AIH 2016 Annual Awards

Every year, the Institute celebrates excellence in horticulture with diverse projects, experiences and people acknowledged and recognised for their achievements. In a year that has delivered major disruption across the world, it is timely that the Australian Institute of Horticulture celebrates these superb people and their projects.

November 24, 2016

Held in association with the Australian Society of Horticultural Science (AuSHS) and the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) during the International Symposia on Tropical and Temperate Horticulture Cairns Convention Centre 20-25th November 2016

Acknowledgment of Country

We acknowledge and pay respects to the Gimuy-walubarra yidi people people of the Cairns and all their descendants both past and present. We also acknowledge the many Aboriginal people from other regions as well as Torres Strait and South Sea Islander people who now live in the local area and have made an important contribution to the community.


Golden Wattle Award

Jane Edmanson

Jane Edmanson hailing from Mildura began her horticulture journey back in 1975. At first she pursued a teaching career and completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education at Monash University but later completed certificates in horticulture and landscape technology from Burnley. Jane decided to pursue a career in horticulture starting work at Williams retail nursery in Melbourne then as a Nursery Hand at the Victorian Schools Nursery in August 1976 – eventually being promoted to the position of Deputy Director after 15 years.

One of her first duties at the Schools nursery was to monitor a program for visiting groups of students and in particular those with disabilities setting the pathway for her future horticulture passion. As if she wasn’t busy enough Jane was also been a part owner in a retail nursery.

Her media journey began in 1989 taking over from Kevin Heinze on “Saw What”. She then joined “Gardening Australia” at its inception with Peter Cundall heading up a team of state based presenters including Jane covering Victoria. She is the only member of the original team member after 25 years.

Jane also started working on gardening talkback being with 3AK. 3MP and then joining 3AW around a decade ago. She enjoys great popularity on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

From her pen there has been six books written including Ideas from Private Gardens, The Australian Garden, Jane Edmanson’s Favourite Plants, Cheap and Easy Propagation and Jane Edmanson’s Working Manual for Gardeners.

A successful garden tour leader Jane takes keen gardeners to many places including Europe, China, New Zealand, the USA, Vietnam and Canada as well as within Australia.

Obviously, Jane just loves gardening and so lends her support readily o many organisations. She is Patron of the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria, Sustainable Gardening Australia, Friends of the Melton Botanic Gardens and Friends of the Wail Arboretum, Horsham. She is an Ambassador for Australia Day and an Ambassador of Cystic Fibrosis Victoria.

Jane was the inaugural President of the Horticultural Media Association of Victoria when it formed in 1994.

In 2004 Jane was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia:

“For service to horticulture, particularly through the promotion of environmentally sustainable gardening practices, and the encouragement and education of young gardeners.”

In 2013 her peers recognised her by conferring an Honorary Life Membership of HMA Victoria for her “outstanding service to horticulture and the media”.

Management of 3AW, Magic 693, Talk Radio Network notes that:

“Jane Edmanson has the unique ability to be able to relate to people of all ages, all backgrounds and most importantly not those who just understand gardening at the elite level. Jane is a wonderful communicator, has a great personality and is an absolute pleasure to work with”.

Her catch cry is “Gardening should be for everyone”.

The Institute congratulate Jane on her dedicated, compassionate and unerring support for our industry at all levels.

The AIH Golden Wattle Award is an award of significance to an outstanding horticulturist. This is the highest award of institute recognition to be given to a horticulturist whose practice has advanced the profession of horticulture in Australia.

This AIH Award for a member or non-member is to recognise one who has demonstrated sustained exemplary conduct as a professional horticulturist.

One who has brought significant benefit to the profession by his or her work and deeds and who has excelled in the profession of horticulture during the history of AIH Incorporation since 1960.

Silver Gum Award

Sponsored By Horticultural Training P/L

Rod Drew

The Silver Gum Award has been awarded to Emeritus Professor Roderick Drew. Rod Drew has performed many leadership roles in both professional and voluntary organisations. His research has focused on Tropical Fruits and he has worked on collaborative projects in many tropical countries.

He has been a member of International Society of Horticultural Science (ISHS) since the early 1970s. He has initiated new working groups, convened new and established symposia (commencing with the “International Symposium on Biotechnology of Tropical and Subtropical Species” in Brisbane in 1997), and served as a council member for Australia.

He served on the ISHS executive for 8 years as Chair of the Commission Biotechnology and In Vitro Culture, and has edited 8 volumes of Acta Horticulture. More recently, he was co-President of IHC2014 and at the council meeting in Brisbane, 2014, was elected President of International Society of Horticultural Science.

He is also President of the Australian Society for Horticultural Science, a member of the International Society for Plant Biotechnology, a Registered Horticulturist with the Australian Institute of Horticulture and a Fellow of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Science.

