August speaker – Alan O’Leary

How I grow Clivia – tips & tricks


I’ve had a passion for growing plants since I was a child. I was born and grew up in a small railway town called Peterborough about 250km north of Adelaide. My brother works in the railways as did my father, grandfathers and two great-grandfathers. I broke the tradition and went to Uni and got a Science degree.

My maternal grandmother was an avid gardener. She had a flower garden in the front yard, I can still remember vividly when I was about 7 years old, experiencing the scent of her patch of Freesia’s. Every visit I’d be out in the garden helping her, climbing quince and apple trees to pick the high fruit, planting pumpkin seeds, harvesting and cracking almonds. Even as a 10- or 11-year-old, when my grandparents went on holidays I could be trusted to look after their garden.

Alan O'Leary
Alan O’Leary

Fast forward a few years and I’m living and working in Adelaide and bought my first house. It had a large pergola and I started growing ferns, then later palms and cycads.

In 1988 at a market, I bought for $2 a strange looking bulb growing in an ice cream container. It flowered a few months later and I found out it was called Haemanthus coccineus. I read in a book it was part of a large family of bulbous plants called Amaryllidaceae. This piqued my interest and I started seeking out other species in this family.

In the mid 90’s I bought two pots of broad leafed Clivia miniata’s that grew and flowered well. I was impressed.  Later a local garden centre had yellow miniata’s for $90. I quickly bought one. By this time, I had a growing family and a demanding job with a multi-national company, so plants went on the back burner for a few years.

I eventually stumbled across David Bearlin’s website Burwood Clivia Nursery. It opened my eyes to what was happening in the Clivia world. I was amazed.

In the last 10 years I’ve expanded my collection of Amaryllids greatly.  It has been very rewarding and I’ve been fortunate to meet like-minded enthusiasts too.

Along the way I’ve learnt a lot about growing practices- potting mixes, fertilisers, pest control etc. I’m an attention-to-detail person so in my talk I will share experiences and tips and tricks.

Recently I retired from work and now I look forward to having more time to do some serious Clivia breeding.  

Friday 20 August 2021 at 7.30pm
Uniting Church
Corner Burwood Hwy & Blackburn Rd
BURWOOD
Visitors welcome.