Home       Plant descriptions     Noel's Garden    Vale Robert Percy     History


20/2/1951 - 27/6/2023

Robert PercyThank you for attending today to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Robert Percy. Rob had many interests that he was passionate about, but above all, it was about his Family, Horticulture and Aviation.  He also had a great fondness of food, especially, homemade fruit cake. When Jenny, his daughter, went through his phone contact list, it was no surprise to find eight different Thai restaurants listed. 

Rob was born in Brisbane on the 20 February 1951 to Sydney and Daphne Percy. Three years later Noel was born and the family was complete. We lived at Rode Road Chermside in the house that Dad had built for Mum before they were married. At that stage Dad was building up a nursery business in the outer suburbs at Aspley. He also ran a sawdust carrying business that he ran early in the morning before dropping us to school and heading off to the nursery.

Rob attended school at Chermside state school and later at Wavell high School. He was successful academically and was a gifted tennis player. Later he played squash and this is where he met Judy his future wife.  Throughout our school years our weekends were spent working in the nursery. In those days there were no plastic pots, so, Dad, Robert and I would take the FJ holden van down to the jam works and fill it with jam covered prune tins. These would be brought back to the nursery to be used as pots. Advanced plants were grown in kerosene tins and very advanced plants  in Ĺ 44 gallon drums.  The nursery specialised in azaleas and later hibiscus and dad had several acres of in ground stock as well as the trusty prune tins.

Robs love of plants started here and only grew throughout his life. After finishing school he joined the Primary industry department and worked on field crops throughout the state, eventually working at Redlands Research station. Weekends were given to his other love, aviation. He began flying at Southern downs soaring club at Warwick and eventually became an instructor. He had a natural ability for flying and loved it whole heartedly.  He eventually bought his own glider in partnership and flew it at Kingaroy gliding club.

Back at the nursery he eventually talked Noel into leaving the public service and joining the nursery. We purchased 5 acres and started building a production nursery by hand in the wilderness _- called Burpengary.  It was a tough slog but we learned along the way and Robert had planned the nursery using the latest industry innovations.

We learned a couple of important lessons along the way.

1.     Never let Robert drive

2.     Never let Robert order 6 full concrete trucks in one day to be spread and finished by hand.

3.     Never let Robert loose with a flame thrower, he burnt down half the stock gardens

4.     Never let Robert drive

Robert realised that specialising in supply to landscape would be a great idea along with supplying our retail nursery, it worked well and the nursery grew alongside the landscape industry that was becoming more and more professional.  Rob and I went to the first NGIQ industry seminar on a new device called a computer, Rob embraced them whole heartedly, we soon had a PC in the office with an accounting program and spreadsheets, of course we didnít have a clue how to use the pc or the software, so we were self taught.  Rob always embraced new ideas and was continually looking for innovation.

Some of things he achieved along the way were

        Being one of the first nurseries  to use weed matt and plastic pots  in the Queensland nursery Industry

        Steam sterilising of soil and propagation mix

        Electrically heated propagation beds back in the late 60ís

        He bought Comet potting machine number 3 and integrated it into a production system

        He designed our 10 acre Rothpark site using his accumulated knowledge, creating a modern efficient production nursery

        Later he helped design a computer system that became the centre piece for our multisite site nursery business, integrating accounting, production and delivery.

He was a passionate believer in the Nursery association and regularly attended meetings and seminars. He served on the Technical and Environmental committee for more than twenty years and along with Vic Levy worked on the Horticulture Course Development Advisory Committee for TAFE TEQ for over 10 years.

Whenever there was a trial to be done, he put his hand up and volunteered the nursery; I think our nursery and the industry improved as a result. He loved talking about horticulture with anyone, speaking to garden groups or filling in for Col Campbellís talk back radio on 4bc , these activities allowed him to share his love of plants.

Along the way he collected

        Two ngiq small retail Nursery of the Year awards

        four Quest business achiever awards

        He was made Queensland Nurseryman of the year in 2013, following in his fatherís footsteps, Sid, who  was named in 2008

        He was particularly proud of working with Laurie Smith to be a small part of bringing Lawrieís vision of Expo 88 to fruition and working with Russ Higginbotham and John Hawkins on the construction of the Epiphyte forest.

        He was a member of the  horticultural media association

        He particularly loved being a member of the International Plant Propagators association and attended conference when at all possible.

        He was an industry representative to C.R.C. Tropical Plant Protection at the University of Queensland.

He was a garden designer as well and along with many business partners he designed gardens for many residential and industrial buildings throughout Queensland. It gave him a chance to use his knowledge and his design flair for each site, he didnít think of the builders, landscapers and developers he worked with as clients - but as personal friends.

 At the nursery ROB JOBS became infamous for last minute orders for next day deliveries to help his friends. Rob always tried to fit two days work into one, but was always up for a chat on the phone in his office or on site. He always thought the best of everyone and gave of himself freely.

He will be sadly missed.

Noel Percy