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Dendrobium Avril's Gold and Aussie Child. The final word from all of us in the Australian native orchid world.

Dendrobium Avril's Gold.        

The pink diamond, the black opal, the black pearl of Australian Orchids.
Henk van den Berg's Dendrobium Arvil's Gold 'Oscar' and 'Phoebe' famous for its appearances at St Ives each August

Dendrobium Avril's Gold




Avril's Gold

Synonym Flag

This is not a synonym

Registrant Name


Originator Name

Ray Hill

Date of registration

Seed parent Pollen parent
Genus Dendrobium Dendrobium
Epithet Aussie Child speciosum
Lets start at the beggining with Dendrobium Aussie Child 'Avril'
Here is its photo  from AOC Website
Award no: 0877
Genus: Dendrobium
Plant name:
Den. Aussie Child 'Avril'
Owner: Hill R.   Show all awards this owner
Award: AD/AOC 1990 (NSW)
Points: 77.00
Date: 19.Aug.1990
Description: Greyed purple 183B with yellow orange 15C. Recommended A.D. for intense red brown colouration. Initially judge by Hunter & Mid North Coast Regional Judging Panel where judges unanimously agreed to both awards. Later confirmed by principal panel.
Parentage: (Den. Hilda Poxon x Den. Aussie Spectrum)   List all awards this grex or species
Flower length: 60.0
Flower width: 60.0
Flower petals: 31L 8W
Dorsal sepal: 31L 9W
Ventral sepals: 30L 8W
Den. Avril's Gold is a hybrid between D. Aussie Child and D. speciosum.
D.Aussie Child = D. Hilda Poxon x Aussie Spectrum;

D. Aussie Spectrum = D. Peter x speciosum;

D. Peter = D. fleckeri x falcorostrum;
D. Hilda Poxon = D. tetragonum x speciosum
My first memories of Avril's was when  I purchased a very large number of 50mm tubes from Neil and Meg Finch at DUNO in the early 1990s.
I bought about 40 -60 from memory. At the time I was purchasing literally thousands of tubes from DUNO as an investment. I remember they were tiny green peas in a 50mm tube and I knew this was going to be a long wait! 
After 2 years I became tired of their slowness to grow and sold off all of them as runts for from memory 50cents each as not quite right specials.
Well done Wayne!
It was only many many years later when my customers started to bloom them (On average 8 years later) that I realised my mistake.  Over many years I obtained many back -- at a much higher price of course. While travelleing in Country Victoria doing talks I found two Dendrobium Ray's Girls in bloom and here they are.
They come from Dendrobium Aussie Child crossed to tetragonum.
I purchased them both, but they sulked and deteriarated in the next 5 years and passed away.  If only I had cloned them. One of the first I bloomed from a seedling was Avril's Gold 'Pumkin Pie'

I purchased many plants of Tinonee Orchids 'Ray' clone and when these bloomed a few years later, one stood out with far more dark spots. I called it 'Copperpot' and this was cloned for me at Flora Proprgation. We sold maybe 300 of these.So 'Copperpot' was a sport from the Ray clone.

We also purchased an Arvil's Called 'Louanne' from Henk and cloned that also.


From David Butler  Green Vista Orchids

My first recollection of Dendrobium Avril’s Gold is being at a Royale Open Day and seeing Henk van den Berg emerge from a sales area proclaiming that he had found Den seedlings of great potential. The cross was (D. Aussie Child ‘Avril’ x D. speciosum ‘Windermere’) and the rush which followed resulted in Bernie Fletcher and myself getting as many as we could safely carry to the counter. There were no second chances! D. Aussie Child ‘Avril’ was a challenge to grow, and from my experience its seedlings were very variable in their growth rate and generally slow to mature but in most cases the wait eventually proved worthwhile.

The cross was also made using D. speciosum ‘Golden Fluke’, the resulting progeny being reputed to have inferior shape. However, the seedling I obtained of this cross grew up to be called ‘Pure Gold’ and on its first flowering was judged Champion Hybrid of an ANOS Sydney Group Spring Show.


Registered in 1998 the cross (D. Aussie Child x D. speciosum) became D. Avril’s Gold, a robust, stunning native hybrid. D. Avril’s Gold is an orchid revered by a few patient growers who like a long-term challenge but, until recently, was overlooked by most who thought they had better things to do. Availability of remakes and mericlones has seen renewed interest and popularity in the hybrid no doubt helped along by modern growing techniques.


