Paul's passion for flora awarded with OAM

THERE'S no doubt Colac's Paul Kennedy has an affinity with Australia's native wonders and today he will be recognised for his dedication to Australian flora.

Mr Kennedy will receive the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his service to conservation and the environment in the Australia Day list of honours.

To say the retired civil engineer is keen gardener is an understatement.

Mr Kennedy, 72, began his work with the Australian Native Plants Society 40 years ago.

But his passion of native flora grew as a young boy when his parents introduced him to a love of the bush and he found enjoyment in bush walking.

"I have a great affinity with what is Australia and particularly plants," he said.

"I get an enormous amount of enjoyment from the unique flora in Australia."

Mr Kennedy was involved in the leadership of the Australian Native Plants Society of Australia from 2009 to 2013 and the society's seminar coordinator from 1995 to 2009.

He was the president of the society's Victorian branch from 2004 to 2007, the secretary from 1989-1996, the treasurer from 1999 to 2004 and a member since 1974.

Mr Kennedy told The Standard he had been elated and also humbled to receive an OAM.

"I thought back to all those people who have shared knowledge with me and are still labouring away," he said.

Mr Kennedy and his wife Barbara moved to Colac in the middle of last year, leaving behind an 18 acre native garden at Strathmerton on the Murray River.

He said the garden had 600 species of eucalypt, along with banksias and his favourite plant Hakeas.

He said and he and his wife initially moved from Melbourne to Strathmerton in search of a warm climate and deep sandy soil.

After 17 years the warm climate proved too much and they were drawn to the cooler climate of the south-west.

"I've still got sandy soils here in Colac," he said.

His interest in the Hakea has been so strong that he has been the group leader and newsletter editor of the Hakea Study Group since 2008.

Mr Kennedy said the Hakea had interesting foliage and interesting flowers of different colours and shapes.

"I've had a great interest in how to germinate it more," he said.

"It keeps me going."

cquirk@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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