Initially trained with the Royal Horticultural Society, and in management with Brunel University, some years later he emerged from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the world’s foremost botanic garden, qualified in curation, horticultural estate management, soft landscape design, horticultural and botanical sciences.
In 1982 Kew awarded Jerry a scholarship to study the flora of Western Australia. Photographing plants never photographed before and discovering Darwinia polychroma, a new endangered species, changed his life. Captivated by the people, plants and places, he decided to emigrate. “The greatest impact was realising that bushland I visited had been pretty much unspoiled by industry – something that no European can ever experience in their native lands”.
Post-graduate work included management of both public and private sector horticultural enterprises in Britain and Australia: production nurseries, London’s largest public tree service, heritage inner city parks and gardens, running a major garden centre, and helping to establish Sydney’s Mt Annan Botanic Garden, a Bicentenary project.
Jerry has been the horticultural consultant for Queensland Conservation’s first ‘National Food policy’ and ‘Grey Water policy’, he drafted the proposed management of bushland weeds policy for Lord Howe Island, and also consulted for several Sydney city garden renovation projects, including Darling Park, Victoria Park, the Conservatorium of Music, Macquarie Square, the NSW Police Memorial, Central Station, St Mary’s Cathedral, First Fleet Park, East Circular Quay and the Sydney International Airport.
For over eleven years, Jerry managed the botanical estate at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, (Sydney Gardens) Australia’s oldest scientific organisation and the arboretum at Government House, Sydney. His greatest gardening challenge was grooming the Sydney Gardens (1999 – 2000) in readiness for hosting some of the Olympic Games. Janet Holmes à Court commended the gardens for looking the best ever in thirty years she had known them. Jerry supported the creation of major educational gardens such as the Sydney Fernery (1993), Herb Garden (1995), Oriental Garden (1998) and the First Encounters Garden (2000). His plan of management for the Pesticide Facility and shift towards organic pest management have been adopted by the Brisbane Mt Coot-tha and Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. Jerry first proposed in 2001 that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney become the first Australian organic botanic garden, and now in 2011 it appears they may be headed that way…
Managing the ‘Rare and Threatened Plants Garden’ from concept to completion (1996 – 1998) was a personal high point in Jerry’s years at the Sydney Gardens. “It doesn’t just explain what biodiversity means, it identifies which human activities are responsible for species losses and how ordinary people can help avert damage to our society and our quality of life”. Jerry will always treasure preparing and planting the world’s first Wollemi Pine at the launch.
During 2001, Jerry was seconded to be the horticultural consultant for the inaugural ‘ABC Gardening Australia Live’ NSW exposition. This was the first successful gardening expo ever held in Sydney city attracting exhibits from commercial gardening shows, international exhibitors and the largest show garden of native plants ever seen in Australia.
Jerry is always busy sharing his knowledge of gardening through writing for the ‘Gardening Australia’ and ‘The Organic Gardener’ magazines and was a consultant and writer for the illustrated dictionary of garden plants, ‘Flora’.
He has been a presenter on our only national television gardening show, ‘Gardening Australia’ for over twelve years. He was a regular guest on Sydney’s 702 talk back radio gardening show for seven years.
Jerry is in regular demand as a public speaker and horticultural judge. In 2011 Jerry presented conference papers: ‘Acclimatisation’ for the Australian Garden History Society, and ‘Non-Chemical Pest Control’ for HACCP Australia. In 2009 Jerry presented ‘Low Carbon Gardening’, a talk demonstrating how gardener’s can reduce Australia’s national Greenhouse Gas emissions for the CSIRO’s annual conference and to a multitude of garden societies from northern Queensland to Melbourne. In 2006 Jerry presented a series of lectures on pioneering sustainability for the Queensland Museum and MECU Credit Union. In 2002 Jerry represented Australia at the South Pacific Herbs Forum (Vanuatu), a paper at the Australian Institute of Horticulture’s National Conference, and a paper for the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects National Conference.
Most gardeners will remember when, in November 2003, Jerry moved from Sydney to Brisbane to create ‘Bellis’, a model sustainable house and garden and Queensland government experiment: having ‘talked the talk’ he intended to ‘walk the walk’. His garden first took part in the Open Gardens Australia in 2007 and has been opening ever since.
In 2011, Jerry was awarded an HMAA Television Laurel Award for his segment filmed at ‘Bellis’ on ‘How to Create Your Own Cultivar’ (Technical Gardening). In 2009, ‘Bellis’ won the prestigiousNational Save Water Award in the Built Environment category.
Jerry is a ‘horticultural schizophrenic’ equally at home sipping tea in a high Victorian conservatory or manuring an allotment. As a Guerrilla Gardener he grows native and productive trees for people to plant in barren public open spaces.
“Anyone who loves English plants, landscapes and weather, should be utterly besotted with their Australian counterparts”.