WHAT OUR STUDENTS SAY - graduate profiles

"I have always been inspired by the creation of beautiful outdoor spaces. From the concept plan to the unfolding of the construction and most importantly the completed design. Yet, even with this enthusiasm, I never thought I would have the capability of creating concept plans and designing these beautiful spaces myself.

At the age of 35 I assumed the career I had developed in finance and account management would be my one and only career path. However in 2008, something changed my way of thinking and I knew I had to pursue my love and appreciation of landscape design.

The question was how to do this? I was (and still am) working full time, so how would I integrate my working life with study? I understand many people do this every day, but having never done it before I was apprehensive about it. Thankfully, I discovered ACS! I had a lengthy discussion with ACS’s Principal, John Mason who thoroughly encouraged my potential career change and guided me towards the correct ACS course – Diploma in Landscaping. From the day I started with ACS, my tutor Adriana has provided continual encouragement and constructive feedback on my design work both within and outside of the course curriculum. Knowing that Adriana is available with this support provides me with constant reassurance.

At the moment I am comfortably managing my studies with ACS, establishing my landscape design business and working full time. I have completed designs for several properties and continually receive excellent feedback from my clients.
At the end of the day, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without the continual support and guidance of Adriana and the team at ACS."


Jamie Speeding - Certificate in Garden Design

Jamie, an ACS alumni, speaks on studying at ACS, his industry knowledge and experience which lead him to success.

becoming frustrated at the lack of quality and knowledge displayed by many landscape orientated businesses in the area, Jamie decided to go it alone and formed Greenhort Design which is now entering its fifth year of existence.

During the early years of Greenhort, Jamie was busily gaining further knowledge by achieving formal qualifications at Australian Correspondence Schools. He was encouraged to join key industry organisations as a part of his studies.

A year later, Jamie became a member of The Australian Institute Of Horticulture (AIH) and was elected inaugural Chair of the Gold Coast branch, a position he held for three consecutive terms. Jamie's dedication to the industry saw him appointed on various industry advisory committees, form strong ties between the local nursery industry and help initiate the move to establish a botanic garden on the Gold Coast.

Jamie has also spent time lecturing at TAFE, a local vocational college, and spent several years hosting a radio show on the local ABC. Jamie has written garden features for a local internet magazine and The Gold Coast Bulletin daily newspaper as their garden columnist. He served as the Gold Coast selector for the Australian Open Garden Scheme for 5 years, and retains a keen involvement in local horticultural projects.

These days, however, Jamie has turned his full attention to commercial design. "For the past 18 months I have been mainly designing/drafting ACAD residential development landscape plans and childcare centers nationwide for Council submission. I now employ several full-time drafters and designers as the demand for our services has increased ten-fold."

These days Jamie is still a member of the AIH as well as the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers (AILDM), the Horticultural Media Association of Queensland (HMAQ), and recently has joined the Nursery and Garden Industry of Queensland (NGIQ).

Jamie believes that a lot of his success in the horticulture industry can be attributed to ACS Principal John Mason and past tutor Paul Plant who both encouraged and supported his directions.



A. T. (Tony) Johnson - DIPLOMA IN HORTICULTURE

After serving some years in the Royal Australian Navy, I found myself at a bit of a loose end, as they say! One of my many interests had always been gardening, in particular the concepts and challenges of building a garden.

As time passed with many jobs in between (including work in Prawn and Tuna fishing), I found myself in New Zealand managing a mixed fruit orchard.

Upon my return to South Australia some years later I was able to purchase a retail Nursery (“anyone can sell pot plant”, or so I thought), only to realize that I lacked the skills to run and maintain a successful horticulture business. Plants need more than water and a guess at fertilizer, right?! I was growing punnet and advanced plants for a large chain of stores as well as for my own retail outlet. This expanded into garden design and landscape construction. I also developed, what I believe to have been the first plant hire business in South Australia. At that time my son’s intolerance to wheat /barley pollen worsened which prompted a move away from the lower Eyre Peninsula to (of all places) the desert! Woomera was to be our home for the next few years.

It was there that I decided to study for a Diploma of Horticulture through the A.C.S. There were only a small number of tutors in those days, but all were very helpful to a mature age student, and I recall asking (what I know now as) ridiculously simple questions, which were answered with patience and deplume, accurately and in a timely fashion. I believe that this was the turning point of my “second” career.

In 1987 I gained the position of Parks Superintendant with the Port Augusta City Council, with the understanding that I would complete my Diploma of Horticulture with A.C.S - which I completed in 1991.

The Superintendent position exposed me to a large number of challenges - including lobbying State and Federal Governments and Western Mining Corporation for funding for the Botanic Gardens. I have also been an invited speaker at RAPIR and IFPRA Conferences in Hong Kong and New Zealand. I designed playgrounds for people (little and mature) with disabilities and these designs are now being used in other parks systems.

Post Port Augusta, I found myself living in Airlie Beach Queensland, engaged as a Landscape Designer for a local company working on such projects as revamping some of the City of Mackay’s Parklands, Hotel developments, Housing estates and mining companies to set up their “out of the way” towns in central Queensland, just to name a few.

I was then asked by an acquaintance (Professor of Botany, Tokyo University) if I would be interested in working in China as a Landscape Architect. Whilst I was not formally qualified for this level of position, I jumped at the chance anyway.

After only one year, the lure of good money lead me to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to work as a Senior Landscape Project Manager for a company based in Hong Kong. This position entailed meetings and liaison with clients (as in Royal Family), contractors, project management and designers in our HK office for planning redesigns. Sadly, the inevitable happened, and Dubai collapsed. The Hong Kong company is to this day still owed the money for the work that they carried out in Dubai.

In early 2009 I returned to China to take up employment with the previous company as Senior Horticultural Engineer and Landscape Architect. As my Mandarin improves, the challenges become less and less, so designing and advising on plant species is the easy part of the job!

After leaving school at just 16 years, it is true to say that I only gained enough confidence to take on further study once I had completed my A.C.S. Diploma.

The support and confidence that the team at A.C.S. gave me has gone a long way to helping me gain further positions and advancement in this fantastic field. My extended gratitude goes to one and all.

I am now as a very mature student considering further study - perhaps a Masters in Horticulture. Then I will write my book, “Xerophytes I have met”.

Keep up the good work and thank you very much.