In 1998 we made the hybrid (D. Avril’s Gold ‘Pure Gold’  (Above Photograph  Chris Pegg)  x D. Yondi Tina ‘Goliath’) and over the years D. Avril’s Gold ‘Pure Gold’ was either the pod or pollen parent of (including remakes) another twenty-two crosses, examples being D. Midas Touch and D. Cosmic Gold. Others have also had success breeding with D. Avril’s Gold which is gaining a reputation as a frustrating but worthwhile parent and important milestone in the ongoing breeding of the big yellows, especially as most of its progeny are far less frustrating to grow than D. Avril’s Gold itself.  

Below are Henk's Cosmic Golds


Now a very old hybrid, D. Avril’s Gold continues today to have its admirers, both as a show plant and parent, thanks largely to the patience and perseverance of a few keen growers some thirty years ago.


From Bill Dobson, famous Australian Orchid Grower 

I remember the first time I saw Den Avril’s Gold in a Down Under Native Orchids catalogue and spoke to Neil Finch about it. Was probably 1992-3

I should look up the catalogue but can’t remember where I put them. The original plant was made by Ray Hill with Aussie Child ‘Avril’ which was a ‘dog’ of a plant but had plenty of colour.

Den Aussie Child was bred by Phil Spence while he was at Newport and registered in 1986. The plant consists of the following;

Den speciosum var. speciosum 50%

Den tetragonum 25% (variety unknown)

Den fleckeri 12.5%

Den falcorostrum 12.5%

As with all offspring the plants were obviously different and from what I have gleaned the plant that Ray Hill had was a hard grower but had good colour which it passed on to its progeny.

The original plant, Aussie Child ‘Avril’, was then crossed with 2 plants of Den speciosum var. speciosum ‘Golden Flute’ and ‘Windermere’

Many plants resulted with both but being a speciosum cross and the Den Aussie Child ‘Avril’ it took about 8-10 years to flower and then of course everyone wanted it.

Registered in 1998 by Ray Clement.

Some people, like Don Cruikshank and Henk van den Berg, both exceptional growers made the plant look good, but for the average grower it’s harder than a straight Den speciosum to grow and flower.

Not all of these seedlings will succeed on the show bench as some have crossed legs or look a bit ‘hippy’, however if you are looking for colour then they are spectacular.

The best if I had to choose would be Don Cruikshank’s plant of Den. Avril’s Gold ‘ Wingham’ a pure pumpkin colour gold.

The original plant, Aussie Child ‘Avril’ was a poor grower and eventually succumbed.


From Ray Clements Tinonee Orchids 

On 19th August, 1990 I travelled to Cessnock to Judge the Maitland Orchid Society's show.

On the way I called in to see my good friends John and Ruth Purvis. We then stopped at Ray and Avril Hill's home for a cuppa and to see an orchid he wanted to show me. The plant was Dendrobium Aussie Child. The plant was of a modest size in a 100mm-125mm pot from memory. The flowers were poor shape but it was the extraordinary colour that was most impressive. It was a deep glowing red shade, not purple, with deep gold underlay. I had never seen such a colour in a dendrobium before.

John and I convinced Ray to let us take the plant with us to put in the show for him. It won Grand Champion and was awarded a HCC and an AD. I remember voting in favour of the AD but was against the HCC based on the flowers poor shape.  Needless to say, Ray was ecstatic. The plant was given the clonal name Avril.

After the show Ray Hill used the plant to make a number of hybrids.

He crossed it with Den. Ellen, Den. tetragonum and Den. speciosum 'Golden Fluke'.

The following year he made some further crosses, amongst them with Den. speciosum 'Windermere'. 

When the flasks were ready I purchased most of the available flasks from him. Ray was ill with Cancer during this time and I credit the plant with keeping him alive a few years longer. After Ray's death Avril took the plant of Den Aussie Child 'Avril' and placed it on his grave.

The seedlings with Aussie Child 'Avril' were very slow to grow from flask, especially those with Ellen and tetragonum.  Eventually we flowered a few of the seedlings and the colour was extraordinary but again the shape was poor. I found the plants very hard to grow and eventually most died. In 1994 Avril registered Aussie Child x Ellen as Den. Ray's Dream and in 1995 Aussie Child x tetragonum as Den. Ray's Girls for his granddaughters of which he was very fond.

A few years later we started to flower some of the speciosum seedlings. Aussie Child x speciosum 'Golden Fluke' were very colourful, mostly gold with heavy red overlay, but poor shape and very poor growers. The cross with 'Windermere' was much more rewarding. Maybe not as much red overlay as with 'Golden Fluke' but much better shape. A really nice orchid. On one of my cuppa visits with Avril Hill she gave me permission to register the cross which I did in 1998 as Den. Avrils Gold

Robbie McInnes's Pumpkin Pie 4N.