Fellowship Award

Christopher Poulton

Christopher Poulton has been a member for 38 years, and has served as National Vice President, NSW State President, and Sydney Convenor from 2013 to 2016. He has multiple qualifications in horticulture including green-keeping, arboriculture, horticulture and landscape design.

Chris has served for many years as a TAFE teacher, has run his own active landscaping business, established and run his own nursery and serves as a coordinating project manager for a large installation and maintenance company.

Chris is a worthy recipient of one of the highest awards our organisation can bestow.

A Fellowship of the Institute is conferred on a member who has performed duties or acts in excess of those normally required of a Member who has contributed to the advancement of the Institute; and has contributed to horticulture in its widest meaning.

Australian Horticulturist of the Year

Sponsored by Fitzpatrick Insurance

Simon Leake


Simon began his industry career back in 1981 having graduated with first class honours in agricultural science majoring in soils science. Even though Simons first choice was a joint Horticulture and Soil Science major being keen to follow Production and Amenity Horticulture the university would not allow him to do a joint major and so soil science won out.

After 9 disillusioned months of a PhD in an analytical chemistry laboratory he established the Sydney Environmental and Soil Laboratory in 1984.

Providing much needed testing and scientific advice to the amenity horticulture industry; landscape architects, nurseries and potting mix manufacturers Simon soon built a sound reputation for the diagnosis of plant ill-health and causes of failure.

Simon’s most recent project was providing the detailed design and technical advice and practice for the highly successful plantings at Barangaroo, Sydney.

Some of his other major projects include Darling Harbour, Sydney Olympic Park, Millennium Parklands, Dubai Island World. His work as a writer and lecturer in the soil sciences is in demand and is regularly invited as a guest speaker at TAFE and Universities, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra botanic gardens, industry magazines, garden clubs television and radio.

Simon is co-author of the book that won the 2015 AIH Secretary’s Literature Award ‘Soils for Landscape Design’, a book dedicated to improving the technical specification and manufacture of landscape soils.

Australian Horticulture Student of the Year

Sandi Cleary

The Horticultural Student of the Year for 2016 has been awarded to Sandi Cleary of Coffs Harbour NSW. Sandi completed a double Diploma of Horticulture and Organic Farming during which she achieved an exceptionally high standard being top student in both courses.

She has directly related every aspect of her horticulture studies to her own small business producing food crops then value adding to produce various preserves and marketing produce within the region.

She has a Certified Organic Blueberry farm and is an active member of the Australian Institute of Horticulture. Her application and energy is a source of inspiration to TAFE staff and other industry members in Coffs Harbour.

We thank Food & Agribusiness Solutions and CLIC for their support of this award.

Student Encouragement Award

Sarah Arthurs + Willis Daveson

Sarah Arthurs and Willis Daveson are unable to be with us. They have both worked extensively in the parks and gardens team of the Copper Coast Council in South Australia maintaining some of the highly visual areas, in particular, the statement entrances to towns. Sarah and Willis have since secured further work within the Council have applied their skills maintaining the systems.

Sir John Pagan BBM Youth Support Horticulture Scholarship

Jack Hutchinson

Jack is 17 years of age, and a trainee and assistant manager at Honeysuckle Gardens in Mosman, Sydney. He is studying towards a Certificate III in Urban Horticulture at Ryde Horticultural School.

While he will be in the UK, Jack will be getting work experience at the Chelsea Flower Show, The Royal Parks of London, and The Tatton Park Flower Show. He has been an outstanding performer both at work and in his studies and his enthusiasm and knowledge has been identified by senior professionals in our industry.

It is with great pleasure that we are able to give Jack this great opportunity to fast forward his career. We believe he will be a great ambassador for his employer, our profession and the membership of our Institute.

Secretary's Award of Excellence in Horticultural Literature

Georgina Reid

The Planthunter is an online magazine devoted to celebrating plants and the varied ways humans interact with them. It’s the culmination of the many years Georgina Reid has spent pondering, exploring, and documenting the various ways humans relate to the natural world as a designer, writer and thinker.

Georgina also writes a regular garden column for Australia’s popular design blog, The Design Files, is also the garden writer for Belle Magazine, and occasionally contributes to Green Magazine, Broadsheet and other culture and lifestyle publications.

Michael Casey, Regional Convener Victoria, accepted the award on behalf of Georgina.

Award of Excellence

Toni Salter

Congratulations to Toni Salter MAIH RH who is unable to be present. She is President of Cultivate NSW and recently led the Therapeutic Landscapes conference in NSW in October 2016.

Toni, a member of the Australian Institute of Horticulture, is also a Diversional Therapist, community teacher and has been a talk-back guest on ABC Radio.

