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Hort Journal: Therapeutic Horticulture – Digging Deep Into Student Wellbeing

Hort Journal: Therapeutic Horticulture – Digging Deep Into Student Wellbeing


By Michael Casey MAIH RH and Dr Kate Neale AAIH


This article first appeared in the June 2019 of Hort Journal – visit for the full edition.


A residential project at the home of a school principal six years ago began a dialogue regarding how the therapeutic benefits his new outdoor space was having a positive impact on his wellbeing. He wanted to know whether a garden could be recreated within his school to deliver the same benefits for his students. Located on the outskirts of Melbourne, the senior high school sits within a multi-cultural and diverse residential community, with many students from different cultural backgrounds and religions. The principal recognised the importance of ensuring students at the school, many of whom were newly settled in Australia, quickly felt safe and settled in their new environment. He required something that would not only assist students to cope with their new environment but help assist their family as well.


The program allows Year 11 and 12 students to enrol in an outdoor project management or horticulture program whilst working towards their VCE studies. Projects within the program vary in size and scope but have previously included the design and construction of landscaped areas or construction and maintenance of food gardens. The program utilises students’ own skills and interests whilst working alongside an industry professional or team of trained tradesmen to build their capacity to build or manage a specific project. Objectives include: improved graduate employability; student cohesion and increased school spirit; building student esteem and potential; building confidence and encouraging student voice.



‘Naturing Education’ facilitator, Michael Casey in the food garden with students studying their Certificate 2 Horticulture.

‘Naturing Education’ facilitator, Michael Casey in the food garden with students studying their Certificate 2 Horticulture.



The Theory Behind Wellbeing

There is also overwhelming evidence emerging that active student participation within their own education is a predictor of student wellbeing. Research led by Professor Anne Graham, Centre from Children and Young People at Southern Cross University explored student wellbeing through active participation and found students working together through dynamic, reciprocal and meaningful interactions with others, including teachers and school staff, had a positive impact on their wellbeing.


Seeds of Wellbeing

Unsure or fearful of how ideas would be received, students were initially reserved in sharing ideas and expertise in group brainstorming sessions. The collaborative nature and shared power structures within the group, however, enabled and encouraged ideas in a supportive and action-based environment. The program structure enabled students to either vocalise ideas or express them through their physical contribution outside. Students quickly responded to this by engaging in the opportunity to lead aspects of, or co-manage the projects alongside, and with the safety net, of experienced professional facilitators to guide them.


Being in the garden offered an opportunity for teachers and students to converse in a manner that built rapport. This strengthened relationships, developed mutual respect for each other’s perspectives and enabled both to feel more comfortable discussing matters that may not have been raised in a classroom setting. This also enabled the cohort to develop individual and shared problem-solving, resilience and team-building skills as inevitable challenges arose within the project or school environment.



A small section of the food garden showing beds have been prepped by the students for future mass plantings of leafy greens.

A small section of the food garden showing beds have been prepped by the students for future mass plantings of leafy greens.


As the research continues, students’ own perspectives will be privileged in understanding what other benefits of active participation in greenspaces impact upon their wellbeing and ways this can be enhanced further.



Michael Casey is Director at MJC Horticulture Pty Ltd a Design, Consultation, Construction and Management company operating in and around Melbourne. He is currently President of the Australian Institute of Horticulture and National Councillor with Therapeutic Horticulture Australia. Michael can be contacted via:

Dr Kate Neale is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Children and Young People specialises in the therapeutic benefits of gardening on children and people with disability. Her email is:





President’s Report June 2019

President’s Report June 2019

Dear Councillors and Members,


I have enjoyed the last month both working alongside the National Council and fellow members in various activities that are either associated with AIH or the broader industry. This has included working with the hard-working conference team, led by Neville Passmore, as they put together a fantastic program of speakers and topics. The conference will be highlighting the role of horticulturists in a changing world and environment. My role on the national council with Therapeutic Horticulture Australia (THA) has allowed me to work with their President, Steven Wells, and their conference team as we all put the THA conference together, which has a growing line-up of fantastic speakers.


