Warren and Gloria Sheather were awarded Life Membership of APS NSW in 2018. Warren died in August 2019. This text is based on the nomination by APS Armidale Group.
The early days
Warren and Gloria joined Blue Mountains Group and worked in Glenbrook Native Plant Reserve when it was first established.
On moving to Armidale they were foundation members of the New England Group when it was formed in August 1977. Warren held positions as seedbank officer, vice president and president.
In his work, Warren was initially in the PMG and later in the Navy as a civilian working in electronics. He followed his interest in native plants to become a ranger at Warrumbungles National Park and was later a ranger at New England National Park.
Working at UNE
As the Sheather family grew older, they moved to Armidale to be closer to schools for their children. Warren took up a position as Professional Officer in the Department of Botany at the University of New England. He continued his association with National Parks, serving on the Advisory Service. He also completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in botany at UNE.
At UNE, Warren ran lunchtime teaching sessions in a voluntary capacity, for the staff and students, on native plant propagation. He also worked with the UNE administration to plant out the grounds with native plants, many of which he grew himself.
Promoting Australian plants to the community
Warren promoted Australian plants continually throughout his life. He had a fortnightly column in the local newspaper, the Armidale Express, for over 30 years. He also wrote articles for other papers. His articles explored species suitable for local conditions with details of their natural distribution and growing conditions. For over 20 years, Warren had a fortnightly half hour session on ABC Saturday Gardening where he answered questions on air and discussed the propagation and cultivation of native plants. He has been a popular guest speaker for many community groups.
He maintained his own website www.yallaroo.com.au for over 25 years, where he has over 500 items about Australian plants, wildlife and National Parks. He maintained an online diary about what was happening in his garden and a photography collection with a commentary on how to grow native plants.
The Sheathers developed a 5 acre hobby block to the west of Armidale at Invergowrie where they planted an enormous number of species. This block also served as an inspiration for those seeking to learn how to revegetate after the 1970s Eucalyptus dieback.
They then moved to Yallaroo where they continued to propagate and cultivate Australian plants. This garden was visited regularly by many different community groups. Warren and Gloria received the Golden Spade award from Peter Cundall of ABC Gardening Australia. Their property has served as a practical demonstration of what can be achieved with local flora.
Warren and Gloria have been “Australian plants” for northern NSW for 40 years, increasing the awareness and knowledge of Australian plants, fostering the growing of Australian plants, protecting and conserving Australian plants.