Hazel E Dempster

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Hazel E Dempster (1941 - )

It is said that 'Hazel has horticulture in her bones.' Her mother, Eileen J. Croxford has been one of Western Australia's leading botanists and a keen gardener; Hazel's daughter Susan Dempster is also involved with the WA plant industry and a highly skilled gardener. Hazel herself is widely respected throughout the nursery industry in WA, in particular for her knowledge and interest in West Australian flora.[1] Hazel's depth of knowledge of native flora (both Australian and Western Australian) is equally impressive and Hazel is regarded as one of the key reference points within the WA flora industry and also the Wildflower Society of Western Australia.[2]

Hazel's passion stems from as a small girl remembering flowers on her mother Eileen and step-father Cliff Croxford's one acre block in Albany. Her mother Eileen also operated her garden and floristry business at home which taught Hazel a great deal about plants. [3]

The Early Days

Hazel was born in Albany 1941 and started her young life on the Cross Family Group settlers in Denmark called "Parryville". She was part of the generation born before the 1946 "war babies" boom. During this time Eileen was a single mum raising four children. They shifted the family (Derek, Bernard, Anthony and Hazel) into town in Denmark and in 1943 Hazel lost her father (prisoner of war in Japan where he died of beri-beri) and brother Bernard (tree accident). Needing support from her family, Eileen shifted in to Albany so the children could be closer to school. All of the Aunties pitched in and looked after each other's children and many gardens were created by the families.

Growing up was pretty 'normal' and was involved with sports and community events. It wasn't until she got married (April 1961) to John William (Bill) Dempster that she became a dedicated gardener in Manjimup and started growing plants herself. Over the next ten years Hazel and Bill lived on farms (dairy, crop and orchards) around Manjimup raising 5 children (Kevin, Rob, Dianne, Susan and Colin) and created many gardens. She became a committee member for the Manjimup Garden Club and promoted the private gardens and public gardens in the shire of Manjimup. She assisted and judges many garden competitions.

Over the years whilst living in Manjimup and Hazels gardening passion grew she exhibited many prizewinning exotics and dahlias at the Warren District Show for many years. She was also on a committee member of the Warren District Agricultural and Horticultural Society. She assisted the society with many of their horticultural exhibits.

Promoting Successful Propagation

The interest When Eileen connected with the Albany community (1963) to gauge interest in West Australian flora, Hazel too became attracted to the state's wonderful wildflowers. They travelled often to Albany with many stops on the way looking at wildflowers...and to let the kids run around!

After shifting the family off the farm and into Manjimup town (1971), Hazel's interest in propagation from cuttings increased. Using many samples of cuttings sent by her mother and step father whilst they travelled widely across the state of WA, Hazel was able to explore different methods of propagation, which proved successful. This success enabled her to gradually build a small nursery in the backyard. The necessary hot house boxes and shade houses were built by Bill and his brothers Keith and Frank, daughter Susan pitching in with filling pots and shifting plants.

Hazel initiated the branch of the Manjimup Natural History Club in 1971 (branch of the Wildflower Society of WA) for which she held the position of secretary for seven years. The group held a popular wildflower exhibition each year with the help of the Manjimup Jaycees when Bill was President during those times. The group lays claim one year to having put on the largest collection of native orchids species ever. Numerous excursions around the district with their young children in tow provided many enjoyable days exploring the bush both as an individual wildflower society and also with other branches.[4]

Hazel assisted in propagation field days and excursions, seminars, meeting, lectured, tutored on propagation, guest speaker at numerous seminars and organised and arranged numerous flowers and wildflower exhibitions, community garden clubs and night technical classes whilst living in Manjimup and visiting Albany. In addition to this work Hazel provided the plants for the public and also landscaped Manjimup Primary schools gardens. She took a keen interest in horticulture in the Manjimup District and the developing industry there and gave advise and ideas and many occasions when approached by prospective growers.

She attended numerous conferences and seminars on horticulture, exotic and native plants to keep abreast of the latest knowledge. This includes 6 years of Albany Summer school where the leading experts of WA botany, taxonomy and propagation attended. These experts include Dr Neville Marchant and Nick Lander, (Botanists of WA Herbarium) Bob Dixon (Horticulture Adviser for Kings Park). Hazel herself later became a lecturer at the Albany Summer School on cottage and rock gardens, creative gardening and propagation using WA plants.

