History of the Clivia Society
The Clivia Club started in 1992 as a newsletter written, printed and distributed by Nick Primich from Johannesburg in South Africa. Nick thought that through newsletters all interested people worldwide could share their knowledge and expertise on Clivia. In the editorial of the first newsletter Nick Primich wrote: “What I do want is for us to better utilise the material which is available and by pollen and seed exchange rapidly build up good stocks of excellent material”.
The founding group consisted of 25 individuals – 16 from South Africa, 5 from Australia, 2 from the USA and 1 each from Hong Kong and Japan.
Soon members in the Pretoria / Johannesburg (Gauteng) region felt that they wanted to see the collections of other growers and arranged the first garden visit, which took place in October 1993 (Clivia Club Newsletter Vol. 2, number 5 page 9). At the end of October 1993 James and Connie Abel organised the first habitat visit to see C. caulescens at Gods Window (Clivia Club Newsletter Vol. 3, number 1 page 6).
The 22nd January 1994 was an auspicious date in the annals of Clivia. The Clivia Club was formed on that day at the home of James and Connie Abel (Clivia Club Newsletter Vol. 3, number 1 page 14). The 19 participants present elected unanimously as chairman James Abel (proposed by Nick Primich and seconded by Pat Gore). James initiated discussions and plans on a number of activities which still form much of the focus of the later Clivia Society and its constituent Clivia Clubs, namely member meetings, garden visits, conferences, shows, photographic exhibitions and habitat tours.
The first quadrennial Conference and Show was held on 17th September 1994 (Clivia Club Newsletter Vol. 3, number 8 page 1) at the National Botanical Gardens in Pretoria, South Africa. Attendance exceeded all expectations, the conference proceedings made a good contribution to Clivia know-how, the show and plant sales started a long tradition and it was truly international with contributions from Yoshikazu Nakamura (Japan), Keith Hammett (New Zealand) and Pen Henry (Australia). Very substantial contributions to its success were made by René and Michael Stevenson. In those early years stalwarts included Toy Jennings, Adri Haxton, Meg Hart, Frikkie Potgieter, Koos Geldenhuys and Pat Gore.
Connie and James hosted many of the Club meetings at their home in Pretoria and organized a number of Clivia habitat tours. In an editorial in June 1995 (Clivia Club Newsletter Vol. 4, number 3 page 10) it was stated that they had taken “the Clivia Club out of an envelope and put it on the show bench”.
The Clivia Club encouraged clivia activities in other centres, and Des Anderson reported on the first meeting in Pietermaritzburg on June 3rd 1995 (Clivia Club Newsletter Vol. 4, number 4 page 5) where “James Abel noted that the Transvaal members had joined the meeting with a view to giving impetus to a new membership drive”. The fruits of that meeting in Pietermaritzburg included the formation of the first branch (KwaZulu-Natal Clivia Club) of the Clivia Club. They were later followed by the establishment of the Cape Clivia Club under the leadership of John Winter – then curator of the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town.
The Clivia Club was based on a centralized organizational structure with the implication that members joined via the Clivia Club secretariat in Pretoria. From the onset the committee of the Clivia Club played a double role – firstly they managed the affairs of the (international) Clivia Club and secondly they were also responsible to cater for the needs of the large and ever-growing number of Clivia enthusiasts within and around the metropolitan area of Pretoria and Johannesburg. By 1999 this dualism terminated when the Pretoria-based Northern Clivia Club was established upon adoption of its first constitution.
In the mean time it became apparent that the Clivia Club has outgrown its one page constitution which never formalized the establishment of branches of the Clivia Club. After about two years of negotiation and debate a new constitution was adopted on 19 May 2001 in Pretoria and the Clivia Club was renamed the Clivia Society. One issue that was heavily debated was whether the Society should be a unitary body with worldwide branches, or an umbrella body that would facilitate the common interests of independent Clivia Clubs formed for specific geographic regions throughout the world. The latter view prevailed, with provisions to accommodate individual enthusiasts who did not have clubs in their areas, until such autonomous Clubs were formed.
In December 2003 the Clivia Society newsletter was posted to approximately 1000 members of constituent Clivia Clubs in South Africa and to 300 members in other countries. The clubs in South Africa organized 13 shows or exhibitions during the 2003 flowering season. Some of our members were instrumental in organizing exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia.
In December 2004 the Clivia Society newsletter was posted to approximately 1000 members of constituent Clivia Clubs in South Africa and to 300 members in other countries. The clubs in South Africa organized 13 shows or exhibitions during the 2004 flowering season. Some of our members were instrumental in organizing exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia.