Our first horticultural trip to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

Hi All,

I just thought that as this blog was predominately plant based, that I should share a post with you about our visit to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show that we attended last year. It seems like a lifetime since we went to this show and a lot of water has passed under the bridge. The people that we went to the flower show with were horticultural peers. Nat is the certificate 2 lecturer at the Alanvale Polytechnic, Susan was a student in the year prior to Steve and I starting our course and whom we did some work for and Kym works in Becks in town and was in the same class as Susan at Polytechnic. Both of them had Nat in certificate 2 but Steve and I had James for the 2 years. The other people that attended were Susan’s long suffering husband Anthony, Tash, a fellow student from our class in Polytechnic and a real character and Jenny who is now one of our best friends. We were all pretty much babes in the woods when we headed off to Melbourne on this jaunt.

We set off bright eyed and bushy tailed on our 6am flight, fortified with coffee and a toilet stop (the bane of the 2 men that accompanied all of us females for most of the trip :o) and arrived in Melbourne where we promptly took a maxi-taxi into the city which was much cheaper for us to do than pay individually for tickets on the airport bus into town. As we had some time to kill before the gates opened we had some breakfast in a café that was quite close to the site of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens where the show had been held for the last 15 years when we attended. It was an amazing experience and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. It is quite a tough day on your feet though and if you choose to do what we did and hop a morning flight over and an evening flight back to Tasmania, you will feel like you just did 10 rounds with Mike Tyson the next day. Just ask Nat who had to teach a class the next day! We had a fantastic time and saw some amazing plants. We collected 3 seeds from a massive Araucaria bidwillii that was standing just inside the gates of the Carlton Gardens and all 3 of the seeds have grown and we now have a living memory of the trip. Here are some photos of what we saw on the day.

Firstly I have to share with you that magnificent Araucaria bidwillii that we got the 3 seeds from. This is an amazing tree. We are going to plant it’s 3 babies out in our Forest garden. Araucaria bidwillii is commonly known as the Bunya nut tree and has amazing big cones that yield a delicious nut used by the Australian native aboriginals to make a type of bread. By the time that these trees get big enough to harvest nuts from none of us (including you Stewart unless you are 100% bionic by that stage and then it won’t matter…) will have the problem of these massive great cones falling on our heads which has caused at least 1 death that I know of in the Surpreme Court Gardens in Perth Western Australia. They are very slow growing and it took just under a year for the 3 seeds to germinate

Lovely isnt it?

Next we have all of us standing next to the entrance gate. Nothing exciting in that you might say, but as we all split up and went in separate directions soon after this picture, its a more accurate representation of who went on this trip. Memories Nat :o)

Tash (the girl in the purple jumper), Steve and I spent most of this trip taking photos of the same things. It was very interesting to see the different perspectives and chosen subject matter that was most interesting to the individual people who took the photos when we got together and shared our photos when we got back. The next photo is of our little group of 4 (the original combined group totalled 8 people) taking a great interest in a garden that had a lot of Madagascan plants in it. I, personally, LOVE anything weird and interesting and just about EVERYTHING flora and fauna from Madagasca is mental

Steve took all of the photos of our group so he isn’t in any of them and our friend who shall remain anonymous is trying to mask her face with a plant in this photo. We had all been given a beauty treatment by this stage (apart from Steve and Anthony who REFUSED point blank to get any sort of treatment even though everyone who had a ‘treatment’ got a large bag of Garnier products for free…I HAVEN’T forgotten that Steve!) and the friend who shall remain anonymous and Tash both had their hair done. I had a hand massage (the bare minimum that I could do for my free goodies :o). The next photo is of our first glimpse of a Madagascan palm. As soon as Steve and I got back to Tasmania, we hunted and found a source of seed for this amazing plant and have 3 of them growing in our glasshouse. Their botanical name is Pachypodium lamerei and you can find further information about them here…


Aren’t they amazing? Another plant that the possums will have problems with in the future! The Araucaria bidwillii and the Araucaria araucana also known as the Monkey Puzzle tree are also bullet proof and have remained totally free of pest nibblings. We also have a plant called an Aralia spinosa and as you can see by its last name, its somewhat inhospitable as well. I love spiky things, thin things, weird leaved things and anything a bit out of the ordinary and that is why I bought a cutting of the following succulent which is having an amazing time growing on our heat bed. It gives off a disgusting smell when it flowers but the flower is amazing as I think that you will all agree from this photo…

Sorry the photo is a bit dark, but it was taken inside a shaded green house. Can you see the flower on the plant? Its large, has purple dots and attracts flies…what more could you want for inside your poor long suffering husbands shed? The next few photos are self explanatory and are of various stands and displays of plants and flowers that interested us

We really liked this idea for containing wood on a very rustic bbq. It looks a bit like Steve’s bug houses doesn’t it? At the end of winter when you were reaching for your first chunk of wood for the first bbq of the year is most probably IS a bug house :o)

Aren’t these bromiliads amazing? Pity we can’t grow them here in Tasmania. The rest of you should have at least 1 of them growing. Consider yourself told!

Here is some more of the stall with the bromiliads. It was called “Collecters Corner” and had an amazing range of plants that both Steve and I loved. Again, Tasmania is (at the moment) too cold for most of them. Steve bought a couple of glazed bonsai pots from here and we headed off wistfully thinking about all of the lost opportunities to grow these gorgeous things

Should you be under any misapprehension that this stall made us drool, here is another photo of it. Take a look at how big it is and you can all have your own private in house drool over the lovely things that they sold

I took this photo for my mum who loves Clematis. I am going to send her some for mothers day next year.

If you don’t like cabbage on your fork, perhaps you like it in your garden? Our friend who shall remain anonymous gave us a packet of seeds for these lovely members of the Brassica family. They are still sitting in the seed box because before we got the ducks, they would have been bare stalks covered in slug slime up to this point…

I love rose flowers…not so fond of the rest of the rose or its rangy needy habits

I had to take a photo of these gorgeous coffee coloured roses. At the time they were a totally new thing, imported from the U.K. Perfect for Bride bouquets and heavenly looking, they had no scent at all, thus rendering them unacceptable to me and our garden. I need scent to make them worthwhile

When we headed inside to check out the arty plant and flower displays, this one took my fancy. A sort of Edwardian setting with all of the trimmings. This part of the stand interested me…Steve was off looking at the other section of the stand. I can’t for the life of me work out what attracted him to this area of the stand, can you?

…nope…still can’t see what kept him so enthralled…I didn’t think that he liked chrysanthemums?…

Here is the lovely Joanna Grigg’s sitting in Jason Hodge’s Gold medal garden having her photo taken by everyone. She actually signed a calander that Steve took up to her where Steve said his name was “James” so that we could give our lecturer something from our trip to placate him for all of us not turning up at Polytechnic that day and taking half of the class out of circulation for the day. I think it worked :o). I don’t have the highest regard for celebrities as a rule. A selfish group of spoiled needy juveniles, most of them, but this lady (and I don’t use this word lightly) spent ages talking to disabled children (all off camera thankyou VERY much) and giving them hugs. She had little children sitting on her and old nana’s hugging her and she sat relaxed and spent as much time as she could giving everyone who wanted to chat with her a special moment. A true lady and someone that now has my admiration for her obvious kind heart. Steve thinks she is a good sheila as well although there is something about those chrysanthemums that put her in second place for the day…

The last photo is of an entrant in a display of garden art. Most of this art was very formal, incredibly expensive and totally unusable in an everyday garden. We were given the chance to vote for our favourite sculpture. This sculpture would be something that I would put in our forest garden. I could see him hiding behind a Pachypodium lamerei and he bears a strong resemblance to another gnome who sometimes inhabited these gardens (when he absolutely, positively had to that was…). See you all tomorrow when I might give you another blast from the past post. I hope you all enjoyed this little window of what was a most entertaining and enjoyable day for us all. Steve and I are going to head off to this show again most probably next year. Anyone want to join us?


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Nov 30, 2011 @ 10:25:52

    Yes Please 🙂


  2. Pinky
    Nov 30, 2011 @ 22:14:30

    Yeah me too Fronkii. Maybe Kym and I can come over together and meet you at the show gates or the airport?


  3. narf77
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 06:34:11

    You guys would LOVE this show. Its got everything (including the free pampering and amazing haul of free goodies that you got from Garnier). We came back full of ideas. Not a lot of effort went into impementing the ideas mind you…just lots of ideas :o)


  4. