Legends of the Nepean: Graeme & Craig Scott-Harden

Graeme and Craig Scott-Harden have stellar reputations in the world of Orchids, with both men awarded life memberships of the Hawkesbury District Orchid Society.

90-year old Graeme was awarded his life membership in 2010, with Craig receiving his honour in 2015.

Their love of Orchids began in the early 1980’s, when Graeme’s wife Patricia and son Craig attended an Orchid Show in Richmond.

Some sweet-talking from one of the then Richmond members convinced both Patricia and Craig to become members of the Society, with Graeme signing up as a member just six months later.

Graeme almost immediately took up the role of Treasurer, which he would hold for 8 years, then served as Vice President for 2 terms (and called up as President on both occasions when circumstances caused the retirement of the sitting President), then properly took on the role of President – holding the title for a total of 6 years.

Patricia would serve as Secretary for a period of time, whilst Craig served on the Committee and has worked as both Show Marshall and Plant Steward at Orchid Shows.

Patricia passed away 22 years ago but both Graeme and Craig remained with the Orchid Society, regularly serving as judges as their respective knowledge of Orchids blossomed.

Graeme’s health has deteriorated of late and Craig has taken on the role of carer for his father, whilst still maintaining his enthusiasm and heavy involvement with Orchids.

Craig is now a member of 7 separate Orchid Societies, a committee member in 2 of those bodies, being the Species Society and the Pahiopedilum (Slipper) Society.

His current involvement in the respective Societies stretches from the Blue Mountains to the North Shore and he quite readily admits “Orchids took over my life.”

The backyard of the Scott-Harden household is an Orchid grower’s delight, with four separate growing areas, including two in a greenhouse (one area heated, the other ambient temperature).

Craig started his working career as a Butcher (7 years), before a romantic entanglement took him to Airlie Beach, where he was working on a Charter Boat and ‘living on love’.

Reality bit after six months and Craig returned to Sydney, beginning in Spare Parts Department at Chatswood Toyota, before transferring to a similar role with Penrith Toyota, where he still works to this day – 35 years in total with Toyota.

Craig and Graeme regularly show their own Orchids, although Craig does limit his entries where he is working as a judge – and excuses himself from those categories.

The pair have ‘scooped the pool’ of awards on more than one occasion, with the two most prized awards being the ‘Orchid Species of the Year 2008’ award and the ‘Champion Australasian Native Orchid Species 2015’.

Two top awards this year were won by his Gastrochilus somai ‘Graeme’ (pictured bottom left), the first for quality of flower, being the AM/AOC ( Award of Merit/ Australian Orchid Council) and the second for quality of culture (Award of Cultural Merit/ Australian Orchid Council).

Craig expresses his optimism in a renewed interest from the community at large in Orchids, with three shows this year drawing record attendances, including the recent St Ives Orchid Show.

When interviewed for a press article in 2017, Craig said “Even now there are still new species constantly being discovered. Added to this figure is some 70,000 to 80,000 man-made hybrids.” This figure is now considerably higher, given the ensuing 7 years since the interview.

With an estimated 4,000 Orchids in his own backyard, the Carer role with his father and his employment, it would be hard to imagine Craig has any spare time for a social life.

He said “Orchids are my life but I have friends, some of whom do have Orchids, and we do get the opportunity to socialise in non Orchid-related activities.”

The next major Orchid Show will be the Blue Mountains / Nepean District Orchid Show at Melrose Hall, Emu Plains on 10th/11th September, followed by the Species Show in October, which will be at Beecroft Hall.