On another front, my chats with Interior Plantscape Association President, Karen Smith, has seen the two of us work on some very exciting ideas that we will both release very soon. The more we chat to our colleagues and friends in the industry, the more we open our eyes to the many professions that this great field of work we are in associates us with. The word collaboration gets used a lot, but I’m actually seeing it play out more and more as it now becomes a fundamental way in which we network within our professional community.


My recent trip to Singapore was a wonderful one that allowed myself, Vice president, Alan Burnell, Singapore Convenor, John Tan, and AIH member, Dr Kate Neale, to attend the opening of the first Singapore Horticultural Show. This show highlighted everything great in horticulture and was targeted at professionals, families, students and anyone with an interest in horticulture. The amount of educational demonstrations held during this event made an outing to this show a must for people wanting to understand more about our profession. Myself, Alan, John and Kate would also like to acknowledge and thank NParks for their kind invitation to speak on behalf of the AIH on various topics from our professional fields.


At the time of compiling this newsletter, the AIH award nominations have closed and the national council will be busy discussing the various projects, members and associated colleagues who have nominated themselves or have been nominated. The awards night, which will be held in Perth following the conference will be a fantastic night to both highlight some of the wonderful work in horticulture as well as a worthy networking event. Tickets will be on sale very shortly for both our AIH conference and awards night as well as the Therapeutic Horticulture conference.


AIH workshops continue to be presented around the country with some fantastic events facilitated by our convenors and horticultural experts. These events are always being added to the calendar and can be viewed online. The Walk ‘N’ Talks will also continue with some new ones being added to the Victorian calendar very shortly. Thanks to our Registered Horticulturist Manager, Wayne Van Balen and all the regional convenors. I am looking forward to some great events over the next few months.


And on a final note, you will have received your annual renewals for membership. The national council thanks you for your ongoing support as a member and we look forward to assisting and promoting you and the industry throughout the next 12 months and beyond. A big thank you goes out to John Mason from ACS Distance Education for their kind donation of a $30 voucher that goes to all members on renewal of their membership. Let’s all get behind them as a valued sponsor.


Michael Casey

The Urban Tree Puzzle

The Urban Tree Puzzle

Urban Greening Efforts In Australia A Puzzle With Pieces Missing

Delegates at the Urban Tree Puzzle forum hosted by the Australian Institute of Horticulture at Botanica Nurseries in western Sydney learned how successful urban greening with trees requires all parts of the puzzle to work together when presenters Ross Clark of Impact Trees and Stuart Pittendrigh FAIH RH showcased best-practices in tree selection and establishment.


The ‘puzzle’ refers to the idea that tree establishment will only work in the long term if the following elements all work together:

  1. Planning: of the site, soil, species and logistics
  2. Species: ensuring that the species are suitable and resilient
  3. Provision: of high-quality trees and careful transportation
  4. Stock: specifically AS2303:2018 compliant stock
  5. Planting: ensuring the soil and root pruning methods are adequate
  6. Establishment and Maintenance: including post-planting watering and care
  7. Communication: across all elements and stakeholders


In many cases, major tree planting and greening efforts are getting most of these elements wrong and this means that the chances of long-term success are much lower than they could be. From poor quality stock, to the wrong species for the position, to a lack of post-planting care and watering, many trees are failing and this costs millions of dollars in lost opportunity and lost value, according to the speakers.


Ross Clark provided a highly-comprehensive presentation on the way that all parts of the Urban Tree Puzzle absolutely must fit together. To ignore or get wrong any single part often leads to the kinds of failures now being experienced across Australia as newly-planted or even established trees fail. Often, tree failure is blamed on storms or droughts where in reality, the real causes were apparent in the trees’ establishment and due to poor root development, poor root establishment or a failure to provide sufficient and thorough watering.


