Eucalyptus leaves

Hardy Eucalyptus

My guest this week is Hilary Collins who runs Hardy Eucalyptus at Grafton Nursery. Hilary researches the best way to grow Eucalyptus trees in the UK and also Europe. At the nursery, they run all manner of trials and Hilary writes papers and articles on Eucalyptus plus she has a book called Cut Foliage Eucalyptus – Fantastic Foliage and How to Farm it. She consults all over the world, and also works in the Garden Design and Construction Company advising on planting design. Hilary is here today talking all things eucalyptus and my first question was how she came to specialise in this group of plants.

Dr Ian Bedford’s Bug of the Week: Signals

What We Talk About

Different garden-worth eucalyptus varieties

Eucalyptus selection

Eucalyptus pruning

Eucalyptus seed provenance

How to plant them to ensure success

The benefits of air-pot containers

What is March 18th all about in the Horticultural Calendar and the life of any Eucalyptus tree owner?

About Hilary Collins

First and foremost in my career: I am a horticulturist…and also parent to 2 daughters Charlie and Victoria.  Charlie is our landscape Architect for our garden design and build company Envisage Gardens.  Victoria has escaped from professional horticulture and works in education.

I started growing plants when I was about 3 or 4 with my father who was a very keen gardener and amateur tree-grower, but we grew all manner of bedding plants, fruit and vegetables, tomatoes, perennials. He was very into Bonsai too.  And my mother was very keen that I should learn all about our native flora, from a very early age.

I went to University of Bath to read Horticulture because I loved the subject, loved the city and the location and also partly in rebellion because it really appalled my headmistress who thought it was a really unsuitable career for a ‘young lady’!  The course is no longer on offer sadly.  

Whilst at Bath, I worked for Long Ashton Research Station running the Specific Apple Replant Disease Trials, following year I ran the Fireblight Trials for Showerings (Allied Lyons) and then just before my final year I worked at the National Fruit Trials – trees again, but this time working in Tissue Culture.  So I would have liked to have gone into research, but all the Research Stations closed down.  I am an escaped Lab Rat.

So I went into commercial horticulture, growing plants and also garden design.

When I graduated, I ran a tree seed business for a couple of years before selling it.  We bought Grafton Nursery in 2008 and decided amongst other plants, to grow trees.  This has evolved into almost exclusively growing Eucalyptus trees for a wide range of customers.  

I like to talk talk about the wide range of applications of Eucalyptus.  There isn’t just Eucalyptus gunnii.  We grow over 70 species.  They have a wide range of applications.

·       Carbon sequestration

·       Producing timber for firewood logs, biomass, hardwood lumber and silvo pasture

·       Cut Foliage for floral art and fodder for Zoo Animals

·       Screening trees – shade trees

·       Nectar and pollen for bees – all year round

·       Sustainable drainage systems – via the Swamp Gums

·       Tencel – Lycocell for clothing fabric and carpets etc

·       Oil – antimicrobial – used in cosmetics, medicinal products and rocket fuel

·       Gold prospected – ok may be not in the UK…

I run Hardy Eucalyptus at Grafton Nursery, where I research the best way to grow Eucalyptus trees in the UK and also Europe.  We run all manner of trials. I write papers and articles on Eucalyptus;

Shrub-on-a-stick – how to prune them to keep them small

Shrub-in-a-tub – how to grow them successful in containers

Screening trees for privacy. How to grow them as a hedge

Best way to grow Cut Foliage so we can support our Flower Farmers with the right advice in their Eucalyptus orchards/plantations

We also have a small firewood plantation and we trial the trees for their use in sustainable drainage systems.

I’ve written a book on how to grow Cut Foliage Eucalyptus – Fantastic Foliage and How to Farm it.

Prior to Brexit we exported all over Europe – trying to make that happen again with our French Project.

I consult all over the world, including America, Norway, New Zealand and Australia.

I also work in our Garden Design and Construction Company – I do the planting plans. I have a particular interest in Wild Gardens and Kitchen/Fruit Gardens.


Cut Foliage Eucalyptus: Fantastic Foliage and How to Farm It by Hilary Collins 

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