Thursday, March 23, 2006

Two toned flowers

There are some Gerberas that are created to be two toned - but this one is one of the oddities that appear from time to time. I'd suggest that this orgage flower was created by using a yellow flower - anyway from time to time this particular plant would throw off one of these flowers with a small section of petals bright yellow, and the rest, as we would expect the orange colour.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


There are currently well over 2500 varieties of Gerbera. The home of Gerbera development is Holland - with large horticultural businesses dotted through the country. Each year the key players in Gerbera propogation release stunning catalogues that showcase their new varieties as well as the tried and tested popular varieties.

Growers throughout the world explore the catalogues, checking details (are they fast growers, prolific producers of flowers, suitable for hot or cold climates etc.) before ordering their new season's plants. It is some months before the new plants are ready - giving the grower time to remove old spent plants from their hothouse, and prepare for the new plants.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Coldroom

The cold room is an essential piece of equipment for Gerbera growers in Australia. When the flowers are picked, sorted and bunched, they are put in buckets in the cold room until ready for delivery. Most florists also have a cold room or florist refrigerator for the flowers. It slows down the maturing process so the flowers are fresher for the customer.

We've had a couple of traumas with our cold room. One one occasion it froze all the flowers inside. Frozen gerberas are not pretty! We had it repaired, put the new pick of flowers in and again it froze.

Today as I was processing the flowers, I noted that the radio had gone off. We were listening to the progress of cyclone Larry in North Queensland. A fuse had "gone" so it was replaced. I noticed that the cold room was making an "unusual" sound and soon the fuse "went" again. It seems there is some problem with the compressor so as I write, we await our repairman again.

That's life.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Hothouse...

Is a huge plastic dome - with metal frame the plastic sheeting is stretched over the frame with special "petticoat" of white shadecloth. The plastic does wear and needs replacement every few years - so far our second hand ones have held but we look at the occasional tear or damage and wonder how long they will stand steadfast. In summer the roof of the hothouse is coated with special white paint, which creates a somewhat eerie atmosphere, but helps protect the plants from the hot overhead sun, and at the same time seems to encourage them the stems to grow taller. We have a door at one end, and big ceiling fans to circulate the air are suspended from the roof.

God's little mysteries.

This flower has two heads - growing side by side on one stem. Just one of the oddities that we find from time to time. There are some creative florists that will from time to time use one of these is a special arrangement - but usually they end up in our own home.

Happy Flowers

When we started out with our flower business we had little idea how much impact our flowers would have. People come to us with stories about their love of Gerberas, and they talk of the bright colourful flowers that perhaps cheered them up at a low time in their lives, or the part these flowers played in an event in their lives - weddings with Gerberas are popular.
When we pick the flowers we often have what we call "Seconds" - flowers that for one reason or another are not suitable for the market. Perhaps the flower has a smiley face instead of a round centre, a double header (photos of these will appear in this blog over time), or the flower is not mature enough, or too mature. We give these away. The alternative is to throw them away - but we choose to give them.

It is pure bliss to see the enjoyment these flowers have on people. Seconds? We seem to be the only ones that notice that these flowers have been created with a little blemish.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Where do Gerberas come from.

The Gerbera is a native of Africa - the Transvaal I believe. It goes under several names - Transvaal Daisy, African Daisy. It's botanical name is gerbera jamesonii.
There is a website which states that the Gerbera is also native to Tasmania. The only Tasmania I can find in a World Atlas, is the southernmost state of Australia, and I also have a letter from the Tasmanian Botanical Gardens stating that the Gerbera definitely is NOT a native of Tasmania. I think even commercial flower growers would have challenges growing the flower in that state without the aid of atmospheric controlled hot houses - a very expensive option. The Website is

One of my favourite things............................

This is one of my all time favourite gerberas. I use this photo on my business cards and letterheads for my business (The Official Biographer). I also have two pots of it growing at home and currently one of the blooms is in a vase beside the computer.

(The Official Biographer is my business - writing of life stories)

Weather is cooling down

Here it is just past the middle of March and the days and nights are a little cooler. Some gerberas love the cooler weather, and you can see quite a change. One pink one that has been a disaster all summer - it throws plentiful blooms but none are of commercial quality - is now settling down and for the first time this year some of the flowers will be suitable for the market.

Others that love the hot summer days are "having a rest" right now. We do need to get rid of excess foliage right now - hopefully we will have completed this major task by the end of April.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Our first pick

I remember when we first started picking the flowers - there were very few of them - not enough to sell really. We were just practising - picking them, putting them into buckets of water, and then trying to find 5 of the same colour and type to bunch them. We'd put them in the shed, and wonder how we would manage if there were heaps more. There were eventually - but this is how we started.

