Category: Member Spotlight

The Legacy of an Industry Legend – Stuart Pittendrigh FAIH RH

The Legacy of an Industry Legend – Stuart Pittendrigh FAIH RH

By Judy Horton OAM MAIH, Images/ Stuart Pittendrigh and Judy Horton

Stuart Pittendrigh FAIH RH Fellow of the Institute.

At the AIH NSW Christmas party in December 2021 I had the privilege of sitting next to Stuart Pittendrigh. While we were eating dinner I asked Stuart about the progress of his magnum opus, the Barangaroo Reserve on Sydney’s foreshore. This led to Stuart generously offering to give me a tour of the now six-year-old landscape and we spent a pleasant morning walking the site, with me marvelling at the growth and establishment of the landscape.

On the way back I asked Stuart about his life story and this led me to thinking it would be a great opportunity to share this with AIH members so we could appreciate the great legacy this man has bequeathed to us all and to the city of Sydney.

Childhood and Early Career

Stuart was almost the eldest of four children. Why ‘almost’? He has a twin sister who was born half an hour before him. ‘And she never lets me forget it,’ he laughs. They spent their early years in Wattle Flat near Bathurst where his father worked as a coachmaker and signwriter for Cobb & Co. When it came time for high school education, the family moved to Sydney and Stuart enrolled at North Newtown High School. As typical of the time Stuart left school at 15, started work straight away and undertook an apprenticeship in Fitting, Machining and Welding.

But much of the groundwork was laid for his future career by his father, who fostered an interest in art and nature by regularly taking each individual child on day trips to visit art galleries, parks and Sydney bushland. With this continual exposure to art and nature, Stuart describes his as a ‘privileged background’.

Stuart flourished during his four-year apprenticeship and in 1958 was encouraged by his employer to study for a Diploma of Mechanical Engineering. His job expanded, with a large part of his role providing job estimations for clients all over the country. This gave him huge exposure to many different manufacturing operations (in the days when Australia had such things).

Career Change

He married Jan in 1963, bought land, built a house, acquired a mortgage and had two children. During these busy years he became very interested in plants and gardening. Having observed Stuart’s growing horticultural enthusiasm, Gordon Morling and Ralph Groves, owners of Five Dock Nurseries, offered him a job. Jan agreed to support his change of career on condition that they always kept £1000 in the bank. Neither has ever regretted this decision.

Five Dock gave Stuart experience in virtually all aspects of horticulture: wholesale, retail, growing plants and landscape construction (at the time Five Dock was the largest landscaper in Sydney). With his plant knowledge, artistic flair and drawing skills Stuart became more and more involved in landscape design. After he left Five Dock in 1971 he formed Stuart Pittendrigh & Associates Landscape Design (later Landscape Architects) and Horticultural Consultants and practised successfully for 17 years. During these years at Five Dock and in his own business he was continually learning. He achieved qualifications in horticulture, arboriculture, landscape design and landscape architecture.

In 1988 Stuart accepted an appointment as Managing Director of Landscan – Landscape Architecture, then became a founding director of PSB (Pittendrigh, Shinkfield and Bruce). He retired in 2008 but remained a consultant to the practice. He maintains friendly relationships with both Jon Shinkfield and Angus Bruce.

After retirement Stuart found himself still much in demand as a horticulturist, arboriculturist and landscape design expert. He lectured and mentored horticultural students and was called on to advise in many court cases. And then, in 2010, came Barangaroo.

Stuart assessing the health of a Fig Tree (Ficus Rubignosa) close to the waterfront. Image/ Stuart Pittendrigh, Judy Horton.

In six years the Barangaroo landscape has become well established. Image/ Stuart Pittendrigh, Judy Horton

Barangaroo Reserve

Barangaroo Reserve, named after the Cammeraygal woman who lived in the area at the time of white settlement, is a massive transformation of a disused shipping terminal and industrial site that fronts Sydney Harbour on the western edge of the CBD. When the Barangaroo Delivery Authority accepted the tender of US-based Peter Walker & Partners and leading Australian landscape architects Johnson Pilton Walker to design the reserve, Stuart was engaged to advise on the selection, planting and maintenance of the 75,000 plants required for the site. He took Peter Walker and his team on trips to Muogamarra Reserve and Bobbin Head north of Sydney and other natural sites where they could see – and be astonished by – the amazing diversity of the flora associations that existed in Sydney in 1788.

Since the reserve opened in 2015 Stuart has been retained to conduct monthly horticultural assessments on the plants throughout the entire Barangaroo Precinct and report back to Infrastructure NSW. His contract has just been renewed for another year so he will be continuing his regular visits and solving the small number of problems. He has been delighted with the way the plants are flourishing.

As we walked and talked, I began to learn more of this remarkable man’s take on life and landscape. Here are a few of the gems I remember:

  • It’s important to gain experience in as many fields of horticulture as possible. I regret that some – not all – landscape architects and designers sit in offices drawing on computers and never get out to learn or look at plants.
  • Integrity is importance in business. I have never had a serious bad debt or had to call upon the services of a solicitor. If I made a mistake, I admitted it and fixed it.
  • Have a business plan that works well and don’t have any prima donnas in your business.
  • Delegation is important – don’t waste time by getting bogged down in details that others in your team can do as part of their role. Don’t get involved in things that you don’t need to get involved in.
  • Books are forgotten resources. I still get my most valuable information from books. I have five Edna Walling first editions on my bookshelf and I’ve told Jan that when I croak, they’re not to be thrown out.
  • It’s vital to rely on your own observations – look at plants all the time. Know and love your plants.
  • Barangaroo is not a garden, it’s a landscape. The idea is to get it established and turn off the water. I still get a buzz every time I go there.

