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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

Unique Wetland Project Takes Out Landscape of the Year

Unique Wetland Project Takes Out Landscape of the Year

The typical residential and commercial landscape projects seen at previous Landscaping Victoria Industry Awards were this year upstaged by a unique wetland restoration project with the prestigious ‘Landscape of the Year’ being awarded to Australian Ecosystems for their Armstrong Creek, Connewarre project.

Brendan Condon, Director of Australian Ecosystems, and his dedicated team made multiple appearances on stage also collecting awards for ‘Plants in the Landscape’, ‘Landscape Maintenance & Management’, and ‘The Natural Built Landscape’. Judges’ comments about the project described the Connewarre project as “a major environmental project that is immaculately detailed, making it a community success – a beautiful place for walking, playing and enjoying the outdoors for humans, and through natural rock placement and the use of tree stags as habitat areas, a sanctuary for wildlife too.

“Australian Ecosystems have delivered wow factor on a grand scale. Sustainability principles, water usage, and plant selection have all come together to deliver a project that works harmoniously on all levels and does nothing to distract from the natural environment, but rather, enhances it. This is a stellar project for Victoria and an incredible showcase of the breadth of work Landscaping Victoria members can perform,” the judges went on to say.

A project in Camberwell displaying technical brilliance and very high standards of workmanship earned Ian Barker Gardens a win for ‘Residential Landscape Construction over $300k’. Earlier in the evening, the same project, which the judges commented was a “harmonious and functional lifestyle solution” also took out top honours for ‘Hard Structures in the Landscape’ as well as Commendations across Planting, Design and Maintenance categories.

“The entire design heroes an existing Elm, but more than that, achieves a sense of immediate balance between the hard and soft-scape which is rarely seen in such a new landscape,” stated the judges.

Relative newcomer, Ben Harris of Ben Harris Gardens took out two highly commended awards for his delightful Upwey project featuring “an incredibly natural looking watercourse that hugs the external living spaces and utilises the natural levels well”, as well as being named Rising Star for 2017. The judges were impressed by Ben and his quality team who believe in what they do – creating and producing natural environments for people and wildlife to enjoy.

Complete Landscape Solutions were another young business to be acknowledged at the glittering event, with a win in the ‘Residential Construction under $150k’ category for near faultless hardscaping skills, and Phillip Withers Landscape Design took out the ‘Grant Saltmarsh Feature in the Landscape’ for their internal water feature in a converted Richmond brewhouse. Its simplistic design hid the actual complexities of installation and earned the judges’ top marks for capturing the philosophy of this category.

Not to be outdone by the young guns, two industry stalwarts, Steve Taylor of COS Design and Dave Franklin of Franklin Landscape & Design both walked away with trophies and commendations on the night. COS Design took out both ‘Landscape Design under 60sqm’ and ‘Landscape Design 60-200sqm’ for innovative design solutions in Canterbury and Hawthorn, while Dave’s rooftop project in Port Melbourne was the winner of ‘Landscape Design over 200sqm’ for its thoughtful connection to the historic building which it sits atop, and the multitude of complexities overcome, such as drainage and weight issues, to achieve a magnificent end result.

Commercial projects were also recognised through the Industry Awards program. Landstruct Landscape Constructions took out the award for ‘Commercial Construction under $500k’ for their exciting and engaging playground project at St. Catherine’s in Toorak, while the kiddies continued to be the ultimate winners when the UDL Group delivered a superb interactive play space at Museum Victoria to win ‘Commercial Construction over $500k’. Well managed from start to finish and featuring high quality materials and lush plant life, this project wowed the client and delights its little visitors every day.

Australian Ecosystems have delivered wow factor on a grand scale. Sustainability principles, water usage, and plant selection have all come together to deliver a project that works harmoniously on all levels and does nothing to distract from the natural environment, but rather, enhances it. This is a stellar project for Victoria and an incredible showcase of the breadth of work Landscaping Victoria members can perform…

Rounding out the Awards, excellent service and quality workmanship earned Prestige Surfaces the nod for ‘Supplier of the Year’ as voted by Members of Landscaping Victoria, and Trent Mahoney from Avoca Landscape Constructions took out the ‘Apprentice of the Year’, impressing the judges with enthusiasm for his trade, knowledge and skill and solid plans for a bright future in the industry.

