To celebrate good luck and success in the Year of the Rabbit, pick these flowers

Here comes the Year of the Rabbit. And if you’re thinking of a savage plague plundering our coastal headlands, think again. In Chinese astrology the rabbit represents elegance and delicacy, peace and hope: definitely something to celebrate.

Lunar New Year is traditionally celebrated with fruits and flowers and other omens of prosperity. I lived in Hong Kong for a while and on Lunar New Year we would walk to the Victoria Park flower market in Causeway Bay. (I’m told this is no longer the best choice for New Year’s flowers, as it’s uncomfortably crowded; better is the market at Fa Hui Park in Sham Shui Po, just around the corner from Flower Market Road, open all year, therefore particularly strong in flowers.)

Flowers ready for sale for the Lunar New Year at an orchid farm in Hong Kong.Credit:access point

In the past, in Causeway Bay, red lanterns shone and banners everywhere read ‘kung hei fat choi’. The turnip cakes with dried mushrooms were irresistible, as were the little potted cumquats, topped with bright orange fruit. Cumquat can be literally translated as “gold” and “luck” in Cantonese, which is why it is considered a tree that brings wealth. It didn’t work for me that year, but I loved the cumquats.

You can’t find cumquats in Sydney at Lunar New Year, nor the other harbingers of spring that are traditional choices, like peach blossoms and jonquils. But many of the other flowers featured at Hong Kong’s New Year flower markets are easy to come by.

Orchids of any kind are a popular choice, portending fertility and luxury, and have the added benefit of being relatively long-lasting, even if you don’t manage to re-bloom them. Gladdies foretells career success, as the flowers begin blooming at the base of the flower stalk, then rise inexorably to the top. They are even luckier if they are red. Marigolds promise long life as their Mandarin name is a homophone of ‘longevity’.

Shoppers Look At Bouquets Of Flowers At A Lunar New Year Flower Market In The Causeway Bay District Of Hong Kong

Shoppers look at bouquets of flowers at a Lunar New Year flower market in the Causeway Bay district of Hong KongCredit:access point


Celosia is another lucky choice. This annual has two distinct flower shapes, reminiscent of lucky animals, bringing wisdom and prosperity. The cock of the two is Celosia argentea cristata, commonly called the cockscomb flower for its wavy red felt flower head.

Hybridizers have worked on this, expanding the color range and increasing the size of the flower so that it now resembles an exotic coral rather than a rooster’s comb, or as the Lambley Nursery catalog describes the brilliant crimson ‘Chief Carmine’, like ‘a velvety sheep’s brain’. Striking!

The phoenix is ​​the feathery Celosia argentea, with feathery tufts of flowers, luckiest in red, but also available in gold, orange and a very elegant lime green. In an ideal world, you would have sown celosia seeds last spring, or planted seedlings in early summer, and would now be enjoying a vibrant display. Most likely a trip to Sydney’s flower markets, or going to the local florist for plenty of flowers to make your home lucky and welcome beauty and grace in the Year of the Rabbit.

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