It was in the 1980’s, and after much planning and sheer hard work, that Rosemary and Edythe created a Lavender farm out of what had been a blackberry infested property of some 40 acres at Mt Egerton, Vic. Both women had nursing careers at the time and Lavender seemed to be a crop that could look after itself whilst they were working in Melbourne. Rosemary had seen pictures of Norfolk Lavender in England and was impressed with what she saw.
Rosemary describes how it was impossible to find more than 100 plants to purchase in Australia so seed was imported from Holland and grown on by a nursery on the Mornington Peninsula. Some 1000 plants were initially established at Yuulong.
1985 Yuulong Lavender Estate opened its gates to the general public.
This was the only Lavender farm on mainland Australia at the time. Although there had been many lavender farms in Victoria during the late 19thCentury, these had disappeared. (Bridestowe Lavender Farm in Tasmania had been established by the Denny family in 1921 but was not open to the public at this time).
Many visitors came to Yuulong to see the Lavenders in flower in Summer. Much interest in lavender was generated; people wanted to learn all about Lavender, how to grow lavender; what to do with the Lavender flowers and to experience the delight of being in a field of lavender. Teas were served, a plant nursery established and the popularity of Yuulong Lavender Estate increased every year. Rosemary conducted seminars in the commercial growing of Lavender for 17 years.
National Collection of Lavenders
It was during this busy time that the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, hearing about the success of Yuulong Lavender Estate, contacted Rosemary to see if Yuulong could house the National Collection of Lavenders for them. The Collection in Melbourne had not done well over the years and many plants had died out. It would be better to have the Collection at Yuulong. Rosemary and
Edythe were delighted! A separate area was created for these plants and they were all carefully labelled. Needless to say they prospered and the Collection grew.
(Before Rosemary and Edythe sold Yuulong in 2013, they organised to have the Collection moved. It is now at the Bendigo Botanic Gardens in a newly created area.
During the 90’s, such was the interest in Lavender growing that Rosemary could see the need for a Lavender Association in Australia that could promote the industry and take over the educational role that Yuulong had been doing.
She kept a list of interested persons from her visitor book and in 1994 a steering committee was established. In June 1995 the first meeting was held at Yuulong Lavender. The committee comprised Leslie and Ian Corrie, Dawn Baudinette, Don Gresswell, Rosemary Holmes, Edythe Anderson and Glen Heyne. At this meeting a unanimous decision was taken to form The Australian Lavender Growers’ Association and it was incorporated under ASIC. TALGA was born with a membership of 45 full members and 12 Associate members. Yuulong funded the first year of office expenses. The first inaugural AGM was held on 2ndDecember 1995 with the Federal Member for Ballarat, Senator Michael Ronaldson in the chair.
By this time there were now 89 Full members and 54 Associate.
The newly elected Board comprised Rosemary Holmes, President, Dawn Baudinette, Vice President, Ian Corrie, Secretary, Leslie Corrie Treasurer, Glen Heyne Publications and committee members Julie de Hennin and Jo Walcott.
The mission statement for TALGA is
“To deliver and promote Lavender as a sustainable horticultural industry”.
Conferences have been held every year. Rosemary was proud to say that TALGA had the first international conference anywhere in the world in 1996.
Other countries have followed TALGA’s example by creating similar Associations for their Lavender growers, including NZ, Japan and USA.
In 2015, Rosemary launched her book “TALGA’s First Twenty Years” in time for the twentieth anniversary of the formation of TALGA.
This was held at Ballarat as in 1996. This book is an important resource on the history of TALGA and includes a directory of member farms and businesses around Australia at the time of writing.
TALGA still adheres to its mission of promoting lavender in Australia. There are grower members in every Sate of Australia except the Northern Territory. By providing conferences, competitions and networking opportunities to its members, expertise and excellence can be achieved in this industry.
TALGA has established memberships with other organisations such as IAAMA (International Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine Assoc) and EOPAA (Essential Oil Producers Association of Australia).
We talk about the spirit of TALGA – friendly cooperation, willingness to share knowledge and experience in the growing of Lavender across Australia. Many of us have formed lasting friendships. Conferences and meetings are always held with a generous sprinkling of good humour.
There’s no doubt that Rosemary imbued TALGA with that spirit – we will honour her memory and continue to strive for the goals she set out to achieve.