Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia


Allan Correy says good-bye

Allan Correy says good-bye to the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, after starting his career here 66 years ago, to move closer to his family in northern New South Wales.

Allan joined the Garden as an apprentice in 1946 and worked in many areas within the Garden, becoming the First Class Gardener in the Glass Houses. In 1955 Allan planted two ombu trees (Phytolacca dioica), originating from South America - only one is still growing today and is a favourite amongst visitors.

While working as a gardener by day, Allan spent his nights studying at East Sydney Technical College, first studying ornamental horticulture and then his leaving certificate with the aim of one day completing a degree. He was ‘promoted’ to Botanical Assistant in the National Herbarium under the Director R.H. Anderson and it was with Anderson’s encouragement that Allan pursued his goal of obtaining a degree.

Allan was one of the first Australians to travel overseas first to the University of Durham, UK and then to University of Illinois, USA to obtain university qualifications in landscape architecture. It was during this time that he developed a design philosophy where environmental values were vital, followed by social values, and that landscapes be primarily functional and comfortable for users, followed by aesthetic values.

In 1964 he was employed as the first practising landscape architect in South Australia to create the Master Plan for Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens. He applied the systematic ecological approach he learned while studying in the UK to develop a sound understanding of the landscape - the result being a picturesque landscape made up of a series of valleys planted with temperate plants from the northern and southern hemispheres with a woodland backdrop of Eucalyptus oblique.

Allan returned to Sydney in 1967 to head the new Landscape Section of the Government Architect’s Branch of the Public Works Department. One significant work was the Australian Section of Taronga Zoo where he used local plant species to frame the Sydney Harbour view and create a strong Australian identity. This project also marked the introduction of a sophisticated level of detailing which was unusual in the public domain of the time.

In the late 1970s Allan was appointed to establish an undergraduate degree program in Landscape Architecture at the University of Sydney.

Allan has been recognised in many ways for his contribution to Landscape Architecture in Australia – those being ‘Allan Correy Drive’ at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden South Australia, the ‘Allan Correy Award for Design Excellence’ for the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and he has been awarded a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.

Throughout his career he has been a prolific communicator, writing many articles for magazines such as Australian Garden History and Landscape Australia. In 1993 Allan came back to the Royal Botanic Garden that he loved so much and joined the volunteer guides program where he was instrumental in the development of many heritage themed walks. It was in the Royal Botanic Garden that he was able to share his love of the Australian landscape with a new audience, both local and overseas visitors, who were lucky enough to have Allan as their guide.


Allan Correy


Top: Allan Correy working in the Garden in his younger days.

Middle: Allan Correy (right) with Volunteer Guide, Glenn Johnson. Allan mentored Glenn during his training to be a Guide.

Bottom: Allan’s last day at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney surrounded by Garden’s Staff and Volunteer Guides.

Both middle and bottom photos were taken with the ombu tree, which Allan planted in 1955, in the background.