A hobby of growing orchids has blossomed into a not-so-small business which is about to clock up an astonishing 60 years of trade.
Noel and Virginia Jupp’s Riverdene Nursery started when Noel began growing Australian native orchids at Chad’s Creek, Halton and selling them by mail order.
This branched into also growing cyclamen seedlings to supplement their income on the cattle farm.
The couple moved to East Gresford to their current 11 hectare property on the banks of the Allyn River. Noel had a milk run for a time and the nursery began attracting customers from far and wide.
“We started (the nursery) with mostly commercial orchids and indoor plants and customers said to us look, we’re coming all this way, why don’t you do some outdoor plants,” recalls Noel.
“So we did.”
Riverdene Nursery now produces native seedlings in the tens of thousands for coalmines and for councils from the Central Coast to the Upper Hunter.
Some hybrids they propagate are considered by the couple to be worth the long task of registering and getting a patent for but this comes with an unusual problem.
They name the plants, usually girls’ names and once all the family was exhausted they found themselves having some fun with a grevillia named “Howdidyoudoit” and are considering naming another after Noel’s favourite expression, “Hoot Magoot”.
One of the biggest sellers for the nursery has been a dwarf lilly pilly they developed and named Acmena Allyn Magic for which they hold exclusive propagation rights. They have issued propagation licence’s to several nurseries across Australia except for Tasmania and the Northern Territory and earn a royalty on every plant sold nationwide.
Another of Noel’s most popular plants he literally stumbled over.
“Someone told me about an unusual eucalypt near Nowendoc and I went looking for it and fell over a rock and found the parent plants of Dianella Allyn Citation,” he said.
Noel and Virginia are joined in the business by their daughter Rosemary Wall and son Michael.
Having celebrated their own 60 year anniversary of marriage last year, the couple are as involved in the business today as ever, making regular trips to source seedlings for their propagation programs as the species planted in the regeneration work must be sourced from that area.
At 83, Noel’s diagnosis of glaucoma has not dimmed his sharp eyes and he doesn't need to wear glasses, still being able to identify any plant that crosses his path with a suspected photographic memory.
“We’ll be driving along the New England highway doing 80 km/hr and he’ll ask if we think that seed is ripe on a eucalyptus we just passed, laughed his daughter Rosemary.
“Then he’ll say no, it’s not, he can actually see that far.”
The nursery employs six people and the “official greeter” the Jupp’s faithful dog Tippee, is almost as well known around town as his owners.
“All the grand children and most of the great grand children have all worked here at some stage,” said Virginia.
In 2009 Noel was awarded the Medal of the order of Australia “For service to the community and to horticulture, particularly through revegetation programs and the cultivation of native flora.”
He was also involved in an advisory capacity in the establishment of the Gresford arboretum which he opened last year.