Stuart was the AIH Horticulturist of the Year in 2015 and had AIH fellowship conferred in 2018. His other awards, affiliations and recognitions are too numerous to list here. He has been a longtime supporter of AIH and we are honoured to have him in our association.


Overview of Stuart Pittendrigh’s Body of Work


  • Riverside Oaks, PGA National, NSW
  • Peppers Guest House, Pokolbin, NSW
  • Hunter Resort, Pokolbin, NSW
  • ‘The Ridge’ golf, equestrian and leisure facility, Cattai, NSW
  • Nan Li Lake, Hainan Island, China
  • Holiday Inn, Terrigal, NSW
  • Impiana Resort, Cherating, Malaysia


  • Thomas Holt Drive, North Ryde, NSW
  • Amway Corporation, Castle Hill, NSW
  • Australian Geographic, Terrey Hills, NSW


  • Sacred Heart, Hospice, NSW


  • Sydney Light Rail & North West Rail
  • Link, part Canberra Light rail
  • Arboricultural / Horticultural reporting and assessment for Sydney & SE Metro.


  • Fitzroy Avenue, Balmain, NSW
  • Simmon Point, Balmain, NSW
  • Blackwattle Bay Park, NSW
  • White Bay Park, Balmain, NSW
  • Fagan Park, Arcadia, NSW
  • Cordeaux Heights Estate, Unanderra, NSW
  • Barangaroo Reserve Horticultural and Arboricultural Consultant to BDA, JWP Architects & Peter Walker Partnership Landscape Architects USA and NSW State Government.
Paliame’s Proud Journey in Australian Horticulture

Paliame’s Proud Journey in Australian Horticulture

By Paliame Palisah MAIH

Paliame Palisah MAIH recently joined us at the Australian Institute of Horticulture as she studies at Macquarie University and expands her knowledge of conservation biology. Growing up in a passionate family of plantspeople and nature-lovers, Paliame has grand visions to take the best of horticultural excellence back to her native Papua New Guinea with inspiration from Australian horticulture. Paliame shares her inspiring story with us in this edition’s Member Spotlight:

I grew up in a home where my mother and sisters loved to grow plants and do gardening around the family home, and because of this I grew up loving dirt, plants, animals, and nature! As I grew older, I decided to pursue a career in Environmental Science and understand more about plants and animals, and the web of life.

In 2012 I began my undergraduate double degree in Environmental Science and Biology at the Pacific Adventist University and graduated in 2015. I was so excited to start my journey in the real world and very interested in biodiversity conservation and environmental protection in my country.

With this passion and determination, I decided to begin my journey by volunteering at Port Moresby Nature Park, which is in the Nation’s Capital City, Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Port Moresby Nature Park is PNG’s leading recreational Park with 30 acres of tropical gardens and home to 350 native animals and hundreds of native and exotic plant species. The Nature Park is managed by expatriates from Australia, Michelle McGeorge, and partner Brett Smith.


Photo: Celebrating International Women’s Day at the Park, Ms McGeorge-CEO (front row, first on the left) and Ms Palisah (front row, second on the left next to Ms McGeorge).

Ms McGeorge was impressed with my work ethic and offered me two internships to take for three months each.

I completed the first Wildlife Officer internship and continued with the second internship in Horticulture. For both internships the Park organized for Australian Volunteers who are experts in their fields to train myself and 19 of my colleagues. Shelomi Doyle taught us Horticultural techniques, and Geoff Underwood taught us about handling wild animals in exhibits.

It was a great experience for me personally and professionally. Professionally I learnt techniques for caring for both plants and animals, as well as how to lead a team in my field. I personally came to find my passion and grew more love for plants and landscape gardening.


Photo: Wildlife Officer internship with my colleagues, holding a Papuan Olive Python (Ms Palisah: Fourth from the right).


Photo: During my Horticultural Internship with my colleages and Trainer Shelomi Doyle. (Ms Palisah: centre back – the one with glasses).

I successfully completed both internships and was offered to choose between working with plants or animals, and I chose to work with the Nursery and Grounds Department as a Plant Nursery Supervisor for about four years from July 2016 to November 2019.  Some of my main responsibilities included supervising and coordinating the following:

  • upkeep of the park lawns, the gardens, and playgrounds.
  • internal (e.g., gardens and animal exhibits) and external landscaping projects (corporate clients such as academic institutions, hotels, and others).
  • indoor pot plants sale and hire contracts.
  • plant production and sale to corporate clients.
  • composting facility (was also the Chair for the Sustainability Committee at the Park).
  • writing content and presenting gardening segments on PNG national television show ‘Haus & Home’ with EMTV.
  • maintaining the orchid nursery; and
  • conducting basic horticulture training for staff and disadvantaged youth.


Photo: Brett Smith (curator) presented the Horticultural Internship certificate to Ms Palisah.

