The topics below have been the focus of some of our previous GGP Peer Evenings. If you would like to attend our GGP Peer Evenings, watch them via live stream or view a number of them in our Industry Library you can become a GGP here.


In December Dan Papacek at Bugs for Bugs discussed the issue of Fruit Fly. It is a difficult pest that can do a lot of damage in a small amount of time. The best weapon is a ‘systems approach’, he said. This includes baits, monitoring, sanitation and physical controls like netting.

Dr Greg Moore discusses an unexpected effect of heatwaves on urban trees in Melbourne. Three pests – mistletoe, elm leaf beetle and psyllid – fared badly in the extreme hot weather of February 2009. This, he explains, gives us a glimpse of what climate change might mean. There will be losers, but there may be opportunities for other species.

John Hassall returns to discuss green roofs including their history, benefits and how to build them. In this presentation, you will learn how Europe has embraced the idea, with 12 percent of roofs in Germany being green. John shows how to make a green roof properly, including water-proofing, root barriers, drainage and growing media.

John Hassall of Greening Landscapes on vertical gardens. John starts with a bit of history, highlighting the work of France’s Patrick Blanc. You will learn about the main types of green wall systems, construction and installation and maintenance. Environmental benefits of green walls are also discussed.

Paul McKay’s business, Julia’s Onsite Timber Milling, specializes in turning fallen and felled trees in urban areas into useable timber. Paul explains why he wants this timber to be given a new life, instead of being burned or chipped, and how the timber is milled and used in new projects.

A talk by Dr Greg Moore, former head of Burnley (Melbourne University), about the evolution of plants. He begins 200 million years ago when the continents were joined and explains how geology influenced the evolution of plants and how plants have shaped the planet.

Helen Lovel from Neutrog explains how the South Australian company uses chicken manure to produce biological fertilisers, including one developed by Angus Stewart and soil scientist Simon Leake, and another with the Rare Fruit Society of SA. The fertilisers are inoculated with beneficial bacteria.

Soil scientist Dr Peter May explained the importance of good soil structure for home gardens. He encouraged members to get soil professionally tested to avoid costly mistakes. He also gave advice on renovating seriously degraded soils.

Dr Greg Moore, world authority on trees, spoke about the evolution of plants. This talk is the second in a two-part series. It focused on Australian plants and how understanding their evolution could help us make better choices for our gardens under climate change.

Horticulturist and GGP member Neil Perkins presented a selection of drought tolerant plants. He chose not to focus on succulents and cacti, but instead showed other species which can also handle less water. His bias was towards the uncommon.

Members met at Petty’s Orchard in Templestowe and were treated to a demonstration of fruit tree pruning. Some were shown a few tricks using their own secateurs. Fred, from the Heritage Fruit Society, spoke about tree structure and growing fruit trees in the home garden.

This month we heard from hort and zoologist Dr Wouter van Dongen. Wouter specialises in creating and maintaining wildlife attracting gardens and landscapes, and took us through the important considerations when designing for wildlife.

Dr Greg Moore took us on a tour of the very special Burnley Gardens, which have served as an invaluable teaching resource to Burnley students since the 1860’s.

Ricky Dent of Green Man Char was our guest speaker this month. Ricky told us about the production of biochar and smoke water concentrate, how they can be used in horticultural applications as well as their positive environmental benefits.

This month we discussed reducing your chemical use. Angelo Elliades of Deep Green Permaculture detailed a number of methods and techniques such as IPM, including physical and cultural controls. He also covered the latest biological controls now on the market.

Professional gardener and landscape designer Roy Roberts has a career spanning more than 20 years. Roy shared with us some of his discoveries so far, as well as his thoughts on working with nature rather than against it.

Ken Bailey of Gibsons Groundspread joined us this month to talk about commercially available composts. He also discussed what to look for in a fully matured compost product and the strictly monitored processes involved in their manufacture.

Frances Saunders of Chisholm Institute of TAFE presented to us this month. Frances discussed the sustainability of a number of commonly used landscape materials, and discussed ways to make a smaller environmental impact by choosing the right products.

In April we visited the Macleod Organic Community Garden with founders Paul and Robin Gale-Baker. They showed us the amazing progress they’ve made at the garden as well as detailing their processes for designing and building wicking beds.

