Jan Gluskie

Jan Gluskie 2018

Interview Recording


Interview Transcript

Jan Gluskie, interviewed 4 December 2003 by Roslyn Burge



The first Sydney Branch Committee met in August 1993 and by the end of the year learnt it was to present the National Conference in Sydney in October 1995. Jan Gluskie was the first Branch Chair (1993-2001); member of the Sydney Conference Committee (2003-2004) and the National Management Committee (1996-2001 – and NMC Chair from February to November 1999).

Toowoomba born, Jan trained as a nurse and managed her husband’s medical practice in Sydney for many years. At the same time she was also chairman of the very active Children’s Medical Research Foundation which ran lots of functions and art shows and all those sorts of things which you could do when you had small children.

In 1985 the family bought a weekender property, Hawthorn Park, near Mittagong, which had been part of a larger estate belonging to the pharmaceutical company Parke-Davis. After meeting a local Jan learnt the earlier history of her house and various plantings; and discovered the little rabbit sheds across much of the property were used when the company was developing the contraceptive pill.

Hawthorn Park broadened her interests in gardens and horticulture and Jan decided she’d like a subscription to the Garden History Society (which) at that stage it was … functioning out of Bowral. She remembered the Goulburn conference and visiting all those wonderful properties out the back like Markdale; learn(ing) about planting schemes and all these things that I knew nothing about much and generally was interested in this lovely trip we did.

About this time when her son was studying agricultural sciences at Bathurst Jan began studying at Ryde Horticultural College and we’d spend our weekends when I went up there doing our homework together, both doing soils and weeds and all those things. After graduating in 1990 Jan started her own business designing gardens and as a horticultural consultant, and was also guiding at the Botanic Gardens.

1993 FIRST SYDNEY BRANCH COMMITTEE  Jan was in her mid-50s when she brought this mix of professional, committee and horticultural expertise to the AGHS. I remember that (first) meeting distinctly, I can almost remember who was around the table … they were saying, ‘Now we’ve got to form a branch’ and I think about six or eight people put their hand up … I’m looking around thinking who we could have as secretary (because I always think that is the most important job on a committee, the rest is easy). … I was looking around and there was Tempe Bevan who was a younger person and she didn’t have any children at that stage … and I thought now … she would be a good secretary. … John Challis put his hand up to be treasurer … and there was only one (position) left to fill and I was the only person that didn’t have a job. Jan became the first Chairman of the Sydney Branch and … we set about doing what committees do, thinking about activities.

2004 DECIDING ON THE TITLE FOR THE NEXT CONFERENCE  Well it’s to do with water … And as of last week I am not sure what it is going to be but because of the problems with drought ‘Browned Off’ was used as one of the key things … we want to talk about how people managed water in the early gardens and how they managed to make these gardens … it’s been a bit of a controversy all along because it was originally scheduled to be at Olympic Park … the people out of town in the other states thought it was a bit too far out of the city because … if you are coming to Sydney, they want to be in town. (The Conference was held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.)

2003 POTENTIAL FORMATION OF THE NEW ENGLAND SUB-BRANCH  Jan endeavoured to form branches on the Central Coast and around Armidale. Unfortunately the year that I tried that they (Armidale) were in the grip of a terrible drought and they said they didn’t think that they would get people to be interested in doing anything except looking after themselves that year. I offered to go up and talk to them and just generally suggest they have a few functions and we would manage their money and they’d just be sub-branches. So I tried to form one on the Central Coast under the same conditions but we didn’t get enough interest at that stage.
The New England Sub-Branch was formed in 2005.

Jan Gluskie