As I gained more experience and exposure while working and serving corporate clients during landscaping projects in and around Port Moresby, I realised there is great potential for horticulture in Papua New Guinea, especially in ornamental horticulture.

Port Moresby is a growing city, with many new buildings and developments requiring landscaping. My clients were mostly real estate owners, property managers, engineers, landscape architects or architects. When I received a plant order/schedule, first I scheduled a meeting with them to confirm plant species, quantity, quality, measurements, and alternative plants species if their request is not available.

The interesting part of my job is to go out and source plants around Port Moresby City. I travelled to mostly informal floral markets in different suburbs and engaged with local suppliers (retailers and growers) from different ethnicities and backgrounds and made some friends as well along the way.

What I learnt from this journey is that there is a need for a proper Floral Market, in combination with structure and good governance, for the potential of an ornamental horticulture industry in Papua New Guinea.  In this way both the clients and the supplier (or the consumer and the producer) thrive in not only in doing business but by integrating the principles of socio-ecological sustainability through education and engaging effectively with both local communities and their clients either, as individuals or corporate.


Photo: This is Ms Palisah in one of the major projects she coordinated to supply plants and maintain plant care on site for Star Mountain Project- The Hilton Hotel in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

So, with this vision for impact in mind, I decided to apply for the Australia Award Scholarship in 2019 to further my studies and at the same time explore the horticulture industry in Australia. Australia is a more developed country, and Papua New Guinea looks up to Australia as a ‘big brother’ in respect to our colonial ties. My aim was to come to Australia and be motivated and inspired, build networks, and engaging in conversations in horticulture, plant conservation and sustainable urban planning, and return home to implement what I learned.

I was successful in my application to study here in Australia in January 2020, so here I am studying my Master in Conservation Biology at Macquarie University, and this is my last semester. I am looking forward to gaining as much knowledge, skill, and networking as possible before returning home (PNG) to develop the future of the ornamental horticulture industry.


Photo: This is Cohort 5 of the Australia Awards Women’s Leadership Initiative in Canberra (Ms Palisah: In the yellow dress, second row from left). This Leadership program and the Australia Award Scholarship has moulded me to be a confident female leader in my field and I am grateful for the Australian Government and a few people who have one way or another, pushed me towards my vision.


This is my journey in horticulture, and I am ecstatic to be a member of this institute. I look forward to meeting some of you during our webinars, learning and unlearning from this group and am open to share my experience, knowledge and perspectives!

Paliame Deborah Palisah MAIH is an Australia Award Scholar and master’s student at Macquarie University, and a member of the Australian Institute of Horticulture. Photos: Port Moresby Nature Park, Paliame Deborah Palisah and Australia Awards Women’s Leadership Initiative. LinkedIn:    Visit Port Moresby Nature Park

Life’s Diverse Connections Are Wattle Bring You Success

Life’s Diverse Connections Are Wattle Bring You Success

Karen Smith MAIH, Winner of the Golden Wattle Award 2020.

In this edition’s Member Spotlight, we chat with Karen Smith MAIH, editor of the renowned horticultural industry magazine, Hort Journal, and our annual Golden Wattle awardee 2020, in recognition of her services to Australian horticulture.

Karen’s passion and experience as a horticulturist shines through every month when we receive the Hort Journal in the post or in our inboxes. With a horticultural career spanning decades and a positive approach to life and work, Karen is an inspiration to horticulturists across Australia.

Networking and people create opportunity

Almost thirty years ago after a career in the travel industry, Karen decided to study horticulture and began her career in a retail nursery before joining  Yates offering consumers help with the endless task of support and advice and the occasional complaint. Karen’s enthusiasm and drive to help would-be gardeners find success meant that her role grew in size and scope.

“It was very much a role that centred around helping gardeners succeed and to feel confident they could reach a successful result with seeds, plant protection products and fertilisers”, says Karen.

Around that time, Yates established its home garden care franchises to take advice and care services out to Australian gardeners. It was then that Karen started as a technical trainer, offering the franchisees support and advice on best-practice horticulture and effective safe use of Yates’ product range.

Rendezvous in Business

Karen is a natural and enthusiastic networker and she partnered with a group of women to form the women’s networking organisation, Rendezvous in Business. Designed to create and foster opportunities for women to succeed in their businesses with like-minded advice and support, the organisation raised more than $70,000 in charitable donations for cancer research over six years.

Karen has been the NSW technical trainer for Yates since 2004, nearly sixteen years. It is a role that combines her love and knowledge of horticulture with travel across Australia.

“I help gardeners choose the products that will help them get a good result in the garden. But many customers aren’t sure about differences between herbicides and fungicides, for example, so it really helps them to understand the right product for the right use”, Karen explains.

The role sees Karen travel extensively which complements her work as the editor of the Hort Journal Australia magazine and allows her to explore her interests in regional gardens and places.

“I love meeting people and hearing their stories – that’s really what gives me energy!” Karen says.

Networking into a magazine opportunity

Hort Journal Australia started life in 2008 with the need for a technical but accessible horticultural industry publication that offered more than consumer gardening.

“The advertisers and the readers needed a magazine that brought them new products, a blend of technical, business and people-oriented stories in a format that was enjoyable to read”, Karen says.

