Flo­ral notes

Left­over tulips from the Flo­ri­ade fes­ti­val are re­cy­cled into pa­per

Gardening Australia - - CONTENTS -

More than one mil­lion flow­ers are in bloom at the Flo­ri­ade fes­ti­val every spring, but once the gates close on this sig­na­ture event, Canberra’s Com­mon­wealth Park must be re­stored to its for­mer state.

There is lit­tle waste, though, as so­cial en­ter­prise or­gan­i­sa­tion Paper­works Inc sends in its work­ers to col­lect as many left­over plant ma­te­ri­als as they can fit in their cars and trail­ers. It’s the be­gin­ning of a lengthy process that lasts many months, but the long hours of hard work turn those fa­mous tulips into beau­ti­fully tex­tured pa­per.

Start­ing from a mod­est ini­tia­tive in 2009 to give chil­dren and adults with spe­cial needs a sat­is­fy­ing cre­ative out­let through pa­per­mak­ing work­shops, Paper­works has evolved to a fully equipped stu­dio that em­ploys three ar­ti­sans.

The stu­dio de­vel­oped a re­cy­cled denim pa­per as its sig­na­ture prod­uct, fol­lowed by unique ‘seed tiles’ that em­bed seeds in pa­per, ready for plant­ing by those who have lost their fine

mo­tor skills, or for en­cour­ag­ing chil­dren to get in­volved in gar­den projects. When Paper­works ap­proached Flo­ri­ade in 2013 with an­other ex­per­i­ment – to turn left­over tulips into pa­per – they were wel­comed with open arms.

“We love ex­per­i­ment­ing, and it was a steep learn­ing curve,” says Paper­works CEO Su­sanna Pi­eterse. "Now, every year, we gather an ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of tulips, and sep­a­rate them right away for dry­ing. We also grab some of the pan­sies, daisies and ground­cov­ers, and plant them straight into our stu­dio gar­dens, so we can con­tinue to har­vest them, to dry them, press them and use them through the year.”

The fin­ished prod­uct is by def­i­ni­tion a lim­ited edi­tion, with the boil­ing process shrink­ing the ma­te­rial to about one-tenth of its orig­i­nal vol­ume to pro­duce at most 400 sheets of tulip pa­per. This is used to top note­books made from the sig­na­ture denim pa­per, and can be found on­line at paper­works.org.au, at the Mitchell Green Shed in the ACT, and at a num­ber of re­tail shops in Canberra.

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