Simon Rickard has been gardening since he was a boy. His first botanical passion was orchids, which he began growing at age nine. At 12 he became a foundation member of the Orchid Society of Canberra and by 16 had amassed a collection of a hundred orchids. While still at school he undertook work experience at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in the research division with orchid botanists Mark Clements and David L Jones, as well as in the herbarium and nursery divisions.

Simon spent several years concentrating on his musical career before again looking to gardening. In 2001 he moved to Victoria to take a gardening job at the Diggers’ Club flagship garden, Heronswood. There he set about renovating the herbaceous and annual borders and the grey garden. In 2002 Simon became Diggers’ head gardener, overseeing both Heronswood and her sister garden, the Garden of St Erth. After three-and-a-half years living and working at Heronswood, Simon transferred to the Garden of St Erth where he worked as manager and head gardener until 2009.

From 2008-2012 Simon embarked on an ambitious project with celebrated Victorian restaurateur Annie Smithers, growing bespoke produce for her eponymous Bistrot in Kyneton. More recently, Simon has been collaborating with award-winning landscape artist Mel Ogden on private garden design projects.

Parallel to actual gardening, Simon has a busy career as a garden communicator. He has given innumerable workshops and masterclasses for the Diggers’ Club on a wide variety of topics from espaliering fruit trees to composting to designing with drought tolerant perennials. He has given lectures and workshops for the University of Melbourne’s School of Land and Environment (Burnley College) in their Summer School for Home Gardeners, Master Gardeners programme and the ever-popular Discovering Horticulture course. Simon has lectured and given practical workshops for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation’s Kitchen Gardens in Schools programme, the Australian Landscape Conference and Castlemaine’s BudaFest; and he appears regularly for regional horticultural societies, sustainability groups and community gardens.

Simon is very proud to be a botanical guide for Botanica World Discoveries for whom he has led garden tours to the UK and continental Europe, Japan, South America and New Zealand. Simon has conducted historic garden tours at both Heronswood and the Garden of St Erth on a great many occasions as well as historic Duneira on the slopes of Victoria’s Mt Macedon.

Simon has appeared on television for Gardening Australia (ABC), Postcards (Nine), Digging with Ding Dong (with Denise Drysdale on C31) and Getaway (Nine). He has spoken about gardening on ABC local radio, Melbourne’s 3CR community radio and ABC Radio National with Alan Saunders. In 2007 he chaired a garden history forum with garden historians Holly Kerr Forsyth and Richard Aitken for Writers at Como.  As a garden writer himself Simon has contributed articles to ABC Organic Gardener, Your Garden magazine and the Diggers Club notes. His first book, The New Ornamental Garden was published in 2011, and his second, Heirloom Vegetables was released in 2014.

Simon’s gardening passions are many and varied… heritage fruit and vegetables, xeriscaping perennials, autumn and winter gardens, the social history of plants and gardens, ornamental grasses, temperate bamboos, tree peonies… like any passionate gardener the list changes weekly.