Conservation award to Wendy Grimm, North Shore Group

North Shore Group APS nominated Wendy Grimm for the APS NSW Conservation Award, which the AGM approved.

Wendy is deserving of the Award for very many reasons. Wendy’s choice of study paths and working career show a fascination for science. Her Undergraduate University days at Newcastle University had a heavy emphasis on Geology. Her working career was mostly with the Blood bank for 37 years. Staying with the science interest a huge amount of Wendy’s life over many years, especially since her retirement, has been devoted to studying, knowing, fascination for, loving and protection of Australian native Plants. The analytical and observational skills gained during her studies and working years have been very usefully applied to her Native Plant passion.

Wendy can’t walk past a plant that is new to her without needing to know what it is. She is very disciplined in looking it up either on the spot or later if necessary when she will not give up till her aim is achieved. Consequently, although a fit and good walker, walks with Wendy are anything but fast paced! She has an amazing ability to spot native orchids when the rest of us have walked on past them.

She is the “go-to” person to ask for plant id’s – chances are Wendy will have already come across it, looked it up at the time and most amazingly- remembered it!

Wendy is and has been involved in many aspects of North Shore Group’s activities, since re-joining in 2007 (Wendy had earlier on been a member of NSG SGAP around 1988). Every person approached for information for this application has said that Wendy is always so helpful to them and generous with her time.

Committee Member

Wendy has been a hard working committee member- Secretary for about 5 years around 10 years ago and has been involved and attending committee meetings since then.

The Hornsby Shire Herbarium

As contributed by Barry Lees who led this group for some recent years: The Hornsby Shire Herbarium is a fantastic resource available to all via the internet. Wendy has been very involved since 2009 with research and weekly native plant surveys in the Hornsby Shire by a small group in APS. This work has enabled a substantial increase in the number of plants described in the Herbarium. Among other talents, Wendy’s ability to see and ID native orchids has really helped.

Plant Propagation

Wendy has over the years been involved as much as her busy schedule allows. She often likes to try propagating the more challenging species and has had good success with Waratah seed collected from her garden. She also gives the seeds to the North Shore Group propagation team to propagate. There are many Waratahs growing in North Shore gardens descended from Wendy’s plants.


Wendy has been involved in Landcare. Probably there is more but what is known about is that Wendy has been to Floating Landcare in the past. This involves a boat trip to some location on the Hawkesbury River where bush regeneration, or planting is done with NPWS. Staying with Wendy’s volunteering with NPWS, she has also helped identify plants in NPWS’s 20m x 20m transects in Marramarra National Park. Wendy is still currently taking opportunities to help in the Landcare area. She has signed up for an upcoming planting in the Capertee Valley to improve habitat for the endangered Regent Honeyeater.

Plant Display Stand at Ku ring gai Wildflower gardens, St Ives

This is a wonderful resource to help the general public to cross reference and learn what they are seeing in the bush. A dedicated band of people have collected and displayed fresh specimens for the display and Wendy is very often amongst them helping and advising. In the words of North Shore member Jan Marshall “As well as being a Volunteer for the Flower Display at KWG she has been a great help in negotiating with the council over the last 2 year. Her knowledge of the working and history of APS NSG has been very helpful.” Jan also reminds us that Wendy was instrumental in the planting of the rare local Grevillea caylei plant that is thriving outside Caley Pavilion and the creation of the excellent informative billboard on the side of the Visitors Centre at the Ku ring gai Wildflower Gardens.

The Knoll

The special garden within the Ku ring gai Wildflower Gardens which showcases for the public which native species they can attempt to grow in their own gardens. It is maintained regularly by a dedicated little group and –yes! Wendy is one of the main participants and was already active there at least as long ago as 2007.

Walks and Talks

North Shore APS has for many years, decades even, conducted regular educational Walks and Talks in the Ku ring gai Wildflower gardens. They are open to the general public, are well attended and are very well researched and on a comprehensive range of native botanical and related topics. Wendy is currently co-ordinating the lecturers, herself included, and walks. Pre-Covid the walks and talks were on a weekly basis following the school terms but Wendy has persisted through the Covid restrictions with a modified program that followed Govt recommendations and kept everyone attending safe.

