Jim McRae (left) pictured with Dominic Doblo, Joan Bean and Bruce Slattery in 1998, was a champion gardener, one of the great traits for which he will be remembered.
Jim McRae (left) pictured with Dominic Doblo, Joan Bean and Bruce Slattery in 1998, was a champion gardener, one of the great traits for which he will be remembered. File

Gardening expert pays tribute

JIM McRae was a man of many talents, but according to Rockhampton gardening expert Neil Fisher, Mr McRae's work in the garden was some of his best.

After hearing of the former Rockhampton City Council mayor's death last week, Neil extended his deepest condolences to Mr McRae's family and revealed a different side of the legend.

“There's so many different parts of Jim that maybe the general public wouldn't have known,” Neil said.

“I first met Jim as a gardener and he was a regular at (my) nursery. I got to know Jim and (his wife) Pat very well and he was one of Rockhampton's grand champion gardeners for many years.”

Neil said Mr McRae took to gardening much like he did to leading the city.

“Jim would be meticulous in planning out his garden and I think that was how he conducted his whole political career,” Neil said.

He said Jim was famous in the Rockhampton gardening community for introducing a plant called the jade vine or Strongylodon. “He had a plant called a jade vine and he was the only person in Rockhampton to actually grow this plant around his swimming pool.”

Neil said he also bonded with Mr McRae over concerns about the impact the introduction of water meters would have on Rockhampton gardeners.

“He was a fierce opposer of water meters,” Neil said.

“How he felt was eventually proven – the water metres changed the whole gardening culture of Rockhampton.”

Neil remembered Jim as a gentleman who was always extremely professional.

“Jim was of a different school and he was always friendly, and even his most fierce competitor wouldn't be able to find a bad word about him.”

Neil said Jim would be forever remembered by the legacy of the Riverbank Park he left behind, as it was something he campaigned hard for. “He had a vision for a riverbank that would be used by the whole community.”

Mr McRae's funeral will be held later this week.



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