Throughout my district on the fertile volcanic red soils of the North West Coast of Tasmania you will find a myriad of flowers. Table Cape is decorated with boundless bouquets of tulips that flaunt their colour in a springtime spectacle high above cliff tops that dash headlong into Bass Strait. These are followed by irises and lilies and all are destined for the cut flower market as well as for bulb production. On another property, a massive 19,600 square metre glasshouse imported from the Netherlands produces 38 varieties of lilies, all whisked out to mainland markets in the early hours of the morning.
And on a hidden sunny hill block a motor mechanic may be spotted at weekends using the tiniest tool in his week, as he ‘tweezer-nips’ the stamens from his crocus crop for the saffron market.
So the floral market is not just for bouquets!
Thousands of little white daisies smile up at the sun on the perennial pyrethrum crops that also require the rich healthy soil that the north west of Tasmania offers. These are harvested in December and pelletised for use in insecticides. Farmers may the safely run a few sheep on the crop after harvest, in order to prune the plants to allow healthy re-growth.
Not so with the remnants of the poppy crops that thrive in our rolling basalt fields of palest pink making summer look as if an early snow had fallen. Great care must be taken to remove every part of the plant after harvest for the sake of animals as well as humans. Behind large warning signs to Keep Out! the poppies are destined to become large dry heads that will be harvested to provide half the world’s medicinal opiates. It is the poppy straw that contains ‘opiates’ which are natural products used in medicine to make painkillers (morphine and codeine) and cough medicines. Poppy seeds do not contain the opiates found in the straw, and are sold for use in baked goods and poppy seed oil.
Yes! Flowers lift our spirits, are edible, are medicinal and they create a strong sense of wellbeing and pleasure. Go out and marvel on one today! Even if all you can find is a dandelion, it will still have these qualities!