During the late 1970's Hazel developed new propagation technique for WA native plant Families Goodeniaceae and Stylideaceae. She published these findings in the WA Wildflower Society Newsletter and WA Gardener in 1980. This began Hazels writing and wrote articles on propagating cuttings, plant division and gardening with WA plants. As she built a reputation for exemplary plant knowledge and propagation ability, she became a state resource.

A a long term member of Alpine Garden Society of Britain (18 years), the Royal Horticulture Society (18 Years) and the North America Rock Garden Society. She also wrote articles on plants down under.

When the family shifted out onto the family farm, again, Hazel extended her growing prowess to various 'alpine style gardens' with unique WA 'alpine' style plants and instigated the growing of brown Boronia under cultivation (1980 - 1982). However, over the next 2 years the Boronia kept dying off and it was discovered that Phytophthora cinnamomi(Dieback) was in the soil and growing of them was disbanded.

Where WA Gardens Begin

The next move was Perth (July 1982), largely for the schooling of her children and their sporting requirements. It was then that she started her 20 year career in the nursery industry; first retail assistant, then on to retail manager, green-stock controller, wholesale manager and production programmer for all franchised nurseries of Nursery Australia Pty Ltd (Owner of Waldeck and Wildflower Nurserys). Hazel managed a number of the group's garden centres during her employment with Nursery Australia and has been actively involved in the expansion of the centres. She has also been the group's green-stock buyer and in this role purchased green-stock for promotions, as well as coordinating and planning forward orders for the group., a very big undertaking of 11 nurseries whilst she still managed a retail nursery part-time 'Waldecks on the Vines'.

 "We sell plants so people can have beautiful gardens to give them pleasure and make their homes and surroundings pleasurable place in which to live. Our job is to make the garden centres a pleasure to visit and to make our customers feel they can transpose their homes and gardens into something similar."  Hazel Dempster presentation to Nursery Australia staff members.

Although WA Native Gardens are not a garden centre the message is still the same.

Hazel's nursery knowledge and interest in WA flora fitted well when she sat on the committee for "The Centre for Australian Plants - Pot Plant Group" 1992 - 1994. These groups were created to support the selection and promotion of suitable WA flora for domestic and export markets. Today Hazel is continually looking and growing those species she believes are ideal for the home gardener and seasonal colour.

Leading Demonstrations

Hazel is very attentive to detail in setting up displays in which she specifically crafts a person's experience with the plants. When in Manjimup, Hazel would design and set up the plants while Bill set up the 'hardscape' of each display. Many of the indoor displays had waterfalls, rockeries, and colourful displays of potted plants and cut flowers.

This display experience continued when arriving in Perth Hazel was asked to coordinate the garden displays and demonstrations for WA Garden week (1989 - 1995) and Kings Park Wildflower Shows (1989 - 1994). Hazel would plan, design and arrange for the growing of specific plants, as well as organise and install the displays. Many of these displays received numerous awards of "Best Displays" from the Nursery Industry Association and special acknowledgement from the Kings Park Botanical Gardens management. On many occasions Hazel was assisted in achieving her vision by her daughter Sue and nursery helpers. Many of these events also included public speaking at these events lecture areas.

When Hazel left the nursery industry (1999) she continued promoting and selling of WA plants and building awareness of environmental weeds coming from non-native gardens with the Wildflower Society of WA and the Environmental Weeds Action Network and assisted with the creation of their displays at Garden Week.

Training and Recogntion

It has been said that Hazel, like her mother Eileen Croxford, is a 'Quiet Acheiver'

Hazel and her nursery team won the best green stock areas for Waldeck Kingsley 1987 which was a testament to her dedication to present to the gardener. In 1999 her team (Waldeck on the Vine) scored the highest mark in the assessment and nearly obtained a perfect score. During the 20 years at Nursery Australia she played a key role in training for the group.

 "Hazel has been a source of inspiration at all the nurseries at which she has worked and to many staff for whom, at one stage, she has been their mentor." Nursery Industry Association Sandy Pate

Whilst working at Nursery Australia Hazel received the following certificates

  • Certificate in Nursery Horticulture (Nursery) (1983)
  • Completed 2 years of the Bachelor of Business (Horticulture) (WAIT) (1984) (Incomplete - due to work promotion, 1995)
  • National Qualified Nursery Assessor - Professional and Career Development Unit (WA Department Training) (1997)
  • Advance Diploma in Horticulture (2000)

During 1991 and 1992 as a woman in horticulture, she was requested by Skillshare, Tafe, Nursery Industry Associations, Department of Employment, Education and Training. Kings Park and Botanic Gardens to share her experience and to talk on "Career for girls: Working with plants", "Propagation techniques", and "WA plants in gardens".

