Spotlight on a member: Shannon Blackbourn

One of our newest members, Shannon Blackbourn hails from Canberra and runs her own landscaping business ‘Panacea Landscapes’. After helping out with MIFGS show gardens last year, Shannon decided to enter her own garden this year, taking on all the added complexities that being an interstate entrant entails

She entered gardens in both the Border Garden and Balcony Garden Competitions and promptly took out first prize for her Balcony garden! 



My introduction to horticulture was as a young child, in my grandma Shirley’s garden. All the places Shirley lived were full of beautiful flowers and places for us to play and work with her. I didn’t realise at the time, this would be my chosen path, but it was Shirley who nourished the passion. At age 16 I left school, looking for an apprenticeship where I could continue to study. A local gardener and landscaper took a chance on me even though I didn’t even know how to mix two stroke petrol or that there was more than one type of grass!  In the short 18 months I spent here, he taught me the love of gardening, enrolled me TAFE and shared endless client skills I still use today.  I am forever grateful that I chose Horticulture, or perhaps it chose me. I went on to study Landscape Design and Therapeutic Horticulture. 

Working for several commercial landscapers from Victoria up to Hamilton Island, I learnt there is always work, with endless jobs for a gardener or landscaper. I was lucky enough to meet and work with the most amazing people. The best part about this industry is the shared passion for plants, gardens and building beautiful places to live in.  

At MIFGS 2023, I was lucky enough to work with Emma Sheppard Simms on her all-female team, building an award-winning garden called ‘A Place For Us’. Emma was so supportive and encouraging, I was inspired to enter a design of my own in 2024. 

It was always a dream to one day be a part of the show. There are amazing garden displays every year and it was a big deal for me to participate. I was excited to work again with my long-time friend, colleague and biggest cheerleader, Lisa Maree from Motherearthworks in Sydney. With 2 designs inspired by bees and Canberra mosaic and glass artist, Judy Witherden, we were lucky to be selected to build both a balcony and border garden. Assisted also by Fern, another friend, colleague and Hort student, both gardens came together in record time with a lot of last-minute running around.

Although coming from interstate (Canberra & Sydney) was challenging, it is not impossible. With a dedicated team, lots of organisation and the support of our partners and families, we were all so proud of our efforts and our 1st place with the Balcony Garden.

The industry gave me the opportunities to travel when I was younger and now run a business in tandem with family life. I currently work on projects from tiny gardens to large estates, ranging from mowing lawns to full construction of new gardens. I now can’t imagine a life without gardens. It is my favourite way to connect with people.

I didn’t get a chance to think about juggling a business and family, it all just happened at once. It is total chaos sometimes and the balance can be tricky, but I would not change a thing. I love my work and the people I work with, which I believe helps me be a better person – mother, partner & friend. I plan to keep going and hope one day to mentor other young people in this industry, to give back the opportunities and guidance that were given to me.  


Top left, Shannon’s winning garden is featured here with her team: Fern Buckle, Warwick Jones, Shannon Blackbourn, Judy Witherden and Lisa Maree.

Bottom left, the Border Garden pictured with (L-R) Fern Buckle, Judy Witherden and Shannon.

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