George was born in a small coastal town in South Africa in the late 70’s to Greek-Cypriot parents. George completed primary and secondary school in South Africa, thereafter completing a 3-year National Diploma in Horticulture at the Durban Institute of Technology. Thereafter George came to Australia as an international student to further his studies at James Cook University in Townsville where he completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Botany. After a few years in the workforce George decided to pursue a career change and trained as a secondary school teacher. For the last 9 years George has been teaching high school and establishing his collector’s bromeliad nursery on the side.
His love of nature began in his childhood. Growing up in South Africa, which abounds in natural beauty, encouraged George’s appreciation of plants, animals and the natural world. His parents are also both keen gardeners and animal lovers, so there was additional encouragement from them. As a child George developed many interests including freshwater fish, bromeliads, tropical ferns, palms and tropical plants in general. His love of bromeliads began with a visit to a local open garden which was designed in harmony with the natural rainforest vegetation that was already on the site. In the garden were great displays of bromeliads growing epiphytically amongst the luxuriant tropical plantings. The fact that such exotic plants could thrive growing as epiphytes captured George’s keen fascination and this started him on his search to acquire some of his own bromeliads. The owner of the open garden referred George to Nigel Thomsen who lived in South Africa at the time and had the finest collection of bromeliads in the country. As a youngster, George would frequently visit Nigel’s nursery to acquire plants where Nigel’s wife Rosalie would try her best to help with George’s endless questions. And so George’s bromeliad addiction grew, with no sign of diminishing to the present day.
While in high school George dabbled with some hybridising, importing seed from Brazil, and importing plants from the USA. George and his parents also spent many years collaborating to create a beautiful tropical garden on his parents’ land. At age 22 George came to Australia to further his studies and later decided he wished to settle in Australia permanently. Since coming to Australia in 2001, George has become an Australian citizen and settled in Elimbah, Queensland, where he has established a collector’s nursery: Elimbah Tropicals. Over the years George has been very fortunate to be surrounded by the knowledge and camaraderie of many outstanding bromeliad collectors in Australia. For the last 7 years George has been importing many new and exciting bromeliads and other plants into Australia from around the world, and has also imported much of his South African plant collection into Australia. Olive Trevor’s kindness in allowing George to utilise her quarantine facility made this possible. In the last 7 years George has also been very actively engaged in raising bromeliads from seed, including an extensive hybridisation program. Much of George’s hybridisation work has been inspired by the incredible work of the late John Arden, the world-renowned bromeliad hybridiser from California, USA. In the bromeliad world George’s main interests are in the genera Vriesea, Tillandsia, Dyckia, Hohenbergia and intergeneric hybrids of the Tillandsiodeae subfamily. George also enjoys maintaining pure species in cultivation for conservation purposes.