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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.

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.

Vale Kim Morris FAIH

Vale Kim Morris FAIH


Dear members

It is with great sadness that I wish to inform you of the passing of Kim Morris FAIH this morning.

Kim was a Past President and Fellow of the institute and has been the backbone of the Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH) since 2006 where he held the position of National Treasurer and then National President from 2008 to 2012. Most recently Kim held the role of National Secretary for the past 5 years and demonstrated his unwavering commitment to AIH by supporting me directly until a suitable candidate could take his place. Remarkably he’s also been an AIH member for 30 plus years.

Kim has achieved great success over an extended period and his contribution to AIH and the industry has been simply invaluable. Kim was the driving force behind the creation of the Registered Horticulturist program, he was responsible for the negotiation and signing of the first memorandum with Singapore National Parks Board and campaigned for the return of the AIH Annual National Awards dinner, to name just a few of his achievements during his time in various capacities with AIH.

I had spoken to Kim many times over the last few months and despite his declining health, he was adamant that AIH matters were addressed promptly and that ongoing assistance to myself and the other National Councillors was fundamental to continuing the foundational hard work and success Kim and others had established.

It was an honour working alongside Kim and on behalf of myself and the National Council, we send our condolences to Kim’s immediate family and friends and sincerely hope that Kim’s legacy will continue to provide strength, energy and inspiration to all in our institute and the industry broadly.


Michael Casey
National President
Australian Institute of Horticulture

President’s Report December 2018

President’s Report December 2018

Dear Members,

Most of you would know me as the Editor of this newsletter and the Vice President of the Australian Institute of Horticulture. At the recent AGM I was voted in as the new President, a position I am extremely privileged to accept. I would like to thank Wayne for the last 4 years of holding this title and also for the tireless work he has performed within the institute, I truly believe we are in a solid position thanks to his direction.

For those who don’t know much about me, I have been a member for approx. 10 years, have served at State level holding the position of Victorian Regional Convenor, National Councillor, Vice President and now President.

Horticulture is and has been a passion of mine for some time, having found this passion as a child, I have grown to incorporate this into my adult and professional life. I’m the Director of MJC Horticulture Pty Ltd, a Melbourne based Horticultural firm that operates design, consultancy, construction, and management divisions, as well as dedicating my time to assisting with the Australian Institute of Horticulture and as a National Councillor with Therapeutic Horticulture Australia (THA).

We face a lot of challenges with organisations currently. Matters such as how to best support our members, highlighting relevance in our professional practices as well as competing for money we have in our professional and personal budgets are all areas that National Council discuss and take very seriously.

The AIH will be moving into a new era of social media, marketing and a direction that will continue to have our organisation stay at the forefront of the horticultural industry. We need to continue to stay up to date with information and research and we do this by partnering and communicating with universities around the country and attending and supporting local and international conferences including other industry organisations. We have members who sit on the boards of other organisations as industry voices and experts in their fields, we also have our members that partner up with other professionals to deliver some of the fantastic projects that received accolades at our recent awards night. Most importantly we need to continue to network and promote horticulture.

I would ask that you as our members assist us at National Council by suggesting changes that you may like to see implemented, assisting where you feel your talents may lie but more importantly be proud of being a member of the Australian Institute of Horticulture and promote our organisation to the horticultural industry and the greater public.

I hope to meet as many of our members as possible when I attend events around the country and please feel free to contact me if there is anything you wish to discuss.

Michael Casey
(M) 0411 520 796

NGIA: Training and Education

NGIA: Training and Education

If you are brand new to the industry or have industry experience and want to upgrade your qualifications there are a number of options available for you.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Training and education in Australia is aligned with the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). Information on the AQF is available from the AQF website

The Vocational Education and Training qualifications are designed to impart knowledge and training for job functions. Delivery at these levels is generally more practical or hands on. The following list gives an indication of qualifications and job roles;

  • Certificate II (AQF 2)is an entry level role which needs direct supervision
  • Certificate III (AQF 3) is a trade level certificate and needs broad supervision/direction
  • Certificate IV (AQF 4) is for team leader/ nursery floor supervisor
  • Diploma and Advanced Diploma (AQF 5 & 6) are for management level operations or technical roles.

The industries training currently comes under the AHC10 training package which apart from the nursery industry includes a wide range of agricultural, horticultural and conservation industries. The nursery industry has two training streams to which it is specifically aligned to; Production Nursery and Retail Nursery. These training streams are available in Certificate II to Diploma level qualifications;

  • Certificate II in Production Nursery AHC20710
  • Certificate III in Production Nursery AHC31110
  • Certificate IV in Production Nursery AHC40610
  • Diploma of Production Nursery Management AHC50810
  • Certificate II in Retail Nursery AHC20810
  • Certificate III in Retail Nursery AHC31210
  • Certificate IV in Retail Nursery AHC40710
  • Diploma of Retail Nursery Management AHC50910

It is also possible to complete these qualifications as part of an apprenticeship or traineeship.

