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3 Sep 2018

For the love of lawn

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan is the ultimate space to explore the great outdoors and the talented team of horticulturists maintain all 416 hectares of it. There is a whopping 250 hectares of grasslands which includes over 10 natives species and of course the mobs of Eastern greys, wallaroos and swamp wallabies that call the paddocks home. Our Senior Horticulturist of natural areas and open spaces, Jarryd Kelly, is one of the passionate people that keep the Garden going. Find out what inspired him to be a horticulturist at the Garden below. 


​My Dad recalls one of our family’s many barbecues at what is now the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, when I was 10 years old. We walked up to Sundial Hill and I turned to Dad and said, “I’m going to work here one day”. I guess that is where it began.

I began an IT degree in 2005 but wasn't enjoying it, so I worked as a lifeguard, receptionist and gymnastics coach while pondering what to do.

After a few months, my brother told me that Ryde TAFE was advertising for apprentice gardeners. At this point, I just wanted to work outside, as it‘s where I felt a calmness.

So I started at TAFE and was paired with a 3rd-year apprentice who was working at the Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands. Two years into my apprenticeship I was given an opportunity to work in the turf management section, and found my passion.

I spent the next couple of years learning the tricks of the trade, and I absolutely loved it.

In 2009, I began working at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, and nine years on, I can’t believe how much has changed. The site has transformed into a world-class botanic garden.

I invested heavily in the Garden, doing work from home and completing my Diploma of Sports Turf Management. I enjoy the science aspect of turf science and would one day like to pursue this further.

I'm now married with two boys, who love coming to my work – the Garden is like their backyard. They say they are going to work with me one day. 

My passion for turf and rugby has led me to volunteering at my local Rugby Union club, the Camden Rams. I have played over 100 games on the hallowed turf of Wire Lane, and when I finished as a player I wanted to give something back.

I give advice and write their turf maintenance and nutrition program. In 2016 an opportunity to become the Senior Horticulturist in the Natural Areas and Open Spaces team presented itself, and when I found out that I had been successful, I felt so much pride.

The Garden‘s turf areas have come a long way over the past nine years, and this is my greatest achievement. The praise we receive for our efforts gives me immense satisfaction, after all the hard work that has gone into getting the turf to this point. I enjoy the challenge of continual improvement and am excited for what the future may hold.

Jarryd Kelly, Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, horticulture, turf, lawn
Jarryd preparing the grass for the Valentine's Day heart in the Garden

There are many opportunities available in this industry, however, for me, it really doesn’t get any better than this. It is truly an honour to work for such an amazing site with the best people around, who are all so passionate about what they do.

Next month is the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan's 30th birthday so we are inviting everyone to come celebrate with us on 2 October 2018. There will be plenty of chances to see the turf and open spaces I enjoy so much over the next few months while we host a variety of events, horticulture displays and of course the summer sunshine.

I hope to see you around the Garden.


Follow Jarryd on Twitter to keep up to date for all things turf.

As seen in the Spring 2018, Issue 118, Foundation & Friends of the Botanic Gardens magazine.

Category: Horticulture
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