Hazel conducted talk back radio show on Gardening on Saturday mornings on 6PR in 1989 on the behalf of Wildflower Nursery.

Many times she was asked to judge Nursery Industry Awards, Community gardens awards for Local Governments and Landscape competitions.

In 1997 Hazel received the Award of Merit by the Nursery Industry Association for "Awards of Excellence".

Dedicated Environmental Volunteer

Hazel has volunteered countless hours from when she first started in Manjimup (1971). Holding committee positions, administration support, being a leader or spokeswoman, teacher or just enjoy the growing of plants to sell on the the community. In 2017 Hazel continues to volunteer her time to support WA plants in horticulture and the preservation and recording of them.

In 2013 Hazel was awarded the "Australian Plants Award" from the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) Inc. Like her mother Eileen and step father Cliff, she to is a life member of this organisation.

Since 2003 Hazel has volunteers at the WA State Herbarium, pressing, sewing, mounting plant specimens and identifying species which have collected on plant survey days which are run by the Wildflower Society plant survey group. These survey groups spend a few days in the bushland and record plants in measured plots of different plant communities. Hazel has been instrumental in assisting on-sight identification, mentoring and the follow-up on pressing the species so the specimens can be stored in the state herbarium. Hazel has collected of recorded species ## to her name.

Hazel love the bush and exploring the beautiful little plants which catch ones eye. She looks for the colour, the shape and the form it holds with a few nibbles from the local fauna. Hazel looks at the plant with endless possibility of what it might look like in the garden. Is it inspiring, colourful, interesting to the home gardeners?

Hazel has a passion and commitment to WA plants in horticulture and has spent a life time practising what she knows. She was a committee member of the Horticulture Database in 1997 to ensure that the information is retained and usable for all people interested in propagating WA plants. This horticulture database did not get the funding required, so for the last 20 years the information has slowly died with those who hold this information. Hazel said "Gardeners can grow their own WA native plants at home just like people grow geraniums and herbs. Wiki.wanativegardens.com.au will enable the horticulture knowledge to finally be captured, have the photos on how too and linked to videos so people can do it at home" Hazel believes that this 'wiki' innovative program will begin the journey of gathering the very important information and for it to be open source for our future generations to come and learn how to grow WA plants successfully in home gardens and in public landscapes.

As her mother Eileen said "Education, Education, Education"

Hazel dedication to the message of education on our beautiful WA plants is courageous. She is steadfast and consistent in the message of "this is our home, this is where we live, these are the plants which live in the lands soil. There is not better plant to do the job; in the garden; to save water and; to create a beautiful habitat for our wildlife. It is our duty to grow WA plants in the garden to preserve and protect our biodiversity and for us to learn about it in our own home".

Landscaping: There's a better way to do it

Retirement is meant to be slow paced and relaxing..not when you have a daughter, Susan, running workshops for industry and project management of landscapes within new developments. Hazel's role to Susan has been as a mentor and consultant. Hazel having worked in the nursery industry and providing plant for many large landscapes, it has been important to recognised the influence nursery people can have on landscape outcomes.

Hazel knowledge on WA plants is invaluable. Working with Susan's and visualising the plants together when review landscape architects designs, endless plants lists and species placement, is a key focus on the plant compatibility within the landscape, suitability with neighbouring plants and overall landscape sustainability.

One of Hazels key achievements was introducing and researching transplants of mature trees of wetland Banksias, Eucalyptus. Melalucas and key understory species was successfully achieved in the Ellenbrook, Malvern Springs Development. [5] The plants lived 3 years in bags and then installed in a landscape to which some still survive today.

Over 200 species out of the 600 species were selected by Hazel for the Ellenbrook Development. This enables as sense of place for Malvern Spring initial landscapes and created continuity between the bushland and the landscapes. A two year cutting and seed collection program was establish prior to clearing of the bushland to make way for new homes.

