Flowers in the Valley

 GROWING an assortment of crops in extreme temperatures is one thing – growing flowers commercially is an absolute wonder.

Until Diane Robinson arrived in Kununurra in 1988, no grower had tackled the seemingly hopeless task of harvesting such a delicate crop.
It was time to say goodbye to Mills and Boons and see what real romance was all about.
In 1993 Diane and her husband decided it was time to turn ORIA Orchids into a mixture of colourful crops – including mangoes, grapefruit and herbs.

Then in 2002, despite the limited market as a result of geography, Diane thought it would be wonderful to start growing her own flowers.

“It is a small part of our business but lot of work goes in to it,” Diane said.
“Weddings are our biggest market – as there is nowhere else in town to get a large amount of fresh flowers,” she said.

The medley of flowers comprises snapdragons, sunflowers, gerberas, cosmos, Heliconias and tuber roses.
Most grown are tropical and brought in from Darwin after they have undergone strict quarantine.

Diane said trial and error has been a major part of floriculture in the Ord – especially during the wet season when flower beds could be easily destroyed.
But it has done little to hold back her budding enterprise.

And she has planted roses, which, even more surprisingly, have actually begun flowering.
Additionally she will be trialling different bulbs such as liliums and gladiolus in the hope of harvesting them each week.

ORIA Orchids is a biologically friendly farm, which sprays only when necessary, using soft chemicals.

“We are happy enough growing holey spinach,” Diane joked.
“It is better to let the worms have their share than spray it full of chemicals.
“Once we had a person return a frog they found in their lettuce.”

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