MPC and Aptos (both from October – July)
South African and Australian native plants available as landscape plants, fresh-cut flowers, greens and bouquets with basket arrangements available by order. The more than 150 varieties of South African plants available are all in the protea family, of which the major genera include protea, leucadendron and leucospermum — more commonly known as pincushions. Australian varieties number more than 50 and include banksia, grevillea, adenanthos — also known as woolly bush, phyllica plumosa, kangaroo paw and hakea, which is known for its venous leaves. Seasonal wreaths and wedding floral services are also available.
Mike Astone and Bettina Wromar
7160 Freedom Blvd
Aptos, CA 95003
Hours: By appointment only
Husband and wife, Mike Astone [pronounced uh-STONE-ee] and Bettina Wromar have been growing South African and Australian native plants in the Aptos Hills since 1981. The couple first started with different varieties of protea [PRO-tee-uh], which they grew from seed imported from South Africa. They currently grow more than 200 varieties of South African and Australian native plants outdoors on close to eight acres.
Astone’s Protea was established in 1984 as the couple first sold its cut flowers and greens directly to retail florists in an area ranging from Monterey northward to San Mateo. As the business expanded, they began selling wholesale to flower shippers in Watsonville as well as to a flower vendor at the San Francisco Wholesale Flower Mart.
However, by the late 1990s, the couple shifted their business model from selling wholesale to participating exclusively in farmers markets. In addition to selling in the San Francisco Bay Area, Astone’s Protea joined the MBCFM in 2002.
The drought-resistant plants grow in the Aptos climate naturally. The only watering they receive is once every three weeks during the first two summers. The plants are not watered, fed or sprayed. Ideal soil is sandy or rocky loam, and they prefer full sun.
The flowers and greens are cut five days a week for farmers markets. They may be expected to last for two to four weeks, depending upon their care.
Astone’s Protea is a two-person, seven-day-a-week operation. Astone and Wromar have no employees; they do all the work themselves.
Protea flowers are known for their long-lasting beauty. They last 10-14 days fresh, then dry to soft, muted tones that often last for several years.