Binnaway's Bilby Blooms defies COVID setback to find new customers

The timing of the coronavirus shutdown "could not have been worse" for a native plants business in the Orana region, but opportunity has sprung from the setback.

Bilby Blooms, a cut flower farm and specialist native plant nursery, was experiencing "the best autumn this century", co-owner Anthony O'Halloran said.

Then COVID-19 restrictions stopped four large plant markets across the state scheduled for the season, stripping the Binnaway business of crucial outlets for its beautiful produce.

But showing tenacity, Bilby Blooms has started supplying beyond its regular Dubbo florists to florists across a wider region, and Mr O'Halloran and wife Annabelle have a bright outlook.

The business normally sells its plants and bouquets of flowers at regional markets.

COVID-19 struck during the countdown to the large plant markets across the state in autumn, with the first meant to be a week after isolation rules started, and the last in April.

"So as autumn rolled along, we had a wonderful range of native plants, and no opportunities to sell them," Mr O'Halloran said.

The cut flowers side of Bilby Blooms, which had grown in the past 10 years, then came into its own.

Mr O'Halloran said before the pandemic, they had supplied only florists in Dubbo.

The lockdown forced them to "look for other opportunities", including finding reliable regional couriers, he said.

"We now regularly supply florists from Tamworth, Narromine, Coonabarbran, Mudgee, Bourke, Parkes as well as Dubbo with fresh picked, locally-grown native flowers," Mr O'Halloran said.

The operation has also expanded against the backdrop of strong demand and a good season.

"Having a lot of these wonderful plants, and the 2020 autumn being so water generous, we have established yet another flower plot on our farm," Mr O'Halloran said.

"The species we grow love our hot dry summers and survive Binnaway's cold winters.

"These species cannot be grown successfully on the coast, and florists cannot get enough of them."

The species we grow love our hot dry summers and survive Binnaway's cold winters.

Anthony O'Halloran of Bilby Blooms

The break from "rushing to get plants and flowers ready for weekly markets" was not wholly unwelcome, but they were looking forward to "post COVID-19 times".

"We do really enjoy talking plants with Dubbo's enthusiastic plant lovers at the Rotunda Market... we'll be at the Dubbo Rotunda Markets when it returns this month," Mr O'Halloran said.

A long-time fan of Bilby Blooms is Irissa Knight, owner of The Meadow Floral Design at Dubbo.

COVID-19 severely disrupted supply from the Sydney Flower Market, but the Binnaway business had come to her aid, she said.

"We are still really lucky Bilby Blooms have been supplying us natives during all of this, because all of his markets were cancelled, so they had product they could actually provide," she said.

"They're so amazing, and their product is the best."