Trinity's Gardens Continue to Bloom

When students, parents, staff and other visitors first step on to the grounds at Trinity, one of the first observations they’re likely to make is about the beautiful gardens and natural surrounds.

Combined, Malcolm Fraser and John Fyffe have 37 years of experience working as gardeners at Trinity. We caught up with them to get their take on life at Trinity and how the gardens have changed over time.
Malcolm, who began in 1992, explains that the gardens initially had a more random style with greenery and flower beds, but it has been simplified over the years as there has been an effort to conserve water.   
‘The College via our Master Plan is looking at reducing water, and they’ve brought in landscape architects to guide them that way,’ says Malcolm.
Meanwhile, John arrived at Trinity in 2007. He was initially brought in to help support Malcolm as the College continued to grow.
‘I started back in 2007 as a contractor for three days a week. I supported Mal in the job, because he was doing it pretty much all on his own. The volume of work and the demands were growing – to keep it looking good all the time not just on special occasions,’ says John.
Both Malcolm and John take great pride in their work and appreciate those who congratulate them on the gardens.
‘It’s good when you get overseas visitors, students, staff as well as local people who live around the area stop and congratulate you on the garden’s presentation,’ says John.
John also says that Chinese visitors often give him a chance to practice speaking Chinese as they wander through the College.
‘They’ll come up and smell the roses, take photos and sometimes they ask for a clipping and take some home. You do that, have a bit of a chat; we have a bit of a laugh. And sometimes with the Chinese I get to say, ‘Ni hao ma?’ as I greet them. They really like that, that’s about the only words I know,’ jokes John.
Both Malcolm and John also work closely with student bursars. They think these students set a good example for other students on how to respect the gardens.
‘The bursars we have often come back because they enjoy doing it. You often find they’re off farms at home and they enjoy the manual work, being outside and they’re good to talk with and share a few jokes,’ says John.
They also enjoy working with the Foundation Studies Students Garden Club. The club enables students to plant vegetable seedlings, tend to them and enjoy them with their meals.
Outside of Trinity, Malcolm is also a registered nurse and has regular shifts working in the Acute Spinal unit at Austin Health.
John’s hobbies include golf and supporting the Richmond Football Club who last year won the AFL Premiership.
When asked whether the famous Yellow and Black from Punt Road has had any impact on his gardening style, John jokes:
‘Working as a team is how you get to the top and that’s how we work here. In the rose garden area what I thought we could do is plant some roses that actually give you a black bloom and plant them next to the yellow ones so we have the right match in the garden.’
If you’re interested in a guided tour of the gardens you can contact John Fyffe ( or Malcolm Fraser ( to organise a tour.

27 Feb 2018
Category: People