“There is no value in second-rate trees” said Ross. “You either use trees that have been grown to the Tree Stock Standard AS2303:2018 or you don’t plant at all. Second-rate trees have less than no value because the potential for failure is so high and you are likely to incur an opportunity cost by using bad tree stock”.


Stuart Pittendrigh FAIH RH is highly-regarded in the industry and consulted on the Barangaroo project that features more than 75,000 native trees and plants. Stuart spent weeks researching the plants that existed at the time of white settlement in 1788 and chose iconic native species, nearly all of which were endemic to Sydney Harbour with the added exceptions of Spotted gum, Gymea Lily, Sydney Blue Gum, Water Gum and  Callistemon citrinus “Anzac”.


Stuart outlined the enormous success of the effort that went into the Barangaroo ‘puzzle’, and perhaps the best evidence of its commercial success is that fact that less than one percent of trees failed when normally fifteen percent would be expected to fail. This is testament to the value of planning and the result is a vital and beautifully-planned precinct that matches the astonishing Sydney Harbour forefront.


This leaves you with one simple question: in your next landscape or urban greening project, will you make the effort to ensure that every part of the tree puzzle is properly planned?


Or will you simply hope for the best and pray that your energy and investment doesn’t keel over when the wind blows?




Tree Stock Standard Summary Guide

Tree Stock Standard Reference Card

Check your trees for compliance within the range accepted by AS2303:2018


Photo Gallery

Take a photographic tour through the workshop and share in the learnings from the AIH Urban Tree Puzzle…

It is with thanks to our Gold Sponsors Botanica Nurseries and General Manager David Hanna that the Urban Tree Puzzle was made possible. With gratitude.


Chris Poulton FAIH RH welcomed the delegates to the inaugural Urban Tree Puzzle event. The event aimed to build on recent outreach events around AS2303:2018 and its release in December 2018. It is with thanks to Chris and his tireless efforts that the Urban Tree Puzzle event could be made possible.


The event attracted a large group of professionals, members of the AIH and guests to learn from the experts on successfully establishing trees.


Ross Clark has been in tree production for decades and brought his charismatic expertise and knowledge to the event. Ross started by explaining the missed opportunity in current tree planting, and the challenges faced by time-poor developers in completing successful tree planting projects.


Ross presented each of the seven parts of the Urban Tree Puzzle where each individual part must work together to achieve successful tree establishment.


Ross further explained the absolute importance as an industry of pulling demand for AS2303:2018-compliant stock through the supply chain. As selectors and buyers, it is essential that every purchasing decision demands compliant stock in order to raise the quality of all trees sold into industry.


Ross built on the efforts by Western Sydney University in promoting the Tree Stock Guide (available at as a handy reference guide to using the AS2303:2018 standard in the field.


Stuart Pittendrigh FAIH RH presented a compelling overview of his work at the stunning Barangaroo site in Sydney. With his wide knowledge of trees and tree establishment honed over decades of experience, Stuart showed the sheer logistical challenge that it took to make Barangaroo such a beautiful venue.


Stuart also provided advice on successfully managing complex sites such as sloping landscapes with a combination of soft and hard landscaping and retaining techniques that provide depth and drainage needed to provide successful tree establishment.


General Manager of Botanica Nurseries, David Hanna, shared his thanks to Chris and the AIH team and guests for providing a highly-valuable workshop.


Ross then took guests on an outdoor tree assessment session, starting with four sizes of Tristaniopsis ‘Laurina’ trees.


Outwardly, all four appeared to be fairly good trees but a close inspection started to reveal some hidden issues…


This is the rootball from the smallest tree out of a six-inch pot. It certainly looked like a straight, upright tree with a good root to shoot balance. However, pulling out the soil shows clearly that the tree retains its tube-shaped rootball, indicating that it spent too long in the tube and the roots have grown downwards from the lower part of the tube rootball. This tree will continue to grow with these defects evident at a young age.


