Vale Peter Valder 1928-2023

Tributes are flowing on social media following the announcement of the death of Dr Peter Valder in Sydney on March 1. Peter was much loved in the horticultural world and highly respected for his wit, knowledge and kindness.

Tributes from friends, colleagues and students

Vale Peter Valder (1928–2023). Gardener extraordinaire, writer, teacher, and wit.

Alistair Hay

I first encountered Peter on the screens in the Carslaw Building lecture theatres at the University of Sydney as a 1st year biology student in 1978. Peter was tiptoeing in Sydney Harbour in Speedos talking about algae. I called in to the lecture theatres today and thought of him (not much has changed except there used to be multiple TV screens where the data projectors are now mounted). He was always a joy to talk to at the Gardens. A long life.

Simon Goodwin

I remember a field trip to Warrah as a student. We were dying of boredom. Even Roger Carolin fell asleep during one of Dr Martin’s lectures. Then Peter arrived and life was worth living. God we loved him.

Flora Starkadder

All of the above, and more. This picture from 2007 is one of the many occasions where Peter explained to us that this would most likely be the last time he would deliver (one of his always entertaining and informative) talks/speeches. Sadly, he must have been right on one occasion, but just to irritate him (as we know it would) I will continue to look out for him at any botanical event of note.

Tim Entwisle

What a loss. Peter would always share his knowledge freely and always with an inspiring and witty anecdote. He was so generous in sharing his Noroo collections with Mount Tomah Botanic Garden and happily shared his knowledge with the staff. His wisterias are still displayed in the Formal Garden at Mount Tomah. I will miss him.

Rob Smith

Very sad indeed. A wonderful man. My grandfather had the privilege of teaching Peter and his brother John Valder to read and write at Mount Wilson school.

Jonathan Garner

He once said that an audience’s minds are more open to new ideas (or information) when laughing… and when Peter gave talks, you were laughing most of the time. One very clever educator, this one.

Stuart Munro Read

One anecdote: lecture rooms were tight at Sydney University in the ‘70s with the expansion of enrolments under the Whitlam government. Peter was timetabled for a 1.00pm lunchtime lecture in a 500-seat lecture theatre for his Agricultural Botany class of 19 students. His students had to get there early to ensure a seat, as the word spread around campus of the lunchtime entertainment value of Dr Valder’s lectures. I had the privilege and pleasure of publishing his three gardening books, all internationally recognised. A very special person.

Gil Teague


One Comment

  1. Peter was a wonderful guest speaker- he did love to be given something practical as a gift in return. A frozen chook or a dozen eggs from someone’s henhouse was extremely well received! How lucky were we to know him.

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