Toni also runs horticultural therapy programs, developing sensory gardens through a number of organisations including AFFORD (Australian Foundation For Disability) and has a particular interest in aiding recovery from PTSD for our defence forces.

Award of Excellence

Paul Kirkpatrick


Award of Excellence presented in recognition of Paul’s commitment to the advancement of professional horticultural practices in his region of NSW via design and maintenance of large gardens on South Coast and Southern Highlands of NSW.
Paul has been dedicated to the promotion of professional horticulture within his region across Australia through his work as a volunteer speaker and writer including garden clubs, Botanic Gardens and other venues – on diverse horticultural topics.

Award of Merit

Kim Courtenay

Kim is an educator and project developer with North Region TAFE Western Australia, specifically the Kimberly.

He has been developing a Project with the Bidyadanga Community of plantation grown Gubinge , also known as Kakadu Plums that would otherwise be wild harvested. This year they have harvested the first fruit from the plantation.

In the Kimberley the roundish light green fruits have long been prized as a food and medicine. Nutritional analysis revealing unprecedented levels of vitamins and anti-oxidants has seen a rapid increase in demand for it as a health food, a nutraceutical, an ingredient in cosmetics and for medical research. It has attracted great interest as a export crop.

The AIH Award of Merit is presented to Kim for his persistence, innovation and the generosity of spirit, and forming significant relationships with indigenous communities.

Award of Merit

Cairns City Council

Councillor John Schilling from Cairns City Council accept Certificate and Trophy.

Cairns Regional Council for creative urban planning and greening of the city’s Central Business District. This work has included the preparation of the CBD Master Plan and ongoing streetscape upgrades including Lake Street with extensive tree and garden plantings.

The work has rejuvenated the city centre making it a more attractive and usable place for residents and visitors with a more commercially viable environment for business.

Award of Merit

Kim Woods - Rabbidge

The online blog Our Australian Gardens has established a wide Australian and international following as a highly respected digital based visual garden experience.

The City decided to invest in permanent foreshore restoration works. Natural ArKim Woods-Rabbidge has gathered her many background skills as an artist, journalist, garden stylist and coordinator of Australia’s Open Garden Scheme to evolve Our Australian Gardens to one of the most beautiful garden blogs and a comprehensive range of CD and video productions of exceptional technical and content quality.

The AIH Award of Merit recognises Kim’s outstanding photographic and digital perspectives of inspirational gardens that educate, entertain and inform.ea Consulting Management Services were contracted in early 2017 to design and implement the restoration of Walter’s Brook, a Water Corporation open drain which flows through Bank’s Reserve, Mt Lawley, to the Swan River.

Award of Merit

Steven Wells

Steven Wells for Austin Health Therapeutic Program. This innovative role is focused on creating gardens to improve the therapeutic environment of Austin Health across all three hospital sites for the benefit of patients, visitors and staff. Established and coordinated by Steven Wells, the horticultural therapy program utilises garden related activities to assist with the treatment and recovery of patients during recovery from illness and/or injury.

Award of Merit

Attila Kappitany

For his work promoting and educating about Australian Succulents through his website and his book series on Australian plants.

Australian Succulents; Australian Bottle Trees and Boab; Succulent orchids; Ant Plants, Caladrinia; Australian Weird Wattles; Pigface and Pigweeds and
Gymea and Spear Lilies.

Since 2007 he has dedicated much of his time and resources to promoting these lesser known Australian plants, touring the Australian speaking circuit regularly and featuring on television and radio.

He writes regularly for magazines, journals and newspapers and promoting succulent plants. He has thirty years of experience growing and marketing cacti and succulents having travelled extensively to plant habitats around the world.

Attila and Michele and amassed possibly one of the largest collections of mostly seed-raised succulent plants in Australia. Attila is the immediate past president of the Cactus & Succulent Society of Australia with 10 years in this position, and also currently editor of its journal.

Award of Merit

Peter Kirkland

Peter Kirkland qualified horticulturist and founder of Plantfile has spent the last 20 years developing the database.

It is a valuable dynamic resource that satisfies consumer demand for quality readily available horticultural information in softcopy format. Available online, as a phone app and in CD-ROM formats, PlantFile has grown to a practical, user-friendly database, with information and images of over 3,600 plant species and 9,000 cultivars.

Peter has dedicated his business and passion to enhance this valuable educational resource that enables students and practitioners alike to reference plants they work with or collect.

International Society of Horticultural Science Medal

Professor Rod Drew presented the International Society of Horticultural Science Medals:

Professor Rob Paull, Dr Alain Rival, Professor Sisir Mitra, Dr Andrew East, Dr Gordon Rogers, Dr Sophie Parks, Dr Peter Batt, Professor Patricia Paiva, Professor Renato Paiva, Dr Wen-Li Lee, Dr Songpol Somsri, Dr Natalie Dillon, Dr Hannah Jaenicke.