The next size tree was in an eight-inch pot and appeared quite good. However removing the soil showed that the rootball had curled around and not through the soil, creating a void directly under the stem-root junction. This is a problematic defect that will create stability and establishment issues.


This rootball is clearly far too long in the pot and has fully circled and bound the roots into a tight ball that requires significant remediation. Roots like these would continue to circle even with significant root pruning.


It proved difficult to loosen these roots, demonstrating how tightly-bound the rootball had become.


Ross showed the practice of using a handsaw to remove the outer spiraled roots, peeling away matted roots like carpet. This then forces new tip growth that grows outward and aims to remove the circled root growth.

Interview With Writer, Planthunter Editor & AIH Award Winner, Georgina Reid

Interview With Writer, Planthunter Editor & AIH Award Winner, Georgina Reid

How did the Planthunter evolve?

GR: I launched The Planthunter in 2013 after a decade of working as a landscape designer in Sydney. Prior to studying landscape design, I completed a degree in journalism at university. The publication arose as a result of many years of working with and thinking about ideas of connection between people and plants, I realised I had a lot of questions and thoughts around the importance of this relationship.

I was keen to write more about people and plants. but the ideas I wanted to explore didn’t fit into existing publications. So I decided to start my own. The focus of The Planthunter has always been about highlighting the importance and value of the natural world, using the subject of plants and the setting of the garden as a framework, as an entry point to larger conversations.

The Planthunter is a purposefully small operation. I am the editor, and I write around half of the content on the site, whilst being supported by various talented writers and photographers. Each month we explore different content themes. These help to frame the stories and provoke new and interesting perspectives.

Can you make some suggestions to horticulture students/younger AIH members for when they go into the workforce?

GR: Horticulture is a wonderful industry. It’s the best. There’s a real passion to be found within people working with plants. It’s incredibly nourishing work.

One of the biggest issues in getting younger people involved in the industry is money. Whilst it’s very rewarding work, it’s not easy to make a living, particularly when just starting out. I was speaking with a manager from a large wholesale nursery recently and he told me they have a very hard time recruiting young apprentices because of competition with other trades that are paid better. Money is an indicator of how much something is valued, and it’s fairly clear that our society doesn’t value plant people enough, though in my eyes, there are few more important things to be doing than stewarding our natural environment.

What are your burning issues for horticulture and the field in general?

GR: Horticulture provides an infrastructure for caring for the world around us. I think that in the future landscape architects and horticulturists will be increasingly valued as people who can help heal, grow and sustain landscapes in the face of increasing challenges relating to climate change and environmental degradation. I would love to see the horticulture industry positioning itself as a valuable and important solution to the challenges ahead.


Can you tell us about your new book?

GR: The Planthunter: Truth, Beauty, Chaos and Plants is a combination of the five years I’ve spent exploring ideas and connections between people, places and plants in The Planthunter. I guess the book is a refinement of my ideas around the importance of the garden as a place of dialogue between humans and nature. It, too, was important to capture the immersive nature of The Planthunter website and imagery, and for it to be a stand-alone object.



The book is essentially about what it means to garden. It comes down to two words: care and action. The gardener not only cares but commits to act, on behalf of the natural world. The gardener cares in a way that is really important. Overall, the book is a re-imagining of gardening – to me, it’s not simply as a set of tasks but a framework for engaging with the world, grounded in care and action.



The Planthunter digital platform is too a garden. It’s about growth and care and integrity. Nothing I do is about anything other than this. The Planthunter is driven by message, not ego.



President’s Report May 2019

President’s Report May 2019

Dear Councillors and Members,


What a great first quarter to 2019 with so many events and networking opportunities as well as new initiatives being continually added to the many benefits of being an AIH member.


