Meet: Mim Burkett, grower behind Yellow House Heritage Perennials
Mim grows the plants for Yellow House Heritage Perennials, the mail order perennial specialist nursery that grew out of her Nowra garden.
Interview: Robin Powell
This is your second time running a nursery. What’s different this time?
It’s bigger and busier and there’s a lot more plant diversity available now so it’s more fun. Our intention was never to run a nursery again. We’d had a nursery in Glenorie – on tank water, in the drought, with young children. It was a nightmare. Then a bushfire took everything we ever owned and we were fancy free after that. Yet here we are again, busier than ever.
What time of year do you like most in the garden?
I like autumn. Things are quietening down. In spring they go crazy, but autumn is a bit more restrained –the Michaelmas daisies are out, and the helianthus, rudkbeckias and heleniums, all the lovely golden things.
You do so much propagating, what’s your best tip?
I think Christopher Lloyd said it best – do it now. He said that the time to take a cutting is when you think of it. Otherwise by the time you get around to it, the person you wanted to give the plant to has moved, or the plant’s died, or they’ve died.
What’s a perennial you grow that deserves to be much better known?
Trachelium, which has large umbels of fluffy purple flowers offset by glossy dark purple foliage. It flowers all summer in sun or part shade and is really a fabulous plant. I had a call from a woman who’s quite famous in the area for having had a rare plant nursery near Foxground. She rang to say she’d moved into a retirement village with a tiny garden and she wanted some plants to be saved. One was this particular Trichelium. Being able to save plants like this is a huge motivation for me, though I do end up with too many plants. I don’t have a restraint gene.
What about an old favourite that needs to make a comeback?
Marguerite daises, Agryanthemum. It was a huge search to find that big old white one that all our mothers used to grow. You could always go out and pick a bunch of big daisies. I think they disappeared about the time we got the Federation daisies, which are the result of a breeding program and they flower themselves to death in a year or so. They aren’t nearly as good as the old one and I eventually found it in the garden of a woman called Elsa, so we sell it as ‘Elsa’s White’. There’s a yellow one too that I’ve been looking for in vain, so if you have that one let me know!
Mim Burkett and her Yellow House Heritage Perennials will be at Collectors’ Plant Fair on April 8 and 9 at Hawkesbury Race Club, Clarendon.
Online Tickets https://www.trybooking.com/OGJG .