David’s father, a returned soldier from the Second World War, won the block in a soldier settler ballot, in the early 1950s. Originally about 300 acres, it fronts the Broken River and David and Jill took over from his parents in 1995.
Although in the tree production business for nearly 25 years, the Rushes about 18 months ago, sold the farm and business to Specialty Trees, Narre Warren. Its object is to grow advanced, environmentally sustainable, containerised landscape trees for local government, the landscaping industry and retailers.
At Benalla, highly fertile alluvial soil that once grew lucerne, is ideal for nurturing hundreds of thousands of trees. They range in size from tens of thousands of budded bare rooted twigs 100mm or so tall, currently worth a few dollars, to several dozen heavily lopped 35 to 40 year old olive trees in 100L contained root balls sold as works of art starting at $8000 to $10,000 each. The irrigated budded stems will grow to nearly 2m tall over summer on the rich soil.
Principal of Specialty Trees Hamish Mitchell was on hand with David to explain the intricacies of tree production to our dozen-strong group.
Hamish said most advanced trees die of over watering. But many die too from being planted too deeply. Where towards the lower part of any trunk, the trunk flares, that must indicate that the tree goes in no deeper, he said. And in the tree production business, with trees being transplanted maybe three times to bigger and bigger containers, the chances of misplanting are enormous.