Darren Corbett is a patient man. He’s devoted to growing and breeding bromeliads and tropical foliage, particularly alcantarea which takes 12-17 years to flower. But when it does the spectacular flower spike can be over 3 metres tall.
Darren has worked in nurseries for 23 years, in Brisbane and the Northern Rivers. He bought his first alcantarea from a Queensland nursery in the 1990s. He has been breeding and growing from seed and pups (offshoot plants of main bromeliad) ever since.
Darren established a nursery at his 5-acre farm at Larnook where he has lived off grid for 16 years. His tree change involves eradication of lantana and regeneration of his steep and hilly share of a community acreage. Fire is a concern. Darren promotes bromeliad plantings under native trees as an effective firebreak.
Broms, as Darren calls them, are native to Brazil. Nevertheless he says they are
‘invaluable not only as a firebreak but for providing habitat for frogs, and nectar for bees and birds. They require few resources to maintain.’
They do require patience, however. It takes 3 to 4 years for a bromeliad grown from seed to reach a saleable size; 2 years for pups.
Aside from the challenge of destructive bush turkeys, Darren’s Broms live a serene life. With solar power and gravity fed water from spring-fed dams, the nursery only needs love and dedication. Darren strives to breed alcantareas to be even bigger than the parent plants, and with even more vivid purple markings. Darren talks of these like a proud and loving parent.
You can find Darren’s Broms at the Rotary Kyogle Bazaar where he also offers gingers, orchids, cordylines, rainforest tree seedlings, and even some vegetable seedlings.