Gerry & Valerie Zwart
Gerry and Valerie Zwart were awarded Life Membership of HMAQ on 3rd March 2017 in recognition of their contribution to the organisation over more than 20 years.
Born in July 1929, Gerry in Holland, migrating to Australia in 1952, and Valerie in Adelaide to parents who had a large suburban nursery. They met in Sydney and married three months later in 1953.
Valerie worked with brother Peter Engel in his nursery for 30 years, and this included providing landscape planning for customers, writing all advertising material, producing catalogues, signage etc.
Gerry worked in promotions and public relations, and in the early 80’s was employed by SA Nursery Co-operative to be their manager and produce a 32 page full colour gardening magazine bi-monthly – to which Valerie contributed technical knowledge and some articles. In 1989 they retired and moved to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, where they continued producing the magazine together for several years.
On retiring from that, the Queensland Nursery Co-operative known as Gardenlovers, approached them to produce a quarterly similar magazine for distribution through its members. They continued with that until the mid-90’s.
From when they arrived in Queensland, they continued their association with other areas of horticulture, becoming inaugural members of Horticultural Media Association of Queensland (HMAQ) with Gerry becoming president for two years, and Valerie some eight or so years as treasurer.
The Maroochy Shire introduced the ‘Gardens in the Sun’, and they were the judges for the seven or eight years it was conducted, along with judging Retirement Villages eg Hibiscus and Oasis for their annual inter-village competitions, speaking at a variety of garden clubs and other associated meetings, helping at Queensland Garden Expo where they organised the Plant Clinic for about 15 years, writing the Sunshine Coast Daily weekly Garden page, starting the Mapleton Garden Club, and supporting other activities as they arose.
In 2010, Valerie was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the Queens’ Birthday awards for her contribution to the community and horticulture, and in April 2011 she became a Senior Fellow of the University of the Sunshine Coast.
They are still the Sunshine Coast garden page writers and HMAQ members, but have cut back on most other horticultural activities.