A full list of winners including recipients of Highly Commended and Commended awards from the 2017 Landscaping Victoria Industry Awards can be found here at Landscaping Victoria

Accompanying ‘hero-shot’ pictures are available in hi-res of the winning Landscaping Projects located here. For additional images of winners accepting trophies, with their category sponsor, or their team, please contact outlining your image request.

Landscaping Victoria

Landscaping Victoria is a progressive association of committed professionals working in an exciting and expanding industry.

The Association comprises commercial and residential Registered Landscape Builders, Landscape Designers, Landscape Gardeners, students and educators, and Landscape Service and Product Suppliers. In a multi-billion dollar industry they share the common goal of promoting the standards of ‘Quality, Pride and Professionalism’.

Over the past 50 years Landscaping Victoria has grown to be a strong force, with a growing public profile, the capacity to add huge value for its members, and the strength to effectively influence industry trends and standards.

For more information contact:

E: Megan Flower
P: 1300 365 428


Joel Smith: Winner of the Sir John Pagan Award 2017

Joel Smith: Winner of the Sir John Pagan Award 2017

Joel Smith was this year’s recipient of the Sir John Pagan Horticultural BBM Award for a young horticulturist under 24 and is our last interview of those very deserving young people.

Where are you from and what lead you to horticulture?

I Grew up on acreage in Nana Glen on the north Coast of NSW. As a child I loved interacting with the local sclerophyll forest as well as the gardens on the property, it led me to develop an interest in plants and the outdoors.

At Coffs Harbour High School, we had great teachers and a great agriculture program, the occasional excursion to the wonderful biodiverse Dorrigo National Park was always very inspiring and memorable.

Shortly after I finished my HSC, I started looking for apprenticeship in the horticulture trade. I knew I wanted to work outdoors, and when I found my horticulture apprenticeship at Taronga Zoo Sydney, I decided it was an amazing learning opportunity that I couldn’t refuse

There are so many amazing gardens to see in the UK, and so many skills I hope to learn. I’m still in the early stages of planning my journey, I know It’s going to be great…

You have the BBM Award, what are you planning to do?

Thanks to the support of BBM and the AIH I will be traveling to the UK on the journey of a lifetime, my intent is to learn as much as possible about horticulture.

I am planning to gain experience working in Kew Gardens, London Zoo, and the prestigious Chelsea Flower show. Relevant to my current work I’ll be visiting a conference on zoo horticulture in Dublin.

On my journey I’d like to focus on learning how horticulture can be used to bring about positive changes in the lives of people that are vulnerable or disadvantaged. I hope to work with an organisation named Thrive who specialize in horticultural therapy.

As a stopover on the return journey I’d like to visit and work alongside parks and gardens teams in Singapore. There are so many amazing gardens to see in the UK, and so many skills I hope to learn. I’m still in the early stages of planning my journey, I know It’s going to be great.

What are your plans for the next 5 years?

Upon my return from Europe, I’ll want to share my learnings and experiences with BBM, the AIH, my colleagues, and my family and friends.

To advance my career I know that I want to continue formal studies in horticulture or a related field to learn even more about plants. I’d like to pursue this soon, whilst at the same time advocating for the benefits of horticulture in parks and community gardens. I hope to gain the ability to lead and engage people to get outside, create wonderful gardens, and enjoy the sunshine.

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

Acknowledgements 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


Media Release: Australian Institute of Horticulture Annual Awards

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.

Hunt A Horticulturist On A Search-The-Postcode Website If Word Of Mouth Fails

Hunt A Horticulturist On A Search-The-Postcode Website If Word Of Mouth Fails

Robin Powell – Sydney Morning Herald

In my letter box today was one of those flyers from an “odd-job man”. “Tony” lists what he could do for me – gutter cleaning, rubbish removal, and, bottom of the list, gardening. When I read that I think I may have humphed. There is more to gardening than mowing and blowing, and as spring heats up and the garden takes off you might need to find someone with real skills to help out.

The best source is word of mouth, according to Wayne Van Balen, national president of the Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH), a professional body that represents trained horticulturists. If friends, neighbours or the owners of the best garden in the suburb fail to elicit a contact, you could try the AIH website, which allows you to search by postcode for a horticulturist. At present, the search yields only names and numbers, not details about the professional interests of those listed, so you have to follow up with phone calls. Van Balen admits that the AIH could do more to connect consumers looking for gardeners with gardeners looking for work, and says they’re working on it.