Ranger Katy Marriott took us on a tour of Darebin Parklands. She showed us some recent plantings and discussed how these types of plantings can be modified to suit smaller urban areas.

This month we had our first exclusively online Peer Evening. Dr Peter May of May Horticulture and The University of Melbourne discussed building garden soils and the importance of good soil structure in the success of urban gardens.

Summer fruit tree pruning with the Heritage Fruit Society at Petty’s Orchard. Including pruning workshops and early variety apple tastings.

This month we had a pre Christmas members catch up. Discussing work, holiday plans and ideas for the future direction of the GGP program.

John from Metro Trees discussed with us the importance of considered tree selection in urban environments with regards to our changing climate.

Combined with the SGA AGM, we heard from Paul West of River Cottage Australia and ABC’s Gardening Australia.

Given our rapidly changing climate, Adrian from HR Products showed us some of the latest technology being used in irrigation systems. Wifi, bluetooth, weather sensors and weather data can now all be utilised to provide efficient and effective irrigation systems.

The art of espalier is a technique that has been used for centuries. Given the interest in produce gardens and gardening in small spaces, Chris from Merrywood Plants explained the techniques involved and how to use and manage espaliers effectively.

Diana and Graham Sargeant are the owners of an organic rose business. They discussed with us what they’ve learnt over more than 30 years growing, and teaching others to grow, roses organically.

Arborist Joe Kellett discussed some of the pests and diseases that can be seen on trees in urban areas. He detailed treatments and preventative measures.

In May we conducted a member discussion and feedback session. We discussed current issues for those in business, pressing environmental topics related to the industry and ideas for the future direction of our program.

After the success of his first presentation on the Evolution of Plants, Dr Greg Moore continued his discussion this month, detailing the reasons for the successful adaptation and evolution of many native species.

A rare opportunity for a behind-the-scenes tour at the Royal Botanic Gardens – Melbourne with Peter Symes (Curator of Horticulture) and Neil Perkins (Team Leader – Horticulture).

This month we heard from Michael Tanner, Head Gardener at Boroondara Cemetery who showed us around the site and discussed the challenges and rewards to managing this unique 12 1/2 hectare landscape.

In conjunction with the Heritage Fruit Society we visited the historic Petty’s Orchard. We heard about the orchard and the significance of their collection, did some pruning demonstrations and tasted some of their early ripening heritage apple varieties.

A walk through his Riparian Woodland restoration project with Dugald Noyes, Head Gardener at Heide – Museum of Modern Art. Dugald discussed the history of the site and the work being undertaken restoring this significant area by the Yarra.

Combined with SGA’s AGM, we heard from respected ecologist Dr Charles Meredith. Dr Meredith presented on the topic Gardening for Biodiversity – from bush gardens to gardening for the bush.

This month we discussed sustainable garden assessments. Frances Saunders of Chisholm Institute of TAFE and Simon Branson of Green Change Solutions outlined considerations for when assessing properties of varying scales, from both design and maintenance aspects.

Dr Paul Horne of IPM Technologies presented on the science of Integrated Pest Management and explained how it can be a highly effective and sustainable method of pest control. Dr Horne also detailed practical examples of IPM strategies for our GGP’s to use.

A practical discussion led by landscaper, designer and lecturer Dean Speldewinde explaining the importance of permeable surfaces in the garden. This presentation included an overview of permeable surface options and how to incorporate them into the garden.

A fascinating presentation by SGA board member Dr Greg Moore on the evolution of plants. Taking us back hundreds of millions of years to the movement of the earth’s plates, and the impact this had on the distribution and evolution of all plant species.

Dr Peter May discussed the importance and consequences of soil health in urban horticulture. Our first attempt at streaming a Peer Evening live to GGP members.

An onsite meeting and discussion at Admon Machinery, detailing how to make smart, sustainable choices regarding your equipment and machinery. Also a demonstration of the new range of tools with rechargeable batteries for commercial applications.

Successful landscape design and construction business owner Brian Rankin discussed the importance of combining all aspects of business sustainability, from environmental practices, to financial and personal sustainability.

A garden tour at Melbourne Polytechnic Fairfield discussing urban tree selection and management – Joe Kellett, more than 30 years in the industry working, studying and teaching arboriculture, and now runs his own arb consultancy business.

