Peter Knox

It may interest you to learn a little about Peter Knox, Alpine Nurseries Managing Director as he hands over the business this December 2018. Excerpts from this interview, originally published by Glascott Landscape and Civil, are shared here.

Prior to owning Alpine Nurseries, Peter Knox was a partner of Ernst & Young; a multinational professional services firm, for twenty years. He was also the CEO of Ernst & Young Indonesia. The highlight of that career, explains Peter, “was helping to build the Tax Practice at Ernst & Young in the days when Paul Keating gave us a huge leg-up by opening up the Australian economy and building tax complexity and opportunity. The second highlight was re-building the E & Y Practice in Indonesia, which came with lots of cross-cultural challenges.

We are optimists, but have to work hard to make that optimism a reality.

Changes ahead

Looking for change upon returning to Australia, coupled with a lifelong interest in plants and gardens, Peter purchased Alpine Nurseries in 2002. Since then, he has helped build Alpine Nurseries to its current market positioning. “This has been immensely satisfying, particularly overcoming the cynics in the industry who have seen these accounting bozos come and go before.


Success to Peter Knox is, “Recognising first and foremost that this is a business and as a business, it has to have solid foundations across marketing, sales, finance, people management, as well as the technical factors. The Quality Matters tagline has been a consistent value of the business which flows into our culture and way of doing things. This has enabled us to retain key people and build careers which perpetuates the culture. The other factor in our success is always looking for growth and improvement strategies that build constructive tension and a positive, optimistic outlook. We are optimists, but have to work hard to make that optimism a reality.”

Character and Integrity

“What is fundamentally important to me is the quality, character and integrity of the people who join us. We can train people in the technical aspects of the job but it is much more difficult to work on character and integrity which are generally hard-wired by the time we meet potential recruits. I am unapologetic for being old-fashioned in this regard. Sometimes my questioning at interview has been criticised for being too intrusive but, in my view, we are recruiting all our people for a career, not just a job.”


“To me, a successful project is one which is collaborative and where the end customer and the members on the project team want to build something that has enduring appeal and are prepared to work as a team to achieve an outstanding result. Of course, there is also a practical issue here which involves producing great quality stock that will thrive in its final home in the landscape. This is the outcome of our quality growing practices and really makes a difference, through minimising plant failure and reducing the task for landscapers maintaining the stock in the landscape. It also puts that final gloss on the project which hopefully helps in making the project sponsors happy with the final result.


“I love being involved in building world-class gardens, helping create great infrastructure projects or being involved with visionary Councils that want to leave the built environment in better shape by high-quality projects.”

Life and Motivation

“I do have a strong will to achieve and that internal motivation is probably in the genes. I enjoy being challenged and I enjoy work. I also like dealing with our people and hopefully making a difference and setting an example. I am keen on keeping fit and playing golf or just spending time with Kay and our four children and nine grandchildren. We have been married for 46 years which is some achievement for two very different people.”