Monday, December 26th, 2011

The traditional Christmas Poinsettia has been put on notice by one of Australia’s most innovative plant nurseries: It's time to embrace our very own Sturt Pea as our Christmas plant instead of this American imposter!

Deon Schumann of Port Augusta’s Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden says they’d like to see the Sturt Pea, South Australia’s official floral emblem, on display at Christmas time next year.

“It’s always been a notoriously difficult species to plant, but after extensive research and a lot of trial and error, we’ve come up with a new method of planting and growing it that’s producing fantastic results,” Mr Schumann said.

The Poinsettia species is native to Mexico and its history as a Christmas plant dates back to the 16th century. The family who pioneered the method for growing the most popular varieties still controls the majority of the worldwide market for the distinctive plant.

But according to Mr Schumann, the time has come for Australians to embrace the local Sturt Pea as their official Christmas plant.

“Why would we have a plant from Mexico that was popularised in America as our Christmas plant when we have something with the traditional red and black colours that’s as stunning as the Sturt Pea and is literally home grown?” he asks.

Mr Schumann says promoting the Sturt Pea as the ideal Christmas plant is part of push to promote the broader use of Australian low-rainfall natives for use in gardens and landscaping that can easily replace many traditional but less suitable plants and is part of their ‘AridSmart’ program.

For now, only the most committed and patriotic Aussies will be showing off their Arid Smart branded Sturt Peas as they are currently only available at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden Gift and Garden Shop in Port Augusta in northern South Australia near the world famous Flinders Ranges.

“There’s plenty of amazing native plants and displays up here, so it’s definitely worth a visit for anyone who’s into their garden” Mr Schumann said. “But for everyone else, rest assured the Sturt Pea will be more widely available during the year ahead with plenty of time to plant it for next Christmas.”

Port Augusta is experiencing a strong burst of growth as a result of the mining activity in the area. Greg Perkin, City Manager of the Port Augusta City Council said the breakthrough with the Sturt Pea was a great initiative and one of the many interesting and exciting things about the city that might surprise people who haven’t visited Port Augusta recently.

“Because of our warm, dry climate, when most people think of Port Augusta they’re probably not thinking about plants and innovative gardens. But our Arid Lands Botanic Garden attracts visitors from all over Australia and indeed the world. It’s yet another part of what’s going on here in Port Augusta that people who come to visit or live can discover and enjoy.”

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Port Augusta City Council

Released on behalf of Port Augusta City Council. More information about the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden

Phone Deon Schumann on 08 86 410 156.

Media Contact: Cherie Gerlach, 0427 413345.

Cherie Gerlach
P: 0427 413 345


Port Augusta City Council, Sturt Pea, Deon Schumann, Greg Perkin, Poinsettia Christmas



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