Slow Flower Power
STORY AND PICTURES BY RICHARD CORNISH
The morning summer air is filled with the fragrance of a thousand roses. Row after row of roses are in full bloom, a palette of pink, apricot, deep red, white, cream and ochre. Above them is a riot of insects: bees, native bees, hover flies, tiny moths – all eager to feed on the heady nectar. The rows between the flower beds at Acre of Roses, a tiny farm in the heart of Trentham village, are soft underfoot, a sign of good soil management and organic techniques. Owner Sandy Roy is a woman with a vision and a mission. She is part of growing legion of flower growers in our region who have embraced the Slow Flower movement. “Did you know there is no Country of Origin labelling on flowers in Australia?” she asks rhetorically. “The cheap flowers in the supermarket could have been grown in Argentina or South Africa and you would never know it!” She draws a deep breath. She is fired up. “Those flowers are sprayed for bugs before they leave those countries and sprayed again with chemicals when they arrive in Australia.” She takes one of her beautiful fragrant roses and draws it to her nose. “The first thing you do with a flower is smell it. You put it in your face. It could be full of chemicals!” She then says that there is an open known secret in the florist industry that pregnant women don’t handle imported flowers to protect their unborn children.
A founding member of the local Slow Flower association Consortium Botanicus, she started the garden on her half hectare block four years ago. She planted 40 different varieties of roses, 1500 bushes in all, from old fashioned David Austin roses to tighter hybrid tea roses. A bee lands on a bloom nearby. “We have six hives in the garden and very shortly will start to spin honey from the frames,” says Sandy. “It has a lovely rose aroma.” Walking along the rows the scent changes with each variety. From one comes a hint of cloves and citrus, from another almonds and apple. The sensation is as complex as it is mesmerising. Sandy holds regular workshops in the garden called Farmgate Sundays. These are three hour-long, hands on masterclasses that range from beekeeping to edible flowers to floral therapy. In the floral therapy class, participants are blindfolded and encouraged to take in the aroma of different roses and describe the memories they evoke. All the workshops, including the upcoming series on sustainable closed loop farming, also offer light meals or refreshments cooked by Trentham chef Jochem Follink. (He also provides meals for the Acre of Roses accommodation - a suite of two bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and living area with open fireplace and outdoor yoga area and hot tub overlooking the gardens.)
Participants in The Farmgate Sunday series have access to the roses to pick their own bouquet to take home. The cost of the masterclasses is an introductory special of $35. Bee Keeping Exploration, Feb 3; Floral Therapy & Mindfulness Session, Feb 10; Closed Loop Farming & Composting Skill Share, Feb 17; Edible Flower Experience with Lauren Matthews, Feb 24.
Acre of Roses blooms are sold at Trentham General and at the Trentham Farmers Market.
For details visit: www.acreofroses.com.au