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Our Story

In 1975, renown psychotherapist Dr Bernie Brandchaft and his wife Elaine stole away to the Santa Ynez mountains to escape Los Angeles’s summer heat. They fell in love with the cooler Mediterranean climate and built a sustainable homestead, pioneering off-the-grid living with solar power and an on-site water well. A few years on, Bernie returned from a business trip to Australia having fallen in love with these beautiful, ancient flowers. He planted his first cuttings in 1985 and eventually planted thousands of Protea on the farm.

Their nephew Larry took over the ranch in the early 1990’s and grew its flourishing flower business. He maintains their sustainable mission to this day, using no pesticides or fertilizers and even upgrading the solar power to meet growing demand. The shelves at the Ranch of the Golden Hawk are still full of Bernie’s books covering everything from outer space to the inner mind.

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The Early Days

Late 1970’s after Bernie, Elaine, family and friends first enjoyed the fruits of their labor. Most Protea take about six years to produce their first bloom.


The Ranch Today

With over 100 acres and 100 species, our staff has grown to include an incredible team lead by Hugh, Kim and our lead farmer Antonio.


All About Protea

One of the oldest genus of flower in the world, Proteaceae are about 80 million years old, overlapping with dinosaurs for nearly 20 million years. With more than 1,660 known species, Proteaceae are prolific in their native South Africa and grow exclusively in dry, coastal Mediterranean climates. Native populations have likely known of Protea long into history. Western societies, however, were introduced to this ancient plant in 1735 when Carl Linnaeus named them Protea after the Greek God Proteus. Proteus could change his form at will, underscoring Protea’s wide variety of forms. Protea are now cultivated in over 20 countries across the globe.


The Sugarbush

Protea repens (mellifera) produce copious amounts of nectar, hence the common name “sugarbush” or suikerbossie in Afrikaans.. The nectar - called bossiestroop - was used through the 19th century as a medicine to cure coughs and chest pains, as well as to sweeten food. Planting Protea is also a great way to support our declining bee population in California. How to make bossiestroop.



Bad Soil is Better

Protea are masters at absorbing nitrogen, phosphorous and water from soil, which means they do not like humidity or fertilizers. While this makes Protea a great option for a sustainable flower farm, it also makes them difficult to keep alive in the wrong climate. Protea are naturally found in dry and rocky with highly porous soil. Like most Californians, they also love a salty sea breeze!



King Protea - Lord of Flowers

King Protea (Protea cynaroides) has been South Africa’s national flower since 1976. It’s name indeed fits its form, as each flower can be between 4-10 inches in diameter - just a few inches smaller than a dinner plate. King Protea itself has over 80 garden varieties and is highly adaptive to wildfires, keeping spare buds inside its thick underground stem. The King has become quite well know for as a centerpiece in wedding bouquets.


Our Flowers


We have over 100 varietals of Protea, Pincushion (Leucospermium), Waratah, Banksia (Telopea), Leucadendron, and special seasonals! Below are some of our favorite species for your bouquets:


Pincushion (Leucospermum)