Jan HintzeThe herbalists came to town

In September, we had a visit from the Herb Society of Australia and New Zealand, as part of a tour organised by Ericka Stean, of the WA Herb Society. They had a fairly tight timetable, so were only able to stay for an hour or so, unfortunately, but the thirty visitors had time to walk through our flower farm, inspecting our veggie patch and fruit trees on the way past.

The bus carrying our visitors, thankfully airconditioned. You can see how dry it is – the bush is parched, since we haven’t had rain since May 3rd, 4 months previously.

It was a very hot day – the crew arrived at about 11.30 am, and they were all glad to walk from shady patch to shady patch. We looked at the flowers, which were quite new to most of the visitors, since they came, largely, from temperate climate zones and hadn’t seen Heliconias and gingers growing, nor most of the fruits – papaya, bananas, makrut lime, pomelo, durian, bananas, particularly the Red Dacca, There was much interest in my husband’s hybrid pumpkins (Butternut x Kent), which do better here than either parent, and give a superior fruit.

After the walkthrough. Fortunately most of the crew had hats, and even sunshades, but they still felt the heat fairly trying.

At the end of the walk-through I had arranged lots of cold drinks of water and fruit juice, which were much appreciated, as well as a table display of some of the tropical herbs we grow, some of which have medicinal uses as well as being popular for cooking.

The grey shipping container on the left is our coolroom – with a big airconditioner, we keep the temperature inside at 21ºC, which is refreshing for the flowers, and anyone else, who cares to visit, including my dogs.

I also put out a leaflet with some info. About these, since I have learned from experience, that it is difficult to remember intense bursts of information, but more effective if you have something to take away and read carefully later.

The display of tropical herbs I put together to demonstrate the types of plants tropical people use, which are completely different from those people from European heritage are used to considering.

Many of the herbs were gingers – Costus, Boesenbergia, Zingiber, Alpinia, Cucurma, Eletaria, as well as Papaya leaves and flowers, Soursop leaves, Gotu Kola, makrut lime, garlic chives, and Betel pepper leaves. I am not a herbalist, so I don’t really collect tropical herbs – and I was quite surprised just how much we had growing about the place and, I may add, we use most of them ourselves to eat, as well as for cut flowers .

The major attraction at the end, I must admit, was a visit to our cool room, which was full of flowers, ready for delivery the next day, but I suspect the major benefit was not looking at the flowers, but the fact that the room is kept at 21ºC, while the temperature outside was 36º, and hotter in the sun.

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Jan Hintze

About Jan Hintze

Jan is a professional flower grower, horticulturist & consultant, specialising in tropical plants including fruit and vegetable production and cut flowers. Darwin, Northern Territory

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