Bob and Kath joined the Upper Yarra Valley Garden Club in March 2003. It was not long after this that it was realised what an asset Bob was and how much the Club could benefit from his expertise.
For his sins, he being the tall poppy amongst us, Bob was elected as a committee member in August 2005 and he held that position for 11 years. Bob soon became a valued member of our committee and thus the Club sharing, his horticultural knowledge along with his experience and maturity.
A standard part of the Club meeting is the involvement of a visiting speaker, however as we all know things don’t always work out the way they are planned and when there appeared a gap in the program Bob would just put his hand up and so filled in on at least 9 or 10 times speaking on a wide range of subjects.
Another part of the meeting was where Bob would run a segment called “what I’m doing in my garden this week” which tackled topical and seasonal gardening tips. As well Bob would invite questions from the members. It was always certain that a question would be asked about lemon trees. Answers on this topic ranged from cut it down and burn it, to much water or not enough and to applying fertilisers of various types. A question was once asked about how to rid the back yard of oxalis to which Bob replied, “sell the house and buy a new one”.
In addition to all this Bob and Kath opened their garden called Christabell Park to the public on 4 occasions and hosted numerous garden walks. While we call it a garden it really was a small farm with the formal garden around the lodge, an extensive orchard, a vegetable plot, the size of small house block and on the rear paddock a herd of pet alpacas grazed. Bob also ran hands-on instruction sessions on potting up and propagation of cuttings at his home in his spare time. Jane Edmanson has spoken highly of Bob’s quality of education and personally credits Bob with her continuing love of propagation.
In May of 2012 Bob advised that he was to start as the presenter on the gardening show run by Yarra Valley FM 99.1 called “Down to Earth Gardening”. While Bob was the main presenter on the show a number of Club members helped him out on special subjects. Through his efforts on this program Bob featured as one of the great ambassadors of the Club
It may have been a surprise to Bob, but not the rest of the members, that it was voted that Bob be awarded life membership in August 2008, an honour well deserved and conferred for his outstanding service to the Club.
To cap this off Bob received the John Pascoe Fawkner award for his outstanding service to horticulture on October 17, 2016.
There was once a popular song which had the words “you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone”. From the early start of Bob’s illness when his attendance at the Club became difficult and at times impossible members began to realise how much Bob had contributed and we must now adjust to the fact that he has gone and will be sadly missed.
Thanks Kevin for your kind thoughts on behalf of the club