Silas Clifford-Smith now works exclusively as what he gleefully calls a “jobbing gardener”.

The best source is word of mouth, according to Wayne Van Balen, National President of the Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH), a professional body that represents trained horticulturists….

Gardeners looking to build a network of clients may advertise in the local paper. Check qualifications and references – look for a diploma in horticulture and/or a lot of hands-on experience. You should expect to pay about $60-$80 an hour for someone with the training to tell the difference between a weed and an emerging treasure, to know what to do about the yellow leaves on the cumquats, and who can propagate the garden’s best performing plants.

Garden centres can also be a source of recommendations. Dan Preston’s company, The Primary Tree, picks up a lot of work through Honeysuckle Nurseries. Much of Preston’s work is linked to Sydney’s hot property market. Sellers looking to increase the appeal of the property or new owners wanting an instant fix, arrange a backyard blitz, and Preston sends in a team for a day.

Silas Clifford-Smith prefers an ongoing relationship with a garden and its owners, rather than a quick fix. He’s a horticulturist with 30 years’ experience who now works exclusively as what he gleefully calls a “jobbing gardener”, finding work through word of mouth. His clients love their gardens but don’t have the time or the physical strength to tackle them; he visits some weekly, others fortnightly, a few less often.

No matter how you find someone – word of mouth, garden centre, local paper – make sure you see eye to eye about what you want from the garden.

“You need to check each other out,” Clifford-Smith says. “There’s no point finding a gardener who is into meandering native gardens if you like a formal style with sharp edges.”

And if you’re keen, look now. The gardening rush hour is approaching.

This article originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on October 6 2017.

New Facebook Group For Horticulturists

There are many horticulture-oriented Facebook and other social media groups available but this new group is organised and coordinated by Matt Carroll and David Ting at the NSW Nursery and Garden Industry.

Hortigroup has been established for horticultural tradespeople and suppliers to connect and network over social media and occasionally through networking events, the first of which was held at Eden gardens in August 2017.

We encourage you to have a look:

I set up this page so that the various horticultural industry groups and individuals could talk together and reach outside of their particular sector for the greater benefit of all. For that reason this is a TRADE ONLY group. Please invite any of your industry contacts on Facebook to Hortigroup.

– Matt Carroll, aka Hortiman – NSW NGIA
The Green Space Alliance – Western Australia

The Green Space Alliance – Western Australia

AIH has teamed up with other notable organisations:

  • Australian Institute of Landscape architects,
  • Landscape Industries Association WA,
  • Tree Guild of WA,
  • Sports Turf Association WA;
  • Turf Growers Association of WA Inc.;
  • Parks & Leisure Australia (WA);
  • Belmont-City of Opportunity;
    Nursery & Garden Industry Association WA;

to lend weight to this essential project that is seen by many that can be adapted to states, territories, cities, shires around Australia.

Formed in 2014 as an informal industry group to provide a united voice on green space issues to the Western Australian Government, the GSA has matured into a representative alliance with the following vision:

To live in a community that values green spaces at its core, which deliver benefits to everyone through improved health, wellbeing and livability by using innovative water and urban planning solutions.

AIH National Councillor and Media personality Neville Passmore RH and Former AIH National Councillor Glenice Bachelor RH are busy ‘looking after’ the AIH interest and investment in the project.

More Information

Victoria Update From Regional Convenor Michael Casey

Victoria Update From Regional Convenor Michael Casey

Greetings to all AIH members and fellow colleagues – I’m pleased to bring you the Summer edition of the Victorian AIH newsletter.

It’s been a busy few months for our members and colleagues with garden tours, workshops and our annual conference and awards night in Cairns. Throughout this newsletter you learn about the exciting events held in Victoria and the international conference in Far North Queensland.

I’ll be organising a social catch up for next month after a well earned Christmas break and it would be great to see you there to review what has been a great year for the institute and hopefully a great year ahead for your businesses, so watch out for details.

The Victorian chapter have also been hard at work planning this year’s workshops and garden tours which can be found in the upcoming events section of this newsletter.

As always, I am representing both our Victorian members and the Institute at a National level and am always available to provide assistance and advise where/when required, so please feel free to contact me.

I hope you had a festive Christmas and the opportunity to take a break. I hope to see you next month for our social catch up and, and I look forward to supporting you and your business anyway I can this year.


Michael Casey

Victorian Regional Convenor

AIH National Councillor