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Meet: Jimmy Turner

Jimmy Turner’s career has taken him from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, to Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, The Netherlands and now, Brisbane. With an obvious passion for plants, what’s next for this global gardener?


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What drives your horticultural ambitions?

My family teases me that I was born with a trowel in one hand and secateurs in the other. My love of plants and gardens is one of my earliest memories. This passion was cultivated by my mother (a consummate gardener) and my grandmothers who lived to be 99 and 100 years old, so my career was more a “calling.” The driving forces of my ambition are firstly my never-ending passion for plants. There is always a new plant to learn or forgotten technique just waiting to be rediscovered. Secondly, I enjoy sharing my love for plants with everyone. Gardens and flowers bring people together and teach them about the importance of plants and conservation.


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Colour is important in your gardens, is this a trend you see increasing in public gardens?

I’ve made my career from creative use of colour in public gardens. My motto has always been “no one gets excited about brown”. In the future, colour will be something you may not see “more” but as a focus at key locations. Colour is like the “amuse-bouche” of a garden. It gets you excited and tells you that the party has started before you dig into the more substantial courses. I’ve had a lot of push-back from the horticultural community for using colour. But if we are preaching the gardening gospel to the masses, we need a bit of “show” to get them engaged.
 

Botanic gardens are leading the charge on sustainability, will this increase in the future?

Absolutely! Botanic Gardens are more than just beautiful settings for a picnic. Their ultimate purpose is to be arks of plant conservation and knowledge. Botanic Gardens worldwide conserve rare and threatened plants whilst cultivating the knowledge of how to correctly restore natural areas.
 

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What do you see as the main objectives at Brisbane’s City Parklands?

Brisbane is a city of public parks and gardens with over 2,160 spread across the city. I am lucky to manage three of the most popular sites within Brisbane: South Bank Parklands is a premiere lifestyle and cultural destination; Roma Street Parkland is one of the foremost display gardens; and Victoria Park will be the next iconic Brisbane park when it’s finished. Our main objectives are to provide a place for the community to connect with nature and recreate outdoors both individually and through activation of the spaces.


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You love cooking, any favourite recipes?

For two years my cooking obsession has been perfecting my spelt sourdough bread. I try to bake two loaves a week and it has been a constant learning experience. Like gardening, cooking has equal measures of science and artistic endeavour which is probably why I love them both so much.


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About this article

Author: ​WORDS: GRAHAM ROSS, IMAGES: JIMMY TURNER