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.
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.
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.