"Gardens in times of Peace and Conflict”

Australian Garden History Society (AGHS) 39th Annual National Conference
“Gardens in times of Peace and Conflict”, 6-29 October, 2018, Southern Highlands, NSW

 Newly-established garden ‘Greenbrier Park’ at Mittagong

Newly-established garden ‘Greenbrier Park’ at Mittagong

 Newly-established garden ‘Greenbrier Park’ at Mittagong

Newly-established garden ‘Greenbrier Park’ at Mittagong

 National Trust (NSW) historic garden, Retford Park at Bowral. Photos P Vizents at 2018 AGHS National Conference

National Trust (NSW) historic garden, Retford Park at Bowral.
Photos P Vizents at 2018 AGHS National Conference

 National Trust (NSW) historic garden, Retford Park at Bowral. Photos P Vizents at 2018 AGHS National Conference

National Trust (NSW) historic garden, Retford Park at Bowral.
Photos P Vizents at 2018 AGHS National Conference

Coinciding with the centenary of cessation of hostilities in World War One, the theme of Gardens in times of Peace and Conflict enabled presenters to explore the creation of gardens and cultural landscapes by men and women with a strong sense of purpose. The conference commemorated that sense of purpose, examining the roles gardens and landscapes played during WW1 and after it.  It was also a chance to welcome the new AGHS patron, Professor Tim Entwistle, Director and Chief Executive, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

Presentations included:

  • Remembrance Avenues and driveways,

  • Commemorative remembrance gardens in cemeteries, public gardens and townscapes

  • The Poppy Seed Project which established the Flanders Poppy as the emblem of Anzac and Remembrance Day commemorations.

  • WASPS – the Women’s Agricultural Security Production Service, war-time labour force

  • Weeds and the war on such enemies in the garden

  • Gardens established by internees in Australian camps.

The 11 presentations were thoughtful and respectful as can be imagined by the theme, and it is hoped that the papers will be available on the AGHS website shortly.

Visits to gardens of note in the Southern Highlands were a pleasure for all. The approx. 250 delegates enjoyed seeing modern or newly established gardens, such as Greenbrier Park in Mittagong as well as historically significant, established gardens such as the National Trust property Retford Park, Bowral. Of note was the visit to Oldbury Farm in Moss Vale, established between 1822 but which is now, along with having a fine arboretum and historic garden layout, the site of a School of Gardening, specifically designed for Head Gardeners on estates, or those who have qualifications in horticulture but who do not have the full range of experiences required by all head gardeners. The hawthorn hedging design is being taught, along with path laying and of course hedging. At Oldbury and in most of the magnificent gardens visited, the hedging was outstanding; clipped to perfection. A bonus for conference attendees was having two of the landscape designers of gardens we visited, Michael Blyth and Charlotte Webb OAM, discuss their projects either on site or during the conference chat sessions.

 

The conference in Mittagong was also a time for the National Management Committee to meet to hold an extensive face-to-face meeting with state representatives. At the meeting on 25th October, the Oral History Collection 2018 edition was launched. Each delegate to the conference received a copy of this 48 page document containing 20 interviews recorded and transcribed with individuals who have been instrumental in establishing and working with the AGHS over the past 38+ years. It was impressed upon representatives that in 2020, the actual 40th anniversary of the formation of AGHS, the importance of recording interviews with those in their branches or state who have contributed to horticulture as well as AGHS work over the years. The National Oral History Collection will be a repository of all things historical and horticultural to do with each state and will be available, eventually, on the AGHS website for researchers and those interested in the topic to hear or read.

The AGHS annual national conferences are opportunities to catch up with friends from other states of Australia, to exchange ideas and plan projects and to ponder on the skill and expertise of gardeners or to sigh and wonder at the beauty of plants. However next year, the Australian Garden History Society is branching out to embrace our New Zealand compatriots and to join them in a conference which will be held in Wellington. The conference will be held between 25th and 27th October, 2019.

The 11 presentations were thoughtful and respectful as can be imagined by the theme, and it is hoped that the papers will be available on the AGHS website shortly.

Visits to gardens of note in the Southern Highlands were a pleasure for all. The approx. 250 delegates enjoyed seeing modern or newly established gardens, such as Greenbrier Park in Mittagong as well as historically significant, established gardens such as the National Trust property Retford Park, Bowral. Of note was the visit to Oldbury Farm in Moss Vale, established between 1822 but which is now, along with having a fine arboretum and historic garden layout, the site of a School of Gardening, specifically designed for Head Gardeners on estates, or those who have qualifications in horticulture but who do not have the full range of experiences required by all head gardeners. The hawthorn hedging design is being taught, along with path laying and of course hedging. At Oldbury and in most of the magnificent gardens visited, the hedging was outstanding; clipped to perfection. A bonus for conference attendees was having two of the landscape designers of gardens we visited, Michael Blyth and Charlotte Webb OAM, discuss their projects either on site or during the conference chat sessions.

 

The conference in Mittagong was also a time for the National Management Committee to meet to hold an extensive face-to-face meeting with state representatives. At the meeting on 25th October, the Oral History Collection 2018 edition was launched. Each delegate to the conference received a copy of this 48 page document containing 20 interviews recorded and transcribed with individuals who have been instrumental in establishing and working with the AGHS over the past 38+ years. It was impressed upon representatives that in 2020, the actual 40th anniversary of the formation of AGHS, the importance of recording interviews with those in their branches or state who have contributed to horticulture as well as AGHS work over the years. The National Oral History Collection will be a repository of all things historical and horticultural to do with each state and will be available, eventually, on the AGHS website for researchers and those interested in the topic to hear or read.

The AGHS annual national conferences are opportunities to catch up with friends from other states of Australia, to exchange ideas and plan projects and to ponder on the skill and expertise of gardeners or to sigh and wonder at the beauty of plants. However next year, the Australian Garden History Society is branching out to embrace our New Zealand compatriots and to join them in a conference which will be held in Wellington. The conference will be held between 25th and 27th October, 2019.

Matt Lloyd