It was a few weeks before we had the work room ready for action, and the cold room in place, and plants started to produce in larger quantities.

We have learned so much since those days of taking one step at a time, or two steps forward and one step back again.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The day the truck got bogged.

Over several weekends the intensity of the work increased. We had to make two trips north of Brisbane to collect that plants and other material.

The truck was HUGE and there were a team of "volunteers" to help. They said they had never worked so hard. They had to carry pots of stones to the truck, pack them in, and go back and do it all again. The weather had been poor, and it rained, and somewhere along the way the truck got bogged.

Eventually it arrived at the farm - and it all had to be unloaded. The guys certainly enjoyed their beers at the end of the day, and from all accounts slept very well that night, and had aching muscles for days afterwards.

Bit by bit the farm was taking shape.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Work continued

When the ground was level, the guys set about putting up the hothouse itself. Metal framed with plastic roof and walls.

We had purchased part of an other hothouse, in a buy that included plants, pots, medium, and an assortment of things that we might need.

We had purchased from two people - one the hushand had apparently absconded and the wife just wanted to get rid of her other burden. The other was sad - the husband had passed away, so the wife was keen to get her life back in order without his gerbera farm. It was of course to our advantage, as things were cheaper.

But our husbands put in many hours of work in preparation for the big day when the plants would arrive.

Getting started

This post is not going to do justice to all the preparation work that was needed to set up the Gerbera Farm. An area was selected behind the stables, and the ground work was started. The two menfolk supervised the leveling of the ground with a grader, and started researching irrigation, and all the materials and equipment that we needed to set up.

I often wonder if we'd known at the time how time consuming and expensive it all would be, if we would have gone ahead and done it.

We had a meeting of the four of us - and thought we had considered everything that needed to be researched. However, each week, there was more to learn, more money to spend.

In the end we spent far less than was in the material that we received from the industry papers. If we'd have seen those figures we'd have bailed out early. We were lucky - with the two guys willing and able to do a lot of the work themselves, plus an odd set of extraordinary luck, we did it all with less money than the experts predicted.

Friday, March 10, 2006

A frog on a Gerbera

What a surprise! We know there are frogs around the property, but we seldom see them in the hothouse. On this morning we found a little green tree frog resting in the petals of one of the white flowers. I always carry my camera with me - so I rushed to the car to get it, with my fingers crossed, hoping he/she would not leave before I recorded it. Funnily enough he hung on even after the flower was picked and he was given a gentle nudge to move on. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Next Chapter

Just over three years ago (December 2002) our second granddaughter was born, and around that time my husband and I were guests at a 45th Wedding Anniversary Party and we caught up with old acquaintances at the party. We chatted about our lives and it turned out that the friends (husband and wife) had just started a Gerbera farm on their property at Maleny, in the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane, Queensland.

RS spoke about his venture with enthusiasm. Some short time later we told the story to our daughter. As she and her husband had not long moved to a property with 2 1/2 acres, an interest sparked. Now at this point the story gets messy. Our daughter believes that I "encouraged" the idea to germinate that we create a Gerbera farm on the property. I believe that I created the idea to develop, but at no time did I every think that we would do it.

Some days later there was animated discussion about the possibilities - and after Christmas, our two menfolk went off to do research on other Gerbera farms.

By early 2003 we had decided to go into business - and the Gough Hill Gerbera Farm was born.

The Wedding

Our daughter wanted Gerberas as feature flowers for her wedding, and with an Aunt who was a florist, a wonderful gerbera picture was created. The Chapel was decorated with white ribbon and white Gerberas, and the Bride's bouquet was orange and yellow Gerbera's.

The tables at the reception were also decorated with Gerbera's - quite a spectacular floral display, thanks to Aunty Chris.

That was the beginning of the love affair with this colourful happy flower.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Love of Gerberas

The African Daisy is just one name given to this flower which is native to the Transvaal in Africa. It has found its way into gardens all around the world, and is a popular garden plant in most areas of Australia.

The flower mostly seen in gardens is close to the original found in Africa, but over the years thousands of hybrids have been developed. The pale pinks, and muted yellows and red with spikey petals whilst still poular in home gardens are not the plants and flowers now seen in the commercial gerbera growers of the world.

In this blog will be various stories of the history of the gerbera, and the story of the Gough Hill Farm in Brisbane, Australia.