New gig for Mount Annan's garden guru

New gig: Newly promoted to Director of Horticulture for the Botanic Gardens, Greater Sydney, John Siemon is at home surrounded by plants.

New gig: Newly promoted to Director of Horticulture for the Botanic Gardens, Greater Sydney, John Siemon is at home surrounded by plants.

He's been a staple at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan for almost 20 years and now John Siemon is celebrating a brand new role.

The former curator manager of the Mount Annan gardens has been promoted to Director of Horticulture for the Botanic Gardens, Greater Sydney. The new gig means the local resident will now look after horiculture and science projects not just at Mount Annan, but also the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and the Blue Mountains Garden at Mount Tomah.

"I look after the public asset of green spaces which have more than 16,000 species of plants represented from across the globe and are some of the most visited botanic gardens on the planet," he said.

"Mount Annan, at 32 years old, is very much the younger sibling of Sydney, which is 204 years old, but it is just starting to develop into a world-leading botanic garden.

Natural: Some of the beautiful flora at the expansive Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. Picture: Chris Lane

Natural: Some of the beautiful flora at the expansive Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. Picture: Chris Lane

"The addition of the Herbarium of NSW, which forms part of our new Australian Institute of Botanical Science, will really strengthen our plant conservation credentials and improve our capacity to improve our plants."

A lifelong green thumb, Mr Siemon's love of nature began in his home state of Queensland.

"I grew up in the leafy suburbs of Brisbane with parents who loved gardening," he said.

"I followed my dad around the garden, planting things that shouldn't have grown in the Queensland environment, like tulips and daffodils, with a desire to make things succeed in a tough environment.

"I journeyed to Sydney to do post-graduate study at the University of Sydney and stumbled onto a job here at Mount Annan, managing the science lab part-time.

"I progressed over the next 19 years into science operations, project delivery, the Australian Plantbank and most recently as curator manager.

"The next logical step was to look after all three of these gardens which each have their own unique personalities."

Mr Siemon said encouraged children to consider a career in horticulture.

"I think connecting with plants at a young age will give them a lifelong opportunity for engaging with nature," he said.

"I love the fact that kids can take a packet of seeds home and watch them through their whole life cycle, growing into something they can eat from the backyard and know that it wasn't bought in a plastic packet at the supermarket.

"As a society we're spending less time doing things like gardening, but if we connect back with nature there are lifelong benefits."

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