• Jessica Bellef

Call Of The Wild: a native flower farm on the Central Coast

My days are spent writing home and garden features for magazines, and I LOVE it. I feel very lucky that people open up and share their world with me.

Here's a recent story I wrote for Home Beautiful's February issue, with stunning photography by Brigid Arnott.

Craig Scott is a fourth-generation flower grower who embraces the unique beauty of Australian natives and his rich family history of flora farming. He runs East Coast Wildflowers on the Central Coast of NSW.

Craig Scott is on the other end of the phone line, and his calm, quiet voice is accompanied by the unmistakable and oh-so-beautiful soundscape of Australian birdsong. The flower grower is calling from his 20-hectare property located on the Central Coast of NSW, where he and a handful of staff propagate, nurture and harvest more than 200 varieties of plants. "And 98 per cent of the varieties are Australian native plants," Craig adds.

Operating as East Coast Wildflowers, the team supplies masses of cut florals and foliage to florists and stylists across Sydney and beyond, selling from the hustle and bustle of the Sydney Flower Market in Homebush three mornings a week. It's a scene Craig has known all his life. "I come from a long line of flower growers and florists," he says. "I'm a fourth-generation farmer and now one of my daughters is a florist with a store in Paddington, so she is fifth generation."

Craig's father Col purchased the farm in 1968 and grew mostly traditional flowers like dahlias, asters, and zinnias while dipping his toe into native varieties. "He introduced cut natives to the flower market in the '70s and early '80s and it took a while for the florists to get used to them," Craig explains. When Craig and his wife Angela moved to the farm in 1987, they expanded the Australian offering. More than 30 years later, East Coast Wildflowers can't keep up with the demand for native flowers. "People love the diversity and seasonality of the flora. We are always looking for new varieties to grow, and there's always something worthwhile pursuing," says Craig.

The productive farm is made up of 10 hectares of wild bushland and 10 hectares that incorporate open-air crop rows and a series of greenhouses. Among the beautiful abundance, you will find kangaroo paws, waratah, flannel flowers, Rottnest Island daisies, and so much more. Craig's passion for natives and the Australian landscape is deeply ingrained. When asked what he would be doing if it wasn't flower farming, the seasoned grower replies, after a thoughtful pause, "I love the outdoors, so I guess it would be good to be a full-time bushwalker. But it might be a bit hard to get paid for that!"

Story by Jessica Bellef

Photography by Brigid Arnott

As published in Home Beautiful February 2022

The story is also available online