PO Box 567
Lilydale, Vic 3140
Phone (03) 9735 3831
Larkman Nurseries was established by Barry Larkman in 1984 as Delagoa Tubes. It has grown to become a major Australian tubestock nursery. It is a NIASA accredited member of the Nursery and Garden Industry of Australia.
In 1986 the nursery moved to a larger and more suitable location in Lilydale. This was the start of a rapid growth phase where it went from less than one acre with two small igloos to a five acre site with thirteen plastic igloos and three brick glass houses. In 1989 Barry died and his oldest son, Clive returned from overseas and joined his mother, Stephanie in running the young nursery. The business growth stalled at this point due to the onset of the recession and the change in management.
In 1990 Clive, married Di Campaign and with the combined talents and experience of the three principles, the business soon started to grow again. They quickly expanded their customer base, range of plants and propagation area. In 2000 they purchased 26 acres at Wandin. At the same time Simon Larkman joined the business in the growing section. In 2003 they bought a small tissue culture laboratory and moved that into the large shed on the site. Over the next 5 years they built a 4000 m2 shade house and 2500 m2 of outdoor growing area. In 2007 the family took on the Renaissance Herbs brand in Victoria under the name of Romantic Nursery and Simon took on the role of Sales Manager for Larkman Nurseries.
The nursery propagates over 2.0 million plants annually. Due to the variety of genera done, the nursery utilises many different propagation environments, including; fog, mist, cold frame mist/hot bed, tissue culture and straight heat. At anytime the thirty staff have to look after 400 000 tubes and 300 000 cuttings. So as to offer an even broader range they have contracted the services of several specialist propagators for those plant varieties that need particular skills, stock conditions or growing environments. They also import particular varieties in from Europe as tissue culture every year.
Clive has a degree in Biological Science - Zoology and Botany, a post graduate diploma in Philosophy of Science and is a certificated nurseryman. He is Fellow of the Australian Institute of Horticulture (Past Victorian President), life member of The Australian Lavender Growers Association, Treasurer of the International Plant Propagator’s Society - Australian Region (past President and International Board Member), the executive of the Nursery and Garden Industry of Victoria, Chairman of Agribusiness Yarra Valley and Chairman of Victorian Agribusiness Council. He writes regularly for several trade journals and is a member of the Horticultural Media Association.
The two highest priorities are Customer Service and Quality Assurance. These are two concepts that are still not fully embraced in the ornamental horticulture profession. The philosophy of the company is to produce the plants that the industry wants and needs when they are best presented. All stock is hand picked and checked by trained staff prior to despatch. Clive researches all plants that the business grows to make sure they are correctly identified and named. This is an issue he is passionate about as many plants are sold with incorrect names.
Through the constant strive to improve both its products and service, Larkman Nurseries has developed a solid reputation within the cut flower and lavender industries as the supplier of plants for commercial growers. Several of their introductions are now regularly grown for export harvest. Unlike retail product, the differences in varieties can be crucial for professional growers and Clive’s passion for correctness in plant nomenclature has resulted in Larkman Nurseries’ reputation for having correctly named and true to form varieties which is why they are one of the major suppliers to the Australian lavender industry.
Since the beginning Larkman Nurseries has maintained a steady growth and continual improvement in range, quality and customer service. Clive, Di, Simon and Stephanie intend to continue with the aim of becoming a permanent and integral part of the Australian Nursery industry. At the same time it is envisaged that export to Asia and Europe will become regular part of the income stream.
The overall approach is that the true customers are the buying public. It is no good producing a plant that satisfies the needs of the wholesaler or retailer if it won’t perform in the garden. It is also detrimental to the industry if nurseries only produce a limited range as the public will soon become bored and disillusioned with gardening. Thus all the staff are constantly searching for new, forgotten different or hard to source plants. They are not adverse to bulking up and producing pictorial labels for any unusual plant.
Every year they introduce 10 to 20 new varieties of plants from Australian and foreign breeders and through some specialist European collectors. The main focus is on perennials, flowering shrubs and small flowering trees. These are the plants that really keep people interested in their gardens. If we don't interest gardeners they will find other hobbies and will not bring the young people into the garden. It is only through these attitudes that the industry is going to be able to compete with other users of the leisure dollar.