When Judy Horton (MAIH, Retired) suggested the role of editor to a new industry magazine was opening up  Karen  (successfully)  jumped at the opportunity.  Karen approached the role with the view that connecting ideas and people would serve the publication well.

Twelve years later Hort Journal is the go-to publication covering everything from new pests, green life and urban greening updates, scientific and technical content and practical advice for horticultural business owners, supported by longstanding and committed advertising.

Love for plants and industry

Karen’s interests and experiences have all worked together around a deep love for plants and horticulture.  Karen sees the value of joining organisations because she genuinely believes that being involved projects you to another level. She has been an active in many associations over the years including a committee member of the Hort Media Association NSW, A selector for the Australian Open Gardens, and currently President of the interior Plantscape Association.

“These associations connect you with other like-minded people and opportunities arise from them”, Karen says.“I am privileged to work in a beautiful industry that has shown its colours during the pandemic of 2020 as people flocked to their gardens for solace and for access to somewhere they can find peace and life”.

“From my early days in the nursery to working at Yates and running my own business, all of these experiences have helped me come to appreciate the joy and the beauty of horticulture in Australia.”

“We are a fortunate industry where people are turning to us for inspiration and for that positive sense of wellbeing we all get along plants and nature”.


The Australian Institute of Horticulture commends Karen on her Golden Wattle Award and we are proud to count Karen as a supportive, generous and committed member.

Member Spotlight: Dimension Gardenscape’s Trevor Fuller MAIH RH

Member Spotlight: Dimension Gardenscape’s Trevor Fuller MAIH RH

Trevor Fuller, Owner and Director Dimension Gardenscape

Trevor Fuller MAIH RH

Hi Trevor! Tell us about how you came to be in horticulture in Canberra and what brought to this point in your career?

I’ve been the owner of Dimension Gardenscape for nearly fifteen years and we are based near Queanbeyan, on the NSW/ACT border.

My horticultural career started out as many do – as an apprentice greenkeeper at a bowling club, crafting lawns so short you wonder how they would survive. Then I was allowed to raise the mower blades slightly when I worked at Parliament House, famous for its expansive lawns. That was about the time I became interested in irrigation techniques and landscape maintenance with interests in plants and horticulture.

I think this experience opened my eyes to life beyond turf – the diversity and vast potential of horticulture as a whole discipline. I decided to open my own business and haven’t looked back – the creative opportunities as a business owner are really wonderful. While I enjoyed working in a horticultural team at the Parliament House, there’s something about delivering your own vision – it’s a real feeling of creation and it’s more than just the income.

Your business Dimension Gardenscape offers a diverse range of services – what are your sources of inspiration and ideas?

We’re inspired by the opportunities we see in our clients’ landscapes, and it’s essential to take a flexible, creative and adaptable approach to being able to see the potential in a site. I like to believe that people are looking to us to offer a solution that brings out the soul of their landscape, and that means we think broadly and inclusively about what is possible.

If you think about the big life purchases people make – it’s the house, then car then landscapes and gardens. If you have a client building their forever garden, that’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime investment for them. So we look at the site and its lines and bring our knowledge across construction, landscape, plants and horticulture together with our own inspirational touches to ‘paint the canvas’.

I believe that there is a lot to argue for having a masterplan, that we are part of, that sets out the strategy and the vision for that landscape and that helps us to understand where we can fit into that plan. We’re always learning and testing new ideas as a team, and again that ability to be creative is something we really value in our business, much more than I could as an employee.


Photo: Dimension Gardenscape

Photo: Dimension Gardenscape

What suggestions and advice can you offer young horticultural professionals making their mark in Australian horticulture?

There’s always room for learning. No matter how far you go down a career in horticulture, people are seeing new ideas from around the world and the big drivers of water efficiency and rising heat are becoming issues that people want to address in their landscapes.

For young people going into a career, horticulture remains a great choice. It is an industry where you can feel the difference you are making, and not every industry offers that. For young and upcoming horticultural professionals, some things remain the same.

Your plant knowledge is crucial – you have to get to know your plants, they are the characters in your book, or the paints on your palette. Plant knowledge is really important in creating effective landscapes because you need to know what will work in terms of the site and the climate but also the character of a plant when it matures – its ability to create form and amenity on space now and in a decade or two.

I think it’s important if young professionals are open to the experience of their colleagues too – that combines energy and creativity with the wisdom of experience; that works well as a combination. Being able to understand how construction works, how a business works and how we really create something valuable for our clients – these are important early learnings too.


Photo: Dimension Gardenscape

Photo: Dimension Gardenscape


What trends and ideas do you think will be important in the next 2-5 years for horticulture in your region?

The big influences are what you would expect – landscapes that collect, retain and use water sensibly are really becoming important. Canberra can be fiercely hot and dry as well as cold so landscapes that can thrive in those conditions are what clients are aiming to achieve. There’s also a growing trend of portable gardens, with people moving between properties, they want solutions that enable them to take their treasured plants with them. This means large pots with style and form are important.

We are also seeing a lot of interest in vertical landscapes – greenwalls, uprights and climbers, and trellised landscapes that make the most of vertical space. By combining use of decorative and portable plantings with water-tolerant natives and exotics, we can get a really good result in Canberra landscapes.

