Tributes to long serving Blue Mountains Botanic Garden staff member Leif Rosengaard

For nearly 20 years, 1988 to 2006, Mount Tomah Botanic Garden, now the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah, was both home and workplace five days for senior ranger Leif Rosengaard.

As a matter of pride, Rosengaard, known as 'Life', would share precise instructions with visitors on how best to enjoy their visit - always accompanied by his friendly smile.

His attention to detail when planning was a valuable strength. The arrival of more than 100,000 visitors each year, sometimes in fleets of buses and preparation for special events involving market stalls, musicians, school classes and art lessons all added to the challenge. Ensuring lunch breaks for visitor services staff was a priority and would often forgo his breaks during busy times to make sure 'his staff' had theirs.

Rosengaard's cool head contributed to the successful navigation of a range of challenges from: Your on-site Wedding Day logistics; reuniting worried carers with children or wandering elders; provision of medical first aid or facilitating ambulance arrival; managing car parking and occasional snakes and spiders; and the closure of garden areas in high winds.

Living on site in the Sunrise cottage had advantages and challenges. When the 1994 Bell Range Bushfire reached the edge of the garden Rosengaard, as a willing member of the on-site Bushfire Response Team, was definitely holding a hose as flames threatened the boundary. One of the team who stayed on site for three days over the emergency, Rosengaard was integral in protecting the world class plant collections with none lost.

Located uniquely, surrounded by the Blue Mountains National Park, the gardens have become home to many Australian animals and birds. The mix of 100,000 visitors with resident reptiles was another challenge Rosengaard accepted and so he completed the WIRES snake handling course to be able to keep the visitors safe. His leadership helped build a staff culture that valued all resident creatures.

Though there were many intriguing stories from Rosengaard's time at the gardens his hard work, professional approach and admiration for those similarly minded marked him out.

Bringing a lifetime of experience to his role, Rosengaardhad served in the French Foreign Legion, was a passionate bonsai exponent, practised healthy eating, was a keen cyclist, loved playing chess and spoke several languages fluently including his native Danish, French ,German, and even the many dialects of "Austrayan".

Leif Rosengaard died on Boxing Day 2021. Greatly missed by his partner, Kaye and family. He is admired and appreciated by those who worked with him.

- Jan Allen