On receiving the HMAA Gold Laurel: Trevor Nottle

“How did you feel?”, “Got a gong, eh? How was it?”, “Was it a surprise?”. Since receiving his Gold Laurel, Trevor Nottle’s been fielding these questions. Here’s how it feels and where he thinks the horticultural media is heading.

The call to come to the HMAA Awards gathering during Queensland Garden Expo at Nambour Showground in Queensland did seem a bit odd considering there was no information saying why I should go. But, with the urging of our local South Australian HMAA committee, I went and had a marvellous time.

I was greatly impressed by the QGE, which had over 300 stalls, mostly small nurseries dealing in sub-tropical and tropical plants. The diversity of habit and foliage was astonishing. And the orchids were breathtaking in their exotic beauty. For me the sight alone was a highlight of my visit. Very obviously the nursery and garden industry in this part of the country is doing very well.

The show itself was built around the showring and existing infrastructure of the Nambour Showgrounds. The ring provided a broad, sandy circular route around the whole garden show. The various pavilions, four of them, provided weather protection, shade and seating for a series of continuous talks, demonstrations and presentations which were carefully curated by the event managers to ensure that every person who appeared on the stages was proven as an entertaining personality armed with years of practical experience and understanding. From a (whacky) real professor who specialised in edible tubers to a local TV personality who knew his onions – foliage plants in fact, a cook or two and a potter too.

The crowds were large on both days of the show, indeed there were traffic jams on the roads leading off the highway to streets around the exhibition grounds. More than just being well attended, the mix of visitors was a surprise for me. There were many young families with pushcarts loaded up with children and plants.

The young media people there raised my spirits remarkably. In TV and production crews, as IT supports and as plant shoppers, as photographers and as volunteers on a Q&A stand, they seemed to be everywhere. They were a lively bunch too, and friendly. Their presence showed me that the future of horticultural journalism and media is bright. Like everyone else they have had to diversify moving from general to specialist reportage, from agriculture and rural affairs to horticulture and home landscaping but they are optimistic in the face of changing times. And that is great. They will adapt and go with the flow whatever the future brings.

And that future looks good.

Given the chance to say a few words I directed my impromptu thoughts to the young people present at the Awards night. In essence I urged your horticulturists, including those in the media, to take opportunities to travel before life settles them in comfortable situations where moving about becomes tangled with domestic considerations and responsibilities. I want our youngsters in the industry to get out and tell the wider world: WE KNOW OUR STUFF for horticulture and gardening in dry and warming climates. Get out and see, observe and learn.

You’ll have fun wherever you go BUT LEARN AND BRING IT BACK. You have a mission – if you choose to take it.

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