Gardening Australia presenter, horticultural expert, conservationist
Jerry Coleby-Williams is one of Australia's most well-known, most highly qualified and most respected gardening experts.
Jerry has been a presenter on television's only national gardening show, the ABC's Gardening Australia, since 1999 and was also a regular guest on Sydney's 702 talkback radio gardening show for several years.
He has been gardening since the tender age of four and his gardening pedigree is certainly impressive. After training with the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, he later emerged from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, qualified in curation, horticultural estate management, soft landscape design, horticultural and botanical sciences.
In 1982 Kew, the world's foremost botanic garden, awarded Jerry a scholarship to study the flora of Western Australia. Captivated by the people, plants and places, he decided to emigrate and since then Australia has been his home.
Jerry is highly sought after as a speaker on all things horticultural and as a horticultural judge. He talks expertly about acclimatisation, low carbon gardening, pioneering sustainability, conservation, biodiversity, organic gardening and many other related topics.
He has presented to the Australian Garden History Society, HACCP Australia, Australian Institute of Horticulture, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects and CSIRO, to name just a few. He has been an extremely popular presence at hundreds of gardening events and garden societies across Australia.
Jerry has managed public and private sector horticultural enterprises in Britain and Australia including production nurseries, London's largest public tree service, heritage inner city parks and gardens. He has also run a major garden centre, helped to establish Sydney's Mt Annan Botanic Garden and, for over eleven years, managed the botanical estate at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney (Sydney Gardens), Australia's oldest scientific organisation, and also the arboretum at Government House, Sydney.
Jerry describes his greatest gardening challenge to date as grooming the Sydney Gardens (1999-2000) in readiness for hosting some of the Olympic Games. Managing the ‘Rare and Threatened Plants Garden' from concept to completion was a personal high point in Jerry's years there. Another was preparing and planting the world's first Wollemi Pine at the launch.
Jerry has also been the horticultural consultant for a number of organisations and locations including Queensland Conservation, Lord Howe Island, Darling Park, Victoria Park, the Conservatorium of Music, Macquarie Square, the NSW Police Memorial, Central Station, St Mary's Cathedral, First Fleet Park, East Circular Quay, Sydney International Airport and the Brisbane Mt Coot-tha and Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.
In November 2003, Jerry moved from Sydney to Brisbane to create ‘Bellis', a model sustainable house and garden and Queensland government experiment. His garden first took part in the Open Gardens Australia in 2007 and has been opening ever since.
In 2011, Jerry was awarded an HMAA Television Laurel Award for his segment filmed at Bellis on ‘How to Create Your Own Cultivar' (Technical Gardening). In 2009, Bellis won the prestigious National Save Water Award in the Built Environment category.
Jerry is a regular contributor to Gardening Australia and The Organic Gardener magazines and was a consultant and writer for Flora, the illustrated dictionary of garden plants.
He is also a director of Seed Savers, a community organisation which conserves rare and heritage plants. He is a patron of the Australian & New Zealand Solar Energy Society, a member of the Australian Institute of Horticulture and an executive member of the Queensland Conservation Council.
Jerry Coleby-Williams describes himself as a ‘horticultural schizophrenic', equally at home working in a Victorian conservatory, spreading manure in an allotment or growing native trees to plant in barren public open spaces.
There's no doubt that he can also be described as one of the most knowledgeable, most experienced and most interesting speakers around on gardening, horticulture, conservation and the environment.