Media Release: Australian Institute of Horticulture Annual Awards

The Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH) celebrated its 57th Annual Awards at the Crowne Plaza Resort, Hawkesbury Valley (Sydney) on Saturday 28th October 2017.

Every year the Institute seeks out and awards those in the profession who have led, inspired, educated and promoted horticulture in all its forms.

National President Wayne Van Balen MAIH said, “This was an exceptional year of very high-quality candidates from across the entire nation.”

He said, ” AIH had added the new Green Space Award for Urban and Rural Projects (sponsored by Western Sydney University) to impress the need and high priority of green space on the horticulture agenda.”

Mr Van Balen said long-standing member Nic Rivett FAIH from NJR Associates with the Far East Consortium received the award for Green Space Urban Projects for their Sky Park & Gardens project. ‘It is a major inner-city CBD project on the corner of Spencer & Lonsdale Streets, Melbourne and is the largest roof garden in Australia.”

It was rural sectors that also shone in the inaugural Green Space Awards, with the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers and the Chronical Newspaper Garden Competition running for 68 years as an awardee. The clever “Green Alliance” formed in Western Australia between a number of organisations to gather a single powerful case to take to the government for the insistence of the greening of Perth was acknowledged for its innovation and collaboration as a possible model for other similar projects throughout Australia.

Tom Lantry FAIH (Hunter NSW) a member of AIH for more than 40 years received the coveted AIH Australian Horticulturist of the Year Award sponsored by Fitzpatrick Insurance Brokers. The Diggers Garden & Environment Trust (Vic) was awarded the prestigious AIH Silver Gum sponsored by Horticultural Training Pty Ltd for its work in conservation and preservation of horticulture.

Horticulturist of the Year Tom Lantry with Don Burke and Graham Ross.

Student Brittany Webster from the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens was a favorite choice for the AIH Horticulture Student of the Year.

Brittany Webster, Student of the Year with Chris Poulsen.

The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney Community Green Team working with Housing NSW, has established over 600 community garden projects in NSW. The Award for Merit was accepted by Program Leader Phill Pettitt and three of the program’s community gardeners from Waterloo and St Marys (Sydney), Marie-Christine Sancho, Anna Covic and Marjorie Mead.


Western Sydney University was acknowledged for its role in horticulture education from its origin as Hawkesbury Agricultural College in 1891.

Former AIH President, Annette Irish FAIH received the President’s Commendation for High Achievement for her work in developing the tertiary training system for landscape industry in Singapore.

Paul Koch (SA) received an Award of Merit for his work in writing horticulture training program now used nationally. “The Three Nonnas” Liz Smith FAIH, Annette Irish FAIH and Robin McLay collected Awards of Excellence and Merit for their work in re-establishing horticulture a major feature of the Royal Queensland Show.

AIH supports and chooses the finalist in the BBM Youth Awards each year. Two were chosen for the Award that takes them on an $8,000 horticulture scholarship to the UK. Melanie Stray from BBM joined the award winners, Joel Smith from Taronga Zoo and Conservation Park and Jessica Smith, a recent Gold Medal Apprentice of the Year, will both hold the honour of being the BBM Awardees for one year.

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