All of the Aussie Child seedlings were poor growers, but by using what I consider the best clone of speciosum to make hybrids, that is 'Windermere' some were reasonable growers. One of the very best was a clone I called 'Ray' for Ray Hill. I had this plant mericloned and in 2001 received the plants in flask. Even these were slow. I consider that a good native orchid must not only look good, but must be a strong and vigorous grower, not just for the experts, but for the new enthusiasts as well. As a consequence I decided to stop propagating Avrils Gold and its progeny. Many Avrils Gold clones have been awarded and won prizes at shows, mostly grown by a few expert growers like Don Cruickshanks, Henk vandenBurg and Andy Gatt. Some have not flowered yet but are still alive. Most have died.


From Tony Clark - Well known Central Coast Grower 

Dendrobium Aussie Child ‘Avril’

I write these words to ensure that a true and proper record of this plant is perpetuated. It is important to me that Ray Hill is acknowledged as not only the owner/grower of this plant but was also a warm, decent person who I was fortunate enough to have as a friend. Ray purchased two seedlings of this cross from Wondabah Orchids at Carlingford( circa 1986), we often called into this nursery as it was readily accessible on trips to Pennant Hills area to buy pots and bark etc and while they didn’t usually have a lot of “natives” Ray was pleased  to find these. One of these seedlings died within a short time and the other was very slow to grow.

Over time I forgot about this plant until one day in August 1990 I visited Ray (he was by then starting to feel ill from his prostrate cancer) and asked me if I remembered the seedling of D.Aussie Child that he had bought from Wondabah. I did remember as I had bought a bag of Douglas Fir bark at the same time which was quite expensive. With a smile he told me that Ray Clement had called in on the way to judge at Maitland Orchid Societys show at Cessnock and was impressed with the colour of his D.Aussie Child and asked if he could take it to the show. It had been awarded a HCC and an AD as well as being judged Grand Champion! Ray Hill ( L) Grand Champion D.Aussie Child 'Avril' H.C.C.  A.D. Henk Vandenberg Reserve Champion Maitland Orchid Society , August 1990


Ray said that the judges were impressed with the colours and said that he thought the shape was “not great”, nevertheless as the judges had never seen colours like it on any other native orchid/hybrid it was awarded. Ray drove to the show next day to collect his orchid and trophy (SEE PHOTO).

Ray in my opinion was a very good orchid grower and had nurtured what turned out to be a very cantankerous plant, as the following year Ray did two back cuts and gave one to Jack McMillan(also a good grower)and the other piece to Neil Finch. Jack could not get his plant to grow and it slowly declined and died, Neil was able to get his division to slowly grow but I don’t think he flowered it as he made no hybrids with it. Neils plant was sold ,along with all other DUNO plants to Brian Gerhard where I lost track of it, I fear that it did not last long due to the quality of the water that Brian used and being a tardy plant. In any case Brian also didn’t make any hybrids with it.  

Dendrobium Avril's Gold   Peter Adams

 Dendrobium Avril's Gold is a Dendrobium speciosum-style hybrid of D. Aussie Child x D. speciosum, made by Ray Hill in 1990. The cross was made twice using two different D. speciosum var. speciosum parents, 'Windermere' and 'Golden Fluke'. It was found that the best results in colour and shape came from the cross using D. speciosum 'Windermere'. The hybrid was registered in 1988 by Ray Clement.



At the first ANOS Conference in Wollongong in late 1990, Ray Hill was a member of a discussion group I chaired on 27th September on breeding Dendrobium hybrids, and he began an animated topic of his hopes for highly coloured, larger flowers. Dendrobium tetragonum and D. fleckeri in the background of D. Aussie Child offered the opportunity of strong yellow and gold flowers with purple/red markings. 

His D. Aussie Child ‘Avril’ had recently won Grand Champion and HCC/AD/AOC in August, and he had made the first D. Avril’s Gold cross shortly before the conference. The discussion was so lively that it went well over time. At the next ANOS Conference at Strathpine in August 2019, the successful format of discussion groups will be used again, on five separate topics.

There have been more than 20 AOC awards to D. Avril's Gold seedlings over the period 1998–2017, including one FCC, nine AM, 13 HCC and two ADs for colour. ANOS have granted three quality awards over the period 2003–2016. The range of scores in AOC was approximately 76–85.5 points, and in ANOS 77.3–80.6 points. The number of awards reflects in part the different standards in different judging systems and the number of plants presented for awards and eventually awarded.

