My love affair with hippeastrums began in the Spring of 2011 on Main Arm Road. I live twelve kilometres out of Mullumbimby and Main Arm Road is my way into town. We travel it often and each Spring we would marvel at John Scott’s Hippeastrum display. John planted hundreds of bulbs under his paddock’s fence. Every Spring they dutifully bloomed and for a couple of weeks, the road was bright with colour for all passers-by to enjoy.
I once stopped and asked for seeds. Collected a bagful and started growing them. Three years later, the first flower spikes showed up and I was hooked. I started giving seedlings away: all the schools and playgroups my son and godson ever attended have some in their gardens and most of my friends’ do too. I sent some as far as Bellingen and smuggled a handful of bulbs to Italy too. They took no notice of the topsy-turvy season and mum said they flowered 7-week after being planted, as they are meant to.
John is long gone from Main Arm Road; his house sold to new owners; his gift lost to road repairs that made the bend safer but trampled the store of beauty hidden under the fence. Only a handful of his bulbs survived around the tin shed, unloved by the new owners, who whipper-snippered them down and eventually plucked them out of the ground… But the colony has moved on, re-established in our and dozen other gardens; augmented by varieties our friend Pam brought to our garden and mixed with the handful of bulbs my house had in dowry.
I don’t know the flowers’ names for sure. I suspect that most of what I am now growing comes originally from the Maguire Hippeastrum Farm on the Sunshine Coast: they were the largest grower in Australia; they grew, pollinated and bred hippeastrums for decades, and they are only a few hundred kilometres North.
I would have loved to visit but I learnt of its existence when the farm had already been sold; the Maguires retired. I have found their old books, though full of pictures of their delicate and colourful hybrids and I have marked the possibilities: “Boyson”? Maybe. “Candy Tuft”? Most def. “City of Grafton”, definitely! Would that be “Eleanor Elizabeth”, “Kalahari”, “Adalong” or an American variety called “Hercules”?
In 2018, I propagated again. I dried the seed the snails left me and harvested from the neighbours’ gardens: Lucy’s down the road, the potter on Tyagarah St and some from John’s old shed too. I found a healthy internet community of Hippy fans too and swapped seeds with a lady called Pam Muller. Everyone only too happy to share their seed booty.
Will the paddocks be large enough?
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