GEOFF Cochrane has been farming for more than 40 years and knows his way around plants.
For 35 years he owned a vegetable farm, growing mainly wombok (chinese cabbage).
Then 12 years ago he wanted a change, so dug more dams and planted water flowers throughout his Yarra Junction property, turning it into an aqua oasis.
He grows lotus and waterlilies and is a small wholesaler of water plants.
Geoff also supplies florists around the country with green lotus pods, which have become popular in arrangements.
"Growing plants has always been a hobby of mine and the call of unusual plants beckoned," Geoff said.
Aquatic plants have a long flowering season - from Boxing Day to early April - which is when Geoff opens his property to visitors.
"It's a very large park with lots of water," he said. "There's this perception that lotuses are a tropical plant, because that's where people often see them, but in actual fact most varieties are temperate."
During the growing season Geoff employs two to three people to maintain the garden, look after the nursery and harvest lotus pods.
His eldest son Peter is general manager while middle son Joe operates a mail order service for water lily rhizomes.
Another son Paul took over the vegetable business and rotates wombok through rented land nearby.