We recently made a trip to Melbourne (I know that is not surprising because we go there all the time) but on this occasion was nicely timed it to coincide with the ‘Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show’ for 2017. This is actually an annual event that Mum and Dad used to attended but since Dad’s death Mum had not done for a while. Today then, was a great chance to do a family event together. It had been sunny and warm in Melbourne the previous day and with the prediction of an overcast and rainy day today we trekked into the city. We were all dressed appropriately with layers of clothing that could be added or subtracted as necessary, that is all but Jase who was dressed like it was Singapore in mid Summer. The fact that the previous day was so warm and the weather man promised rubbish weather today with high chance of rain, actually worked in our favour and we had a day that, although busy, didn’t have the hectic crowds. We crossed the street and moved up to the front of the ticket purchasing area where Mum generously purchased tickets for all of us (nothings changed).
The Melbourne International Flower and garden show is set in the ‘Carlton Gardens’ and ‘Royal Exhibition Building’ that is an absolute work of art in itself. I vaguely remember going to a car show here as a young boy, having a blow-out in one of my pluggers (translation: thongs, flip-flops, jandals, zōri) and having to walk around bare footed for the rest of the day (hmmm, I still had the same footwear on today).
Now I wasn’t really sure what to expect here, but basically as you enter there is the main thoroughfare that takes you towards the Exhibition building itself. This area was loaded with all types of artwork and outdoor sculptural exhibits, a few of which you can see below. These were generally for sale but definitely (when it comes to price) not for the faint hearted.
By the time we got to the end of this boulevard (roughly 5 minutes in) we spotted a coffee stand and Mina and Mum, being the coffee addicts they are, felt the need for a coffee. We sat and relaxed in front of the Exhibition Building and took in our surroundings which consisted of (among other things) a rather garish water feature to the left of me and an intense wall of chillies to the right.
After our coffee we decided that the first area we should visit is the show gardens and landscape designs area as this can get quite busy as the day rolls on. As you look at some of these incredible gardens below I would like to remind you that these designs are set up on a lawn, even the featured image (I put of the creek at the start of this post) has just been, cleverly, laid down for the show, it is a spectacular effort all round. The area we were just about to visit consisted of show gardens broken down into categories of ‘Landscape design show gardens’ which are gardens by Australian & International designers, ‘Boutique gardens’ limited to 5m x 5m space open to designers, architects and students and ‘Achievable Gardens’ which is open to students and educational institutions. Unfortunately between 3 cameras we didn’t manage to get a picture of Boutiques gardens winner ‘Wild at Heart’ designed by Emmaline Bowman but do have some snap shots of other entry winners:
Landscape design show gardens: ‘I See Wild’, designed by Phillip Withers Landscape Design.
Achievable Gardens: ‘Awash with Nature’ by Ross Peck, Liz Beale and Dale Johnson for Swinburne University of Technology.
Other garden designs:
After having a look at the incredible gardens outside we headed into the Exhibition building and the Great hall of flowers to look at the floral designs that were quit spectacular. I’m not actually sure how some of these would go with a week of hot weather. As I mentioned earlier the building is as impressive as the garden show itself. I took (what I considered) a leisurely stroll around the show, looking at all the clever designs, having a listen to what Graham Ross (Better Homes and Gardens)had to say, I even went up stairs to get a view of the entire show. As I was leaving I noticed Mina who was barely past the first display madly taking pictures. By the time I got out of the place I noticed that everyone was lost except me. Within about fifteen minutes or so though we were all back together and on our way around the rest of the show.
From here we travelled around the western side of the ground which was mainly Exhibitors displaying their wares. There was some extremely interesting stalls generally at the cutting edge of garden and horticultural technology and fashion. It would have been great to purchase some goods but we weren’t sure how we were going to get anything back to the Gold Coast on a plane. We reserved our temptations for another day closer to home.
About this time we were starting to get hungry (having stupidly not packed a lunch, except Mum). We headed over to the food tent and purchased what appeared (although expensive) to be an awesome pizza. It turned out, however, to be a dud that was both rubbery and uncooked. I remember thinking to myself why do all these events have such (putting it politely) crap expensive food and why wouldn’t there be some food vans, this is Melbourne for gods sake a food mecca. Anyway, after we disappointingly ate enough pizza to cure our hunger and threw half of our meal in the bin, we walked around the corner and noticed some food vans with totally awesome food. My advice though would still be to BYO.
We set off again around the eastern part of the gardens, Mum busily collecting samplers from all the retail tents. I saw a number of other cool things on our walk and in one retail tent I even saw some Woolemia nobilis (Woolami Pine) for sale in one of the stalls which I would have loved to have purchased but you guessed it, the plane trip home. We found a few more garden creations and finally finished our day off at the hanging basket competition. It was definitely a super enjoyable day and believe it or not once we left the premises we quickly found a taxi who returned us home. It was definitely a must see event for all you horticultural buffs or just anyone looking for some ideas and inspiration for your own piece of paradise at home. I do hope you have enjoyed today’s edition of ‘My Walkabout Plants’ and I have left you with some other little highlights of our visit.
- Photography by Simon Schubert and Minako Howarth.
- Program at the gate.