Real World Gardener Lovely Hypericum in Talking Flowers

March 22nd, 2019


 Hypericum perforatum: St John's Wort

Hypericum, is derived from a Greek word meaning "over an apparition."

 Did you know that the Anglo-Saxon word "wort" means "medicinal herb." ?


Common St. John's Worts are a creeping rhizome that spread quickly.

Grow to 1 metre high with translucent leaves. Small oil glands are present in leaves, making them appear perforated.,


  • Hypericum berries are used as a filler in cut flower arrangements to add contrast. Be sure to ask for some if they take your fancy.
  • Ms Hypericum is a waterholic because of the woody stem, so make sure the water stays topped up in the vase.
  • Lasts for up to 8 days in the vase.
  • The entire plant, particularly its round black seeds gives off a slight turpentine-like odour.

This flower is often associated with cheerfulness and inspiration. 

Hypericum may also be given to those starting new paths in their life.


I'm talking with florist Mercedes Sarmini from flowers

Real World Gardener Beautiful Banksia in Talking Flowers

March 12th, 2019


Banksia species

Australia isn't overwhelmed with different types of Banksias.

Banksia is a genus of only around 173 species in the plant family Proteaceae.

All but one occur naturally only in Australia.

Breeders have hybridised many more, think Banksia 'Birthday Candles.'



The flower heads are made up of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of tiny individual flowers grouped together in pairs. 

The colour of the flower heads appear very similar across many species. 

Think a honey coloured brown with some red.

Banksias are great for nectar feeding birds because they flower over autumn and winter when food is scarce for them.

The fruits of banksias (called follicles) are hard and woody and are often grouped together to resemble cones. they're not cones of course because Bankias aren't conifers.

In many species the fruits won't open until they have been burnt or completely dried out.

  • An easy way to release seed is to place the 'cone' in an oven at 120°­140° C for about an hour. 
  • The follicles then open and the seeds can be removed with tweezers. Two black winged seeds are usually found in each follicle.

Real World Gardener Gorgeous Lisianthus in Talking Flowers

March 7th, 2019


Lisianthus: Eustoma grandiflorum (syn Lisianthus russelianus)

Praire Gentian is one of its common names.

How to grow 


Seeds are as fine as dust particles, and the need light to germinate.

When you sprinkle this dust onto the seed raising mix, barely press them into the soil.

Then just cove them with a fine layer of vermiculite and mist with water from a spray bottle.

Preferred temperature range for germination is (21-24°C).

It takes 5 months from seed sowing to flowering.

Once plants are growing keep the soil most. Plants get stressed at temperatures over 29°C

Grows well in pots and prefer full sun.

Prairie Gentians are heat loving plants that flower best where nights are warm.

If you live in a climate with rainy, humid summers., then grow something else, because you'll have difficulty keeping these flowers going in your garden.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from about how best to keep the vase life of Lisianthus going.

Mercedes mentions tips about how to choose the best lissies from your florist or flower seller.

Real World Gardener Pineapple Lily on Talking Flowers

February 17th, 2019


Pineapple LilyEucomis comosa

Pineapple%2Blily.jpgGrows in the wettest parts of South Africa where it orginates.


Member of the Asparagaceae family.

Pineapple lily is a bulbous perennial with a basal rosette of lime-green leaves.

Mercedes will say, Mr Pineapple Lily, because it starts from a bulb.

The thick stem  carries hundreds of small star-shaped flowers with a tuft of green bracts at the top. 


This sort of looks like a pineapple top, hence it's common name.

The Pineapple Lily as a cut flower will last for several weeks in the vase.

Cut the stem straight across, because the flower arises from a plant with a bulb, therefore Mr Pineapple Lily.

Remember to always use filtered water.



I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Scented Stock flowers in Talking Flowers

December 13th, 2018


All about Scented Stock Flowers: Matthiola incana

Stock flowers are members of the Brassicaceae family, so that's the same as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and cauliflowers.

  • Did you know that you can eat the flower?

Sow seeds of stocks into your garden beds or borders near where you will be able to enjoy the scent.

They prefer sandy, well drained soil that's has a neutral pH to slightly alkaline.

Plenty of added organic matter will help a lot to keep up the moisture in the soil.Pink%2Bstock%2Bflowers.jpg

What they also need is for you to mulch well to maintain that moisture and feed with a balanced fertiliser before flowering.

Stocks are a romantic looking flower suited for cottage gardens and definitely suit for the vase.

Stocks come in an array of colours: burgundy, lilac, pink, cream and now salmon.

  • Mercedes says Ms Stock (because it's grown from seed) needs to have the stems cut at an angle.
  • Re-cut the stems every second day and place in shallow water.
  • Ms Stock is highly ethylene sensitive and sensitive to heat.
  • Buy your flowers 3/4 budded.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Agapanthus in Talking Flowers

December 7th, 2018


Agapanthus spp:

Agapanthus praecox

You can see straightaway why Agapanthus has the nickname ‘flower of love’.

