Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Inspired by Erick's magnolia trivia, I thought I would post about an interesting flower a florist inroduced to me two years ago. Erick discussed how the magnolia is an "ancient remnant" and doesn't have the usual parts that more modern flowers have. The protea is another ancient species. Its ancestors thrived 300 million years ago.

Though I would love to grow these in my own garden, my region is too humid and especially too cold to do this. In the United States, it seems from my reading that protea grow most happily in Southern California and Hawaii.
I found these useful sites for more information: The Protea Atlas Project and Dave's Garden

Though there are over a thousand different species of protea, I have read that only about 150 are available commercially. They are wonderful blossoms for still-lifes, but my local florist has trouble finding more than four varieties for me to play with.

I am attracted to the primitiveness of the blossom. Though I generally prefer soft petals, the contrast that the protea makes to my favored rose is impressive. When I "discovered" the flowers, I first used them in a still-life for my sister who lives in Africa. They corresponded with my vision of the place and indeed that is one place where protea happily grow.

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