Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria
Born Adelaide, South Australia in 1947. Resident of Canberra, ACT, since 1970.
Had a keen interest in botany and Australian plants from an early age and worked at the State Herbarium of South Australia during his vacations while a student at Unley High School and Adelaide University. Also had university vacation jobs at the herbaria at Alice Springs (1968-69) and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney (1969-70).
His first full-time job was with the Herbarium (CBG) of the Australian National Botanic Gardens (then called Canberra Botanic Gardens) from 1970, becoming Director of Visitor Services in the late 1980s. He was also a member of the Executive of the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research (CANBR) and the Australian National Herbarium (a facility managed jointly by CSIRO and the Australian National Botanic Gardens).
He set up a regular series of botanically themed exhibitions in the Visitor Centre of the Botanic Gardens from 1971 until 1985 when a new Information Centre was built. From 1985 until 2000 he supervised a team to continue these exhibitions. He also implemented a range of interpretive programs outdoors in the Gardens, drawing together teams to produce the Aboriginal Trail, the Nature Trail and a range of other signage scattered throughout the site using the then new photo-metal techniques.
In 2000 he moved to the Botanical Information Group of the Australian National Botanic Gardens to manage the electronic dissemination of botanical information and the image/photograph collection and also to manage the websites for the ANBG and CANBR.
He retired in 2012, becoming an Honorary Associate of both the Botanic Gardens and the Australian National Herbarium.
In retirement at the Botanic Gardens he has continued to work on several web projects, including the biographical entries for botanical collectors and illutrators, the 'Australian Plants on Posage Stamps' website, and the Australasian Systematic Botany Society website. He has taken prime responsibility for digitizing his considerable collection of 35mm slides of Australian plants, physically moved to the Gardens in 2014.
In retirement at the Australian National Herbarium (one day per week) he has curated the cultivar collection of ACRA specimens, sorted and catalogued the legacy collection of 35mm slides of eucalypts by the late Ian Brooker, the 'eucalypt buds and fruit' pencil drawings amassed by the late George Chippendale, and the catalogued the field-book and associated material of past CSIRO herbarium employess and associates.
Throughout his working life, but in his private time, he published a range of botanical-horticultural books in collaboration with the late John Wrigley, starting with Australian Native Plants in 1979, now in its sixth edition. His line illustrations and photographs are used throughout these books. He has also published directories of Australian botanic gardens. In 2010 he published, with John Wrigley, a biological/social-history book titled Eucalypts - a celebration.
He amassed a private photo collection of about 40,000 images of Australian plants and vegetation which have been used extensively for both popular and scientific publications and interactive CDs. He made these photos available publicly via the Australian Plant Image Index maintained by the Australian National Botanic Gardens (www.anbg.gov.au/photo/). This collection is now housed at the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the earlier photos taken on Kodachrome 35mm film are gradually being digitized and available on the web. (usage permission via: email@example.com)
Herbarium collections: early collections 1963-1970 lodged at AD (Adelaide) some dups at CANB and CBG (Canberra), 1970s lodged at CBG (Canberra), after 1980 the vouchers for photographs taken by M.Fagg are lodged as collections by Purdie, R.W.
Source: Personal Communication