David Morrice (1899 - 2001)
Born 9 July 1899 at Talbot, Victoria; died 28 July 2001 at Surat, Queensland.
David Morrice Gordon AM, the grand old man of Australian flora and founder
Park Botanic Garden at Glenmorgan, died peacefully in Surat on Saturday
28 July, 2001, aged 102.
In his lifetime he established what is now known as Myall Park Botanic Garden
at Glenmorgan, with collections of Australian plants, seeds, pressed plant
specimens, and a botanical library. His conservation foresight has given future
generations access to a valuable botanical gene pool, thus protecting the
biodiversity of Australian flora.
- Dave was born in Victoria and moved to Queensland with his family in 1909.
As a Grazier in the 1920's he advocated that we save and protect trees and
understand our natural vegetation.
- In 1941 he began a garden to establish plants collected from around Australia,
which in time covered 90 hectares, with extensive watering system and gardeners
to maintain it.
- Dave procured plant material from various parts of Australia and also financed
other collectors to travel and collect specimens for him. West Australian
plants thrived in his garden, and he established many on site.
- He corresponded widely with fellow enthusiasts and botanists around the
world to develop interest and knowledge of native plants.
- Dave established a seed bank to propagate his own plants and to share with
other collectors. The seed bank still exists and this gene pool is botanically
significant as many of the plants are now extinct. It also benefits from well-documented
- Concurrently he pressed specimen plant material to form a herbarium as a
reference to identify different species. There are about 7000 specimens in
this well recorded collection known to botanists world wide. The Queensland
herbarium has received material from Mr Gordon over a period of many years,
and has assisted in the preservation of this collection.
- Dave was an avid reader of botanical publications and his library is an
important collection. His correspondence with botanists, gardeners and collectors
is a significant record of botanical heritage.
- In the 1960s he planted a group of grevilleas believing they would hybridise.
He was rewarded with a red flowering grevillea that he named after his eldest
daughter Robyn shortly before illness claimed her life. He named further hybrids
after his other daughters, Sandra and Merinda. Both Grevillea 'Robyn
Gordon' and Grevillea 'Sandra Gordon' shared the title of "best
selling Australian shrub" on several occasions. Dave gave cuttings of
these plants freely to nurseries receiving no remuneration from them at any
- As a result of the development of Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon', a native
plant that flowers almost continuously, he swayed the opinion of the average
gardener towards including native plants in their home gardens and public
parks. The benefits to wildlife and the environment are long lasting.
- Dave encouraged his artist wife, Dorothy,
to paint the plants she saw, resulting in a collection of 48 botanical wildflower
paintings now housed in the on-site gallery built as a memorial after her
- Conservation was always his priority with a focus on rare and threatened
species - he helped ensure the survival of the locally occurring pink waterlily
- Acacia wardellii is almost extinct locally, but Dave's discovery and protection
of it means it is now happily surviving at Myall Park Botanic Garden.
- A local historian, Betty McKenzie, has written Dave's biography "One
Man's Dream" (1995).
- Dave set great store by reaching the age of 100 and receiving his letter
from the Queen. Another goal he has achieved is that his life has spanned
The following is a list of honours received in Dave's long life:
- 1958 Society for Growing Australian Plants (SGAP) formed, life membership
conferred on Dave.
- 1973 Grevillea Robyn Gordon registered with Australian Cultivar Registration
- 1984 Myall Park recognised as a Botanic Garden when included in report by
the Royal Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation who recommended financial
support be given to the garden.
- 1985 Myall Park recognised as one of the Botanic Gardens of the World in
ex-situ cultivation of rare and endangered plants.
- 1987 Dave Gordon honoured with the Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
- for services to horticulture and conservation.
- 1989 Dave Gordon receives the Greening Australia Award for Individual Effort
for having achieved at Myall Park a botanically renowned collection of remnant
vegetation and arid and semi-arid plant species.
- Dave Gordon invited to attend International Union Conservation of Nature
(IUCN - WWF) conference on Conservation of Sub-tropical Plants at the Island
of Reunion off Madagascar.
- Dave Gordon surrendered 877 hectare block of virgin country to State of
Queensland - Erringibba National Park.
- 1992 Myall Park Botanic Garden placed on the Australian Heritage Commission's
National Estate Register
- 1995 Dave Gordon receives the Society for Growing Australian Plants' highest
award, the Australian Plants Award, in recognition of his achievements in
the study and promotion of Australian flora.
- 1996 Queensland Naturalists' Club presents Dave Gordon with their club's
Natural History Award.
- 1999 100th birthday honours included messages from HM Queen Elizabeth II,
the Prime Minister and Governor General of Australia and the Chief of Clan
Dave's life's work gave him recognition, but not financial reward. His garden
was his life, and his dream was the perpetuation of his garden.
In 1988, Dave invited interested people to a meeting which led to the formation
of a non-profit company, Myall Park Botanic Garden Ltd, which today owns and
administers the garden. The directors of the company aim to ensure Dave's work
will continue to augment knowledge of Australian flora and the environment.
Source: Gillian Kidd, personal communication 30.7.01
Portrait Photo: M.Fagg 1981
Australian National Herbarium - updated
26 March, 2015
by webmaster (email@example.com)