Protea World on SA Life

Protea World on SA Life

A walk in the nursery with Michael Keelan


Michael: Isn’t this absolutely beautiful? It’s a King Protea, and it’s the floral emblem of South Africa. You know it’s just one of around 1600 species in the Protacea family…which I’m featuring in this month’s SA Life magazine.

We’ll look at the history, species you can grow and also just how easy they are to grow.

Today I’m on the Fleurieu Peninsula where I’ve found a place that you can select plants and cut flowers from an amazing collection.

Tina Bolton’s parents opened Protea World more than two decades ago and today the family grow around 60 different varieties. As a bulletproof plant they are often overlooked and although most of these aren’t native to Australia they come from similar climates and do well in our conditions.

Tina: They are easy to care for Michael. They are drought tolerant plants and they love the full sun and really picking the flowers is your maintenance. This is the Leucadendron Jester. It’s a variegated Leucadendron. You can cut flowers from March through to October and that keeps them low and bushy.Michael: It’s a handsome plant isn’t it?

Michael: Now if you are starting in a home garden what are some requirements that a gardener would need to get right to have successful crops of protea flowers?

Tina: Proteas and Leucadendrons and Leucospermums all like full sun…open area… good drainage and a nice drink once a week.

Michael: You’ve been here 20 years, and you’ve got so many plants on the farm here, have you got a favourite?

Tina: I think one of my favourites is also be a Leucadendron…it’s the Leucadendron Superstar and fortunately its flowering right now in winter and probably the Inca gold as well which is bright yellow in winter. Leucadendrons are lovely… they give you so much colour in the garden in winter.

Michael: Is there a people’s favourite?

Tina: I think the people’s favourite would be the Leucadendron Safari Sunset because of its lovely bright red colour in winter.

Michael: Hey Tina, from a blokes point of view I wouldn’t mind receiving these as flowers… different than a bunch of roses to give to a man.

Tina: The Proteas are a little more ‘manly’ but the Leucodendrons have lovely colour and they are not really flowers they are coloured bracks so definitely appeal to men.

Michael: And this is your retail nursery. Very well kept I must say.

Tina: Thank you Michael. Yes this is where people can come in and buy their plants from us and we will try and give them some nice helpful advice.

Michael: Because not all grow in acidic soil so you have to get that advice too.

Tina: Yes that’s right a lot of people on the coast would be more alkaline and we can help them make their choice.

Michael: And all the different sizes… how tall they grow how to prune.

Tina: Exactly, because Leucadendrons will grow from 1 metre, to 2 and a half metres.

Michael: Tina in a few words what’s the basic difference between say Proteas and Banksia and Leucospermums?

Tina: Leucospermums are lovely flowers that flower in spring they are also described as the pincushion flower. The Proteas are the big flowers you see in the buckets in the shop and the Leucodendrons are coloured bracks. The reds and yellows in winter and the Banksias they are quite large flowers …Australian natives. Most of the others are South African natives and the birds love our Banksias because they are native birds.

Tina: And this is the one I was telling you about Michael…the people’s choice.

Michael: it’s fantastic I can see why … as a cut flower how lovely.

Tina: Yes they have lovely long stems … beautiful bright red and they are red for 6-8 months of the year.

Michael: You’ll find Protea World roughly between Willunga and Mt Compass. Take the Yundi turn off on the Victor Harbor Road. It’s open Monday to Friday from April to October. I guarantee that after a visit you’ll have a whole new appreciation for these wonderful plants.

When you come into the shop…you can see a display of the plants that are actually flowering, and you can pick up a bunch or bucket of freshly cut flowers to take home…now how good is that?