Other horticulture courses are available which specialise in different areas of horticulture. These include; Arboriculture, Landscaping, Production Horticulture (Fruit, nut & vegetable farming), Parks and Gardens and a generalist Horticulture stream.

These courses may be useful in supplementing the industry specialist courses in Nursery Production and Retail Nursery.

Providers of these courses include the TAFEs as well as private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs). For information on these courses including learning outcomes and contact details of which providers can deliver accredited courses please visit the website

Higher Education

Courses within the university sector are designed to prepare students for higher levels of management and technical specialisations.

Education within the university sector consists of the following levels:

  • Bachelor (AQF 7)
  • Graduate certificate, Graduate Diploma and Bachelor (Honours) (AQF 8)
  • Masters (AQF 9)
  • Doctorate (AQF10)

Students undertaking a bachelor’s degree study a broad range of coherent subjects which prepares them for a professional career in the industry. Bachelor’s degrees generally take 3-4 years to complete full time, although in some cases credit can be awarded for recognition of previous studies. Credit lessens the time it takes to complete the qualification, with a related diploma generally providing a years’ worth of credit.

An honours degree is completed after a bachelor’s degree in the same field and generally consists of an intensive research-based project. Honours degrees can be used as an entry to higher study such as a doctorate and are generally only open to students who have performed to a high standard in their bachelor’s degree.

Graduate Certificates and Diplomas take 6 months to a year to complete and are targeted course of study in a specific area. A bachelor’s degree may not be required for entry to a Graduate Certificate program with industry experience instead being taken into account. Both Graduate Certificates and Diplomas may be stand-alone or they may form part of an articulated course of study leading to a Master’s degree.

Masters degrees, either research or course based are higher degrees which prepare a student for the application of advanced knowledge in a range of contexts; professional practice, research or as a means to further study. Masters programs generally take 1-2 years to complete full time. In some cases, credit may be awarded, based on prior study. Generally, a bachelor’s degree is required for entry into a master’s course and in some cases, this must be in the same discipline area.

A doctorate is the highest academic qualification in the AQF and is available as either a research doctorate (generally a Doctor of Philosophy or PhD) or as a professional doctorate. Research is a core element of both streams with research doctorates requiring a significant and original contribution to knowledge and professional doctorates requiring a significant and original contribution to knowledge in a professional practice context. Entry to a doctoral program requires a bachelor with honour’s degree with high grades or a Master’s degree.

The number of universities which offer horticulture as a field of study is limited and in some cases, horticulture can only be studied as a component of a broader agricultural or science degree. Some universities which offer horticulture as a field of study are listed below.

Charles Sturt University

  • Bachelor of Horticulture

University of Melbourne

  • Master of Urban Horticulture

University of Queensland

  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Urban Horticulture or Horticulture major)

University of New England

  • Bachelor of Agriculture (Plant Production major)

University of Sydney

  • Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Horticulture specialisation)

Western Sydney University

  • Bachelor of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security

University of Tasmania

  • Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Horticulture major)
The UK Perspective: The Impossible Expectations On Landscape Horticulturists

The UK Perspective: The Impossible Expectations On Landscape Horticulturists

This article was originally published on the Garden Co blog by James Scott MGSD and has been reprinted with permission. View the original article at


I watched a recent episode of The Apprentice with increasing exasperation – and almost switched off altogether. Very wise, those of you that generally avoid reality TV might be thinking – but my reaction was nothing to do with the ‘falseness’ of a reality TV format, it was all to do with the misleading image that was portrayed of our landscaping and horticultural industries.


As the programme format dictates, two teams of young business people were set a task by Lord Sugar.  The teams were briefed to set up their own urban gardening businesses, carrying out commercial and domestic jobs across London.  On day one, both teams visited corporate clients to pitch a plan and secure a price for a large rooftop renovation.  On day two, the work was carried out and client feedback was given.  The outcomes were not good. One client was presented with a badly-painted bench and various plants randomly scattered about the space (she did not pay up).  Overall, the picture was one of shoddy work and despite our heritage as a nation of garden lovers and years of popular TV gardening programmes, it seems that we still have difficulty portraying the services offered and the skills deployed by those working in landscape and horticulture industries accurately and positively.


Why does this matter?  In my opinion, this recent example highlighted two key issues:


– Issue 1 – how can we expect to attract people into landscape and horticulture roles if the work is so misunderstood and undervalued?  With Brexit on the horizon combined with an ageing workforce, employers and managers across landscaping and horticulture are faced with an ever-more challenging ‘war for talent’ and urgent skills shortages.


– Issue 2 – how can we expect our clients to appreciate the ‘value-add’ in our services, if it is seen as such low-skilled, low-budget, quick turnaround ‘stuff’?  The Apprentice contestants were actually on a hiding to nothing – it was completely unrealistic of the producers to expect them to do justice to the roof garden projects with the tiny budget allocated and a few hours to carry out the works. I am sure I would have been unsuccessful too in their shoes!