Trevor Fuller MAIH RH is the owner and director of Dimension Gardenscape and a Registered Horticulturist member of the Australian Institute of Horticulture. Photos: Dimension Gardenscape. Visit to find out more about landscaping services in Canberra.

Member Spotlight: Meet Christian Jenkins MAIH RH0157

Member Spotlight: Meet Christian Jenkins MAIH RH0157

Christian Jenkins MAIH RH0157 recently became our newest Regional Convenor for the Victoria region. Christian is a highly-regarded landscape design specialist based in gorgeous Grovedale, right near Geelong in Victoria. With its proximity to Port Phillip Bay and the Great Ocean Road, Christian services clients throughout Victoria.

With an impressive array of awards, Christian is well-known in the landscape sector. His designs have been recognised with two awards in 2019: the People’s Choice Award for the ‘Dreaming’ garden and the SILVER Gilt Award at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, as well as Gold at the New Zealand Flower and Garden Show 2018 winning Design Excellence, and Horticultural Excellence Awards and Gold in 2017.


Christian Jenkins MAIH RH0157 landscape design specialist. Image: Christian Jenkins Landscape Design.


Hello Christian! Tell us how you started out and built up a successful career in horticulture and landscape?

From a young age, my home duties were mowing the three-quarter acre lawn with the push mower, long summers at the beach, and being surrounded by nature created my love of the outdoors. I applied for an apprenticeship as a curator at a private school and missed out – he explained that a job as a gardener would shortly be available. For the next two years l was based at the Ivanhoe Grammar School gardens, and I attended Burnley College studying Horticulture with a love of garden design.

I spent many years with a wonderful landscaper who helped me find my craft in construction, design and horticulture. In 2003 I created my first Show Garden at MIFGS – something happened at that time, being in this creative forum surrounded by a wonderful selection of 100 year old trees, next to the city, in autumn the energy is addictive!

This led me to creating nine garden shows in a row, returning to do another seven from 2015 with two in New Zealand. This forum allows one to create garden designs that are more playful than I would generally create for clients. The awards and exposure that MIFGS has given me has helped my career.


‘Japanese Garden’ This Gold Medal Winning Garden was constructed for the New Zealand International Flower and Garden show in 2017. Surrounded by a lush green tapestry of tropical plant life, this boutique resort style garden includes an island style hut with contemporary furnishings. Image: Christian Jenkins Landscape Design.


What inspires and influences your award-winning design solutions?

Last year’s design at MIFGS “Dreaming” featured a sculptural metal pergola in the shape of a leaf. I also designed and built a 1.7m high sculptural egg that was painted by an Aboriginal artist from Uluru.

Getting back to the question, I am at the stage in my designing career where nature inspires me, without a doubt the greatest designer of all! As we are all horticultural enthusiasts I am inspired daily. The wonderful forms of dried seed pods amaze me with their artistry and I often think I would love a life-sized pod in the garden or how I could make one. Finding a point of difference as a designer is always the challenge, and most of all I like to challenge myself with the design concept. I love architecture and my designs generally include an outdoor room or sitting structure of some sort.

My love of water is always included in my designs with the reflective qualities the water brings, the calming influences and the wonderful soothing sound constantly brings me back to working with this medium. Functionality is also a major priority for my gardens, and I ensure that people can always enter my gardens and go on a journey to a calming sitting place.

To win awards at garden shows you must be fortunate to have wonderful plant sponsors, so displaying a wonderful selection of plants and trees of the highest quality brings the design together, and generally securing my plant sponsor for a show will quite often determine the style of my garden. Last year at MIFGS I worked with Carl from Botanix Nursery, Joel from Tall Trees and Michelle from Established Tree Planters and with their enthusiasm and love for MIFGS that helped me make “Dreaming” a celebration of Australian native plants.


Award winning garden for the 2019 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. This Garden is called Dreaming and is a tribute to the native parts we are so lucky to have in Australia. This Garden won People’s Choice Award 2019 and the Gilt Award 2019. Image: Christian Jenkins Landscape Design.


What is your advice for fellow horticultural professionals in navigating a rapidly-changing world?

I really find this a difficult question to answer – the world is changing very quickly and both agriculture and horticulture will be relied upon and have even greater importance in the years to come. Making organisations stronger, more approachable and exchanging our knowledge with each other will be very valuable. To remain successful in our chosen field we must be constantly evolving as a business owner, improving our existing skill set, looking to strengthen areas for improvement.

The great thing about our industry is artificial intelligence won’t be able to prune the roses, our best practise comes from our home garden so keep experimenting at home, and putting ourselves outside our comfort zone always creates great results. The changing world needs to get back to basics, and the simple things in life bring the most enjoyment – our industry brings so much enjoyment to so many age groups.

What big trends do you think horticulturists should look towards in 2020 and beyond?

Rainwater harvesting is something we can all do, and my home in the Otway Ranges relies solely on rainwater. Both local councils and governments support rainwater capture for sustainability and resilience.

The connection between mental health and nature will only become more important every year, with wellness gardens to become more popular. Fruit trees need to be planted more often using dwarf varieties and our gardens need to be planted with thoughtfulness for our local wildlife. Overall the design style will be less and less formal – I would like to think naturalistic gardens will be more common than a structured garden, with plant selection becoming increasingly important with the harsh environmental conditions.