Again in the words of North Shore member Jan Marshall “I can only talk about my experience of Wendy at Walks and Talks over the last 14 years. She works tirelessly, arranging the years programme, organising every meeting, being a presenter and supporting new presenters. Over the years I have been going to W&T there have been a number of times when a speaker has been unable to give their presentation and Wendy has stepped in to take their place at the last minute”

FATS, Frog and Tadpole Society involvement

From information supplied by fellow members Arthur White and Punia Jeffrey. “Wendy, right from the moment she joined FATS in 1995 has been a very active member. She was an Executive Committee member for about twenty years – Vice President for several years and Secretary from 2003-2017. She and Phillip have participated in a number of FATS activities over the years, including helping out at community day displays, frog workshops and the running of public meetings.”

Post graduate studies

Wendy has over the most recent years been working towards a Master of Philosophy at Macquarie University through the Dept of Biological Sciences. The title of the thesis is “The biology and ecology of Genoplesium baueri R. Br., an endangered terrestrial orchid endemic to New South Wales, Australia”

It is found in the Sydney Basin from the Hunter Valley to Nowra.

After locating one population at Mt Colah, as not much was known about the species, Wendy decided she would search for the orchid in the Ku-ring-gai Wildlife Gardens and subsequently discovered a new population. She has been monitoring 3 sub-populations at the Gardens in addition to the Mt Colah site.

Helen Smith, North Shore member has written:

“I was previously a casual ranger at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden in St Ives and I live in Mt Colah. For several years on almost every trip between the two I would see Wendy’s car, either at the Mt Colah site in Ku-ring-gai Chase NP or in the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden. In the years when the orchids were numerous the Wildflower Garden rangers would regularly be locking Wendy (and assistant Phillip) in at the end of the day because she was still hard at work locating and marking individual plants.

As well as documenting the fluctuations in populations of the orchid and advising on threats and remediation, she discovered the pollinator (the orchid was previously thought to self-pollinate). As a by-product of her orchid observations, and while searching for new sites, Wendy has documented a host of other interesting and often significant relationships, both animal-plant and animal-animal. Wendy is now in contact with researchers working on the pollination of Boronia spp., and has contributed insects and spider vouchers to Museum collections.”

Genoplesium baueri, image Wendy Grimm

From the APS NSW website:

“Each summer from late December to May-June, Wendy Grimm, a member of the North Shore group, has captured on camera, plotted on maps and recorded in excel spreadsheets on a weekly basis (2009-2021) the intimate details/population demographics of Genoplesium baueri plants at northern Sydney sites in Ku-ring-gai Chase NP and Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden. Recognition of the variability in emergence time was key to tracking populations, observing their life cycle and their effective fertility rates across 13 years. Two of the several populations discovered, monitored and managed by Wendy in conjunction with NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and Ku-ring-gai Council have become key populations of the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program.

Results from this study have been published online in Cunninghamia, a journal of plant ecology for eastern Australia by The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney and Wendy was awarded a Master of Philosophy degree by Macquarie University in 2020 for her research into Genoplesium baueri.”

In addition to the Genoplesium bauera work, Wendy has helped North Shore’s Hugh Jones with monitoring / assessment of the endangered plant Haloragodendron lucasii.

Wendy strongly believes that to protect our threatened species, we need to further educate the public about local plants and encourage local groups to look after their threatened species. She encourages people to join their local Australian Plant Society branch, or Landcare or Bushcare and to take part in national park working bees.

In Wendy’s words: ‘Each person should be the champion of the more vulnerable plants in their own area’.
Wendy and Phillip have a beautiful native garden in St Ives which they continue to add plants to and delight in the results.

Which brings us to Phillip…. I’m sure that one of the first things Wendy would respond to all this with, is that she could not achieve what she does without her right hand man Phillip. He has provided advice, a lot of it technical re computing etc and companionship and safety as he so often accompanies her on her forays off into the bush as well as being her research assistant and photographer at times. Phillip had always contributed a lot to the North Shore Group and Phillip- you can proudly share in taking a lot of credit for this award to Wendy.