An interview with Rosemary Holmes
The lavender story
A Brief Outline of the Development of The Australian Lavender Growers’ Association. (TALGA) Courtesy of Rosemary Holmes, Yuulong Lavender Estate.
In 1985, the public opening of the Yuulong Lavender Estate at Mount Egerton in Victoria brought many visitors who also showed an active interest in growing lavender. Names and addresses were taken, state by state and when meetings began at Yuulong to discuss the formation of a Lavender Association 411 people across Australia were contacted.
A steering committee was set up for the first formal meeting on the 13th June, 1995. A Constitution as set out by the Associations and Incorporation Act 1981, Victoria, was used as a model.
Discussions ranged around a Statement of Purpose, Vision and Mission Statements, Membership fees and the production of a newsletter. This association was named The Australian Lavender Growers’ Association (TALGA).
The formal launch of TALGA was at the Bombala Lavender Conference 1-2 September 1995, with the distribution of a small newsletter “The Good Oil”. Membership forms were completed those wishing to become part of the new association.
It was agreed that the first Annual General Meeting be held at Yuulong on December 2nd, 1995 at 2pm.
When the Certificate of Incorporation was received, the Statement of Purpose finalised, the term Non-Profit Organisation was added to the Articles of Association.
The Inaugural AGM was attended by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture. 127 people attended from across Australia. Later that day the nominated inaugural committee had its first Board meeting and liaison Representatives were agreed to and the Operational Areas of Technical Information, Membership, Training and Development, Quality Assurance, Cultivation and Production Management, Promotions and Publicity and Marketing were allocated to committee members.
The first International Lavender Conference anywhere in the world, was held in Ballarat, Victoria 8-10 November1996. 196 delegates presented and Mr. Henry Head from Norfolk Lavender, United Kingdom was guest speaker. It was agreed to hold Conferences every year.
Regional Area Groups under the banner of TALGA came together, starting with the Far South West Lavender Growers’ Group around Portland, Victoria.
After four years of “living TALGA” Rosemary Holmes stepped down as President, for the next stage of growth and development with Dawn Baudinette, Portland Bay Lavender Farm as leader.
Lilydale in the Yarra Valley in Victoria hosted the second Conference with 158 delegates, 14 from overseas.
TheThird International Conference moved to Canberra where Mr.Tadao Tomita from Japan, was guest speaker
The Fourth International Conference was hosted by the Portland group with again, Mr Tomita as guest speaker..
At the Conferences and at Board Meetings discussions were on Business Plans, Oil Distillation,Machinery, Harvesting, Growing conditions and problems, Marketing and Aromatherapy.
Membership by this time had grown to 244 full members and 115 associates.
The Fifth Conference went to Tanunda in the Barossa Valley in South Australia and another change at the helm brought Peter Manders from Warratina Lavender farm in Victoria to head the organisation. The Sixth Conference was held at Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, followed by a two day Scientific Forum with overseas speakers. It was back to Wagga again and the University for the 2002 Conference and David Ingram from Crestwood Lavender, NSW took the chair.
The Goode Oil magazine changed this year to be called The Lavender Journal, the Good Oil from Australia and New Zealand
2003 saw members go to Stanthorpe in Queensland for the 8th Conference and Peter Manders came back to the chair. Halls Gap in Victoria was the venue for the next Conference and Judith Basile, Crystal Brook Lavender Farm in NSW was elected President. Bombala in NSW was the venue for the 2005 Conference and Goulburn in NSW presented the 2006 Conference. Being the 10th anniversary of TALGA, Rosemary Holmes spoke about the development and growth of TALGA during it’s first decade. Read Rosemary’s full speech
Healesville in Victoria was the venue for the 2007 gathering with Susyn Andrews from the Kew Botanic Gardens in the United kingdom being the principal speaker.
Mudgee in NSW saw the 13th Conference in 2008 and a meeting only was held in Sydney in 2009. Gill Williams. Wysewood Lavender in NSW was elected to the presidents chair.
