A brief history 1886 – now
State Flora’s first nursery at Belair was established in 1886 by the South Australian Government and has operated continuously since then.
The nursery was set up primarily to propagate seedlings for the State’s forests. A secondary purpose was to distribute free seeds to rural landholders as part a program encouraging tree planting in the colony.
In 1888, Belair Nursery raised 55,451 seedlings most of which were Eucalypts. From 1890 to 1920, half a million grape vine cuttings were grown. In 1925, the free distribution of seedlings was discontinued and the government introduced a charge for plants to cover production costs.
The first State Flora catalogue was released in 1891, listing nine Australian and 17 exotic species.
By 1940 catalogue listed mostly Australian native plants, with SA Blue Gums on sale for five pence each. To send plants to Eyre Peninsula an additional charge of three shillings applied to cover shipping, freight and wharfage charges. All orders were strictly cash!
State Flora’s plant range continued to evolve and grow. In the 1950s, a decision was made to increase the emphasis on Australian plants. In the '50s species trials were also conducted to find plants suitable for landscaping and propagation.
In 1975, a new production nursery was built at Murray Bridge with the capacity to produce millions of plants a year. The site at Murray Bridge was selected was for its long growing season. It was intended to grow Australian native plants for the proposed satellite city of Monarto.
Today, the Murray Bridge nursery propagates over 1,000 different species of Australian natives and in particular, South Australian species. The nursery has the capacity to produce in excess of two million plants per year, the state’s largest range of Australian plants.