Promoting Horticulture

In the last 3 months, the Institute has represented members and promoted horticulture at the Perth Garden Festival, Melbourne International Garden Show, Plant Collectors Fair, Brisbane Garden and Plant Expo and the Singapore Horticulture Show just to name a few.


‘Walk and Talks’

Our ‘Walk and Talks’ are extremely popular and providing members, friends and colleagues an opportunity to catch up with likeminded people while walking around a beautiful garden.


Taxonomy Workshop in All States Around Australia

Our workshops are held around Australia with great success and I thank all the convenors for their hard work in both organising and running these events. Very shortly we will be running our popular Taxonomy workshop in all states around Australia so please look out for news of these dates and locations.


Singapore Horticulture Show 

I have recently returned from Singapore where I attended the Singapore Horticulture Show alongside fellow members Alan Burnell MAIH (Vice President) and Dr Kate Neale AAIH where we all presented talks on the main stage at the Horticulture show alongside AIH Singapore Convenor John Tan MAIH. A big thanks goes to John for making this happen and for NParks for hosting us over the opening weekend. The show was a great success and one that should be placed in your calendars if you ever wish to visit Singapore.


Membership Renewal Notices for 2019/20

By now you will be receiving your membership renewal notices and you may notice that Australian Distance Education has kindly donated a $30 voucher to be used at their online bookstore. This promotion is for full membership renewals and is a very generous offer from John Mason and his team. I would like to thank John personally on behalf of all renewing AIH members and direct our members to John’s business if they are interested in any online courses. Thanks John.

New Connections

AIH are continuing to make great connections with other horticultural companies and we hope to be able to offer our members some great incentives and deals with these new contacts.


Award Nominations

The Council are now starting to receive nominations for the upcoming awards night to be held in Perth. Let’s continue to send through nominations for jobs of our own or colleagues or maybe nominate someone who has excelled in horticulture in other ways.


AIH Conference

The upcoming conference is taking shape and I have been lucky enough to see the current line-up for the speakers at the event and am quite excited about what will be showcased on the day. Our National Council led by Neville Passmore are working hard on this event and I thank them all for their work to date. Check out the website for more details and look out for emails detailing the line-up and other announcements.


New AIH Quarterly Journal

And last of all our new AIH quarterly journal will be out soon and is full of horticultural stories, interviews and other relevant information. A big thanks to our Communications Manager, Tempe Macgowan, for her hard work.


I look forward to our National Council releasing more information over the next month regarding new events, networking opportunities and other horticultural news.


Michael Casey

Hort Journal: What Role Do Horticulturists Play in Responding to the Biggest Issues We Face?

Hort Journal: What Role Do Horticulturists Play in Responding to the Biggest Issues We Face?

By Michael Casey MAIH RH

This article first appeared in the April 2019 of Hort Journal – visit for the full edition.

Environmental issues are urgent concerns

Environmental issues such as climate change, urban heat impacts, soil loss, and degradation and water security risks are now urgent concerns for all societies. The expansions and densities of urban environments are presenting newly required skill sets and challenges in landscape design and implementation and with the materials that will now need to be available. These changes in built-up environments deliver a handful of environmental and physical issues such as minimised areas for which plants can grow, stored heat in buildings and roads and altered microclimates, to name a few.


Food Security & Urban Farming

Food security will remain an issue with the expansion of cities and the urban sprawl taking up valuable agricultural land. Our reliance on outdated farming methods and increased food miles will also open up opportunities for farmers to embrace urban farming, but to what extent remains. Therefore, the question regarding the role of Horticulturists and to what extent they can assist in these areas of environmental decline and change are starting to be identified and still in many cases, not yet discussed.


Image Credit: ReGen village vertical farming system via EFFEKT Architects


Opportunities For Horticultural Experts, Architects and City Planners

The Anthropocene is a new geological era in which human activity is the dominant influence on our climate, the environment, food and agriculture systems and even with history being written into the landscape. These challenges present opportunities for ornamental and production horticulturists presently and in the future. As our cities continue to grow it will require the participation of professionals in all fields to design and deliver these complex projects.

