ARS Victoria newsletter – February 2024

  • Date: 6th March 2024
  • author: John OHara

EMU VALLEY REVISITED

On Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd of January a small group of three ARSV members, James Pethybridge, Prue Crome and I, flew to Burnie in Tasmania for a couple of days collecting cuttings of species Rhododendron from the Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden (EVRG). This was a repeat of a visit undertaken by another small group last year and is part of an ongoing project to try and duplicate those species Rhododendron that are rare in Australian gardens.

Attempts by the ARSV to import species Rhododendron seed in recent years has highlighted that although most Rhododendron species are a permitted import, it is pretty much not financially viable given the cost of certification and paperwork required for each different species. Armed with this knowledge, it became obvious that there was a need to ensure that those species that are in Australia need to be protected against loss. The aim is to have collections of species at EVRG, DRBG at Olinda, Mt Lofty, Mt Tomar and other gardens so that the wide distribution insures against loss by fire, drought, accident or neglect in one or a few gardens.

The collecting trips have been very generously supported by EVRG, in particular Mary McConnell and Maurie Kupsch, who have been unstinting in their hospitality and have worked very hard to prepare the
groundwork of locating all the required species so that the collecting could take place efficiently. Indeed, Mary’s hospitality for this trip stretched to having us stay at her house, which made for a very comfortable
and enjoyable few days of travel.

This trip resulted in an exchange of cuttings, with some 53 species of Rhododendron going to EVRG, thanks to Andrew Raper at Rhodoglen Nursery, and about 50 different species of Rhododendron coming back to DRBG Olinda. Included in the species collected at EVRG were some relatively recent introductions into cultivation by Steve Hootman at the American Species Foundation a couple being R. huianum and R. valentinioides.

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