Frances grew up in rural Australia, moving to Sydney to take up an apprenticeship in Horticulture at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. In addition to being taught the craft of gardening by traditional experts during the four years of her apprenticeship, Frances also developed a life-long passion for environmental conservation.
Upon completing her apprenticeship, Frances developed a garden consultancy and landscaping business in Sydney, until given the opportunity to manage the historic garden and farm of Rouse Hill House, owned by the Historic Houses Trust of NSW. It was at Rouse Hill that Frances developed an appreciation for heritage landscapes, and the challenges and rewards of managing and restoring degraded natural areas. These challenges sparked an interest in natural area management, and the management of the interface between people and landscapes, and led to study towards a Bachelor of Land Management. Sustainable natural resource management - in particular sustainable soil and water management - was the focus of this degree, as well as studies in ecology and community development.
Frances later worked across the Historic Houses Trust gardens portfolio in several long stints as the Trust’s Acting Head Gardener, in particular at Vaucluse House, a 10 acre estate of remnant bushland, recreated formal Victorian gardens, and an extensive kitchen garden fronting onto a quiet and secluded cove in Sydney Harbour.
Frances returned to the Royal Botanic Gardens in a supervisory role in 2007, managing a team of horticulturists and apprentices. Soon after, Frances moved to the role of Manager of the Royal Botanic Gardens, taking on the oversight and development of the Gardens collections, management of the horticultural teams and management of the horticulture budget. At some point Frances was also charged with managing horticulture in The Domain, the 30 hectare parkland encircling the Gardens.
Frances is keen to utilize the Longwood experience to develop better insights into the art of engaging with people about the natural environment, and plans to come back to Sydney armed with some powerful skills to help “inspire people to become advocates for the environment.” In her spare time, Frances loves to visit other people’s gardens and natural areas across Australia and the world, when she’s not walking through Sydney’s remarkable and beautiful sandstone bushland, or cycling along Sydney’s harbour foreshore cycleways.