Architects have a wonderful ability to adapt to this change through their designs and visions for our cities. Town planners can lay out cities and suburbs allowing for all the infrastructure required to keep its inhabitants moving around seamlessly. But there are large vacant positions that need to be filled by horticultural experts who understand these landscapes and environments and can apply their knowledge of plants, design and management to help complete the new vision of our cities and address the challenges that this, and the changing climate brings. The greening of these buildings, suburbs and cities is not easy and each project is different for a number of reasons, but the fundamental skill required is the knowledge of plants and their capacity to be grown and to survive.


Image Credit: Vo Trong Nghia Architects


Living Building Challenge

In Victoria, Frasers Property group are developing the old Burwood Brickworks, located east of Melbourne, into a new residential, commercial and retail development (mini suburb) that is aiming to achieve the Living Building Challenge, which is regarded as the world’s most rigorous building framework. It is set to deliver manicured gardens and landscaped open spaces, tree-lined pedestrian greenways, interiorscapes throughout the shopping and dining precincts and a rooftop urban farm that will deliver a true ‘paddock to plate’ service. All while delivering the most sustainable and liveable community promoting long term health and well-being to its thousands of visitors and residents.


Burwood Brickworks Retail Centre

Image Credit:  The Fifth Estate


Assuming the above-mentioned example will become the normal process of building and developing our suburbs and cities into the future, then a new set of skills will be required to achieve these design considerations not only to plan and build but to also maintain and continue the survival of urban green spaces. Horticulturists from all sectors whether it be production, ornamental, design, construction, arboriculture can all provide the expertise/links to achieving overall green success in the urban built environment.


AIH Conference 2019

This coming September Australian Institute of Horticulture will be hosting the biennial conference in Perth titled “Horticulturists and Humanity: responding to the biggest challenges we face”. This conference will be a one-day event exploring and discussing themes such as cooling cities, urban foodscapes, soil health, plant sciences and how we as horticulturists can play a role in responding to these issues.


See AIH Conference for more details.


Michael Casey
Australian Institute of Horticulture

How Bette Midler Rescued New York’s Parks and Gardens

How Bette Midler Rescued New York’s Parks and Gardens

Bette Midler moved back to New York after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Once there, she was concerned about the amount of garbage in the parks. She started cleaning Fort Tryon Park and in 1995 she founded the New York Restoration Project, dedicated to cleaning and restoring green spaces in New York’s five boroughs.


The organisation has so far helped plant 1 million trees, replenish 80 acres of parkland and protect 110 community gardens. Bette and volunteers have picked up 5 million pounds (2.3 million kgs) of trash from public spaces.



Image credit: James White for Variety


“It’s astonishing to see what a little care and attention can do,” Midler says. “How it can change the neighborhood. How it can change people’s lives. It’s very rewarding.”




Image credit: New York Restoration Project

Image credit: New York Restoration Project

Hort Journal: Vertical Health in School Greening

Hort Journal: Vertical Health in School Greening

By Michael Casey MAIH RH


The benefits of Green Walls being installed on, inside and around buildings, homes and even classrooms in urban environments have been well documented in recent years. These benefits include, but not limited to:

• Reducing the heat island effect
• Cleaning and filtering air pollutants
• Can reduce air temperatures in and around the living wall
• Stormwater management
• Urban farming
• Biodiversity


There is evidence that Green Walls can also have a positive impact on children’s mental health, especially those at the secondary level. These include:

• Assisting children with ADHD to improve their focus
• Boosting teacher and student morale to support healthy student/teacher relationships
• Improvement of cognitive functioning


MJC Horticulture has partnered with Catholic Regional College (CRC) over the past 5 years designing and integrating green spaces on campus. The recent design and development of a new Study Hall, which is the building that year 11 and 12 VCE students sit their exams in, features a green wall. This was a deliberate design feature to ensure the students’ physical testing environment was optimised for the best outcomes.


