AIH 2017 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.

October 28, 2017

Acknowledgment of Country We acknowledge and pay respects to the Darug people of the Richmond 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.
Presented by the Sponsor Elizabeth Smith – Horticultural Training Pty Ltd

Silver Gum Award

Sponsored By Horticultural Training Pty Ltd

The Diggers Garden & Environment Trust (VIC)


The 2017 Silver Gum Award is given to The Diggers Garden & Environment Trust (Vic) and invites Dean Underwood, the Diggers Nursery Manager (here with his wife Angie and 10 year old son Archie) accept the award on behalf of the Blazey family.

Clive and Penny Blazey, founders of the Diggers Club, gifted ownership of their highly successful garden company along with family-owned properties Heronswood and St Erth to the Diggers Garden and Environment Trust in 2011.

The Trust strives for:

The conservation, protection or enhancement of botanical and ecological habitats.

The conservation, protection and enhancement of gardens both historical, botanical and exhibition, and historical buildings and artefacts and natural, historic and cultural heritage.

The protection and enhancement of the natural and horticultural environment including heirloom seeds and other flora and fauna.

The use of horticulture for health and dietary wellbeing.

Public support ensured that Diggers succeeded and grew into Australia’s largest gardening club, and the Blazey family was determined to make the transformation from a private, family owned business into a charitable trust, but firmly anchored in gardening, education and heritage buildings.

We wanted to ensure that the things we have championed such as supporting heirloom seeds, sustainable gardening methods. The Trust will also ensure the two certified organic gardens of approximately two hectares each would remain intact and always be open to the public.

Horticulturist of the Year

Tom Lantry

Presented by Graham Ross VVM MAIH RH
Tom joined the Australian Institute of Horticulture in the early 70’s and set up a local group “Hunter” in the early 80’s at Charlestown. He was later awarded an AIH Fellowship in 2012.

In 1978 he was appointed as full-time teacher in horticulture and turf and had Graham Ross as his special method tutor.

From 1979-1982, he and his team established the Annex at Charlestown that was oversubscribed in students mostly for block training as far away as the Queensland Border.

In 1989 the Annex was established formally as a college in its own right and he was appointed its first Principal.

Later as a Faculty Director Tom was responsible for all education and courses across the 16 Campuses of the Hunter Institute of Technology from Gosford to Scone.

In 1990 he was appointed Principal of Kurri Kurri TAFE where amongst many achievements he established 15 acres of vineyards.

In 2000 he established and operated Lantry’s Horticultural Consultancy, which included project managing large landscape subdivisions, roof top and private gardens, as well as general consultancy. Tom says:

I have been very fortunate to have been involved all my life in Horticulture and had the support of excellent staff both inside and outside of TAFE. Like many of us within the industry helping our colleagues and sharing information through the Institute is the way forward.

Tom is still actively involved with AIH as Convenor in the Hunter.

President's Commendation For High Achievement

Sponsored by Fitzpatrick Insurance

Annette Irish

FAIH RH08, (CPH Principal)

Presented by President Wayne Van Balen MAIH RH

This Commendation recognises the work and commitment of Annette Irish from 2005 to 2017.

To establish the Landscape Industry tertiary training system for the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) Singapore;
the development and delivery of the Certified Practising Horticulturist (CPH) Program for the National Parks (NParks) Board Singapore; and the Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE) Singapore to international standards.

A Testimonial from the founding chairman of the Landscape Industry Association Singapore (LIAS) Mr Michael Teh (pron. TAY) noted that:

Over the years since 2008 to 2016, Annette has diligently run 14 batches of CPH graduates and presided over their examinations to ensure that quality and standards are maintained in order for graduates to attain a CPH certificate.

I have several staff members and friends in the industry who had gone through Annette’s training and only heard good feedback of her training skills, as well as the wealth of knowledge that she had imparted to sharpen their skills in horticulture. Through the CPH courses, she has impacted tremendously to improve the professional skills of all her students. These graduates have in turn transmitted their honed skills and knowledge in their dealings with their colleagues and industry partners.

The CPH certificate is held in high esteem in Singapore today and this is befitting testimony to Annette’s hard work and her achievements. I fully commend and support her nomination for the AIH President’s Commendation for High Achievement”, he said.

