Gardener's pioneering push leaves magnificent legacy
A DRIVING force behind one of the Coast's outstanding natural attractions will be remembered for his determination to make the project a reality.
Life-long gardener Harry Laidlaw dedicated his retirement years to the planning and creation of the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden at Tanawha.
The former pineapple farmer was 83 when he died earlier this month.
Sunshine Coast Councillor Jenny McKay said she had met Mr Laidlaw in 2000, shortly after she was elected to local government.
It was the same year major work began on the gardens, having been through an extensive planning process.
They opened to the public in late 2001.
Mr Laidlaw was among those who had been involved from the start as part of the Friends of the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens group.
"He was an incredible man," Cr McKay said.
"I soon grew to appreciate Harry's dedication, knowledge and patience in progressing the vision for the botanic gardens."
She said Mr Laidlaw had remained on task and patient in his dealings with the council and was extremely generous with his efforts, physically bringing it to fruition.
His many volunteer tasks included planting and then keeping water up to those plants.
"It was difficult because all there was was a dam," Cr McKay said.
She said he would join pieces of poly pipe together and use a diesel pump as there was no electricity on the site.
"Harry was there rain, hail or shine," she said.
Cr McKay said Mr Laidlaw had always seen himself as part of a team and would not take any recognition for his considerable contributions.
Mr Laidlaw's nephew Hunter had fond memories of his uncle's extensive and well-planned gardens when growing up.
"He (Harry) was a pineapple farmer in Palmwoods and Woombye for most his career with my dad," Hunter said.
"From a child, he became interested (in gardening) and would always be planning and planting the gardens wherever they were living.
"He would always be turning up with new and interesting plants."
He said the way in which his uncle thought about his own gardens extended to his work at the botanic gardens.
"For our family, the botanic gardens will always be a focal point of remembrance for Harry," Hunter said.
"This is due to his long-running involvement in its development and also in honour of his attitude towards it - as an important and worthwhile natural space for future generations to enjoy."