Your Garden: Australia Native Plants

Byron Cox and Jo O’Connell of Australian Native Plants nursery.

Byron Cox and Jo O’Connell of Australian Native Plants nursery.

Last fall the Thomas fire devastated Ventura County including the home of Jo O’Connell and Brian Cox, owners of Australian Native Plants nursery in Casitas Springs, California. Jo and Brian are long time PHS members and loyal advertisers in our magazine.

We heard from Jo in a recent email,

“‘Thomas the Terrible’ burned down my house, my seed bank, my reference library and (my) collection of Australian artifacts and botanical prints.

The very good news is that most of the plants in my nursery survived.”

Jo went on to describe the outpouring of support they’ve received from friends, customers, and even strangers who have shown up to help put the nursery back to rights again. Horticulturists have donated seeds, plants, and books as well. A GoFundMe campaign began by friends exceeded its financial goal and is being put to good use to navigate clean up, insurance, and rebuilding efforts.

Gardeners lend a hand; it’s what we do.

“As I drive around the Ojai Valley, I notice that many trees are showing signs that they will survive and the local chaparral is beginning to grow back.

It makes me think of resilience… many banksia and hakea seeds need fire to open their seedpods and will often re-sprout from a damaged trunk. The seeds of most acacias and the pea family need heat to stimulate germination. I am curious to see what will sprout from the burned soils around my house once the rains come or after some gentle watering.”

All of us at Pacific Horticulture wish Jo and Brian, along with their dog Wallaby, all the best as they rebuild and replant.


The retail nursery is open by appointment and carries the country’s largest selection of Australian plants. Photo: courtesy of Australian Native Plants Nursery

The retail nursery is open by appointment and carries the country’s largest selection of Australian plants. Photo: courtesy of Australian Native Plants Nursery

Australian Native Plants is open.

Call 805-649-3362 to make an appointment. And visit www.australianplants.com for mail order availability and continuing updates. Read more about the nursery at California Outback in our archives.