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Crocus tribute for plantsman Marcus Harvey

Jennifer Stackhouse

Jennifer Stackhouse

July 1, 2017

Last year we lost one of Australia’s leading rare plant collectors and growers, Marcus Harvey. His death left a huge hole not only in his family but also among keen gardeners. Marcus died from melanoma in December. He was 64 years old.

Marcus Harvey on Chios. Photo Susan Jarick


Tasmanian born and bred, he operated his business Hillview Rare Plants from his steep hillside property at South Hobart. While the business has not traded since his death, his family hopes to offer a final catalogue of bulbs for sale in the 2017/2018 season.


Crocus harveyi in bud. Photo Jānis Rukšāns


Marcus Harvey had a particular love of crocus so it is fitting that his name will be associated with a beautiful crocus species grown and named just this week by fellow rare plant enthusiast Jānis Rukšāns. The new ‘Marcus Harvey’ crocus (Crocus harveyi) is a species originally collected by Marcus as seed during one of his collecting trips in Greece. The new name was published on this week in International Rock Gardener.


A hillside in the Plagia region in Greece where Marcus originally collected the crocus that now carries his name. Photo Jānis Rukšāns


Marcus Harvey wrote about his collecting adventures in his blog titled ‘Ramblings’, which is published on his website and also in poems. His blog posts recount joyous discoveries of rarities and descriptions of far away places along with the inevitable setbacks. In ‘Mad Dogs and Primroses’ he tells the story of rescuing son Alex when he was chased up a mountainside by angry dogs as Harvey himself was in pursuit of an illusive primrose. Illustrations accompanying many of Marcus’s blogs and seed lists are by his partner Susan Jarick.


Marcus Harvey was honoured this week by having one of his favourite plants, Crocus harveyi, named after him. Photo Jānis Rukšāns



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Lesley Cox
Lesley Cox
6 years ago

I am so pleased to see this tribute to Marcus. He deserves every good thing said about him. He and I were friends in a mild way from 2005 when with a friend from NSW I stayed with him in Hobart. I had already imported his seed from the eastern Mediterranean and then was able to import annually, his wonderful bulbs, especially Crocus, Galanthus, Narcissus species and others, many of them very rare. These species and forms are in New Zealand because unlike other nursery exporters, he was prepared to go through the inspections and bureaucracy, and red tape required by New Zealand’s Ministry of Ag and Fish (now Min of Primary Industries) when those others couldn’t be bothered.

At this time of year especially I think of Marcus daily as crocuses and snowdrops are approaching their peak flowering and every one seems to be a link back to him and his nursery.

Marcus was a great plantsman but for too few years. I and my garden are the richer for having known him as are so many others here and throughout the world.

Bernard Chapman
Bernard Chapman
6 years ago

Wow, Jennifer, what a fitting legacy for someone who was obviously a special human being, who the world is the poorer for his passing. Thank you for sharing this story. I love crocus, too. I wish we could grow them in Sydney! Hugs, Bernard

6 years ago

Thanks Bernard! Aren’t the images of the crocus just wonderful.