Book Review: Bush Flowers – Australian flowers and foliage for decoration and design

Bush Flowers (Thames & Hudson, 2022, rrp $59.99) is an impressive hardcover book filled with gorgeous and colourful photos of native flowers and foliage in flower arrangements, buckets, being carried in bunches or held.

Authors Cassandra Hamilton and Michael Pavlou co-founded Bush Flowers in Carlton North (Melbourne) in 2019. Both have a long involvement with the flower industry. Michael as a flower grower and retailer; Cassandra as a florist, writer and creative director. As well as writing the book, both have contributed to the inspirational photographs in the book that put native flowers into a very contemporary light.

This book should be a handy reference for florists as the flowers are listed by common name with their botanic and, where known, indigenous plant names. In the introductory pages, the authors note that names are fluid with one plant often having several common names and botanic names also being updated. They also make the distinction between ‘true’ Australian native flowers and their close relatives from South Africa – such as proteas and leucadendrons – which are often lumped with native flora. Only Australian plants are included in the book.

While there are growing notes, the real focus of the book is native plants as cut flowers and the myriad ways they can be used. It is also a plea for those in the flower industry as well as consumers to better see the beauty and versatility of native plants and to consider using locally grown native flowers in preference to imported cut flowers.

The authors look at every aspect of cut flowers from their source through conditioning to vases and how to create flower arrangements. A large part of the book is dedicated to individual plant profiles in the chapter titled ‘Plant Library’. Plants are arranged under their uses including focal, texture, foliage, sculptural elements, delicate beauties, gumnuts and seed pods with a very handy paragraph (‘Best pairings) describing which other flowers go well with the subject.

Bush Flowers shines a light on native plants and to open our minds and hearts to our fascinating, beautiful and versatile flora. This is not a gardening book rather it’s a book to recommend to florists, interior designers, brides to be, function organisers and anyone with a love of flowers.


Jennifer Stackhouse

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