An ode to the Babylonstoren Clivia Kings

September 30th, 2021

This year, our clivia exhibition is blooming even brighter thanks to a generous donation of 449 plants from our newest benefactor, Billy Rule. It’s a bittersweet sight, as the donation came after Billy sadly passed away in 2020 and his family selected Babylonstoren as the new home for his beloved clivia collection.


Billy Rule was a pharmacist by training before becoming a successful entrepreneur. Although he left the pharmaceutical profession, he never lost his enthusiasm for chemistry, which was channelled into his early passion of hybridising slipper orchids. Then Billy discovered the beauty of clivias …

A member of the Cape Clivia Club since 2005, Billy was most interested in creating his own hybrids with unique colours from seeds traded with club members. Among them was John Winter, the founder of the Cape Clivia Club and curator of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens from 1978 to 1998.

Although Billy loved his clivias, he never placed them on show and always admired them as a private collection. This personal devotion is what makes the donation from the Rule family all the more special to Babylonstoren.


Our colourful clivia fixation

Babylonstoren’s love affair with clivias initially started with a gift from Dr Hans Roos, brother of Babylonstoren’s owner, Karen Roos. The plants came from his garden in Sandton, where he had been breeding and selecting clivias as a hobby since 1995. These clivias flourished under the shade of our wild olives and oaks, which inspired Dr Roos to send more plants to create the spectacular walk along the stream, surrounded by thousands of clivias.

To complement the clivias planted under the trees, Babylonstoren also acquired the Mick Dower clivia collection – regarded as one of the top clivia collections in the world. With this addition, our collection grew to includes all six clivia species: Clivia nobilis, Clivia miniata, Clivia caulescens, Clivia gardenii and the more recently discovered Clivia mirabilis and Clivia robusta, as well as many unusual hybrids.

Every year in October, our clivias colour the banks of the stream beneath the wild olive trees in sunset hues of red, yellow, peach, orange and bronze. Adjacent to the wild collection, in the dappled shade of the Puff Adder, we exhibit our potted collection to be viewed up close.


In loving memory of our latest clivia benefactor, Billy Rule

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