The Green Wall is 50m2 in size and incorporates 1200 plants covering 12 different species. It features prominently in the centre of the Study Hall enabling each student sitting their exams, or using the room for study, to gain a full visual of the greenery.


50m2 greenwall positioned center of the sturdy hall for maximum exposure to students:



Some of the finer plant detail of the green wall. Pictured in the photos are Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Boston Fern’ and Chlorophytum comosum ‘Spider Plant’:



Research conducted by Stephen Kaplan from the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan focuses on the restorative benefits of nature. His work analysed the idea that natural environments were in fact particularly high in the characteristics that are necessary for restorative experiences. And this was the exact intent behind installing a large Green Wall at CRC – to enable students to benefit from the exposure to nature within what would ‘naturally/normally’ be, a stressful environment.


The partnership between CRC and MJC Horticulture started 5 years ago when MJC Horticulture delivered, as part of the VCAL curriculum, outdoor education programs to support students who were challenged by social confidence issues, learning difficulties and personal issues that were impacting their school lives. The outdoor educations programs (‘Naturing Education’) provided students with a sense of ownership and purpose, the ability to contribute to the school community, character and confidence building skills, leadership development and mentoring opportunities and a safe and supportive learning environment.


CRC is currently developing a new policy focused on the benefits of implementing green spaces within the school environment which will also include design considerations for new buildings and infrastructure around the school campus. MJC Horticulture continues to partner with CRC as part of their commitment to creating the best possible learning environments for students and staff. MJC Horticulture was awarded the 2018 Australian Institute of Horticulture Award of Excellence for ‘vertical gardens for the physical and mental health of school students project’.


MJC Horticulture continues to focus on delivering green infrastructure projects to schools, offices, residential and commercial buildings with a strong emphasis on cost-effective ways to provide multiple benefits, and also contribute to a more liveable city.


Michael Casey is Director at MJC Horticulture Pty Ltd a Design, Consultation, Construction and Management company operating in and around Melbourne. He is currently President of the Australian Institute of Horticulture and National Councillor with Therapeutic Horticulture Australia.


Michael can be contacted on

President’s Report February – March 2019

President’s Report February – March 2019

Dear councillors and members,


the start of the year is bringing together some fantastic work done by our National Council. We started back in early January and have been busy at getting ideas and projects underway to ensure that 2019 is a successful year for the institute.


I would like to acknowledge our friend, colleague and mentor Kim Morris FAIH who sadly passed away at the start of the year. As I have mentioned in previous communications. Kim was a very important part of AIH and mentored many of us, including myself as I am extremely grateful for his assistance and commitment with assisting me reaching this position within the institute.


Over the last 2 months, I have received notifications from Web and Membership Manager David Thompson about the many new members who have joined us. I welcome them and hope they start to benefit professionally from being a part of our institute.


We have implemented 2 new paid positions at AIH:

1. Communications Manager Tempe Macgowan and

2. Wayne Van Balen Registered Horticulturist Coordinator.


These positions are all important roles within the institute and they will assist the National Council with delivering the many new changes we wish to implement over the next few months. On behalf of the National Council, I welcome them and we will be hearing more from them in the future.


Our workshops and networking events have started for the year and you may all see some changes over the next few months in how we deliver these events. Wayne and the National Council will be working hard at structuring events to ensure maximum participation and delivery of information. Our new ‘Walk and Talk’ events are gathering momentum with 2 completed this year on the mid and north coasts of NSW. Our regional convenors have recorded great numbers and the feedback has been positive.


Our new newsletter and monthly articles have started rolling out and will be a monthly feature for our members. I welcome any stories from members about any projects or events they are involved in and would like to share with our organisation.


