in the early 60's, Howard Asper, Sr., propagated seed from the
protea, developing the first commercial planting and nursery
in 1964 just north of Escondido, California. During those early
years, Asper was assisted by his neighbor Gordon Cockran, as
they planted seed outside in flats to grow the first seedlings
for Asper's GREEN VALLEY NURSERY.
was visited by Frank and Ivy Batchelor of Stellenbosch, South Africa,
early pioneers of commercial growing, who were amazed at the growth
and vigor of the protea grown in America. Asper's fellow camellia
growers, Cecil Eschleman, and Ray and Barbara Schatz, also fell
to the call of the protea. They are considered the first commercial
growers in California, along with Asper.
thereafter others joined the ranks of commercial growers: Bill
Teague, Ev Ricker, Dick LaRue of Santa Barbara, Bill Clutter,
Vern Myers and sons became involved in the production of these
uniquely exotic flowers called protea.
protea industry started expanding relatively quickly during the
late 70's and early 80's, as more people became aware of this unique
crop as an alternative to tree crops such as avocados and citrus,
to grow on the steep hill sides of Southern California. The 80's
brought on some of our larger plantings, such as Zorro, Silvermink,
Rainbow and Rancho California. These ranches are still in production,
but have started replanting programs or have given way to urban
progress. The late 80's and early 90's saw a slow down in commercial
plantings; however, protea became more fashionable and available
for the home gardener.
we are starting to see the pendulum swing again toward larger
new plantings. Plantings have been established near Ramona,
Valley Center, San Marcos and Temecula. Most lie in the sphere
of San Diego County, not far from the original plantings, which
has proven to be the protea growing hub of North America.