Cundall taught Australians to love gardening


Gardening guru Peter Cundall signed in 2008 after spending 39 years sharing his passion on television, and died in his adopted Tasmanian home at the age of 94.

Longtime host of ABC television show Gardening Australia, Cundall was a self-taught gardener who has helped countless Australians design and grow their gardens.

His family said he passed away peacefully on Sunday after a short illness.

“Although he was loved by many, according to Peter’s wishes there will be a private cremation and no memorial service will be held,” a statement from the family said.

His family have requested that no images of Cundall be released with the news of his death.

Cundall was born to a poor family in Manchester, England on April 1, 1927 and left school at the age of 12.

His love of horticulture started early and he learned the techniques of pruning, propagation, planting and management of heated greenhouses.

Cundall also taught paving techniques himself, primarily using second-hand materials from abandoned buildings in an old stroller.

After working as a dairy boy and streetcar driver, Cundall joined the British Army near the end of World War II and was stationed across Europe and the Middle East.

He arrived in Australia as a member of the Australian Army in 1950, but was quickly posted to Japan during the Korean War, where he continued to learn his trade.

The indefatigable green finger seized the opportunity to study Japanese garden design and rock garden construction.

Upon his return home, he started his own garden design and construction company in Tasmania, specializing in large landscaping projects.

Cundall began his long media career in 1967, launching one of the world’s first gardening conversation programs for a Launceston radio station and writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

His association with the ABC began in 1969, when he started a weekly TV show called It’s Growing, then Landscape, before settling on his longtime title of Gardening Australia.

Cundall received a Churchill Fellowship in 1974, which he used to study garden design and organic gardening around the world, and how gardening programs were designed for different climatic conditions.

Cundall’s passion for gardening resulted in him being named a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia during Australia Day Honors in 2007.

After retiring from Gardening Australia in 2008, he told AAP that he had maintained his good health throughout his life and was a direct result of his love of the outdoors.

“I attribute it to physical labor, doing things in the garden, not sitting on my back, growing healthy food and eating healthy food,” he said.

The father of six lived in the Tamar Valley in Tasmania and was also recognized for his services to the environment, especially protecting the wilderness areas of the island state.

In 2006 Cundall was named Australian Humanist of the Year while in 2005 he was named Senior Tasmanian Australian of the Year.

Politically active throughout his career, Cundall protested Australia’s involvement in the 2003 Iraq war and was arrested in November 2009 for failing to follow police instructions while protesting against a pulp mill project near his home, for which he was convicted and ordered to pay court costs of $ 47.

Outside of court, Cundall expressed disappointment at being convicted.

“We didn’t feel like we broke the law. We didn’t feel like we did anything wrong,” he said, surrounded by supporters.

In 2011, Cundall was among a group of prominent Australians who signed an open letter calling for a carbon tax in Australia to fight climate change.

He will be remembered by many fans for his signature which now seems even more poignant: “… and this is your lot of flowers!”

About Dawn Valle

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