Posted on

Mel @thriftysucculents

Mel Beckett’s plant addiction started with an op shop tea pot and a Donkey’s tail.

We met when I worked in the Office at our kids school, and I still remember one of Mel’s end of year gifts to me being a gorgeous thrifted teacup with a succulent inside! We were both born in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and as we recently discovered, were even born in the same hospital! We didn’t cross paths until years later and Mel now blames me for her indoor plant addiction! 

Mel’s “Thrifty Succulents” passion (and also the name of her wonderful Instagram account) started while waiting for her kids outside an op shop in 2015. After spying a Donkey’s tail that she “had to save”, along with a teapot, she combined the two and fell in love with all things succulent, along with repurposing anything and everything into plant pots. 

Let’s back up to when Mel was young. She recalls the influence of her “Tetta”, the name taken by her Grandma when her big brother couldn’t pronounce Grandma when he was little. Tetta lived about 7km away from their family home, and Mel remembers her having a lovely little greenhouse and a passion for hoyas, cactus, terrariums and not surprisingly growing strings of pearls, which Mel clearly has inherited a gift for! She remembers being sent home with cuttings Tetta had propagated, and that she had a Maiden hair that would be every C.I.P.P.A’s envy, that grew around a fish tank that housed huge flourishing fish! 

After moving to Perth in 1992 at the age of 23, she met her still husband Barry within 2 months. Three years later, their first daughter Alex was born and Mel recalls getting their first house and trying lots of plants (often unsuccessfully). Their first plant together was a peace lily they called “Trevor”, the name now given by them to all Peace Lily’s (or Trev’s as they are now reclassified). Mel loved orchids and African violets amongst others, but alas she said, they didn’t love her back. Even her pearls weren’t thriving, but her kids recently confessed that the 4 of them (Alex, Nathan, Lauren & Shannen) used to pull them off and throw them at each other, so not surprising really! 

After 18 years in Perth, they moved to Victor Harbor, SA  and left her “fronds” behind with friends. Their new house remained plant-less for 5 years, until Mel was gifted a Prayer Plant and didn’t kill it! After taking her thrifty succulent addiction to wonderful heights she has been a regular in my shop since opening in 2018. I mean, she couldn’t not support her friend, could she? Not only did she support me in this way, she also saved me from the fetal position with her incredible help as a C.I.P.P.A Moderator.  I am forever grateful.

And beautiful Tetta, she lived to the ripe old age of 104. Well us C.I.P.P.A’s know how good plants are for the soul….

Follow Mel on

Posted on Leave a comment

Kev – Lotsa Pots

Just before Covid hit, I had a dream!

My dream was (and still is) to travel around Australia, in a C.I.P.P.A van, meeting our amazing members, telling their stories, checking out their plants and plant related businesses. Obviously, it is easier said than done in our current climate, but we are incredibly lucky in SA to have the privilege to move within our state.

My Fam and I were given the hot tip of a beautiful camping spot called Katarapko near Renmark, SA which opened the door for my first impromptu feature, Kevin Schubert, C.I.P.P.A member and owner of “Lotsa Pots” – The home of “Kev’s Quirky Creations”.

While standing there, chatting to Kev, listening to his story, It got me thinking; why not start “C.I.P.P.A. Stories” now?

Kevin had an amazing story, and a ridiculous amount of experience and knowledge in the industry I loved and it inspired me to start right that second!

SO, here is a bit about Kev:

Kev started his first retail plant shop in the town of Renmark, SA at the ripe old age of 21! Within 18 months, he’d expanded his business into a vacant block in the centre of town, where he created his first full scale garden centre.
This certainly got him on the move, fulfilling the need for stock, sourcing van loads from Melbourne, truck loads from Sydney and full semi pantech loads (the big guys) from Queensland, to satisfy the demand for Palms and Indoor plants.

By the age of 24, Kev had opened a second garden centre in the nearby town of Glossop, and in the background, he had started a wholesale production nursery, which was slowly expanding. Every year, he’d pull out a couple of rows of grape vines on his parents fruit block, and replace it with a poly tunnel to grow more stock. He decided then that it was time to focus on building his wholesale business and close down the retail side of things.

After marrying Rozzie at 26, he decided (not having much on already) that he would embark on building them a home, taking 2 years of weekends to complete!

Over the next ten years, his wholesale business grew rapidly, becoming the fifth largest nursery in South Australia, supplying Target, Mitre 10, Coles, Kmart and Woolworths.

At the age of 30, at the height of his wholesale career, he was approached by a Fertilizer company who sponsored him to tour the west coast of America’s largest nurseries.

At 42 Kevin decided to start up the retail side of things again, opening “The Hidden Garden” in Renmark. At this time the nursery was producing about half a million plants a year. With shade houses and polytunnels covering approximately 4 acres.

However, a year later Kev’s health deteriorated and he began focusing on researching and studying, changing his lifestyle to try and recover his health. Despite his hard work his health continued to go downhill but he committed over the next 4 years to turn his life around.

Three years later, just before sunset on a hot Summer’s day, a freak storm tore through the Riverland and destroyed everything he had built. The only thing left standing was a packing shed and their hand built family home.

Unable to come back after this devastating event, Kev drew on his knowledge and study in the Health arena, and became a Life Coach, touring Australia, Singapore and Canada. He continued these Health Tours for the next six years, but as he began to tire of the constant travel, with the idea to retire slowly, Kev decided to return to the heart of Renmark, turning a disused service station into his current business, “Lotsa Pots”.

As you have probably worked out from Kev’s story already, he’s not one to sit around, so along with his successful Garden Centre he has reinvented himself once again incorporating his skills as a metal artist into his business.
So if you are ever in Renmark visit Kev. He has an incredible knowledge and passion for plants.

Go and pick his brains and ogle over his collections of some of the rarest cycads, his selection of indoor plants, a huge range of rhipsalis, succulents, cactus, hoyas, giftware and so much more, alongside his rusty art.
Like me, you’ll probably wander out of there with a huge box of plants! Afterall, are you even a C.I.P.P.A if you don’t have a selection of plants in your tent when camping???

In times like we are experiencing right now, I feel it’s more important than ever to connect, talk, and to marvel at the experiences of those around us. We need to come together, to celebrate and to be grateful for the information and the knowledge we can gain from others. Hearing someone’s story, and actually listening, to me is one of the greatest privileges in life.

If you know a C.I.P.P.A who has an inspiring story, or just has a crazy collection of plants, send me a message at

Stay crazy, and sending you loads of love, Kristy x

Visit Kev
Lotsa Pots – The home of Kev’s Quirky Creations
17 Renmark Avenue,
Renmark SA
0428 951 399