In addition this commendation recognises Annette’s valuable work within the project and beyond, for her part in establishing enduring bilateral relationships between the National Parks Board Singapore and the Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH).

Horticulture Student of the Year

Brittany Webster

Presented by Chris Poulton FAIH RH and President Wayne Van Balen MAIH RH
Brittany is currently Leading Hand at Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens in Central Queensland.

Richard Brown, Co-ordinator of the Mackay Botanic Gardens, says, “Brittany is widely recognized in our organization and facility as one of the most outstanding and promising horticulturists we currently employ”.

Over the course of the past four years Brittany has showcased her skill in the delivery of exemplary results across a suite of horticultural areas. These include:

The Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.

General park horticulture.

Natural environment restoration.

Streetscape garden maintenance.

Seed collecting and
nursery propagation.

Currently Brittany is curator of the Meadowlands/Monsoon plant collections at Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens.

Brittany has completed a Certificate IV in horticulture and has completed Cert 3 in Parks & Gardens (Horticulture). She plans to commence a Diploma of Horticulture.

Her trainer Elizabeth Smith says:

During her studies, Brittany has shown a complete fascination for Horticulture, sustainability and nature. Her knowledge and use of plants, particularly endemic threatened species is inspiring.

In her pursuit of plant knowledge, she has applied for an internship at the Botanic Gardens in Honolulu. Brittany has been planning this for some time and has been very deliberate and strategic, intending to return to Mackay to apply these experiences in tropical horticulture.

Sir John Pagan BBM Youth Support Horticulture Scholarship

Jessica Smith

Presented by: David Thompson (former BBM awardee) and Melanie Stray from BBM

Jessica has won several awards including: Gold Medal Apprentice of the Year, 2016 Parks and Gardens for the LNA Master Landscapers Association NSW and Apprentice Awards for Excellence, Apprentice of the Year Horticulture/ Parks and Gardens.

She has continued her studies since her Certificate III in Horticulture.

For her award experience, she wants to explore her passion in Horticulture Parks and Gardens in the UK to learn in a completely new landscape and environment with talented and experienced horticulturalists as guides.

She intends to make the most of every day, hour and minute of the trip, learning and experiencing everything possible at Chelsea Flower Show, Chatsworth the Royal Botanic Gardens and many more places.

Jessica has proven her ability to achieve at a high standard and this Youth Support award will give her the opportunity to strengthen her knowledge and experience so that she can become a most effective horticulture teacher. This is her ambition.

She looks forward to reporting on her experiences to BBM and her industry supporters at the Australian Institute of Horticulture.

Sir John Pagan BBM Youth Support Horticulture Scholarship

Joel Smith

Presented by: David Thompson (former BBM awardee) and Melanie Stray from BBM

Joel was selected from a number of strong finalists by AIH whereby the BBM Organisation supports strong industry involvement. AIH assists in this regard and encourages membership of our organisation and feedback to members on the experience gained in the UK by the Awardee.

Joel is a third-year horticultural apprentice at Taronga Park Zoo and Conservation Society.

His work includes:

Bush regeneration

Collection of material for animal food enrichment
garden maintenance and design.

Turf and grounds management.

He has just completed the formal training of his Certificate 3 of Parks and Gardens.

He is keen to reach out to a charity in the UK called “Thrive” which works with people living with disabilities or ill health, who are disadvantaged or vulnerable.

He is also interested in furthering his studies with National Parks and the complicated ecosystems including both flora and fauna. He is interested in visiting venues like Kew Gardens, the Eden Project and a number of other historic gardens as well as Oxford University Botanic Gardens.

Joel is grateful to the BBM Youth Support Awards scheme for this fantastic opportunity to further his studies and experience and looks forward to sharing his experiences with industry upon his return. He also gave thanks to the Australian Institute of Horticulture for their involvement and looks forward to sharing his experience with members.

Inaugural Green Space Rural Award

The Green Alliance Western Australia

Presented by Kim Morris FAIH RH. Accepted by Neville Passmore & Glenice Batchelor

The walkway from Hastings St in Noosa out to the Noosa National Park showcases an iconic part of the Australian coastline. It passes through remnant native bushland located upon the hills and cliffs overlooking Laguna Bay. It provides tourists and locals with an accessible experience of the impressive coastline.

