About Me

This page will serve to tell a bit about me, and how Streptocarpus has come to feature in my life.

Streptocarpus 'Falling Stars'

My gardening expertise comes from having been in the garden in Auckland (New Zealand) since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, thanks to my mum.  But one of my degrees is also a BSc in biological sciences specialising in plant science.  Plants are a way of life for me, but also passion and a wonder.
How did I get into Streptocarpus?  My first recollection or awareness of Streptocarpus was in my early teens.  My step-mother in Nelson used to have a very large one in a hanging pot.  I've not seen one like it since; its leaves were very long, as were its flower stems.  I think I remember liking the plant, but thinking it was a bit too behemoth to want to grow.
The next time I remember Streptocarpus coming into my sphere of interest was probably in my late teens or early 20s.  I can't remember why.  Anyway, I became obsessed with checking all the garden centres looking for Streptocarpus that I liked.  The collection I "amassed" was probably only 4 strong; I remember trying to hybridise them, but nothing came of it.  My interest waned after a short while - probably because of their poor performance in Auckland's heat.  They got left at mum's place, and either died or were planted in the garden.
Then, when I was about 23 or 24, I obtained a leaf of 'Kim' from somewhere and successfully grew it.  Ever since then, I've had this plant, and its clones.  They moved with me to Wellington when I was 25.  Somewhere between then and 30, I bought 2 new plants.  In my early 30s, I hybridised 2 of them - it worked and I got seedlings out of them.  There is simply nothing better than seeing a new, unknown seedling flower for the first time.
I think that must have been the positive reinforcement I needed to cement and progress my interest.  From there, I have brought seed into NZ from the UK, the US, the Ukraine and South Africa [big ups to Jaco Truter and Pavel Enikeev] to add to my collection and breeding stock.  Of course, this was done legally, see MAF's Biosecurity Index for details.  Actually, I had a part to play in having Streptocarpus hybrid seed (of any parentage) being added to the Biosecurity Index.