FLOWERS MAKING A COMEBACK
Bouquets for Linda’s fully fragrant flowers
FRAGRANT and old-fashioned is how Linda Maxfield likes her flowers. Others seem to like them too, which has led to growing demand for blooms from the garden of her historic Bridgetown property. Fresh and field-to-vase is her approach, one which mirrors the paddock-to-plate food movement. The old-fashioned favourites she grows were common when she started as a florist but hothouse flowers now dominate, she says. “Now when you go into a florist shop, 95 per cent of the flowers that you are purchasing will be grown in a hothouse and a lot of those overseas.” Her flowers, by contrast, are all grown outside. “The reason for that is I want to be able to contribute back to the environment and build up the soil,” she said. “If you grow flowers in a hothouse then they don’t contribute at all to the environment, they’re just not the same.” An aroma therapist and trained florist – her bunches and other products are available at Loft boutique – she believes fragrance is an important part of the sensory experience of flowers. But burying your nose in a colourful bouquet from the hothouse can carry a risk, she believes. “One of the problems with those flowers is that they’re very heavily sprayed.” Linda will run a couple of workshops at the Festival of Country Gardens this year. The first during the prelude this weekend will be a class at the Rabbit Hole on Saturday. A second, entitled “Petals and Paint”, is a collaboration with her neighbour, artist and fellow keen cook Di Holst, during the main festival from November 1-5. Art is a feature of the garden festival this year, with exhibitions to be held at Kandalee Farm outside Greenbushes and at the Black Barn gallery on Eedle Terrace, Bridgetown. Another addition to the expanded program is the feasts in the barn at Ford House, which has for many years hosted the annual spring fair in its grounds. Also new are wildflower and bird walks with botanist and birdwatcher Erica Shedley and basket making with Sally Stoneman, at Maranup Ford. Participants in Linda’s second workshop will use as inspiration blooms grown at her property Cotmore, which was 100 years old in 2014. Since she and husband Nick bought it a decade ago she has removed natives and instead planted her own old-fashioned country garden. “I wanted a cottage garden, that’s my love,” she said. Exotics and Mediterranean plants now feature, from roses to lilac, lavender and other old-style staples and annuals useful in her business. An old orchard has been removed, too, to make room for her picking garden. In that are planted slow-growing peonies, dahlias, calla lillies, tuberoses, lilliums and tender annuals such as stocks, delphiniums, snapdragons, poppies and larkspur. “I find people when they get my flowers they say, oh it reminds me of grandma’s garden.” Her bunches are a reminder of yesteryear and evoke many emotions – they’ve even moved people to tears – but mostly they just make people happy, she says. “That’s the primary reason you give flowers to people – you want to put a smile on their face, you want to give them something alive and joyful. “And I think with the hothouse flowers, that wasn’t happening any more.” Go to www.festivalofcountrygardens.com for more information.
Linda Maxfield’s flower arranging workshops are one of the new additions to the expanded Festival of Country Gardens, which opens this weekend.