Don’t miss the shortest, sweetest smelling secret of the year. Peony picking starts now!

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

Victoria’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it peony rose season is about to explode into spring with fields of vibrant colour, exquisite natural perfumes, and the opportunity to pick-your-own stems.

Due to their rich history and symbolism across worldwide cultures, fussy growing conditions and the sheer size of the bloom itself, peony roses are some of the most sought-after and expensive cut flowers on the floristry market. In fact, many a bride will plan their wedding around the short window of opportunity available to have a fresh bouquet for their special day.

True lovers of these prize petals wait patiently for harvest time, which takes place over a few short weeks from mid-November and there are two working peony farms to the north of Melbourne that invite the public to come picking during this brief, but special season.

You’ll find Romswood Farm at the end of a dirt road in Kerrie, located in the Macedon Ranges, where owners Bernie and Virginia McIntosh proudly show off their flower fields set amongst their established, landscaped gardens.

Romswood arrange their open days based on the expected times for individual colour varieties to be ready for picking and they limit each two-hour, ticketed session to only 100 people at a time – starting from Sunday 13th November to Sunday 27th November, with only a handful of weekday dates. Two types of entry fees are available, so if you aren’t keen to snip your own stems – $50 for 15 – you can still visit for $20 and enjoy the scenery and the scents. Under 18s are free!

Travel another 30 minutes from Kerrie and you’ll find Spring Hill Peony Farm in Kyneton, best known for its hundred-year-old, quaint timber Little Church wedding venue. The Spring Hill open days will commence from approximately Friday 25th of November for around two weeks (depending on the season) – and are a strictly pre-purchased, ticketed activity.

Bookings open online at 11am, 20th November, and view-only options are available at this farm too, with well-behaved pooches permitted to visit, providing they are always on a leash. It’s important to note that the peony paddocks here are not accessible by road and visitors must be physically able to complete a 3km round trip via a bush track.

Before you set out on your rural floral adventure be sure to pack some secateurs to cut the roses, bring a basket or bucket to carry your peonies in and wear shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy.

And remember, Mother Nature oversees these precious crops, so there are no guarantees on what will be available, that’s half the charm.


What: Peony Picking Open Days
When: From mid to late November
Where: Romswood Farm and Spring Hill Peony Farm
Also: Red Hill Peony Estate

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

An endless field of sunflowers is about to bloom just outside of Ballarat

Sunflower season is almost upon us, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to put on your Birkenstocks and get down to Dunnstown Farm for a new instagram picture (and to pick a flower or two).

The family-owned farm has announced that in a week or so the field will be ablaze with the canary yellow flowers just waiting to be photographed, picked and frolicked amongst.

England-born, Ballarat local Laiken Britt transformed what was once a dry 15-acre field at the “dodgy end” of their farm into a 200,000-strong sunflower paradise, which has been serving Melbournian’s a whimsical, cottagecore day out for several years now. Take a gander through their Instagram and you’ll see just how much joy these sunflowers have spread.

For Britt, it started with the simple desire to “do something pretty” on the farm and pay homage to her childhood drives through the sunflower fields in France. Now, she explains, “it’s just the best thing ever. Little kids are running around saying they’re having the best day. We call it our slice of paradise.”

Entry is a very respectable $5 and each stem you pick is $2. There’s a coffee cart to stay energised, plenty of space to put your picnic rug, bay bales to pile onto and best of all, no time limit.

Just like all good things, sunflowers don’t last forever so make sure you get down before they say farewell around early-March.

WHAT: Dunnstown Sunflower Farm
WHERE:  420 Navigator-Dunnstown Rd, Dunnstown
WHEN: Mid February, 2022 (any day now really)
MORE INFO: Dunnstown Sunflower Farm

A florist’s plea for all to wake up and smell the roses

Words by Della Vreeland
Images Supplied

Katie Marx’s relationship with the natural world can be described as thus.

“A lifetime love affair.”

Growing up on a farm in regional New Zealand, the florist says she was instilled with an affinity for her surroundings from a young age.

“Mum was a landscaper, so we had this incredible garden growing up, and I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t have a patch of garden where I was allowed to plant my own stuff,” Katie recalls.

But it wasn’t just her farmhouse lifestyle that conjured Katie’s love for the earth. For the mother-of-two, being immersed in nature is seen as a form of meditation.

For me, going for a bushwalk or camping and having that stillness seems like a real meditation.

“Our family goes camping as much as we can, and it’s being in nature with no other people around, and the stillness and life that is going on around you, that I adore so much.

“I love walking through the Australian bush and driving past places that may not seem like anything at first glance. But when you take notice and you see that detail and beauty in everything – it brings me so much joy.”

Katie decided to officially harness her passion for flowers and foliage into a business venture over a decade ago, launching her very own floristry business out of her humble kitchen bench in Northcote.

Fast forward 14 years, and she is currently based in Newstead with her partner, Greg, and their two girls.

Her family are the proud owners of the multi-purpose hub that is Butterland – a former butter factory lovingly restored into a space where heritage, nature and creation combine.

Katie says it took close to six months to return the factory back to its former glory, with the building also used as a candle factory up until 2009.

Since taking over ownership, Katie and Greg have transformed the heritage-listed property, celebrating its history while giving it a whole new lease on life.

The space plays host to many number of events, weddings, workshops and soirees, each characterised by Katie’s incredible floristry and underlined by her strong work ethos which is based on a love for native fauna and the use of seasonal and sustainable materials.

“I’ve always had a strong connection to nature and I hope my work makes other people aware of their connection too.

“I want people to look closely around them and realise that they don’t have to buy stuff all the time. There are so many beautiful things we can use in our everyday lives.”

A huge advocate for supporting local growers and industry, Katie is also part of a sustainable floristry project which is devoted to promoting mindful floristry.

“I try not to preach or be a martyr. It’s just about trying to make the florists coming through a bit more mindful in their work,” she says.

“Just because your grandmother was a florist and did it one way, doesn’t mean you have to.”

Katie’s passion is real. Her love affair with flowers and foliage is clear. Her desire to maintain natural beauty for generations to come is more than apparent.

“I love regional Victoria and can’t imagine ever moving back to the city. I’ll always be a country girl now.”

To find out more about Katie’s work, as well as her workshops and events, hit up the Butterland website.


WHAT: Butterland
FIND OUT MORE: Butterland