Lavenders are a garden staple in many parts of the world, with Australia being no exception. One Australian lavender breeding program in particular is enjoying great success both at home and on the world stage, successfully taking on the European and American marketplaces. Plant Growers Australia (PGA), based in Victoria, are one of the country’s premier wholesale plant growers. PGA has a rich history in plant breeding and are renowned for launching innovative ornamental varieties onto the market.
PGA has an active breeding arm with a range of projects always underway and it has been dedicated to breeding lavenders for over 15 years. Plant breeder Steve Eggleton describes their vision in his own words “Our breeding is focused on introducing quality new ornamental plants. We recognize that success comes in all facets, from propagation to production, retail presentation and of course, most importantly – outstanding garden performance.”
PGA’s Lavender Ruffles Collection is a great example of their success. After sourcing genetics from all over the world, Eggleton and his business partner Howard Bentley, spent years selecting crosses that eliminated the untidiness and disease problems commonly associated with many Lavenders on the market. The final result was a collection of six new varieties that exhibit prolific flowering, a range of beautiful colours, compact habit, and improved disease resistance. The duo named their Ruffles Collection in reference to the large ‘ruffled’ edges of the plants bracts, or wings.
From the same breeding program, also emerged Lavender ‘Violet Lace’ and ‘Winter Lace’ – two stunning varieties that are early flowerers. This means we can enjoy some colour in the garden earlier than usual, with both forms beginning to bloom from late winter onwards. Timing of flowering is often an important selection criteria to plant breeders when they are looking for new advantages to offer the marketplace.
The feather in PGA’s breeding cap however, has to be ‘The Princess Lavender’. This stunning new variety is famed for its vivid pink flower colour, the likes of which has never been seen before in this genus. This variety makes a superb hedging plant as the blooms are held close to the foliage creating an eye-catching sea of colour.
‘The Princess Lavender’ has recently been celebrated as the 2013 Winner of the Product Innovation category in the Australian Business Awards. These prestigious awards honour the very best in new products and services across the country. The awards consider all industries – from washing powder to dog food – so it is fantastic that a plant has been named as this year’s winner. It’s high time plant breeders were celebrated for the years of effort that is behind new varieties. Let’s put them on the national stage just as other new products are.
“The Princess Lavender is the pinnacle of our lavender breeding program and has caused a real stir in the lavender world due to its vivid pink colour and superior performance in propagation and production.” We are delighted that it has been recognized as it represents 15 years of a breeding program. It’s always a good feeling to have your product recognized and to see people take it home and enjoy it” explained plant breeder Howard Bentley.
Congratulations to the breeding team at PGA!
[This post is brought to you by Plants Management Australia]