Kevin and Kathy Collins have since 1985 collected every species of Banksia (79) and have them all growing, not only surviving but reproducing, in their three hectare garden.
Their lovely property overlooks the town of Mount Barker and across to the Porongurup Range.
The magnificent Banksia menziesii, Menzies or Firewood Banksia (at right)
Kevin and Kathy have collected banksia seeds from all around Australia, including Banksia plagiocarpa from where it only grows on the slopes of Mount Diamantina on Hinchinbrook Island in Queensland in a high rainfall area. Another prize was from the Snowy Mountains near Thredbo. A very rare one is the critically endangered Banksia brownie, from the nearby Stirling Ranges.
Banksia Farm is still the world's only complete collection, containing every known species of banksia. People can walk around this garden and see these banksias from right across Australia growing in a natural setting.
With different species flowering at different times of the year, there is always something flowering in the Banksia Farm gardens.
All but one of the Banksia species are endemic to Australia. Banksia dentata occurs outside of Australia, being found also on islands to the north of Australia.
Banksias can be found in most environments; the tropics, sub-alpine areas, the coast and desert areas. The most diversity in the genus occurs in the south of Western Australia where most of the species occur. To grow Banksias from such diverse climates is an incredible achievement.
Banksias big and small
Banksia seminuda, the River Banksia (above left), is one of the largest banksias and may reach twenty metres in height. This tree is thirty years old and has a three metre trunk.
While most Banksias are shrubs, some are prostrate, such as this small Banksia petiolaris (above right), which has flowers that emerge adjacent to the leaves from barely visible stems running along the ground. Other prostrate Banksia species have their stems hidden below the ground surface.
A rare beauty
New banksias are discovered from time to time. Recent discoveries include:
Banksia rosserae - Near Mount Magnet, Western Australia (2002)
Banksia croajingolensis - East Gippsland, Victoria (2007)
Banksia vincentia - Jervis Bay, New South Wales (2014)
In 2014, in a controversial move, the entire Dryandra genus was renamed Banksia. Kevin is not alone in believing that Dryandra is a distinct species and different to Banksia. See Dryandra naming dispute.
Kevin has lectured on Banksias in many countries, and is a lively, entertaining and interesting speaker.
Banksia elderiana, commonly known as the Swordfish Banksia or Palm Banksia. Blooms tend to hang down rather than upright.