A visit to the 2019 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

Ah, Melbourne. Freezing one day, pouring the next. Coming from generally scorching and dry Adelaide, I knew to pack my Winter woollies and my brolly for autumnal Melbourne, and thank goodness I did, because it was colder than a polar bear’s backside, and raining as well.

I’ve never attended the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, but I’ve always wanted to. This year my sister asked me if I wanted to come away with her for a weekend, so I suggested we go the last weekend in March so I could spend a day with the rest of the garden nerds at the show.

I have to say this event is enormous and slightly overwhelming for a person used to small local garden markets. It took me at least an hour to find my bearings. I was really too overwhelmed the entire visit to take pictures, which is why I only took a couple. The rest of the time I wandered without any real sense of purpose, which I have to say I enjoyed immensely.

My favourite section was the amusingly named “Pathway of Achievable Gardens,” which was a section of gardens mostly designed by landscape gardening students. I mostly preferred these to the professionally designed garden displays which, while beautiful, are unlikely to be practical for most people’s homes.

I also loved seeing the display garden at the Diggers Club stand (which includes my nemesis, the listanda de grandia eggplant that I have never yet successfully grown). I renewed my membership and had a chat about garlic. They had beautifully espaliered apple trees that helped me see how we can do ours – a job for this season.

I would say that the biggest focus of the show was ornamental plants and landscaping, rather than edibles and organic gardening. My interest really is organic and heirloom gardening, so I was disappointed not to see more displays from organic and heirloom gardening companies. I had been hoping to find seeds for some unusual brassicas for my winter vegetable patch, but only one stand was selling seeds, and not the kind I was after.

A lot of stands were selling spring flowering bulbs. I bought daffodils but left most of my bulb purchases for when I’m back home.

My view is that this event is beautiful, very professional, and fun to attend for all gardeners – because gardeners are just good people to be around. Everyone was having a pleasant time, even in the rain, and it’s nice to be around thousands of people interested in plants and growing things. It’s especially excellent for ornamental gardeners, but for serious vegetable gardeners and those interested in heirlooms, it’s probably not the best event to source the plants you need for the veggie patch.

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