The story of Venus
Published: Thursday 27th of July 2017
Protea Venus, the gorgeous pink protea you are seeing for sale all over Cape Town at the moment is very close to our hearts here at Fabulous Fynbos.
My mom, the enterprising Pam Michell started growing proteas commercially on Calenick Farm around 1960 (the farm purchased by Sir Lewis Michell in 1916 originally as a fruit farm) in the Banhoek Valley just outside Stellenbosch. She was one of the first exporters of proteas in the country. During this time Mom planted numerous seedlings on the farm that she had collected and propagated. Her hope - probably the hope of most protea growers - was that a hybrid would be created by the cross-pollination of these wild plants. Well in the late 1980’s this is just what happened.
Pam noticed a bush with gorgeous pink blooms and narrow leaves growing amongst the protea orchards. This beautiful protea plant turned out to be a hybrid created by the chance crossing of Protea aristata that she had collected from the Swartberg and Protea repens, our local sugar bush or suikerbossie.
This plant went through a process of breeding and selection by Pam and was finally registered with plant breeder's rights in 1995.
These flowers have been exported to all parts of the world ever since. We now have various partners in South Africa and around the globe producing Venus.
When I asked Mom why she called this protea Venus, she said it was after the goddess of love. This tied in with the botanical name Proteaceae named after Proteus, the Greek god known for taking on a number of different shapes (reflecting the multiple shapes and forms of this diverse plant family). Also, as mom pointed out, this stunning protea could only represent love with such a beautiful, vibrant pink colour.