There’s only one spot in the world where all 79 species of banksia grow and that’s in Kevin and Kathy Collins’ garden, in Mount Barker, WA.

Story By Ken Eastwood

"This was never a planned business,” says bushy-bearded Kevin Collins, surrounded in his delightful five-hectare garden by every single species of banksia in existence. “It’s a hobby gone mad.”
Kevin educates everyone from visiting schoolkids to botanists. “I don’t have a day’s botanical training,” he says. “I was just over in America lecturing on it.” He is the co-author of books on botany and is valued as an expert on Western Australia’s wildflowers in particular. As well as holding the most recently found banksias, the garden also has many of the world’s species of dryandra, which are closely related.
Kevin says that the climate of Mount Barker has helped them grow all 79 species of banksia. “You can only grow two or three in Canberra – it’s too bloody cold,” he says. “Sydney is too humid for most of them. The other thing that’s assisted us is a huge variety of soils. We have everything from pH 4.5 to 6.5, and by moving them around we were able to mix and match and grow them all.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #94

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2014