Terry Smale

Xerophytes & Geophytes

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This association of largely UK growers was inaugurated at a meeting in the garden of Terry and Jennifer Smale on 4th April, 2004. At this meeting, the twenty-two people present decided to set up an informal organisation under the above name for the study of southern African bulbs from a northern European perspective. Membership has almost quadrupled since then and the current management of the Group is in the hands of the following:

CHAIR – Bill Squire

TREASURER – Rodney Sims




SEED DISTRIBUTOR – Bill Squire and Alice vanden Bon

WEB MANAGER – Richard White

The principal objective of the Group is to enable the exchange of information between its members on all aspects of southern African bulbs. The term bulb is being used in a general sense to cover corms and tubers as well as true bulbs. Most bulbs of interest hail from South Africa, but plants do not recognise political boundaries and related plants from neighbouring states are also within the Group's field of interest. There are many South African gardeners and botanists who have an excellent knowledge of their own bulbous flora, but outside that country, the knowledge base is sparse. Even useful books on the topic have been hard to obtain until the publication of 'The Color Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs' (Manning, Goldblatt and Snijman) in 2003. Various growers in the UK have been developing methods for the cultivation of these bulbs, but frequently in isolation from each other.

As originally envisaged, there are two main activities of the Group. First, one or two meetings per year are held in members' gardens or hired halls. Most such meetings include one or more presentations on southern African bulbs, but also provide a forum for members to display their own plants, to have face-to-face discussions and also to obtain plant material by sale or exchange. Second, there is a twice-yearly newsletter that is mainly sent out by E-mail to minimise costs, although hard copies can be provided. David Victor is always happy to receive contributions for this on any aspects of southern African bulbs. An innovation in 2007 was a seed and bulb exchange; many hundreds of species have been made available to members since then.

The initial joining fee of £5 will be stretched to cover as much of the administration as possible. Further subscriptions will be requested as needed. In this, the Group is modelled on the Crocus Group which historically has needed only very occasional further subscriptions. Most meetings tend to be self-financing and an entry fee is charged so that there is no need to draw on Group funds.

The Group has made initial contacts with a number of potential members but there will obviously be many other southern African bulb growers that the organisers are not aware of. So please make any interested friends aware of this organisation. More information can be found on the Group’s website at http://www.sabg.tk