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A growing passion

Beth Stokes

Beth Stokes

March 17, 2014

Throughout Australia there are dedicated and knowledgeable people collecting, propagating, grafting, hybridising, tissue-culturing and nurturing new varieties of plants. These people are modern day plant hunters, scouring mail-order catalogues from suppliers around the world, or travelling to distant nurseries or wild places in search of new specimens.

Millettia grandis from Growing Friends

Millettia grandis from Growing Friends

Many of the plants they grow do not appear in retail outlets but are acquired and treasured by passionate plant collectors eager for new plants to add to their collections or with which to enrich their gardens.

There are specialist growers for all classes of plants – for trees and shrubs, native plants, perennials, roses, herbs and edible plants, bulbs, orchids, ferns, bamboos, grasses, water plants, bonsai. Many of these nurseries do not have retail outlets and are not online. Others are wholesalers, some are retailers, some do website mail-order only. Most meet up with each other and their customers at plant fairs, which are burgeoning.

Echinacea purpurea 'Ruby Star' from Country Farm Perennials

Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’ from Country Farm Perennials

More than 50 specialist nurseries will be at the 9th Collectors’ Plant Fair at the Hawkesbury Race Club, Clarendon NSW on the 12 & 13 April. This is a dedicated plants-only event for the serious plantaholic. Some nurseries will be launching first-time-releases at the Fair. As the convenor Peta Trahar says, ‘This is not a jumping-castle affair, it is all about plants’. Garden clubs flock to the Fair in coach loads for an annual buy-up to stock their gardens.

Inspirational speakers at the Collectors’ Plant Fair include Dr Holly Kerr Forsyth who will speak about her quest to capture the beauty of the botanical world with a camera. Coming out specially from the USA to speak about hydrangeas is Mal Condon from Hydrangea Farm Nursery. Libby Raines will unfold the Magic of Merry Garth, the iconic cold-climate garden she has created at Mount Wilson, while ‘Herbie’ – Ian Hemphill will tell all there is to know about spices with the encouragement of Simon Marnie from ABC 702 Weekends.

The Fair is strongly supported by the horticultural industry and is sponsored by the Australian Institute of Horticulture and the Iris Society NSW.

Let the plants speak for themselves as you enjoy the following slide show of some of the amazing plants on offer at the Collectors’ Plant Fair this year.


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Tara Springer
9 years ago

As an exhibitor at the Collectors Plant Fair, we are always extremely busy talking and selling to customers and this is a wonderful way to gauge customer feedback and find out what people are looking for. However, the highlight of attending this wonderful event for me is interacting with the other stallholders, who are more often than not, mad plant collectors too! I drive my poor, long suffering husband to distraction trying to sneak countless newly purchased plant varieties into the trailer bound for a homeward journey!

Peta Trahar
9 years ago

I thoroughly enjoyed your article Beth. The weather leading up to the Fair has been just right to encourage Autumn planting. I have a “want” list but of course once that’s ticked off there’s time to find plenty of treasures. You just never know when a plant will disappear off nursery lists. With our sensibly strict quarantine laws, Don Teese of Yamina Collectors’ Nursery reminds us that what we have in Australia is like gold. I love to see new gardeners getting “hooked” and of course the experienced “on the prowl”. The Collectors’ Plant Fair is a friendly event. One very good gardener I know says he almost has to wear a disguise because so many want to chat to him and catch up. He’s likely to miss out on something! I think it’s great that the speakers are all planties and well worth listening to. Looking forward to the weekend.

Peta Trahar