Congratulations to life member Leonie Hogue

By Rhonda Daniels, Sutherland Group

Congratulations to Leonie Hogue of Sutherland Group, who was awarded Life membership of APS NSW at the AGM in May 2021.

The following nomination was submitted by Sutherland Group.


Leonie Hogue at Joseph Banks Reserve Kareela (photo: Liz Aitken April 2021)

Sutherland Group is very pleased to nominate Leonie Hogue for her outstanding service in several areas:

  • Increasing awareness and appreciation of Australian native plants through her 20 years of participation in the Royal Easter Show by entering plants in competitions and coordinating the APS NSW stall
  • Fostering the growing of Australian plants in home gardens and public places, particularly at Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve, Kareela.

Increasing awareness and appreciation through the Royal Easter Show

Leonie has made a major contribution to the presence of Australian native plants at the state and national-level public event of the Royal Easter Show. Since the native plant competition was first introduced in 2000, she has coordinated many entries in the native plant competition at the Royal Easter Show from Sutherland Group and from Joseph Banks Reserve for over 20 years.

Each year, the entries in many different categories of Australian plants create a great display to attract the public’s interest and showcase the diversity of Australian native plants, despite the timing in autumn which is tough for flowers. She coordinates Sutherland Group entries every year, gathering masses of plant material from members at her home for arranging and leading the arranging team.

See photos of entries from 2019 here and from 2021 here.

The Royal Easter Show attracts millions of visitors including people from throughout Sydney and NSW, and international visitors, making it a significant public opportunity to display Australian native flowers – both individual specimens and floral arrangements.

Leonie has won many prizes for Sutherland Group which are then used for publicity for APS and Sutherland Group in the local media. She has encouraged other groups to participate, particularly East Hills and Menai, by providing information about the process in Native Plants for NSW and giving talks.

She has been so successful in increasing entries over time that the Royal Agricultural Society has gradually expanded the number of categories for Australian plants to include pots and foliage and many sizes of flower arrangements. We were also offered a second day of competition for banksias only.

She also coordinated the APS NSW display in the Horticultural Pavilion at the Easter Show for many years (from approx. 2011) until the last year in 2019. This involved designing the limited space to use it most effectively, buying flowers, coordinating a volunteer roster, preparing materials and instructions for volunteers including plant sales and money, setting up the display, regularly visiting to refresh flowers, and packing up the display. Leonie initiated the popular idea of selling packets of pink paper daisy seeds. APS NSW has been one of the few stalls left in the Horticultural Pavilion as other community groups could not maintain their involvement.

Leonie (seated) at the APS NSW stall in 2019

Fostering the growing of Australian native plants

Leonie has fostered the growing of Australian native plants in home gardens and public places in several ways.

Supporting Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve, Kareela

Joseph Banks Reserve at Kareela is one of the few local government gardens in Sydney featuring Australian native plants. For over 25 years, Leonie has been the co-leader of Sutherland Group’s involvement in Joseph Banks Reserve including liaising with Sutherland Council over the Sutherland Group garden area and events and activities. She has participated in our monthly working bees on the first Sunday at the reserve for at least 30 years and in the working bee on the first Thursday since it started in 2010. She has planned and cared for a mixed display of natives in a highly prominent entry position. She initiated our annual massed plantings of pink paper daisies. She has supported our open days at the reserve by giving guided walks and supported our more recent walks and talks. Her prizes in the Easter Show with entries from the reserve have led to media stories on the reserve and native plants.

Leonie’s long involvement is shown by her being named, as President of Sutherland Group, on the reserve’s 25th anniversary plaque in 1995. She liaised with Sutherland Council over two stages of masterplan works from 2010 to initiate improvements to the reserve and improve the overall design. In 2020, she planned to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the reserve, and over 50 years of APS involvement, but COVID restricted our activities.

Participating in open gardens

Leonie has promoted growing Australia native plants by opening her garden to APS members and the community. Her garden participated in the Open Garden Australia scheme twice. Her garden was also open to the public in our group’s 50th anniversary year in 2013, and again in 2014 and 2017. Leonie’s level, sunny garden showcases colourful Australian natives in an easily accessible suburban garden setting, and features many of her own artworks particularly mosaics, with an Australian native theme.

Leading Sutherland Group

Leonie has contributed to the ongoing success of Sutherland Group, one of the largest District Groups in APS NSW, by serving multiple three-year terms as President, and also terms as Vice-President or Secretary for many years and leading the group. When Sutherland Group celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, Leonie was active in organising our celebrations including a day of six members’ open gardens for the public and anniversary celebration event. She chairs our monthly meetings, ensuring our meetings run efficiently and visitors are welcomed, and hosts our committee meetings.

Leonie has initiated and supported innovative ideas for meetings such as propagation workshops and art and craft displays. She regularly brings specimens in flower from her own garden for our plant table at our meetings to share with members.

She has supported public events by Sutherland Group over many years such as displays and stalls, and supported APS NSW activities such as Sutherland Group hosting quarterly gatherings. For instance, in March 2021, she gave a talk at a local garden open day supported by Caringbah Garden Club.

Other service

Leonie has been a Sutherland Group delegate to the board of APS NSW, Vice-President (2002–2004) and Exhibitions coordinator. She has contributed to garden shows at Rouse Hill, Castle Hill  and Gardening Australia. She is an enthusiastic supporter of APS events, attending many and welcoming people at the entry table at quarterly gatherings.

In summary

Leonie’s service is impressive for her unwavering commitment over many years, at least 30 years, to every aspect of Australian native plants, APS Sutherland Group and APS NSW. She has maintained her enthusiasm for promoting Australian native plants through many changes in the organisation and the community. Many of Leonie’s contributions in the 1980s and 1990s, including supporting events and flower shows, are not fully documented here because it was before most current committee members’ time. She even lives in Wattle Road.

Leonie Hogue with President John Aitken, May 2021