Growing Young Talent

Back in November 2008, not long after I started this blog, I was invited to the New Zealand Young Horticulturalist of the Year competition in Auckland. My report back then was brief, and picture-less - not really doing justice to a fun competition with a big impact on the horticultural industry.

(And I didn't even mention that my after dinner talk in Auckland was all about how we removed and replaced ten Moreton Bay Figs in Sydney's Domain in 2004, amid a barrage of misplaced abuse and criticism. I took the opportunity while on the other side of the Tasman to set things straight. But that's another story.)

Today I want to promote the second year of Australia's answer to the New Zealand Young Horticuturalist of the Year, the...New South Wales Young Horticulturalist of the Year. The inaugural winner, Matt Donaldson, was announced in October last year at the Gardens Restaurant here in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens.

The Australian Insitute of Horticulture, in conjunction with the former Ryde School of Horticulture Student Fund, has again organised and funded the competition, offering a winning prize valued at $10,000.

You can enter if you are a 'young horticulturalist' (under 35 years old) and about to graduate or have graduated recently (in the last two years) from the TAFE system. I think you need to be based in New South Wales and/or have studied in New South Wales (if unsure about your State of Origin category contact Tim Jackson at email below...).

Your study can be in any kind of amenity horticulture, including 'nursery production, retail nursery, landscape constructio and mangement, arboriculture, natural area restoration, turf management, landscape design, and parks and gardens'.

The idea is that you present a project to the judging panel that will be of benefit to the horticultural industry, is achievable in 18 months and is a little bit different (technically 'important, unique or different').

Not only do you get the chance to bring this project to life but you get public recognition as the Young Horticulturalist of the Year, training in marketing and presentation and some pretty good contacts in the horticultural industry.

Applications are now open, closing on 31 August 2010. If you want more information see the Australian Institute of Horticutlure website or contact Ms Tim Jackson at

Image: Some of the New Zealand finalists preparing for Hortisport, the finale of the 2008 competition, including laying concrete and laying out a fruit platter.