After meeting some of our local flower growers and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Lisa Herbert thought it was time to visit some South Coast flower sellers.
I’m stopped in my tracks outside a very new and very pretty Pambula shopfront by a familiar sight.
“Is that a Buckajo Watermelon?” I ask Isabella Sieger of Mechanics Botanics, “I believe we have met before,” I laugh.
“Oh yes, that’s the Buckajo or Carlos Watermelon. We get heaps of flowers from Buckajo, these dahlias, the zinnias, the flock, amaranth, echinacea and others, and some from Karen and Tayo who are fantastic growers at Wyndham Flower Farm. And Stonecrop in Locheil.”
The colourful wall-mural backdrop in Isabella’s shop frames a table laden with big pots of blooms. Isabella sources a few unique things from Sydney but says, “I love working with locally grown flowers, meeting the growers.
“Everything lasts longer and you can build a relationship and they look after you, and they teach you about where the flowers come from. It’s a great conversation to have with customers.”
Isabella opened her shopfront just before Christmas 2022.
“It was great to open then, lots of people wanted colour, and dahlia season is great for that; they are a little timeless and eye-catching. I call them floral fireworks.
“I have people coming in and enquiring. I’ve got a wedding this weekend and I’ve started a subscription business so you can arrange to have flowers delivered to your business each week.
Bega-raised Darcie Nicol returned to the valley from an eight-year career in veterinary nursing two and a half years ago. She opened her flower shop in November.
Darcie created her very charming flower stall inside the Wattle & Hide Homewares shop in Bega and loves it.
“It’s wonderful to share the space, we complement each other beautifully,” she says from behind the counter at Darcie Nicol Floral Designs.
“I was a vet nurse and went into specialist medicine for vet nursing and business management.
“I actually joined a floristry course to meet new people; it was an outlet, and it has naturally evolved into a job. It has its own stresses but overall it’s relaxing at times and it’s creative. It’s been fantastic.
“There hasn’t been a florist in Bega for a while. I grew up in the area and I could see things change. It was an unknown, but it’s worked out really well.
“Everyone down here is doing their own thing, not the stock standard thing. I don’t use foam, all compostable wrapping, and mostly in vases, so you get to keep the vase. We try and reduce the plastic.”
Darcie buys most of her stock from Stonecrop Flora, Wyndham Flower Farm and The Plot in Bodalla.
“There are also people that bring things in on a weekly basis, local gardeners, and they are excited that I might use their things.”
Darcie says she likes to work with natives, orchids, lotus, blooms that are striking, with a different look.
“Succulents and air plants, for installations and bouquets, even ornamental kale, it’s exotic.” Darcie holds up a stunning banksia, “And these banksias from WA and they dry like this, pale and beautiful.”
Jasmine Fleet of The Little Bouquet in Merimbula has been working in the industry since she was 16. She’s had her Merimbula-based business for six years.
Of working with flowers she says, “I just love the creativity. Every day is different and amazing. We support all local and Australian farmers and watching them grow their business. We’re a small family as well – watching other families grow their businesses is wonderful.
“We are about to change it up actually. It’s always hard with freight, the same as with any small business, especially with COVID. So we just purchased a truck and will drive to Melbourne each week, providing the local business community with refrigerated transport.
“So we can take oysters for example and bring back flowers, and my husband will drive the truck.”
Why should people give the gift of flowers?
“Well, I’m an old soul, it’s traditional for me. Valentine’s Day is different these days, very commercial, but it’s still giving a memory.
“It’s the scent of flowers, the whole sensual thing. It is luxurious, and it doesn’t happen all the time, so it is really special, and quite intimate.
“It’s giving love and you don’t just have to do it on the 14th of February.”