Ian still remembers planting his first tree on Arbor Day as part of Australia’s bicentennial celebrations. The joy he felt at watching the tree grow, and his curious pondering over its blue-grey compound leaves, would lead him into a lifelong love of the natural world and plants.
Growing up, Ian was inspired to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, a horticulturist who had worked at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and discovered a species of Eucalypt.
After finishing school, Ian completed an apprenticeship in horticulture and spent the first half of his career working in private gardens and landscaping across Sydney. It wasn’t until living in the UK and experiencing gardening amongst the beautiful perennial borders of Northern London, that Ian set his sights towards his dream of working in a botanic garden.
Upon his return to Australia, Ian completed trade qualifications in landscape construction and arboriculture, going on to attain diploma level in both horticulture and arboriculture.
Leaving the residential garden sector to pursue experience managing large gardens, Ian took a role as Head Gardener at a prestigious golf club. There he developed his skills in turf management and natural area conservation as well as bringing large tree populations under management.
In 2016, Ian achieved his dream by becoming the Supervisor of Natural Areas, Arboriculture and Open Space at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah. Ian finally found himself standing in the National Herbarium, studying the type specimen of Eucalyptus olsenii – his uncle’s namesake.
After twenty years in horticulture, Ian’s passion for his work is still alive and growing: “I get to look after one of the best cool climate tree collections in Australia, manage hundreds of hectares of World Heritage quality wilderness, help present incredible lawns and gardens and work with a bunch of passionate plant-obsessed people! I even get to work on conserving species like the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis) and Dwarf Mountain Pine (Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii)!
When I’m not at work I’m out bushwalking, canyoning, rock climbing and occasionally mountaineering. The natural world is just so amazing, how can you not want to get out there, learn about it and interact with it?”
See some of Ian's work in the video below: