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Community & Business

17 July, 2021

Ferns find favour with local florists

WHEN you imagine two florists out in a field gathering foliage, your might picture them in a verdant field of wild flowers, lavender or sunflowers, but owner/operators of Floral Magic Mareeba, Renee and Taylor Hughes, were looking for something a little different last weekend.


Mareeba fl orists, Taylor and Renee Hughes spent their Sunday harvesting fern from Millaa paddocks to use in their fl oral arrangements

BY SALLY TURLEY 

WHEN you imagine two florists out in a field gathering foliage, your might picture them in a verdant field of wild flowers, lavender or sunflowers, but owner/operators of Floral Magic Mareeba, Renee and Taylor Hughes, were looking for something a little different last weekend.

They took a Sunday drive to the southern Tablelands to collect bunches of greenery in high demand in the flower business, foliage that dairy and beef producers spend a lot of time and money trying to eradicate from their pastures.

Renee and Taylor were collecting Bracken Fern, the new, chic, must have ingredient in bouquets destined for everywhere from the side table to the hands of a beautiful bride doing the “big walk.” 

“The fern is used in many aspects of our work, but mostly in our dried and preserved floral arrangements, where the range of colours it turns during the drying process and its interesting texture adds appeal to arrangements,” Ms Hughes said.

“Dried and preserved arrangements are completely on trend right now and we need a lot of dried plants and grasses to add structure to our bunches. They are a great alternative to fresh flowers which only last a few days, and with some care, dried bunches can look lovely for up to two years. 

“They are a great option for brides needing bouquets, backdrops and centre-pieces, who may have to reschedule weddings in these uncertain COVID times and they are ideal for decorating your home as they’re pollen-free for any allergy sufferers. 

“At Floral Magic, we also send quite a lot of arrangements out to station people and people out of Mareeba on buses and mail planes. Bunches can sometimes suffer a little rough treatment in transit, and the ferns are quite robust in those situations. 

“Generally we buy our bunches of fern from our southern wholesalers, and it is quite an expensive component of our floral supplies, so once we became aware of its presence on many local farms, we thought we would spend some of our weekend gathering a sample to try in the shop. 

“Farmers certainly seem happy to share their crop of fern with us, as I guess they don't really value it and probably intend to get rid of it from their paddocks eventually. 

“The fern will have to be put through a lengthy drying process over several weeks to make it bouquet-ready and it if doesn't come up to the mark quality-wise after that, we will simply discard it. We won't know for a few weeks if it will be just a one off,” Ms Hughes said.

Bracken fern is native to Britain where it has traditionally been used for animal bedding, which later breaks down into a rich mulch that could be used as fertilizer. It is still used this way in Wales. 

It is also used as a winter mulch, which has been shown to reduce the loss of potassium and nitrogen in the soil, and to lower soil pH. 

Generations of gardeners and nurserymen used bracken as a surface mulch to retain moisture and suppress weed growth.


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