Summer fruit tree pruning at Montsalvat. A tour and history of the gardens with head gardener Jo Douglas and then a hands on pruning workshop with orchardist and nursery person Graham Morrison.

How soil testing underpins good plant performance and sustainable gardening practice – Chris Panter,  Director Soil Microbiology, SWEP Analytical Laboratories.  A Canadian (who has not lost his accent) M.Sc. (Agr.) in Soil Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton.  He has had lecturing positions in several tertiary institutions and acted as a consultant.

Member input session.

Sustainable Garden Tour: Showcasing the house and garden which was designed to be as sustainable as possible – Diana Cotter,  sustainable garden designer, plant specialist, workshop presenter, runs garden programs at a primary school and Supported Residential Homes.

Urban Conservation: Have we achieved our dreams – Urban Gardening and Biodiversity – Alan Noy, Director of Indigenous Design (est.1987), worked for state and local government in the fields of conservation, mine rehabilitation.

Soil Health in Urban Agriculture – Dr. Peter May, Principal, May Horticultural Services, Associate, University of Melbourne, Burnley Campus.

How honey bees fit into urban lifestyles – Raphie Kruse, hive owner; Jane Dennithorne, horticulturalist, Angelo Eliades, SGA Industry and Science Research Officer.

Are you confident that you can expertly use native grasses in residential lawns and garden beds?
Dr Ian Chivers, founder Native Seeds Pty. Ltd., leader in research and development of Australian native grasses.

Plant Selection – Teena Crawford, Manager, Smith & Gordon Wholesale Nursery who has had an extensive career in the horticultural industry, including retail and wholesale nurseries, landscaping and garden maintenance and studied horticulture at Burnley Horticultural College, Melbourne University

Clumping non weedy bamboos – Dale and Pauline Farrell, Owners of Bamboo Grove Nursery, after extensive careers in horticulture, including nursery, garden maintenance, design and irrigation

Reviewing the respective merits of the unique collection of trees at Burnley Horticultural College – Dr Greg Moore at Burnley Horticultural College, Melbourne University

Reviewing the effectiveness of past pruning cuts and shaping of fruit trees at Montsalvat – Matt Mason, Arborist and Trainer & Graham Morrison, Orchardist, Nursery Owner and community radio presenter

IPM – Alternatives to using chemicals and using low environmental impact sprays – Angelo Eliades, SGA Science and Industry Research Officer

Recent technological advances and the tried and true in garden irrigation – Adrian Saville, HR Products

Netting for Pest Control and Worm Farming – Mathew King, Ryset and Richard Thomas, Wormlovers

Getting the most out of commercially available composts / Soil biology and soil health – Declan McDonald, Senior Soil Scientist, SESL Australia

Tree and shrub selection for urban environments starved of space – John Fitzgibbon, Metro Trees

Garden Design ideas from Europe – Jane Dennithorne, Design Hortensis

Sustainable garden design – Ryan Young, Ryan Young Design

Rock dust; how it works in soils for microbes and plants – Rhys Hamlyn, Geosoil Australia

Edible Gardens – Making them work for the customer – Karen Sutherland, Edible Eden Design

Hot composting – Dugald Noyes, Heide Museum of Modern Art

Nest boxes and habitat for birds and wildlife as a GGP’s service to customers – Patrick Fricker, Nature Connects

Summer Pruning of Fruit Trees – Graham Morrison, Jane Dennithorne, John Brown, Stan Close. Three working professionals and one retired professional

Plant selection options – Tina Crawford, Smith & Gordon Wholesale Nurseries.

Environmental impact of snail pellets, effectiveness of seaweed fertilisers – Dr. Colin Young, Fair Dinkum Fertilisers & Melbourne University

New Irrigation – controllers and water use minimisation, Brendan Collins, Reece Plumbing

Irrigation – Water efficient gardening – Geoff Conellan, G & M Consulting

Pest control – Integrated pest management – Paul Horne, IPM Technologies

Soil Structure & Soil Biology – Paul McMorran, Bulleen Art & Garden, Richard Lee, Kabuu, Dugald Noyes, Heide Museum of Modern Art

Value of trees in the urban environment – Dr. Greg Moore, Burnley Horticultural College

Pruning espaliers -particularly fruit trees – Chris English, Merrywood Nursery