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Re: Australians

  • Subject: Re: Australians
  • From: brian lee <lbmkjm@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2014 12:50:52 -0700

Dear Mikeâvia John,


I knew Len Butt for many years via snail mail when he co-founded the Cycad Society of Australia.  I never met him in person, but, as a pen pal, we were extremely close mates.  I often spoke to him about hybridizing Cordyline fruticosa since we both were engaged in that.  Initially we wrote primarily about cycads and palms, but, we had many other common interests and soon it became clear that our friendship was the most important aspect of our snail mail correspondences.  I am very happy to hear that Len is remembered for all he did in the horticultural arena of Australia.


Leland Miyano

On Monday, September 1, 2014 10:42 AM, John Criswick <criswick@spiceisle.com> wrote:

I have received a letter from Australian plantsman Michael Ferrero, in response to some correspondence from Aroid-L which I had forwarded to him.  Evidently he would like me to send it in as a contribution to the ongoing discussion of aroid plantsmen.  So here it is.
John Criswick.
I would like to contribute some important information that in/from Australia we had one of the foremost hybridisers of Philodendrons ever known at the time, ie from late 1960's to late 1970's.
His name was Leonard P. Butt (or Len as he preferred to be called) and he lived in the suburb of Indooroopilly i.e inner Brisbane, SE Queensland.
Now I was never an aroid collector, much less an enthusiast- but I do remember seeing and growing a few of Len Butt's Philodendron hybrids, housed at/in Cairns, at the Flecker Botanic Gardens, and one such is called Butt's Imperial (Philo melo-barotteanum var.  selloum x P. longifolium) and another was a cross he made with Philodendron x corsinianum and another again which (I think) was called Butt's Giant Imperial which must have been a cross between P. giganteum and P. imperial-perhaps? 
In Cairns there were relatively few Aroid enthusiasts- but some of these Butt Philodendron hybrids became available in the hands of local collectors and were gradually featured in local landscapes,  a good example is the roundabout and main avenue leading into the Sheraton Mirage Resort in Port Douglas (where I was born and grew up) which featured heavily planted rows and walls of Len Butt's Philo hybrids- so our local (Cairns) nurseries took them on, and made them mainstream, and so at least 3 of his hybrids were propagated in a few of our main nurseries in Cairns.
One such is Equatorial Exotics, still operating and the owner is my good mate Dr Arden Dearden, so he can be contacted on arden@equatorialexotics.com to contribute some photos and information about them, and I do believe that my own old mate, Don Ellison was pretty close to Len Butt- in the day, so he too would probably have some great (old) photos and cultivar names and descriptions of some of Len Butt's most important Philo hybrids too!
Don's e-mail address is dellison@bigpond.com.au
Also the Curator of Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens in Brisbane- Ross McKinnon- whom was mentored by Harold Caufield- the original founding director of Mt Coot-tha botanic gardens, so possibly Ross would have access to information or accurate records of the parentage of many of Len Butt's Philodendron hybrids because Harold Caufield (Ross' mentor and predecessor) was a very great friend of Len Butt's.
Many of these original Butt Philo hybrids are still to be found growing there in Mount Coot-tha botanic Gardens, although Ross recently retired, as of 30th of July, he can still be contacted on his e-mail address Ross.McKinnon@brisbane.qld.gov.au.
Many of Len Butt's Philodendron hybrids stayed down south, i.e not many of them "migrated" up to Cairns- where I'm from- so mostly it would be nurserymen, collectors and Aroid enthusiasts living in in South East Queensland that would have info on Len Butt's Philo hybrids or have them in their gardens still to this day!.
I hope this may help out the Aroideana people get something in writing about what we great Aussies have achieved too!

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  • References:
    • Australians
      • From: "John Criswick" <criswick@spiceisle.com>

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