Some outstanding results have been achieved with plants that usually grow fairly slowly. Some seedlings, especially with the parent D. speciosum 'Golden Fluke', had variable and lesser quality flower shape, with undesirable reflexing and twisting of sepals. Compared with most other hybrids, D. Avril's Gold has a large number of quality awards and has created a lot of interest in Australian Dendrobium hybrids.


Dendrobium Arvil's Gold 'Angus'.  The reddest of the Avril's has been cloned by AON  for 2020 release

And finally (Added later by WT)  a list of awarded Avril's from the AOC website

 Thank you to those who contributed to this article.

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  • Robert Clough on

    Many thanks Wayne for this brilliant story. I have loved AG’s since I first saw one at a show years ago. I’m too old now to start with mericlones or seedlings but I do have two promising AG’s with one currently in spike. Fingers crossed!

  • George OEHM on

    Hi Wayne – reading Tony Clarke’s comment I noted inter alia: “Ray in my opinion was a very good orchid grower and had nurtured what turned out to be a very cantankerous plant, as the following year Ray did two back cuts and gave one to Jack McMillan(also a good grower)and the other piece to Neil Finch. Jack could not get his plant to grow and it slowly declined and died, Neil was able to get his division to slowly grow but I don’t think he flowered it as he made no hybrids with it. Neils plant was sold ,along with all other DUNO plants to Brian Gerhard where I lost track of it, I fear that it did not last long due to the quality of the water that Brian used and being a tardy plant. In any case Brian also didn’t make any hybrids with it.” – THIS IS VERY INTERESTING – DOES IT MEAN THAT ‘AVRIL’ MAY STILL EXIST – some 4 years ago, Brian Gerhard sold an Aussie Child purported to be ‘Avril’ on eBay, from memory it went for a little over $80 – a photo was provided, it had the shape of ‘Avril’ but, not the red colouring – he also commented that there was a tag in the pot with Neil Finch’s hand writing of “Aussie Child ‘Avril’” – I had been led to believe that there were no divisions of ‘Avril’ but, Tony Clarke’s comments would indicate otherwise, and if so, I’m also aware that Brian had other pieces of ‘Avril’ that went to some well known good growers – DOES THIS THEN MEAN THAT AUSSIE CHILD ‘AVRIL’ MAY STILL EXIST??

  • George OEHM on

    Thanks Wayne for writing this blog, one question, Aussie Child ‘Sydenham’ is it from the same pod as Aussie Child ‘Avril’?
    And, one statement, Aussie Child ’Avril’s’ genetic material continues to live on in its off-springs eg Henk van den Berg’s Cosmic Gold ‘Sandy’, my Midas Touch ‘D3’, the colours of ‘Avril’ are particularly pronounced in the Brimbank Fires (and these in my opinion are harder and slower to grow than Avrils Golds) and let us not forget the original Avrils Gold that exist in abundance – so back to the statement – certainly there have been mericlones of Avrils Gold, but, I am aware that Mark Daniels was successful with a sibling cross, accordingly, this year I will have another go at making sibling crosses, as well as mixing the gene pool using, Cosmic Gold, Midas Touch, Brimbank Fire and Ray’s Dream genetic material – most likely I will be unsuccessful, but, then you’ve got to have a go and perhaps it may not be the final word on Aussie Child ‘Avril’

  • David Butler on

    Hi Wayne
    The blog’s great and I really appreciated reading the recollections of the various orchid growers and breeders.
    However, along the way, I think the fact that D. speciosum ’Golden Fluke’ was the speciosum used to make D. Avril’s Gold ‘Pure Gold’ has become lost amongst the detail. It’s role in breeding should not be over-looked as two of the most well-regarded D. Avril’s Gold crosses, D. Cosmic Gold and D. Midas Touch come from ‘Pure Gold’ and therefore from ‘Golden Fluke’.

    I obtained D. Avril’s Gold ‘Pure Gold’ HCC/AOC as a small seedling, separately from my other Avril’s Golds, and during the seventeen years that D. Avril’s Gold ‘Pure Gold’ was used in my breeding program it had Neil Finch’s original tag very clearly defining D. speciosum ‘Golden Fluke’ as the pollen parent. I have never had cause to question its parentage apart from the negative comments which are made about ‘Golden Fluke’. An important parent in my hybridising, D. Avril’s Gold ‘Pure Gold’ produced some remarkable offspring which picked up top Awards, Gold Ira Butlers, and various Championships.

    When I see photos of modern Avril’s Golds it is obvious time is catching up with ‘Pure Gold’ but its outstanding achievements have certainly done old ‘Golden Fluke’ proud.
    Keep up the interesting blogs
    David Butler

  • Barry on

    Thank you and the knowledgable contributors for the informative insight into these orchids.

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