Eremophila Study Group

Eremophila warnesii

Eremophila Study Group Leaders

Lyndal Thorburn, Queanbeyan NSW (2015-)

Lyndal Thorburn Photograph   

Lyndal, a biologist by training, took over as leader of the study group after Colin Jenning's death in 2015. She has been a member of the Australian Native Plants Society - Canberra Region since 1979 and has been involved with its propagation group ever since, as well as spending over a decade on the Regional Council, and two years as an Executive member of the federal body.

Lyndal began growing eremophilas in the mid-1980s in the frosty outskirts of Canberra and has been happy to prove that many can grow in both cold and shade (but is a bit puzzled as to why her plants never look like the ones in the photos). She and her husband Tom Jordan have introduced many Eremophila species to Canberra growers and, through the propagation group, over 100 varieties are now sold by ANPS Canberra at their bi-annual sales. She is skilled at propagating from cuttings but is a total failure at grafting!

   Colin Jennings Photograph

Colin Jennings, Adelaide SA (1990-2015)

Colin was an active member of SGAP (SA Region) for a number of years, with a particular involvement in propagating plants for the twice a year plants sales. His interest in plants of the semi-arid areas, and in particular eremophilas, stemmed from a general interest in Australian native plants from the early 1960s.

A chemist and teacher by training, Colin had a wide range of horticultural interests in native plants as well as orchids, begonias, hoyas and the family Asclepidaceae generally. Colin was an enthusiastic leader of the study group, initiating a number of surveys of species in cultivation. Colin and his wife Myrnie were granted service awards at the 2014 Australian Plant Society of South Australia's Annual General Meeting, and he was a life member of Orchid Society. Colin died in 2015.

Geoff Needham, Adelaide South Australia (1980-1989)

Geoff Needham Photograph   

In his working life Geoff was highly regarded in the foundry industry and joined the Society for Growing Australian Plants in 1964. He served a two year term as State President in 1969-70 and assisted Ken in his management of the Study group once it was founded and in collecting. He was known to be a very effective propagator with his unique mixture based on coke breeze from the foundry.

Geoff took over the study group in 1980 and it was during this that Bob Chinnock began his study of the genus and the two worked closely together.

Despite flirtations with bromeliads, succulents and carnivorous plants (he was a highly respected speaker on the latter) Geoff saw the Study Group grow to 130 members growing over 120 species and eremophilas become relatively common garden subjects over a wide area. Geoff died in office in 1989.

Ken Warnes, Owen, South Australia (1975-1980)

   Ken Warnes Photograph

Ken, a farmer, started studying the genus in 1963. He was a founding member of Project Eremophila, which was sponsored by the (then) Society for Growing Australian Plants - South Australia. He founded the study group in 1975 and ran it until 1980. Ken has been instrumental in bringing many Eremophila species to horticulture through his collecting and propagation efforts, including through his massive Eremophila "patch" at his farm outside of Owen. He received the National Amateur Award in 2011 (ANPSA) and is a Life Member of the Australian Plants Society (APS) - South Australia (and of the Study Group!)

Ken has also submitted a number of applications to the Australian Cultivar Registration Authority (ACRA) for named Eremophila cultivars (e.g. Eremophila 'Picaninny Dawn' and Eremophila 'Nullarbor Nymph', both of which arose in his garden) and has had E. warnesii named after him (see header photo). Ken is still active in the study group, is generous with his time and is excited about hybrids. The 2015 fires in Pinery, South Australia, which devastated part of his farm, have provided him with a new opportunity to explore hybridisation, recovery of eremophilas from fire and re-emergence of eremophilas in the local landscape (see Eremophila Regeneration Following Fire).

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