While the Bromeliad Society of Australia meetings are on hold, we thought we would introduce you to some of the Society’s most passionate members.

Bob and Pat Sharpley’s love of bromeliads started when their son bought his first house, from an older couple approx 10 years ago. The overgrown garden had a delapidated shade house and while Bob was helping get the house in order, Pat decided to rescue some plants. At the time they didn’t even know what they were but there were lots and they had an attractive red inner colouring. They brought the bromeliads home and put them in their garden where they grew profusely and Bob recalls even whipper snipping the broms (not recommended) to keep them in order.

At some stage someone told them these were bromeliads and shortly after Pat saw an ad for a bromeliad sale. Pat went to the sale and bought a car load. Pat also collected flyers for the next BSA show and meeting. They went along to their first meeting where they were encouraged to join the BSA committee and served as very active members until 2019.

Bob has a magnificent set up, with shade houses along his perimeter fences, fitted with fans, thermometers, watering and misting systems. There is nothing too good for the precious broms.

These days Bob does most of the daily bromeliad work (and has extremely high standards) and Pat is the purchasing officer! What does Bob collect or is passionate about, “anything with colour, it must have colour”. And their shade houses are a delight to the senses, with beautiful vibrant colours. Bob states he has learned from ‘trial and error’ or ‘school of hard knocks’, to see what works for his broms in his particular environment, which is exactly how we all learn.

After several trials, Bob uses the ANL (Australian Native Landscape) orchid and bromeliad mix. He doesn’t fertilise his neos and doesn’t change the position of any brom without reason. When cleaning up a brom, he first checks if it’s looking good, and if it isn’t growing well, he then moves it. Bob often judges if the plant is in right position on how well the pup looks and he feels it is a matter of getting to know the different positions in your yard and your brom species. Some bromeliads need light to colour up (eg red) but some need more shade.

Another tip is to take care when choosing and installing watering systems as different brands have varying spray patterns and spray distances. Bob primarily chooses (German) fittings, hoses, hose reels, nozzles which are more expensive but last longer. Bob has found using brass hose fittings is not always the best, as brass gets hot in sun and can melt the hose plastic.

The best misting systems have piping with an inner white layer that protects from UV, so the piping doesn’t split after a few years in the sun.

So when the BSA meetings commence again come along and talk to Bob or Pat, if you have Neo related problems or questions, that is what being a member is all about – sharing the joys and pitfalls of bromeliads.

For further information please contact Ian Hook, President – mobile 0408 202 269 or email – [email protected]