Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Fisch, Paul (1908-1962)
Fisch, Marielies (née Thomann) (1908-1996)
Paul was born at Buhler, Switzerland. Eldest son of Paul and Frieda Fisch.
Marielies was born at Glarus, Switzerland. Eldest daughter of Oscar and Babette Thomann.
Paul and Marielies went to high school together in Switzerland. The school program introduced students to observing nature and recording through writing and drawing. Through this Paul and Marielies discovered their shared love of natural history. After completing high school, Paul went to agricultural college while Marielies went to horticultural college.
Paul, at the age of 19, travelled to Melbourne, Australia, where he worked on an orchard in Doncaster. After five years, he purchased a 20 acre run-down orchard, which included a two roomed, dilapidated stone cottage. Marielies, during this time, worked as a gardener at Winterthur, Switzerland, and then at a castle in Slochteren, Holland.
Paul and Marielies corresponded regularly during this time, and after purchasing the land, Paul returned to Switzerland so they could marry there. They wed at Pully on 16th, February 1934, before traveling to Australia.
In Australia, Paul and Marielies repaired and extended their old house and replanted the orchard. They created a beautiful garden around the house and a huge vegetable garden. Over the years of successfully running an orchard, they also raised seven children.
Paul and Marielies were both fascinated by Australian flora, and this interest was passed on to their children and their friends. They regularly set out to explore the natural bushland near their home, and then later they travelled throughout Victoria looking for fungi, fossils, birds, shells, insects and, of course, wildflowers. They had a particular interest in orchids. They collected specimens of each orchid species they found. They recorded name, location and date, and used coloured pencils to draw them; botanically correct, true to size and colour. Their last drawing was completed in 1951.
Source: Recollections of the children of Marielies and Paul, via Verena Oxlee (email 19/9/2022)
Portrait Photos: supplied by Verena Oxlee.
Original Artwork: held in the Library of the Australian National Botanic Gardens
Data from 25 specimens