Flower power has taken on a new meaning in western Australia. Kate Delaporte, a horticulturist at Adelaide University, is cultivating native plants and flowers in an attempt to jump-start a new industry along the Murray River.
Once well known as a fruit-growing area, the region is losing agricultural production because of increasing soil salinity, decreasing rainfall, and pollution. Delaporte proposes to grow native plants that require little water and are well adapted to the local climate. She is especially interested in working with varieties of native flowers. While such flowers may seem all too commonplace in Australia, it is quite another story in Europe and Japan where the flowers are viewed as exotic, and command high prices.
Delaporte plans to concentrate on developing and testing new varieties of flowers that will flourish in the area near the Murray River. She will license the new varieties to growers in other countries, rather than assume the risk of production and long-distance shipping. Because the plants will be registered with plant breeder’s rights, she will receive royalties from all the flowers that are sold.
While she is not interested in pursuing large-scale production, Delaporte anticipates that her development of new floricultural crops will offer grape and citrus growers in the region alternative income-producing crops.