The work of GSA has been VERY timely and important in making sure that their position on Urban Forest Strategy is clear. All levels of state and local government understands the capacity of GSA and its members to assist and overcome challenges of green infrastructure projects. They are effectively telling them to have sufficient or more green for livability in Perth because they can help find solutions to overcome poor excuses.

If GSA or any of its member organisations and observer members can affect a paradigm shift towards understanding the importance of good concepts, that is equivalent to job creation, and revenue growth for those in the system who are quick to capitalise on the opportunities. This is particularly important given economic constraints following the end of the mining boom.

This collaboration is unique in Australian green culture in that it develops a strategy for effective development of open green spaces by government and others that incorporate a wide range of social, mental, community and personal health benefits by combining these and other elements in a holistic approach.

The Green Alliance has enjoyed great success in creating interest in a subject that is too often ignored by government and is taking and sustaining the issue to government at high levels.

This sets a great effective example to other states, such as the Alliance of Green industry groups in NSW which includes AIH. David Foster, Executive Director of NGINA is chairing that group. David, thank you for attending tonight.

Inaugural Green Space Urban Award

Nicholas Rivett FAIH RH & The Far East Consortium

Presented by Kim Morris FAIH RH, accepted by Nicholas Rivett and Aaron Parfitt
Upper West Side – Sky Park & Gardens is the largest and most intensive roof garden in Australia. The one acre “Sky Park and Gardens” is located on the 5th and 6th floor of Far East Consortium’s Upper West Side Development.

The Directors of the company desired to establish a “Garden Oasis” in the heart of Melbourne for the 6,500 residents that would occupy the four tower blocks of 40 to 60 levels. The garden was designed for a 50-year life.

The garden caters for a variety of climatic conditions which include:

Full shade, moist cold,
arid dry, warm moist to hot dry, tolerant or not.

A total of 12,014 plants used across 232 species.

The entire garden will sequester 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide each year. Media depth varied from 400mm to 2.5m with a total of 2,500 m3 of media volume delivered by crane in a constantly busy CBD.

Develop a complex mix of scoria, sand, coir, bark and wood chips that meet the engineering and blown delivery requirements while meeting all the plants’ needs. This was achieved through various trials and analyses.

The result was a saving in about 4 – 5,000,000 litres of potable water per year and the retention of 400,000 litres of water following a 100mm rain event or 30% water holding capacity.

Award of Excellence

The Three Nonnas for the Renewal of Horticulture of the Brisbane Ekka

Presented by Assoc Professor Andrew Prowse MAIH RH

Elizabeth Smith, Robin McLay and Annette Irish are known for the purposes of these awards as “the three Nonnas” – the invincible team who resurrected Horticulture to be a major feature at the famous Royal Queensland Show, or “EKKA” as it is affectionately known.

In 2016, the Old Museum came home to Ekka for the first time in 119 years, becoming the base for the show’s Flower and Garden precinct. This is an outstanding heritage listed building that is now also used for the arts and its distinctive architecture is best described as ‘progressive eclecticism’.

The return of horticulture to its home is the result of many efforts but especially Robin who is a Royal National Association Councillor representing horticulture. She had a vision and applied her commitment and passion to grow this area.

As part of the project Annette Irish has been conducting extensive research into horticulture in Australia when Queensland was at the centre of new learning in tropical and sub-tropical horticulture and duplicating the historical horticultural displays.

Elizabeth Smith and her creative team designed and built a ‘Dinosaur Party’ in the grounds around the precinct much to the amusement of the EKKA patrons adults and children alike. She made party costumes for the dinosaurs and the staff built a huge birthday cake.

These efforts, work and commitment are significant to horticulture heritage and its future working with the RNA and brings horticulture back to the people.

Award of Merit

Western Sydney University & Its Predcessor Hawkesbury Agricultural College

Presented by David Thompson – Hawkesbury Institute for the EnvironmenT
Established on 10th March 1891, Hawkesbury Agricultural College was the first agricultural College in the state of New South Wales. In 1989 the College became the University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury that still occupies 1500 hectares of semi-rural land.

