Peter Cundall, long-time host of ABC’s Gardening Australia, dies aged 94

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: blickwinkel/Alamy</span>
Photograph: blickwinkel/Alamy

Peter Cundall, the much-loved former host of the ABC television program Gardening Australia, has died aged 94.

Cundall, who featured on the public broadcaster for almost five decades, died in Tasmania on Sunday.

“On Sunday 5 December 2021, Peter Cundall passed away peacefully after a short illness, surrounded by his family,” his family said in a statement.

“Peter’s privacy, and the privacy of his family, is to be respected during this very sad time. Peter’s family does not wish to be contacted.

“While he was loved by many, as per Peter’s wishes, there will be a private cremation and no memorial services will be held.”

His family have requested photographs of Cundall not be published “with this announcement”.

Cundall hosted his last Gardening Australia program in 2008. But he continued his talkback radio segment until 2018 – a stint that had stretched back to the 1960s.

Former ABC managing director Mark Scott was among those who paid tribute on Sunday describing Cundall as a “lovely, warm and generous man”.

ABC news breakfast presenter Michael Rowland described it as a “sad day for all gardening lovers.”

In announcing the end of his weekly talkback segment in 2018, Cundall said that when it started it was the first of its kind in the world.

“All those years, as far as I’m concerned, it’s been the most marvellous privilege and such an honour to be able to be in this program,” he told the ABC.

Cundall, who was born in Manchester, described his family to the ABC as “the poorest of the poor”, but said his childhood was “extraordinarily happy”.

He started vegetable gardening as a child, and loved “messing about in the dirt”. He left school at the age of 12 to work, and was then conscripted into the British army.

His military experience eventually helped him migrate to Australia, the ABC reported, and once his service ended, including fighting in the Korean war, he moved to Tasmania and started a gardening business in Launceston.

That he was still involved in broadcasting about gardening into his 90s showed his “discipline and commitment and passion”, according to Costa Georgiadis, who replaced Cundall as host of Gardening Australia.

“To still be doing it over 90 years old – it is testament to his resolute discipline and heart really,” Georgiadis told in 2019. “He’s got a heart as big as it gets.”

Cundall used to sign off his regular Saturday talkback show with “that’s your bloomin’ lot”. At the end of his last show, the ABC reported at the time, he said something else.

“Remember, old gardeners never die, they just gradually turn into compost.”

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