I think we need to experiment more with soil media in the garden with the standard garden blended soil sold by the landscape supply yards needing some clever input. The houses are bigger and the gardens are smaller so we must continue to be creative with the small spaces.


Check out Christian’s beautiful designs on his website and social media – visit and stay tuned for news and updates from our Victoria region.


This article featured in our new members-only magazine, HortInsightsJoin us today as a member and you will receive our magazine by email every two months.

Member Spotlight: Andrew Price FAIH RH

Member Spotlight: Andrew Price FAIH RH

AIH Fellow Andrew Price FAIH RH Features On ABC Gardening Australia


AIH Registered Horticulturist, Fellow of the Institute, and gardener Andrew Price FAIH RH takes us through his garden in Ermington NSW. With a tropical back garden and a mix of natives, cacti and succulents in the front garden, he has planted a wide variety of plants that would give any gardener inspiration and new ideas for a lush, green garden.


In his garden you will find oranges, pinks, and reds – plants that flower in that colour palette throughout the year. To “fool the eye” (Trompe L’Oeil, a French term), he has maximised his small garden to look big, and places emphasis on pruning edges and using foliage and textures to define a space and to give the garden depth. He’s using a yellow colour palette to brighten up the space.


Image Credit: ABC Gardening Australia

Image Credit: ABC Gardening Australia


20 years ago Andrew started working with aquariums, artificially cultivating plants that produce oxygen using energy-efficient LED lights. The plants are growing in pots rather than in gravel to allow any composition in the tank: to pick them up, clean them and put them back in. When cleaning the tank he uses a hose to change the water to siphon out any debris and algae. The water collected can then be reused on the garden.


Image Credit: ABC Gardening Australia

Image Credit: ABC Gardening Australia


“To me, having a garden is vital for your mental health and well-being, something that gives you grounding and there’s memories… Everybody should have a garden.” says Andrew.


Andrew Price FAIH RH runs Jungle Horticulture, offering unique, naturally crafted gardens and designs to suit diverse tastes. Members of the Australian Institute of Horticulture are invited to contact Andrew on 0414 614 749 for a tour of his gardens and access to propagation materials.


Andrew was a feature on ABC Gardening Australia on Friday 8 February 2019.

Member Spotlight – Chris Oliver FAIH

Member Spotlight – Chris Oliver FAIH

Karragullen horticulturist Chris Oliver is an expert when it comes to reviving old, diseased or damaged fruit trees.


“My philosophy is if you can keep a tree healthy, then you are strengthening it to be able to resist pest and disease attack,” he said. “The healthier the tree, the more environmental resistance it has. It’s virtually like our bodies, if we become weak and tired we are prone to all sorts of problems.”

Plying his trade in the Perth Hills under the banner Wilburnia Fruit and Flowers, Chris said every case of fruit tree regeneration was unique. “You have to size up the ecosystem first, and every tree presents a new challenge. You need to know the history of the tree before you can develop a plan,” he said.

“Each stage that you go through, from pruning deadwood to fertilising and watering, needs to be monitored carefully so that you can see the response.”

When developing a rejuvenation plan, Chris draws on knowledge gained personally as a grower and from his long career at TAFE as a horticultural lecturer. He keeps abreast of new technologies and believes in a combined organic and inorganic approach when it comes to growing fruit trees.

“It’s a thrill to see how trees respond and having the knowledge that you can do the job. I miss communicating that to students,” he said. Each regeneration project starts with a site analysis. Chris takes into account the health of the tree and its surrounds, as well as soil health, environmental conditions and water supply. Work then begins on bringing the tree back to good health using a step-by-step approach. “When trees are under stress, things go wrong and they get pests and diseases far easier,” he said.

Speaking from experience, Chris has been regenerating two Bedford cherry trees in his orchard, which is home to a range of stone fruit varieties, pomme fruit, citrus and four varieties of nuts.

It’s a thrill to see how trees respond and having the knowledge that you can do the job. I miss communicating that to students…

Chris said canker (Pseudomonas syringae), a bacterial airborne disease that causes limb dieback, had set into the cherry trees several years ago after a severe water shortage. “They are an old variety of cherry. They used to produce about 22kg of fruit a year, which was quite a big yield,” he said.

While several of the cherry trees have already died, Chris still has hope for the remaining two trees.

Site analysis

When he established his orchard almost 30 years ago, Chris faced the challenges of laterite outcrops, nutritionally deficient soil and a diminishing water supply.

“When I set my orchard up, I meant it to be a demonstration of what can grow in this area,” he said.

“We had to windrow the soil, because the laterite outcrops are close to the surface and minimise soil depth for growing fruit trees. “The gravelly soil is also poor on organic matter. For years I have been building up the soil mainly using composted brewery sludge, together with animal manures. It’s fantastic as a mulch and it’s marvellous at holding nutrients.”

Remnants of the natural fertiliser are scattered around the bases of the fruit trees in Chris’ orchard, but it has been difficult to source of late. “I used to get it from the old Swan Brewery. When it came off the truck it was a solid mass of half-set jelly, and you had to spread it out to dry until it is granular in form. My water use reduced from every day to twice a week after using the sludge.”

Water is a major problem in the area. Chris uses bore water on the property but said supply was very intermittent and he has to buy in water over summer.

