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Australian Plant Society South East NSW

Last month members were treated to a talk by Peter Ollerenshaw of Bywong Nursery.

Peter began work as a horticulture apprentice with Canberra City Parks in 1964 and then worked at the Canberra Botanic Gardens for most of his apprenticeship continuing there for 10 years. After a 2 year stint at Monaro Nursery in charge of plant production he then returned to the Australian National Botanic Gardens for 11 years, firstly as an overseer in the gardens and then at the nursery. He was supervisor in charge of gardeners both at ANBG Canberra and the Jervis Bay annexe. In 1989 Peter left the Gardens to establish Bywong Nursery concentrating on Australian plants.

Peter began his talk at the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden by introducing the range of Correa species and where they occur naturally. Correa is in the Rutaceae Family within the Tribe Boronieae and is a genus of just 11 species endemic to Australia with representation from southern Queensland to just inside the eastern border of Western Australia. Some shrubs in Eastern Victoria can grow to 10m tall but most only grow to 3 metres. C. baeuerlenii, the Chefs Cap Correa is widely grown. It is found in a couple of isolated populations between Bega and Batemans Bay on hillsides adjacent to waterways often in association with rainforest species. It has proved to be a very hardy and long lived reliable garden plant. The foliage exudes a delightful spicy fragrance on warm days or after rain.

Correas are naturally promiscuous and seedlings will pop up over time. This led growers over the past 50 years to propagate those which appeared different resulting in many different forms including Correa “Mannii”, Correa “Dusky Bells” and Correa “Marians Marvel” which have proved very successful and can still be found in nurseries.

There has also been released many naturally occurring forms of C. reflexa, C. alba and C. pulchella. Over the years Peter has also produced many plants that have not been successful commercially. He is experimenting with crossing hybrid plants back to the original crosses and has come up with some interesting forms.

Following lunch Peter talked about his Grevillea breeding program and how he goes about producing the smoke to germinate seeds. On completion of the meeting members were lucky enough to purchase some of his Correa cultivars.

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