The Greek word ‘agape’ means love, and ‘anthos’ means flower.

How to pick your Agapanthus flowers for the vase.

 Agapanthus flowers are normally picked when the bud bract has fallen off and no more than three florets are open.

Stalks are cut near their base with a sharp knife.

Remember what Mercedes says: If it's from a bulb, rhizome or cor, then it's Mr Agapanthus.

Mr Agapanthus wears sneakers, so we cut the stems straight across the bottom of the stalk.

If you don't want the pollen to drop onto your tablecloth, cut off the stames before they "fluff."

If you're buying Mr Agapanthus, make sure that flowers are of proper maturity. 

If the neck of flowers is bent upward, they have been transported at warm temperatures and have responded to gravity.


In the Garden:How to care for aggies

Cut off the old flower spikes after the flowers fade and before they begin to dry and set seeds. Snip through the stem with shears near its base, where it emerges from the plant.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Classic Cut Flowers in Talking Flowers

November 30th, 2018


Classic cut Flowers.

Hypericum%2Bberries.jpgMercede's definition of a bouquet of classic cut flowers is 'high end' cut flowers.

Think Ms Hydrangea, Ms Stephanotis,Mr Tuber Rose.

It's not just flowers though, there are berries that are incorporated into a bunch of classic flowers.

Try Ms Hypericumred or green berries. Hypericum androsaemum, also referred to as Tutsan, Shrubby St. John’s Wort , or sweet-amber, is a flowering plant in the family Hypericaceae. It is a perennial shrub reaching up to 70 cm in height, native to open woods and hillsides.

Also suitable are Ms Crab -Apple. Some florists say the perfect bouquet consists of crabapple, pepperberries and red/orange roses. 

How to treat Ms Hypericum:


  • Slit the woody ends and then soak them in a bucket of warm water for 3 to 4 hours so they can absorb as much moisture as possible. Strip off any leaves that will be under the water level in their container, fill it up with more water and place them in a cool, dimly lit room until the buds swell and begin to show color. 


Ms Stephanotis is a high end cut flower.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Real World Gardener Flowers That Make A Country Theme in Talking Flowers

November 26th, 2018


Flowers that make a country theme

Mercedes says that most customers opt for having a country theme for their bouquets when she used to run a florist shop.

So what does make up a country theme when you're thinking cut flowers?




If you went for something  in the cottage garden line, you would be very close to the mark.

Also choosing flowers from the Asteraceae or Daisy family will make your floral bouquet look like a bunch of flowers you picked yourself, albeit, expertly arranged and presented.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini, florist of

Real World Gardener Ethylene and Cut Flowers in Talking Flowers

November 7th, 2018


Ethylene and Cut Flowers

How many times have you placed some unripe fruit in a brown paper bag with say a banana or ripe apple?

Why are you doing this exactly?

Because the ethylene gas releases from the ripe fruit, speeds up the ripening process of the unripe fruit.

You don’t even have to place them in a paper bag because in the same fruit bowl, the process will happen, just a bit slower.

Guess what, flowers go off faster next to the fruit bowl.


We’ve mentioned it before in Talking Flowers, but some flowers are more sensitive than others don’t you know?


  • By the way, Ethylene molecules are small enough to migrate through plastic and cardboard, so just closing up the box of fruit in the fridge doesn’t contain the gas.
  • Did you know that Ethylene is a stress hormone and it is released in response to rough handling, dehydration, chill damage and disease ?
  • But where does it come from?
  • There's two ways: internally — in fruits, flowers and veggies as a stress response; and externally — from rotting green trash, car exhaust, air pollution, cigarette smoke, inefficient space heaters, propane forklifts and/or floor polishers.
  • Why I mention the forklifts, because maybe they’ve got them at flower markets?

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from

Real World Gardener Australian and South African flowers in Talking Flowers

October 25th, 2018


Australian Native Cut Flowers vs South African Native Cut Flowers

A lot of customers to florists shops ask for a bunch of Australian native flowers, then point to some King Proteas in the shop, saying, " yeah, some of those."

Of course they're surprised to learn that the King Protea is from South Africa.

Sure, Australia was once connected to Africa millions of years ago when it was still Gondwana, but there's no reason to be confused.

The reason some people think that the King Protea is an Australian flowers is possibly because both the Proteas, Waratahs, Banksias, Grevilleas, Leucondendrons reside in the same family, namely Proteaceae, and

that causes confusion?



In any case, time to learn how to look after some of these hard stemmed flowers.

  • Never leave fresh flowers in a hot car.
  • Recut the stem ends neatly with sharp secateurs, removing the bottom 3 cm.
  • Prepare your vase or container: make sure it is clean.
  • Add fresh clean filtered water but NOT flower food to these flowers
  • Check every day, as your flowers can use a lot of water.
  • If cut-flower food is not used, change the water at least every second day.
  •  Do not display your flowers in areas that are exposed to full sun, draughts or high temperatures.
  • Keep as cool as possible without freezing.

I'm speaking with floral Therapist, Mercedes Sarmini.from

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