Author(s): Andrew Lemon
Tommy Garnett, creator of the famous Garden of St Erth at Blackwood, Victoria, became one of Australia's best-known garden writers, a rational crusader for plants, gardens and gardeners, birds, nature conservation and the environment. Few of his devoted readers knew anything of his life before the garden - the experiences that informed the wise, crisp, erudite, playful newspaper columns and books. Half of his long life - he died in 2006 aged 91 - was as an Englishman, half as an Australian. He was an innovative, controversial, successful head of two world-famous schools, England's Marlborough College and Australia's Geelong Grammar. Had he been a snob he could have boasted of his family's literary connections or rattled off long lists of distinguished students, staff and colleagues who acknowledged his influence - poets, cricketers, princes, scholars, ornithologists, scientists, artists. Nor did he boast of his own sporting triumphs (first-class cricketer, British Eton Fives champion) or of his tough war years as a ground-based RAF squadron leader, decorated for service behind enemy lines, in Bengal and Burma. Born into wealth, thrown into penury, surviving as a scholarship boy, finding the love of his life after the war, Garnett was a man of accomplishment and wisdom, forever open to new insights and to new experiences. Australia reaped the benefit.
Andrew Lemon is a multiple award-winning Australian historian, best known for his three volume History of Australian Thoroughbred Racing (joint winner of the 2009 Australian Society for Sports History biennial book prize). He has written biographies, local, company and school histories, and co-authored Poor Souls, They Perished on Australia's worst shipwreck (1986 FAW Wilke Prize). His book A Great Australian School: Wesley College Examined (2004) was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's History Award. In 2005 the University of Melbourne awarded him the degree of Doctor of Letters for his published work. In 2012 he was a John H. Daniels research fellow at the National Sporting Library and Museum, Virginia USA. He is immediate past president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.