Want to truly discover Hobart? Try a floral workshop
Get in touch with nature – and your creative side – at Lisa Kingston's beautiful flower farm in Tasmania.
- February 2019
Looking at the green, spotted foliage planted in the garden bed in front of me, I suddenly realise that it’s not a weed. I had spent the best part of yesterday morning removing this very “weed” from my garden at home and now it’s dawned on me that I’ve been ripping out potentially beautiful flowers. Costa Georgiadis I am not. It’s lucky I am here, at local florist and flower grower Lisa Kingston’s flower farm.
The drive to Woodbridge, 40 minutes south of Hobart, on a slow Sunday morning was worth it alone. The winding roads hug the coastline and pass through tiny towns like Kettering and the appropriately named Snug, all while overlooking the D'Entrecasteaux Channel and out to Bruny Island.
Every Saturday, Lisa and her husband Steve sell their beautiful flowers at Salamanca Market and have cultivated a loyal following for their arrangements and Instagram feed.
Last year I bought a historic Hobart cottage with my first proper garden and a white picket fence. Gardening had never been on my radar but I’m starting to discover the joys of spending time with plants; it’s relaxing, meditative even.
Gardening is a big thing in Tassie, especially maintaining traditional English-style gardens, so I’ve come to one of Lisa’s seasonal farm tours and flower workshops to get a better idea of how to tend to my own garden. I’m not a natural green thumb and hope that my budding flowers back home will thank me later.
I’m joined by 10 other women – a few Lisa fan-girls (she is kind of a big deal in these parts), some floral enthusiasts and others here just for the experience. Once we’re armed with freshly brewed coffee and homemade shortbread, Lisa shares the story of how she came to the island when she was four, escaping the heat of the mainland with her parents. They built a house using recycled timber and established the flower farm and heritage orchards, which Lisa and Steve took over 15 years ago.
It’s an impressive acreage of colourful ornamental garden beds near the house and rows of heritage fruit trees beyond. As we wander the grounds, Lisa and Steve share information about cultivating the 200-plus plant varieties on their property, including many Australian natives – from pretty ranunculus, poppies and roses, to their bestsellers, sweet peas, chincherinchees and sunflowers.
Taking notes on how to make the most of a flower while it’s in the ground, I learn that chook poo and sawdust makes excellent fertiliser and to pick my flowers rather than just leaving them on the plant because it will fool the plant into producing even more. I also learn that being a florist is as much about carefully nurturing growth as it is about massacring.
At the rustic timber flower shed, Lisa lets us have a go at separating dahlia tubers by hacking them with a sugarcane knife. Having worked up an appetite, we break for lunch at the house, tucking into a delicious spread of salads, quiche, pies, breads and cheeses – all either grown here or from other stallholders at Salamanca Market.
Then comes the bit that everyone is looking forward to – the business of bouquets. Lisa kicks off the afternoon session with a demonstration of a large posy followed by a vase arrangement, after which we’re left to work on our own. Like kids in a candy shop, we wander between the cut flowers in the workshop and the garden beds to cut more of what takes our fancy. My first bunch feels clumsy but Lisa shows me how to hold the bunch with a more open hand, which helps me place more flowers into it.
The vase arrangement is easier and I find myself enjoying the sculpting – I start with tall foxgloves and ground the bunch with a huge peony, then add everything from lavender to peach ranunculus, yellow billy balls and poppies. Lisa encourages us to use our imagination – I do just that, ending up with six bouquets in the end.
Lisa and Steve’s connection with their little patch of Tasmania runs deep and I understand now why their flowers are so sought after. Armed with just a small slice of their extensive knowledge and after spending a day in the fresh Tassie air, I already feel more in touch with nature and inspired to run wild in my own garden.
Where: Woodbridge, 40 minutes south of Hobart
Cost: NZD $320 per person