Panel discussion - Botanical: Australian Garden Culture

A panel discussion exploring the social and environmental factors that have led to the development of an Australian garden culture

This panel discussion, hosted by 702 Simon Marnie, brings together experts in horticulture, heritage, history and design to explore the social and environmental factors that have led to the development of an Australian garden culture. Contributing to this timely discussion in the bicentennial year of the Royal Botanic Gardens will be Sydney Living Museums’ Director of Heritage Ian Innes, curator of Planting Dreams, Richard Aitken and curator of Florelegium: Sydney’s painted garden Colleen Morris.

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Meet the panel

head shot of Simon Marnie

In the 1980s, Simon Marnie clambered into a huge blue kangaroo suit as station mascot for radio station 2UW and this obscure taste of radio propelled him into the inaugural Radio Course at the Australian Film TV and Radio School.

After graduating, Simon was offered a shift in Albany, Western Australia, so he did the honourable thing and started work experience at Triple J. Simon was hooked into radio and after months of persistence and refusing to go quietly he won a full time position at Triple J.

Since then, Simon has also worked in community and commercial broadcasting, both behind the scenes and in front of the microphone, and after eventually leaving the ABC, Simon experimented with other mediums. Simon conceived and produced SBS TV's music show, nomad, produced on WOW TV and reported on ABC TV's TVTV.

These roles, along with a stint of home duties, child rearing, chefing and voice work, eventually led Simon back to a career in full-time radio with Tony Delroy's NightLife on ABC Local Radio and is now firmly ensconced in the Weekends show.


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Ian Innes has over 25 years’ experience in cultural heritage management and conservation, including in senior management roles at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Centennial Parklands, as well as with Sydney Living Museums. He studied architecture and, later, landscape architecture, and his professional interests have spanned design, management and preservation of the built environment, including buildings, gardens and other cultural landscapes. His first foray into the world of British colonial architecture was a visit to Old Government House, Parramatta, in 1970, which sparked a lifelong interest in architecture and design.



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Richard Aitken is recognised nationally and internationally for his expertise in the field of garden history. He has been long a long-time editor of Australian Garden History, the quarterly journal of the Australian Garden Historical Society, and his books include The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens (2002), Gardenesque (2004), Botanical Riches(2006), Seeds of Change (2006), The Garden of Ideas (2010), and Cultivating Modernism(2013). Richard has undertaken numerous conservation plans for significant historic gardens throughout Australia. He has curated several major exhibitions for Australia's leading collecting institutions.


Portrait shot of Colleen MorrisColleen Morris is a heritage consultant and former National Chair of the Australian Garden History Society and is the curator of Florilegium: Sydney’s Painted Garden.  Colleen has had considerable professional experience with Sydney Living Museums and the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney including its library and archives collection, as well as with numerous significant gardens and landscapes in NSW. Her publications include Terrace Houses in Australia (1999), major entries for The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens (2002), Lost Gardens of Sydney (2008), contributions to The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, The First 200 years (2015) and Gardens of History and Imagination, Growing New South Wales (2016). She recently co-authored The Florilegium, The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, Celebrating 200 years.