When completing my Master of Urban Horticulture at the University of Melbourne in 2017, I never imagined that two years later I would be earning a living writing about interior plantscapes and other horticultural matters. This would never have been possible without the support and mentoring I have received from the Interior Plantscape Association.
I got my start after joining the Interior Plantscape Association as a student member, after volunteering at its 2017 conference in Melbourne. Having completed an internship with one of Australia’s leading green roof and wall specialists, I was keen to continue this line of work. However, a chance conversation with Elaine Tunn, IPA Executive Officer, about my plans to travel to France led me down a different path.
A French connection
Having completed a research project on ‘Leaf trait plasticity of common indoor green wall species in response to light’, I wanted to see what interior plantscapers were doing in France. Elaine suggested that I share news and photos from my travels on the IPA Facebook page. I decided to make the most of my first trip overseas by getting in touch with some key industry professionals on behalf of IPA.
Whilst I was not able to meet Patrick Blanc, green wall extraordinaire (doh!), I did get the chance to speak with some upcoming designers. On my return to Australia, Elaine encouraged me to write a story about my trip for publication in Hort Journal Australia. In this article, ‘A French connection’ I detailed some amazing interior plantscapes I visited in France including the Atlantis shopping centre and ‘La Forêt Suspendue’ in the Gare d’Angers-Saint-Laud (Click on the article title and skip to page 10 to read it).
The Apple Isle
Upon our return from France, my partner Ludovic and I travelled to Tasmania. Our plan was to spend the summer there with my parents before returning to the so-called mainland to set up our own business. We loved the lifestyle so much that we decided to stay on the Apple Isle. However, jobs in this industry are few and far between in northern Tasmania. This meant that we had to be more creative when it came to identifying potential business opportunities.
It is not what you know …
In Tassie, like so many other places, people say it is not what you know, but who you know. I paid heed to this advice from the get-go. I heard that Greenlife Industry Australia, formerly the Nursery and Garden Industry Australia, was holding its biennial conference in Hobart. I was determined to find a way to attend this event to find out the latest industry news and meet like-minded people living locally. To establish my embryonic industry credentials and to be considered as a worthy volunteer at this event, I sent the NGIA a copy of my article ‘A French connection’. They liked my article and then asked me to cover the conference for them, with my stories later published in their National Nursery News.
At that NGIA conference I met Karen Smith (IPA President) and Gabe Mostafa, editor and publisher of Hort Journal Australia respectively. They later invited me to attend the International Plant Propagators’ Conference also held in Hobart. Karen took me under her wing, introducing me to many key industry people including Angus Stewart, plant breeder, native wildflower enthusiast and well-known media identity. Karen has further introduced me to many interesting horticulturists, designers and other professionals, many of whom are IPA members, who have helped me create what I hope are interesting and informative articles for the industry.
Hort Journal Australia
I have found that I love researching and writing about plants, design and the industry, and am lucky to continue to be paid to do it! With a good internet connection, we can virtually work from anywhere given our chose line of work.
Now each month I contribute an article on behalf of IPA to the Interior Plantscaping section of Hort Journal Australia. I write on issues ranging from green walls to plant combinations.
One of the articles I have most enjoyed writing is ‘Artificial plants? Are you for real?’ (Click on the article title and skip to page 28 to read it). I am a firm advocate for the use of living rather than fake plants given their ability to improve indoor air quality. What are your thoughts on that issue?
I am keen to hear from you and other IPA members about what sort of articles you would like to see written in this section. If you have any news or potential story topics that you think I could cover, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .
How can you contribute to IPA?
I would never have considered freelance writing if it was not for the support of Elaine, Karen and other IPA members. These opportunities have only become available to me given my membership of the IPA. That is why I like to contribute back in my own way, i.e. writing articles to benefit members, and via my role on the IPA board.
How can you contribute to our association and our industry? Perhaps you may like to nominate for election to the 2020 board? Or maybe you would like to write up an article for this very e-newsletter?
Whichever way you choose to be more active in the IPA, just do it. We are only as good as our members!
Gabrielle Stannus / Inwardout Studio
IPA Board Member