Angus Stewart

International Award of Honor, 2019

This year the Society has selected a person who has spent their post teenage life living our philosophy and building on their own love for plants in general, and a select group of Australian genera in detail. We all know the many benefits of sharing, but the other half of the motto is of equal importance. Seeking is what helps us to grow and allows more sharing. Whilst the winner has been sharing their horticultural knowledge, they have also been undertaking detailed research and breeding.

Our winner was born in rural Australia, north east of Sydney and attended school on the central coast. The family had a love of plants but the maternal grandmother had a passion for Australian natives. The winner then went on to complete a Bachelor of Science – Agriculture with Honours at Sydney University. This is special as not many professional horticulturalists have a science degree and thus the underlying knowledge of how, why and where plants grow. They may know how to grow a plant, but not how it grows.

As a professional horticulturalist, this person has spent a lifetime working with and breeding Australian native plants to make them more gardener friendly. In January 2016, among many achievements as a plant breeder, they released the new Tall and Tough Landscape range of kangaroo paws. Their work with Kangaroo Paws has changed how we all perceive and grow this classic plant. It is no longer a weird and hard to grow native but is now a standard plant for the modern Australian garden.

The winner debuted on ABC Radio 702 as a regular guest on the John Doyle (aka Rampaging Roy Slaven) afternoon program. Dubbed “Doctor of the Dirt, Surgeon of the Soil, Professor of the Paddock”. They continued on this program for five years before joining a range of other presenters and they are now a regular on ABC and talk back radio throughout Australia. Until recently this person was a much loved presenter on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia as well as making guest appearances on various other TV programmes including Channel 7’s ‘Better Homes and Gardens’.

They are a prolific writer having published six highly successful gardening books including his most recent publication Grow Your Own: How to be an Urban Farmer, co-authored with Simon Leake. He contributes to the popular Gardening Australia magazine and regularly writes for a host of other publications and online gardening sites including GardenDrum. He has also been a regular presenter at IPPS conferences since joining the society in 1998. It is quite common to see him speaking to a wide group of young and old members during tea and lunch breaks. Conference organisers know that they can ask Angus to present a paper, do a workshop or assist with the program and that he will do so. Indeed, he will do so with passion and commitment to the level that he inspires new and old members to give more and learn more.

It is through the books, media and plant conferences that they have inspired several generations of Australian and foreign gardeners and professional plantspeople. He has shown the world how to grow and use Australian Native Plants – especially Kangaroo Paw. You have just heard him share with you his passion for plant breeding and selection so please congratulate the 2019 winner of the IPPS International Award of Honour - Angus Stewart.