In the real world, there is some good news with regard to attracting new talent to the industry. I know in my role as MD of The Garden Company that there are a number of hugely talented young people already enjoying early success.  Last week, I enjoyed attending Pro Landscaper’s presentation of awards to the Next Generation 2018: 30 under 30.  This is a wonderful initiative that seeks to recognise and reward the achievements every year of 30 inspiring young people in our industry.  The youngest winner this year was only 21 and the range of roles encompassed by the group was inspiring in itself, including landscapers, garden designers, maintenance services, landscape architects, arborists and suppliers specialising in technical products.


It’s great that Pro Landscaper is driving this forward, and of course there are other initiatives that share the goal of inspiring more young people – I would like to give special mention to BALI’s Golandscape and the Landscape Institute’s #ChooseLandscape career campaigns, along with the Green Plan It challenge for schools led by the RHS.


However, with regard to the TV programme makers, the media and the wider public’s perception of what we do and how we do it: there seems to be very long way to go to get people ‘on side’.  Of course, every time we talk to prospective clients we need to demonstrate our value and results, and help people to appreciate the range of disciplines that we draw on – design, hardscaping, softscaping, horticulture, planning regulations …. I could go on!  I have always seen this as part of the ‘day job’ – but I would love to think that it could be made easier in future through a wider understanding of our services.


So … What else can we each start doing (or do more of) in our ‘day jobs’ to address both the skills shortages and the general lack of insight into our services?


  • Education, education, education – We need to keep shouting out about how rewarding it is to have a career in landscape design, construction and horticulture… to schools, colleges and anyone with an influence on shaping young peoples’ career choices and aspirations. By helping to reassure doubtful parents, teaching staff and careers advisers then we can show school-age children what the industry is really all about in the 21st century – and its advantages over other jobs and career paths that may be in decline. I always to try to respond helpfully to any requests for information/careers guidance etc from education providers,  but it strikes me that I could also ‘push’ for the opportunity to do so.
  • Create opportunities for work placements/internships. A common complaint within British businesses is that colleges and universities do not prepare their graduates for the real world. Our industry is no exception – new job starters need to be ready to work in challenging situations, for discerning clients, applying the skills and knowledge that employers reasonably expect them to have. A vital ingredient here is the availability of work placements and internship. We are delighted to offer 2-3 students a paid work placement every summer at The Garden Company and we are just starting to explore design placements as well as more operational site-based roles.
  • Promote apprenticeships. Real apprentices (unlike Lord Sugar’s candidates!) carry out real jobs while they study, learn and acquire relevant skills and knowledge. Many employers use apprenticeships to upskill existing workers as well as providing training for new employees. At the Garden Company we have benefited greatly in the last few years from ‘growing our own’ team members and team leaders through our own apprenticeship programme.  We aim to do a lot more of this going forward.


In summary, the recent Apprentice episode illustrated a couple of very real business challenges for providers of landscape and horticultural services (although not the ones that the programme-makers intended). We are lucky to have various trade associations, societies and others working hard on our behalf to address both the ‘war for talent’ and our industry’s professional reputation.  Those of us that are ‘oldies’ with years of experience of fighting these two familiar battles must continue to play our role – I hope this blog post has prompted some ideas about where we can build on our efforts … your thoughts and comments, of course, are very welcome.

TED: A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA

TED: A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA

“I live in South Central. This is South Central: liquor stores, fast food, vacant lots.

So the city planners, they get together and they figure they’re going to change the name South Central to make it represent something else, so they change it to South Los Angeles, like this is going to fix what’s really going wrong in the city. This is South Los Angeles. (Laughter) Liquor stores, fast food, vacant lots.

Just like 26.5 million other Americans, I live in a food desert, South Central Los Angeles, home of the drive-thru and the drive-by. Funny thing is, the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys. People are dying from curable diseases in South Central Los Angeles. For instance, the obesity rate in my neighborhood is five times higher than, say, Beverly Hills, which is probably eight, 10 miles away.

I got tired of seeing this happening. And I was wondering, how would you feel if you had no access to healthy food, if every time you walk out your door you see the ill effects that the present food system has on your neighborhood? I see wheelchairs bought and sold like used cars. I see dialysis centers popping up like Starbucks. And I figured, this has to stop. So I figured that the problem is the solution. Food is the problem and food is the solution. Plus I got tired of driving 45 minutes round trip to get an apple that wasn’t impregnated with pesticides.

So what I did, I planted a food forest in front of my house. It was on a strip of land that we call a parkway. It’s 150 feet by 10 feet. Thing is, it’s owned by the city. But you have to maintain it. So I’m like, “Cool. I can do whatever the hell I want, since it’s my responsibility and I gotta maintain it.” And this is how I decided to maintain it…”