The council is designed to reinstate gardening onto the national agenda by incorporating and promoting gardening, gardening tourism and gardening education into one not‐for-profit charity.
The Prime Minister was joined by the Federal Minister for Tourism Hon. Richard Colbek, the Federal Member for Macquarie, Hon. Louise Markus, and their Senior Advisors, alongside a dedicated group of nationally acclaimed gardeners and horticulturists, for the inaugural meeting of the Council.
The council was founded by Graham Ross, Australia's most respected and recognised gardener. At today’s launch he detailed how the Australian Garden Council will further domestic gardening, focus on professional horticultural recognition, improve secondary and tertiary gardening educational opportunities and attract inbound tourists through international garden tourism events.
"For too long gardeners and horticulturists, the essence of a multi‐billion dollar domestic industry, have been ignored, taken for granted and undervalued in Australian business, government, educational and community circles", Graham told ministers gathered in Parliament House.
“With Australia’s changing residential landscape, and the new digital age, our children are growing up without the opportunity of getting dirt under their fingernails, and we want the AGC to change that.”
The fact that students leave the beneficial and inspiring garden related atmosphere of primary school then arrive into a high school horticultural desert was another concern of several AGC members.
Internationally garden tourism was shown in a recent global report to attract over 300 million garden tourists, of which Australia receives very little.
Australia has an extensive plant community, gardening history and horticultural expertise to celebrate and develop. We have a proud gardening history that began three days after the First Fleet arrived in 1788 and has included the cultivation of native and exotic ornamental plants for beautification and vegetable gardens for sustenance ever since. We’ve exhibited gardens since 1879 and our national botanic gardens, nurseries and landscapers are of an international standard.
There is considerable potential underutilised that could generate employment, income, national health benefits and improvement to the urban environment.
The new century has not respected gardening's true status in society as the second most popular hobby, with over 6 million devotees spending billions of dollars annually on their hobby. Horticultural education has dropped to its lowest apprentice numbers in history while ironically the demand for skilled gardeners and suitably qualified landscapers and nursery staff has never been higher. "Comprehensive training standards, remuneration and integrated career planning all needs rethinking", Graham added. “Furthermore we no longer train Asia’s horticulturists as we did for decades’ last century.”
It was also observed that a lack of coordination in existing amateur and professional groups saw opportunities lost that should and could easily be remedied with increased consultation and support.
The Australian Garden Council www.gardencouncil.org
Australian Garden Council Board Members 2015
Graham Ross VMM
Professor Tim Entwisle
Lawrence Smith AM
Anthony Vander Staay
Image 2: The Australian Garden Council with some MPs and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Image 3: John Mason at the Australian Garden Council launch.