“It’s just one of the things with change of climate that you have to deal with,” he said. Back to life

With canker rapidly spreading from branch to branch in his Bedford cherries, Chris said it was important to remove signs of the disease by pruning away the deadwood.

Member Spotlight – Chris Oliver FAIH

“It’s the initial stage of getting them back to new life,” he said. “If they are weak, the main thing is to not depend on cutting it back to a growing bud, which you normally do in pruning, but to cut it back to a living shoot. I generally do that prior to winter so I can see where the deadwood is.”

Now that winter has arrived, Chris said his next task would be to selectively and lightly prune the trees; the amount of material to remove depends on the type of fruit and the condition of the tree.

“You have to be very careful as to how much you prune back. The main reason is you want as much leaf area as possible for photosynthesis, which will help to build up the root system.”

Chris said he would apply a rapid release, NPK, plus trace elements fertiliser in spring, just before bud burst to give the trees a boost.

“The main thing is you have to be astute in where you apply the fertiliser. It has to be around the drip line, which should be 300mm to 400mm from the base of the trunk,” he said.

“I aim to get the nutrients taken up as quickly as possible in that burst of new growth, and then as the rains diminish I put on a light mulch.”

You have to be very careful as to how much you prune back. The main reason is you want as much leaf area as possible for photosynthesis, which will help to build up the root system…

Chris uses leafy tree clippings for mulch, applied about 300mm from the base of the trunk to about 300mm outside the drip line. He builds the mulch up to a thickness of about 80mm. He spreads cow manure under the mulch, which helps to hold in the nutrients.

At the end of summer, Chris applies a balanced fertiliser such as NPK Red.

It is also important to manage the pH of the soil, so Chris uses a testing kit to take random soil samples from around the tree to work out an average pH reading.

“I monitor the soil once a month,” he said. “Too alkaline and I will need to balance the soil with an acidifier like ammonium sulphate. If it’s too acidic, I add limestone calcium carbonate.”

While there is no quick fix for diseases such as canker, Chris believes he has found the formula for regeneration success. With perseverance and careful monitoring, he hopes to change the fate of not only his Bedford cherries but countless other fruit trees in the Perth Hills.

Article provided by Chris Oliver FAIH

Member Spotlight: Andrew Prowse

Member Spotlight: Andrew Prowse

Andrew Prowse, an Australian Institute of Horticulture Registered Horticulturalist and the institute’s Vice- President has been appointed this year as an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Engineering and Science at James Cook University. The university has it main campus at Townsville with satellite campuses in Cairns and Singapore. Andrew has been involved with teaching at the university’s Centre for Tropical Urban & Regional Planning since 1994.

Andrew has extensive Landscape Architectural experience in both the private and government sector. A graduate in Landscape Architecture from the University of Canberra, after graduation he worked for The Council of the City of Sydney and Botany Municipal Council and responsible for a number of urban renewal and upgrading projects in Sydney including the Sir Joseph Banks Pleasure Gardens. Some may remember The Sir Joseph Banks Pleasure Gardens from the bus tour after the AIH’s 2014 Congress in Sydney – the park was a Bicentennial project recreation of the famed gardens beside Botany Bay which also featured Australia’s first zoo.

Since 1990 he has been practicing in tropical north Queensland, undertaking Main Street Programs, townscape improvements, resorts, housing, and garden projects in Queensland, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and China.

Since 1990 he has been practicing in tropical north Queensland, undertaking Main Street Programs, townscape improvements, resorts, housing, and garden projects in Queensland, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and China. Central to these projects has been the use of tropical design responses in creating functional and aesthetic solutions. Andrew collaborated with fellow AIH Registered Horticulturist and former AIH President Kim Morris in designing of one of China’s largest botanic themed parks, the 37 hectare Sino-Australian Friendship Garden on the Zhanjiang foreshore in southern China.

His work on the Paiam town project that involved the development of a new township in the remote Highlands of Papua New Guinea received listing by the United Nation’s Habitat Organisation as an Example of World’s Best Practice and received the Australian Institute of Landscape Architect’s Queensland Award for Excellence in Planning. He, along with Kim Morris, has also been retained by the Australian Office of War Graves for advice on the management, design and maintenance of Australia’s War Cemeteries in Queensland, the Northern Territory and P.N.G.

One of the projects that Andrew considers one his most interesting and challenging was working with AIH Registered Horticulturist Don Burke on a school campus in far north Queensland. After Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Larry devastated Innisfail town, severely damaging the State School, Landcare Australia and television garden program Backyard Blitz decided to provide a new playground. Andrew’s challenge was designing a prototype Environmental Study Garden in a 4 weeks construction, documentation and approval period. The design of a 150m2 wetland with jetty, 80m of rainforest boardwalk, stage and amphitheatre, aquaculture and butterfly house, centred around a new fully equipped study lab, was designed to be built largely by volunteers in 4 televised days. It was Backyard Blitz largest build on the programme. The project received a commendation award in the International Torsanlorenzo Prize, a world-wide prize for horticultural and landscape projects given by one of Europe’s largest nurseries.

Andrew Prowse BLArch. AILA MAIH

Registered Landscape Architect #0063

Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

Registered Horticulturist #RH0053

Australian Institute of Horticulture

Member Spotlight: Matt Mitchley of the Designer Garden Co.

Member Spotlight: Matt Mitchley of the Designer Garden Co.