Growing Programs

Hazel has been creating growing programs for WA native plants since 1971. Her experience in growing programs have been personal; employment with Nursery Sustralia the largest nursery growing in the 1980's and 90's; consultant to Everlasting Concepts who created growing contracts for land developers Ellenbrook Management, for the Fiona Stanley Hospital and City of Joondalup Master Landscape Plan and have been as a volunteer for the community nursery for the Northern Suburbs Wildflower Society for the past 10 years.

If one was to look back of the plant species list over the past 30 years, one would see that very little of the species list has changed. The species are still very big growing species which are unsuiatble for home gardens. From 2016, Hazel has been working with her daughter Sue setting up growing programs for WA native plants for home gardeners.

Publications

Since in 1975 Hazel has been writing articles, Many of them for the Wildflowers Society of WA. The Nursery Industry began a "WA Gardener magazine" in 1969 for home gardeners and in the later years of the publication Hazel became one of the regular contributors. Hazel also contributed to many other industry publications and gardening magazines...**like** Many times hazel has been asked to edit, review and comment many books and gardening and native plants. These books have been included in the publication list below. Hazel spent many hours to editing book for those who's goal is to get WA plants into home gardens.

Year Article Description Contribitor
1975 Success with Wildflower Cutting in WA Vol 13 No 3. WA Wildflower Society Newsletter Author
1976 A Few Plants of Interest in my Garden Vol 14, No 3. WA Wildflower Society Newsletter Author
1977 Propagation by Division Vol 15 No 2. WA Wildflower Society Newsletter Author
1978 Native Garden Courtyard at Manjimup Primary School Vol 16 No 2. WA Wildflower Society Newsletter Author
1978 Flora in the Karri Forrest Booklet form with supporting artwork Author
1978 Flora in the Karri Forrest Vol 16 No 3. WA Wildflower Society Author
1978 WA Kunzeas in my Garden Vol 16 No 1. WA Wildflower Society Newsletter Author
1979 Short cuts with Propagation Material Vol 17 No 1 WA Wildflower Society Newsletter Author
1979 Native plants in the Rockery Vol 17 No 4 WA Wildflower Society Newsletter Author
1980 Goodeniaceae from Leaf Cuttings Vol 18 No 2 WA Wildflower Society Newsletter Author
1980 Goodeniaceae from Leaf Cuttings WA Gardener Magazine Author
1981 Native Courtyard at Manjimup Primary School Report 2 Vol 19 No 3 WA Wildflower Society Newsletter Author
1985 Mini Plants from Down Under in Western Australia Vol 53, No 2. Alipne Garden Society Newsletter - Great Britain Author
2004 Southern Plants for your garden Dorothy Redreau. Greenskills Inc Editor/Consultant
1996 Bush Plants for Perth Gardens Greening Western Australia Consultant/Adviser
2002 Grow Local Plants Renata Zelinova - Quinns Rocks Environmental Group Consultant/Adviser
2004 Local Plant Community Education Strategy North Eastern Catchment Committee Consultant/Adviser
2013 Propagation Cutting to Replenish the Biodiversity in Your Land for Wildlife Wildlife Notes No 18 Department of Parks and Gardens Author
2002 Mapping our Western Stars West Australian Gardener Spring Edition Author
2003 Elusive Perfume West Australian Gardener Winter Edition Author
2003 Gold after the Rainbow West Australian Gardener Summer Edition Author
2004 Dare to be Different - Native plant in Pots West Australian Gardener Summer Edition Author
2005 Small Grevilleas, Small Birds West Australian Gardener Autumn Edition Author
2005 Garden Plants Friend or Foe West Australian Gardener Spring Edition Author
2005 Snapshots to make you go AHHH... West Australian Gardener Summer Edition Author
2006 Marion's Masterpeice West Australian Gardener Autumn Edition Author
2006 Little Battlers West Australian Gardener Spring Edition Author
2006 Give WA Plants a Chance West Australian Gardener Summer Edition Author
  1. Personal Correspondence The Nursery Industry Association Letter of Commendations
  2. Personal Correspondence The Centre For Australian Plants Letter of Commendations
  3. Australian Insitute of Horticulture Winter 1999 Leaves Calling "My Road to Horticulture"
  4. http://ns.wsowa.org.au/assets/newsletters/WFSNSB%20Newsletter%202015-05.pdf
  5. Banksias 2008 Kevin Collins, Kathy Collins and Alex George page 99