This coming April, Singapore will host their first biennial Horticultural Festival. Our Singapore Regional Convenor, John Tan, has organised for some of us to attend the event and present workshops at this festival. This will be another way we continue to strengthen our association with Singapore and their garden and horticultural events.


Our conference planning is well and truly underway with the location booked and the theme and topics being finalised. Very soon our call for papers will go out and planning will continue to organise a program. I thank Neville for his work to date and encourage anyone who can assist the conference committee to get in contact with us to ensure we can pass on your details to Neville.


The award nominations are almost ready to be sent out in March and we expect to see some fantastic projects and people nominated for the various awards being offered. The Greenspace Awards are becoming very popular amongst developers and councils who are all keen to display their green spaces in the new developments popping up around the country.


Start thinking about some projects or people you know about who would be worthy of being nominated for one of the many awards.


To finish I would like to also remind you all about the many garden festivals that will be appearing over the next few months. Keep an eye out on the AIH calendar to ensure you don’t miss the next event in your state.


Look forward to chatting with you all and attending the many events on throughout Autumn.



Michael Casey

Mount Tomah & Wood Green With The HMA

Mount Tomah & Wood Green With The HMA

Members and guests of the Australian Institute of Horticulture and the Horticultural Media Association ventured to the beautiful Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah north-west of Sydney on February 23rd as part of the HMA Tour series.


Famous as Sydney’s cool-climate botanic garden, Mount Tomah is in wet eucalypt rainforest on 250 acres of beautiful gardens and natural bushland. Its oldest living trees are more than 200 years old and include Blue Mountains Ash (Eucalyptus oreades), Golden Sassafras (Doryphora sassafras), Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum), Black Ash (Eucalyptus sieben), Sydney Peppermint (Eucalyptus piperita), and Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata). Many of the exotic trees were planted by the previous owners before they bequeathed it to the NSW Government as a botanic garden and there are many fine established trees.


Guests were given a wonderful tour by horticulturists Greg Bourke and Mat Murray whose passion and incredible enthusiasm shone through the rain. Mat is especially passionate about bulbs and shared his favourite ten bulbs including the blue crocus of the Turkish mountains and species tulips with camouflaged leaves.


Greg’s favourite dahlia trials to see which varieties do well in the Mount Tomah climate. Doubles, singles, pompoms, they are really wonderful plants.

These are the natural shapes that basalt forms inside lava tubes as it slowly cools into hexagonal columns. The gardens make extensive use of it as paving, wall rock and vertical columns for fantastic visual impact. It’s really striking!

Gorgeous maples on show and they now replant the self-sown seedlings to sell to the public.

Great use of natural rock, heat-tolerant cover plants and shrubs.

Plants with real bite. Greg shared that the carnivorous plants literally doubled the visitation at the city botanic garden and these are most amazing plant for gaining the interest of kids and parents alike. The marsh here was gurgling with frog calls.

Sensational bedding displays of mixed Gerberas neat the visitor centre.

Then we headed downhill to the sensational garden at Wood Green where owners Peta and Peter Trahar shared their home and garden of 33 years. The Trahars are well-known for staging the original Plant Collector’s Fair that was held at Wood Green in Bilpin from its inception in 2004 until 2011 where it took on a new scale at the showground at Clarendon. Peta curates a wonderful garden of hard-to-find perennials, shrubs, trees and extensive acreage lawns that surround the home and farm buildings.

Peta’s famous Phlox is one you don’t see much of in gardens anymore but a real standout.

Peta is a professional landscape architect, photographer and writer and it really shows in her planting styles.

Wood Green has more than 28 zones including these beautiful vistas under the trees, the ideal resting spots on a wandering tour.

Open lawns open onto a deep green valley of towering eucalypts.

Many thanks to Judy Horton MAIH RH, Matt Carroll MAIH RH, and all HMA and AIH members and guests for coming along.