Look how massive these Philodendron gigas are! And that’s just the tip of this aroid iceberg.
Chris Hall and Arden Dearden have an amazing large exotic home garden on the outskirts of Cairns; part production nursery and part plant collection.
The garden beds are packed with unusual palms, euphorbias and other tropical treasures, but it is the 3 shade houses that hold the real treasures. Rare, unusual, collectible and in some cases, unidentifiable, plant species from around the world fill shelves, the floors and hang from the rafters.
Chris and Arden have been obsessing about equatorial plants together for the last 20 years, travelling the world to see them in the wild, collecting seed and then propagating them for the garden.
Some in the collection are flowering, so Chris and Arden are busy pollinating to try to produce seed. ‘If there are two flowers present, we can do it right away, but otherwise we have to store the pollen in the freezer’. This is what Arden calls the ‘sperm bank’ – a fridge on the verandah storing only seed and pollen, containing the genetic material for a botanical garden!
Seeds are sown into sealed plastic bags – a simple but effective way to maintain moisture for germination. Importing seed into the country is becoming increasingly restricted, so they make the most of what material they have to preserve genetic diversity.
Arden says ‘There is always something new, every day. Yes, a new plant, but also just a new leaf, a new flower or a seed pod you have never seen before.’
This rare climbing aroid was planted in the ground decades ago by the pair, and now mounts a tree to display its enormous leaves.
QUEEN ANTHURIUM – Anthurium warocqueanum
One of Chris’ favourites from her collection. The stunning leaves show just why this anthurium is so collectable and why foliage is queen!
AMAZON CORAL TREE – Erythrina amazonica
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