New April date set for Collectors' Plant Fair at Hawkesbury Race Club

Potted colour: Robyn Bible from North Richmond will be selling her geraniums at the Collectors' Plant Fair. Picture: Geoff Jones
Potted colour: Robyn Bible from North Richmond will be selling her geraniums at the Collectors' Plant Fair. Picture: Geoff Jones

It has been a challenging year for growers across the country, but The Collectors' Plant Fair will return to Hawkesbury Race Club, Clarendon on April 10 and 11, with a huge selection of specialist nurseries selling their plants direct to the public.

Michael Barnes, President of the Iris Society of Australia and the Treasurer and Secretary of the NSW Branch, and owner of Iris Australis (irisaustralis.com) at Bilpin, will be sharing a stall with a fellow Iris expert, and said he expected to see a "really diverse" group of customers coming along to the show.

"There will be everyone from the absolutely expert, true collectors who are looking for something exotic or unusual from a grower who may not have an online or retail presence, but also particularly locals who like gardening and want an excuse to get out there and get something different into their garden beds," he told the Gazette.

Flowers galore: Iris Australis in Bilpin is run by Michael Barnes, President of the Iris Society of Australia and the Treasurer and Secretary of the NSW Branch, and he will exhibiting his irises at the fair in April. Picture: Supplied

Flowers galore: Iris Australis in Bilpin is run by Michael Barnes, President of the Iris Society of Australia and the Treasurer and Secretary of the NSW Branch, and he will exhibiting his irises at the fair in April. Picture: Supplied

Mr Barnes will be displaying a variety of potted bearded irises.

While relatively new to the flower game having run Iris Australis for four years, Mr Barnes, a grower and hybridiser, coordinates all the trial gardens for the Iris Society across Australia, and also has a trial garden at his premises for new iris hybrids, and sells online to the public.

"I've got over 1,000 varieties, and 1,600 metres of iris beds," he said.

"The public are welcome [at the Bilpin premises] on Fridays and weekends in October, during bloom season."

Mr Barnes, like many Bilpin businesses, "copped it really hard" during the bushfire season, and has been rebuilding after losing fencing and garden beds.

A lot of his irises survived, though.

"The irises are really tough and survive the drought and climate change as well. I'm getting more and more contact from people across western NSW saying irises are the only things that are flowering in their gardens in spring when plenty of other plants are struggling in the climate," he said.

See for yourself: Iris Australis in Bilpin has over 1,000 varieties, and 1,600 metres of iris beds, which the public can view at the farm during October. Picture: Supplied

See for yourself: Iris Australis in Bilpin has over 1,000 varieties, and 1,600 metres of iris beds, which the public can view at the farm during October. Picture: Supplied

Robyn Bible from North Richmond is on the committee of the Australian Geranium Society which meets once a month at Turramurra.

She has been a geranium enthusiast and collector for 46 years.

"I specialise in the growing of geraniums and pelargoniums. I have a lot of Australian ones that were produced here, and I also have a lot of the South African species as well. I do scenteds, miniatures, ivy geraniums, the list goes on," she told the Gazette.

"The first recording of a flowering pelargonium in Britain was in 1632. I have one of that type, called 'triste' - it has a yellow to tan kind of flower and is night-scented, so they attract moths."

"We will be selling a lot of scenteds at the show, there's rose, lemon, apple, coconut, nutmeg, there's quite an array."

Mrs Bible is a member of the Kurrajong North Richmond Rotary, and gives talks at garden club meets and specialty garden events.

"There's so much to know about geraniums. People say, aren't you bored after 46 years? I say no, because there's so much to learn, and it's still as enjoyable as the day I first started," she said.

All previously purchased tickets for the Collectors' Plant Fair 2020 will be honoured at the new date.

Tickets and information are available at www.collectorsplantfair.com.au.