Industry Memberships See New Book Reach Fruition

Memberships with multiple industry bodies are one of the most valuable things a person can do to foster a successful career, and a membership with the Australian Institute of Horticulture has been the latest of mine.

I thought the Institute’s HortInsights publication would be a great way to introduce myself and connect with new faces across Australia. My name is Dan Austin and I am a lecturer in horticulture at TAFESA’s Urrbrae Campus in South Australia, among a few other roles.

Though the membership with AIH is my latest, my first membership was with a group known as the International Plant Propagators Society (IPPS). It was a membership that, many moons ago, gave me the opportunity to travel to South Africa to study the country’s nursery industry through a scholarship. I could not have imagined the impact the experience would have on my career and I credit IPPS as the trigger for what has become a life of working on horticultural projects across the globe.

Off The Garden Path was initially planned as a celebration of botanical photography to share some of the remarkable horticultural enterprises I have been fortunate enough to be involved with around the world, in the hope of inspiring gardeners and travellers alike. However, it soon became a book for anyone with an interest in the wonders of our planet.

Over the years since its conception, the project has become an international collaboration with numerous centres of horticultural excellence abroad offering assistance. From the Bogor Botanic Gardens in Indonesia to the Jerusalem Botanic Gardens in Israel, even Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay have played a significant part in the text reaching fruition.

A non-fiction resource, Off The Garden Path: Green Wonders Of The World is full of botanical factoids. As an example – did you know that high in the Himalayas, Nepali beekeepers produce a potent psychoactive honey used recreationally and in traditional medicine by ensuring their bees feed only on poisonous rhododendron flowers?

From exploring the weird and wonderful world of parasitic plants to delving into the lives of plants that survive through symbiosis and mutualism, the content is diverse.