We visit the Jurassica theme park garden project in Cairns, owned by Matt Mitchley of the Designer Garden Co.

Jurassica Jungle Harnesses Prehistoric Power To Reconnect Younger Generations With Nature

Matt is a member of the Australian Institute of Horticulture and is an accredited Registered Horticulturist (RH 0026).

Tell us about your garden, Matt.

The garden, which is 3000sq.m., was built three years ago on a prominent derelict commercial site in Cairns and is part of the 202020 vision project that supports greening of our cities.

Locals have loved the transformation. It’s one of the largest collections of mature cycads, pachy­podiums, yuccas, ponytails and succulents, and it creates a modern-day representation of a prehistoric cycad forest.

Some specimens are hundreds of years old, such as Macrozamia mooreii, which is native to Carnarvon Gorge. The soil is typical Cairns deep sand, ideal for these plants. The garden is a pilot for a larger, nature-based theme park.

I’ve always been in love with the Jurassic age, not really for the dinosaurs but the habitat they lived in…

What makes your beautiful garden so special?

Many are rescue plants that I’ve collected over the past few years. I’m a landscaper and I’d see them unloved and unwanted at the tip.

Now people who know the site contact me, asking if I want special plants they are removing. Many need a crane or digger but I just can’t say no because I don’t want them to die.

Some are spectacular — they are just what I’ve been waiting for. There’s a lot of mature, rare stuff around because there were many specialist nurseries in the area in the 1970s.

Why do you love these particular plants, Matt?

I’ve always been in love with the Jurassic age, not really for the dinosaurs but the habitat they lived in.

I came to Cairns from England 12 years ago and every garden I went into was like a lolly shop for me, full of spectacular plants.

These fierce architectural plants have masculine qualities, especially when assembled together.

Jurassica Jungle

PHOTO: The spiked and armoured plants on display in the Jurassica Project’s garden are a hit with children. (ABC Far North: Adam Stephen)

What have been the biggest challenges for you, Matt?

Bringing in more than 500cu m of fill and the same of boulders to form hills and ridges from the flat, weed-infested site.

What’s next on the plans for you?

We have just bought a 20ha cane farm in a prominent highway position on the northside of Cairns.

We will add another bow and become sugar cane farmers while we develop this as the new Jurassica Theme Park site.

We hope to attract investors for the proposed theme park showcasing natural ecosystems of animals, plants and their habitats. Dedicated to conservation, education and entertainment, it aims to engage children and adults with real­istic displays such as primordial swamps, arid desert, lagoons, volcano and a cycad valley.

Our team has designed the whole project and developed a detailed business package for investors.

Jurassica Jungle

PHOTO: The Jurassica Project’s roadside location garners plenty of interest from passing traffic. (ABC Far North: Adam Stephen)

Contact Matt

Matt is at 0404 972 235 –

Visit the project profile at 202020Vision or at

Acknowledgments to The Weekend Australian and ABC Far North.

Member Spotlight: Volker Mischker MAIH

Member Spotlight: Volker Mischker MAIH

It all started at Wall’s Nursery, Richard (Dick) Wall and team, in Keysborough Victoria. It was here my love of Horticulture began with a 4-year Apprenticeship. This was an amazing workplace and I am very grateful for the comprehensive support and opportunities that were provided to me.

From there I moved to Alice Springs to a brief role at the Arid Zone Research Institute before starting at the Yulara tourist resort near Uluru as the Landscape Environmental Supervisor.

After three years. I was looking for another challenge so I moved to Brisbane to qualify as a TAFE teacher to begin my role in that space.

After moving to Esperance in Western Australia to establish a native plant nursery, I completed further studies in land management so I was able to coordinate a number of projects in catchment restoration, farm planning and forest science.

Moving north to the Kimberley, I worked with Aboriginal Ranger Groups and in community garden projects, teaching horticulture and land management units.

A shift to Darwin saw me focus on training in conservation and land management in both national parks and remote communities throughout the Top End.

After shifting to Tasmania in 2013. I continued to work in both the Kimberley and the Pilbara with Aboriginal ranger groups as a FIFO trainer. During this time, I also co-developed training resources for a number of CLM units for a Greening Australia/BHP funded project.

I have been very fortunate that I have had many opportunities to be involved in both horticulture and land management now for many years and in many diverse situations and states.

On the completion of this project I commenced work with TasTAFE and Conservation Volunteers Australia. Since the beginning of 2017 I have been full time with TasTAFE, and we plan on being here a while. We have a lovely home and sufficient land to manage a range of productive trees, grow vegetables and a wide range of natives to keep the birds interested.

I have been very fortunate that I have had many opportunities to be involved in both horticulture and land management now for many years and in many diverse situations and states. This of course has meant there is always lots to learn and study has been my constant “companion” for both interest and necessity with many nights, weekends and blocks given up to this. But has the journey to date been worthwhile? Absolutely and without a doubt.

In taking on the role of Vice President of the AIH, I am hoping to play an active role in both national and state activities. I have developed friendships with a number exceptionally committed Horticultural colleagues. I shall certainly be using those individuals to promote and engage with the industry here in Tasmania.

I am really keen to hear from anyone in the industry to chat about all things horticulture and any ideas you may have for AIH activities in Tasmania.


Volker Mischker MAIH