can be grown from seeds and cuttings alike and I was once told that they show re-growth remarkably quickly after a bushfire.
I’ve only ever seen red waratahs, but a little diligent research has shown me that there are other colours too – mainly pink or white. One of the things that has struck me about waratahs is that, like camellias, they have distinctive leaves that add a lot of character to any floral arrangement.
Of course, the leaves of the waratah are very different from those of the camellia. The latter are small but high in sheen, adding a lot of character to a vase. But waratah leaves are much tougher and longer and surround each bloom like a protective circle, with each leaf about 15 centimetres long.
During the 2006 Commonwealth Games, staged here in my hometown of Melbourne, waratahs took pride of place in the bouquets that were handed to each medal winner. So if you watched the Games on TV and wondered what the huge flowers were, now you know!
Visit Luiz Santilli Jr for the home of Today's Flowers.