Bendigo, Victoria, 2010 was the 15th Conference held since inception.
Judith Basile was re-elected as President, a position she had held for six years.
Different aspects of the development of TALGA have been discussed at each conference. Programmes such as Australia Made and the Scentimental Collection (products) operate and Farm Accreditations and Lavender trails are pending.
TALGA holds Associate membership to the Essential Oil Producers Association of Australia (EOPAA).
Next February the 16th Conference will be held at the Bridestowe Lavender Estate in Tasmania, drawing an international audience.
Mimi’s Lavender Patch, King Island Tasmania
It was during the 1980’s / 1990’s, living on King Island, that I developed an interest in lavender. This started through my reading of “the Cottager” a quarterly publication of which I was given a subscription as a gift. At the time I had about 16 plants; these I would harvest, dry and strip using my final product for Lavender bags….gifts for friends and family.
In 1995 I came across a copy of “the Goode Oil”…(I still have it, and many others!) and there started my involvement with TALGA. I joined as an associate member in 1996. At the same time I became really hooked into the study of lavender, the many different species, products and uses. I also found a fascination for the perfume industry in France even though I am not a great user of perfume myself.
For the next couple of years I read all about these growers who had hundreds of plants in the ground and was just about to give up with my meager 16 L.angustifolia’s, when I saw an add for one of Rosemary’s day seminars to be held on 23rd of March 1997 at Yuulong…..just what I needed! A wonderful day, I had the best time, right from the moment, before it all started, when we had our morning tea and Edythe gave me an excellent recipe for easy scones!!! thanks Edythe, it’s still on the go! Rosemary ran the most informative day; it was for all who were there, a great inspiration. I came home with Clive Larkmans phone number and loads of enthusiasm – along with a marvelous friendship with two great ladies who have been such a happy part of my life ever since then.
Following a discussion with Clive on shortly afterwards, I ordered 42 L.x int.’Grosso’, 42 L.x int. ‘Super’, 42 L.x int.’Vera’ and 42 L.x int. ‘Impress Purple’. These arrived early March 1998 and so I was on my way, never to be huge, but I certainly grew. Cuttings from my original 16 L.angustifolia’s, around 40 plants did very well, and in 1999 I got 40 L.angustifolia ‘Egerton Blue’ from Yuulong . 2004 saw me purchase 21 L.x int.’Grosso’, 21 L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ and 126 L. angustifolia ‘Egerton Blue’. My patch was now up around 425 as I also had a few Hidcote Pink just to trial.
The “patch” that I selected was on a slope facing north, I didn’t have to mound as drainage was not a problem. The rows were around the slope which was very pleasing to look at. The ph was perfect and the crop grew beautifully. My harvest was used for sale as stripped lavender, fresh lavender, lavender bags – variety of sizes, plain silk organza in a natural colour, tied with a generous length of coloured organza ribbon – lavender bottles, and also lavender biscuits. Any of these were presented in a cellophane bag with my own label – “Lavender from Mimi’s patch” and if a card was appropriate, being a papermaker, I made my own, not necessarily mauve or purple, but cream or else I featured the beautiful green of the lavender stems, which I sometimes feel is a little forgotten. My outlets were mainly the gift shop at the King Island Airport, and “Ring of Roses” in Mailing Road Canterbury. I also sold directly from home. Although my set up was not a tourist destination, it was on several occasions, visited by our local and very enthusiastic garden club.
In 2001, I upgraded to a full membership of TALGA and soon after became the Tasmanian State Liaison Officer, this position I held for some years. During this time I had the privilege of meeting Tim Denny who started Bridestowe Lavender Estate here in Tasmania, a very interesting gentleman who had a wealth of information on lavender, particularly regarding lavender oil production.
Since moving from King Island to Dairy Plains (Tasmania) I have not been active in the world of lavender, however early next year I hope to put in a small crop featuring some of the Bridestowe varieties.
Mimi Graham – September 2011