Kevin educates everyone from visiting school kids to botanists. “I don’t have a day’s botanical training,” he says. “I was just over in America lecturing on it.” He is the co-author of books on botany and is valued as an expert on Western Australia’s wildflowers in particular. As well as holding the most recently found banksia, the garden also has many of the world’s species of dryandra, which are closely related.
Kevin says the climate of Mount Barker has helped them grow all 79 species of banksia. The other thing that assisted them is the huge variety of soils. “We have everything from pH 4.5 to 6.5, and by moving them around we were able to mix and match and grow them all.”
Kevin is quite animated as he explains why he loves banksias. “Many are killed by fire, and yet they’ve been around for 50-70 million years, he says. “They’re so diverse. Some need fire and follow-up rains to release seeds. And historically they’ve been used for so much.”