Stuart Read

About Stuart Read

Stuart Read is a horticulturist, heritage bureaucrat, tour-leader and talk-giver who loves landscapes and gardens. Trained in science, horticulture and landscape architecture, he has gardened and studied gardens in Australasia, Cuba, the Middle East, England and Spain, leading a tour of Spanish gardens in 2010. His writings include Demi-sec: Spanish lessons for Australian Gardens... (2005). He co-authored Interwar Gardens – a guide to the history, conservation and management 1915-1940 (2003), The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens (2002), and magazines like Australian Garden History and Heritage NSW.

War Gardens – a review

This book and its theme are timely and poignant. We won’t stop waging wars. Some parts of the globe have long histories of it with competition for resources, land, water, trade and souls. Dwindling water supplies suggest more will come. We also won’t stop gardening – for food, shelter, beauty, solace – and this book is revealing on why. What gardening does for us – something that seems worth pondering and talking-up, as peace-fostering.

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Review: Robert Fortune – A Plant Hunter in the Orient

China’s burgeoning economic and political might in this century are quite a turn-around (one might say a return to form) from its cowed condition under the ‘Opium Wars’ (and Taiping Revolution – civil war) of the mid-late 19th century. Gun-ship ‘diplomacy’ was used to force foreign trade access to this vast country’s ports, to export the west’s craze product: fine tea. Continue reading

5 things to love about Callan Park Estate, Sydney

Psychiatric hospital therapeutic treatment isn’t what it used to be – perhaps we could learn lots from best-practice of 1880 or the 1910s? Publicly-funded, Government-Architect-designed (working with the medical clinicians), Government Botanist-supplied and influenced grounds that learnt from what the rest of the world were then doing meant that such hospital surrounds were deliberately spacious, green and verdantly planted. Screening the (mad) world outside, its inside productive, beautiful and deliberately therapeutic: part of a cure. Not just for patients, but staff, family and visitors. Continue reading

Seoul’s green veins and heart – Cheonggyecheon Stream & Changdeokgung Palace

Greening Seoul is something quite serious, in scale and time. There’s no shortage of need: a mega-city of some 10 million, sprawling for kilometres, with much of it pretty bleak concrete blocks of flats and roads. Changing that, enticing some nature back, is ambitious and underway, making this city a world leader in some respects. With what seems typical Korean thoroughness and determination, its happening. Perhaps this dates as far back as the passing of 1967’s Parks Act? Continue reading

Singapore Botanic Gardens: 5 things to LOVE

• Rubber ‘n’ Spice: Economic Botany power house
• Orchids: Exotica – science meets commerce
• Dipterocarps: rainforest ark in a City-State
• Dynamism: great team – catalysing regional capacity
• High wire act: balancing rapid change / newness with history / richness Continue reading

Four favourite NSW parks

Almost off the radar in terms of heritage listings at state or national level, yet uppermost in local communities’ minds and affections and emblems of regional pride as meeting places, beauty spots and centres for social or important gatherings, local public parks across NSW are one of its glories. A handful of the hundreds spring to my mind as my favourite places, historic, beautiful, rich in detail (be that layout, embellishment, plantings) and well-loved and used to this day. Continue reading

Review: Launceston Horticultural Society

I’ll declare an interest in The Launceston Horticultural Society – A History, from the start. I’ve long awaited this book and am chuffed it’s out after much gainful labour. It tracks our oldest continuous horticultural society (1838+) which continues. I gave advice on its editing, helped with the glossary and some of the field trips that went into it ‘ground-truthing’ what remains of a series of remarkable gentlemen (descendants and successors of both genders). While the topic sounds local in range or interest, in fact it’s far broader. Continue reading