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An Australian wildflower visionary

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Passers by the For Sale sign outside Lullfitz Nursery on Great Northern Hwy just south of Bindoon could conclude that the owner of the iconic nursery, 72 year old George Lullfitz,
may be ready to retire.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. While he admits he’s downsizing, George has no intention of letting his vast
knowledge of Australian endemic plants go to waste. His next ten-year plan involves nothing less than making Perth the wildflower city of the world!

George began his career in native plants as a teenager when he left school to work in his Uncle Fred’s nursery. He continued
under the tutelage of the late Charles Gardiner, WA’s first Government botanist, who allowed the young George to assist him with his collection of unique West Australian specimens. He shared the famed botanist’s love of wildflowers, but decided to pursue cultivation rather than collection. George told Mr Gardiner, “I’m interested in living plants — not dead ones!”

After 10 years as a partner in Wanneroo Wildflowers, George started his own business, Lullfitz Nursery, concentrating on propagating native plants for sale to the public. At the same time he was a presenter of the ABC gardening series Greenfingers —
spreading the word about planting endemic, water-wise plants that cope naturally with our climate.

George has published several books on the subject, including Grow Native: The West’s Best Plants and, more recently, A New Image for West Australian Plants, where he contests the myths that native plants (or as he prefers to call them, Australian Plants) ‘Don’t give colour’, ‘Only flower in spring’ and ‘Can’t be
pruned’.

The book contains beautiful photographs of local plants clustered by season. In his plan to create a world-class wildflower display in the streets of Perth and throughout WA, George proposes using a selection from each season in each group planting to give colour and structure all year round.

“Consider gardening like interior design,” he says. “In a lounge-room you start with the carpet, you build from the ground up. Your carpet is a theme, your lounge chairs are a theme, your curtains are a theme – they match. It doesn’t matter what you do then – it’s organised. Paintings, cushions do what you like with the bits!

It’s the same in a garden, too many people want to put one of
everything!”

More recently George has concentrated on carefully cultivating a selection of low shrubs and ground covers that are in demand for
verges and roundabouts.  “Now its all about sight lines,” he says. “I’ve gone back to bush and selected the best plants and bred them down and down in size so we have prostrate versions.”

Just like his aptly named Gingin Gem, a flowering shrub he developed, George is indeed a local living treasure – one whose
ideas we should be cultivating.