Congratulations to life member Kris Gow

By Southern Highlands Group

Congratulations to Kris Gow from Southern Highlands Group who was awarded Life membership of APS NSW at the AGM in May 2021.

The following nomination was submitted by Southern Highlands Group.

Kris Gow with President John Aitken, May 2021

Member since 1994

Kristine Gow has been a member of APS since 25 May 1994 when she joined the Armidale Group before moving to a property near Hill Top in the Southern Highlands. In both localities Kris established large native gardens which were opened on occasions for public visits and while at Hill Top was very involved with Wollondilly Shire Nursery. She now volunteers in the native plant section at the Welby Garden Centre which also provides vocational training and employment to over forty people living with disabilities.

Kristine moved to Bowral and has established an impressive native cottage garden on her small urban block in the centre of the town, spilling out onto the verge and most admired by passers by.

Kris and Barbara Nevin from Armidale Group

Support for Southern Highlands Group

A committee member and then vice president for many years, Kris was elected president of the Southern Highlands Group in 2015 until she retired from the committee in 2019 but remains an active member.

During Kris’s time as a committee member and ongoing into her term as President, ‘Kris’s Plants’ became integral to ‘Kris’s Ideas’. One of her initiatives was to persuade a disinterested local council to allow plantings of natives on local roundabouts. These plantings have been designed by members with some of the stock provided by Kris. Another much-enjoyed initiative for Southern Highlands Group under Kris’s direction was an expanded program of garden visits. She rightly maintained that ‘people love to visit one another’s gardens’. These meetings have not only been extremely popular with members, but they have also attracted new members to the group.

Kris’s plants

From the early occasions when Kris turned up at meetings, she brought with her trays of healthy little tube stock plants to share with members. As this turned from a trickle to a flow, the sale of ‘Kris’s Plants’ became a regular and much-loved feature of meetings. It is notable that not a cent of the money goes home with Kris, rather, it has been donated to SHAPS and has led to a hugely helpful increase in the SHAPS bank balance which has meant more good news for the spread of native plants into the community. Our group certainly benefitted from her generosity. She also provided raffle and lucky door prizes, also gifts for speakers at our meetings.

She was forever encouraging members to grow and propagate natives for their own gardens and mostly grew small plants suitable for the home gardener.

Kris in a typical pose in the garden

Passion for birds is the key

Always a cheerful contributor, Kris quickly endeared herself to SHAPS members with her willingness to contribute and her cheeky good humour. Of her beginnings with native plants, she says that a passion for birds was the key. She says it is amazing how many people miss the link that, if you want to encourage and support native bird life, you need to grow native plants.  Now she has twin passions as her interest, knowledge and love of native plants has stepped up beside her ongoing love of birds.

Now an ordinary member, Kris continues to be an active contributor of ideas and plants. That her plants have found their way into so many local gardens is a particular achievement in a district where roses and neatly clipped box hedges are still viewed as the pinnacle of gardening. In addition to growing and distributing plants, Kris is constantly researching and seeking out new species and varieties. She writes for Wikipedia and travels widely, gathering and filtering information about more treasures we can grow locally. All this activity around plants has seen her become hugely knowledgeable about native plants from all over Australia and a highly informative person to walk alongside on a bush walk!

Without doubt, Kris has been a huge contributor to the vital work of bringing a conservative district around to appreciating the wonders, the life-force and the beauty of Australian native plants and importantly, in getting more natives into more gardens.

Kris Gow and her late husband Lloyd