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Born in Australia and brought up in the bush, Peter Valder's early interest in the Australian flora was stimulated by local amateur botanists. He went on to become a plant pathologist and mycologist after graduating from the Universities of Sydney and Cambridge. He was pleased to later become involved in the teaching of general botany in addition to his mycological work. Peter has also been an office bearer of the Linnean Society and the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science. Since drifting into the popularizing of Australian botany and horticulture, he has made appearances on radio and television, written for magazines, and lectured to organizations concerned with plants and gardens. His interest in gardening has taken him to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Burma, and China, from which he has introduced numerous plants suited to the Australian climate. Also, he has visited gardens in Britain, New Zealand, North America, France, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, and Korea, accumulating photographs with which to illustrate his lectures and writings.
His involvement with his family's garden, Nooroo, at Mount Wilson, New South Wales, led to its becoming one of Australia's most admired gardens. It was here that he was able to indulge his enthusiasm for plants from all over the world. Amongst other things, he gathered together a remarkable collection of wisteria, his experience with which led to his writing Wisterias, the first monograph on this genus in any European language. It was the success of this book that encouraged him to utilize his long-standing interest in Chinese plants and gardens to write The Garden Plants of China, which was awarded as the Reference Gardening Book of 1999 by the Garden Writer's Guild of the UK.
To recognize his gifts of plants to and voluntary work for the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, in 1995 he was made their first Honorary Horticultural Associate, and in 1996 was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of his contribution to botany and horticulture in that country.