Mr John Low Thompson was appointed Principal and although he wanted to establish adequate accommodation facilities before admitting students, the government was eager for the college to begin teaching because New South Wales was “much behind the other colonies in the matter of Agricultural Colleges”.

Among the Hawkesbury Ag College alumni are many members of the Institute who studied at HAC including Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton, the famous Australian swimmer who was a student, as was our current President Wayne Van Balen.

AIH acknowledges the transition of the Hawkesbury Agricultural College to the Western Sydney University in widening the scope of horticulture, agriculture and other disciplines in the seat of Australian horticulture and its significant and essential role in the development of horticulture.

The award is accepted by Darren Greentree (Director, Financial Operations and Acting Provost, Hawkesbury Campus) Western Sydney University and presented by David Thompson, Research Media and Communications Manager at the University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment.

Award of Merit

The Community Green Team, The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney & NSW Department Family, Community Services Housing

Presented by Michael Casey MAIH RH
This is a creative program using the resources and skills of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and NSW Government Department, Family, Community Services and Housing NSW.

This award is for the promotion of communal gardening in social housing communities, and on nearby locations, making a significant contribution to improve social cohesion, crime reduction and public health in both urban and regional New South Wales

Phil Pettit and the Community Greening project has helped establish in excess of 600 projects in 200 communities participating in the development of gardens in a wide cross section of locations owned or used by local councils, schools, churches and public spaces.

The program is generously supported by many businesses and individuals who contribute landscape materials, time and their effort.

Phil is joined by Community Gardeners Marie-Christine Sancho, Anna Kovic and Marjorie Mead.

Award of Merit

Paul Koch

Presented by Neville Passmore MAIH RH

For the unique development of learning resources for Certificates 2 & 3 in Horticulture (SA).

Australian Educational Publications and Training (AEPaT) is a family business comprising writer, Paul Koch, and editor Margaret Crohn. Paul is a Burnley Horticultural College graduate, arborist, adult educator and specialist in arid-land horticulture, has over 40 years of experience in the horticulture industry, while Margaret is an equally experienced teacher and educational writer.

Australian Educational Publications and Training (AEPaT) writes, edits, publishes and markets a suite of comprehensive student learning resources that support a range of units from Certificates 2 and 3 in Horticulture.

Paul’s efforts currently supply resources to over 20 different TAFEs and other RTOs in various states, the majority of which are regular, repeat customers, using AEPaT resources as the main teaching resource for their students.

To date, 29 resources are available. They address all the performance criteria that help horticulture students consolidate their learning and practice their skills. AEPaT is constantly adding to the resource list, as demand for these unique resources grows.

Certificate of Appreciation

Associate Professor Andrew Prowse


Presented by Patrick Regnault MAIH RH
In acknowledgement of service as National Vice President of the Institute from 2014-2018. Our thanks and appreciation.

Certificate of Appreciation

Andrew Price


Presented by Patrick Regnault MAIH RH
In acknowledgement of service as National Treasurer of the Institute from 2013-2017. Our thanks and appreciation.

AIH Fellow

Glenice Batchelor


Glenice Batchelor FAIH RH

The Members wish to acknowledge your ongoing contribution and honour you with a Fellowship.

Glenice is a Loyal member and Registered Horticulturist whose enthusiasm over many years has assisted in developing a true National profile for the Australian Institute of Horticulture.

Her involvement has been at a regional level centred around Perth and at a National Level by serving on the National Council.

She has actively encouraged AIH to support the Green Space Alliance in Western Australia which has been a great success and example to other states.

Award of Appreciation

Paul Plant


Chair of Fellows Group

Award of Appreciation

Neville Passmore


Neville Passmore FAIH RH, Jackie Warburton MAIH

Convenor of the 2019 AIH Conference

Lifetime Achievement Award

Marion Blackwell

Presented prior to the conference by Neville Passmore FAIH RH.

Marion Blackwell is a National Treasure and was awarded an Order of Australia in 2018. She is recognised for her work as an environmental Scientist, landscape architect and conservationist. Given the theme of our conference she is a very fitting recipient of this award. Her publications and reports cover a wide field of W.A. interests, especially local gardening and landscape projects as well as for major mining companies such as NBHP and Woodside Offshore Petroleum.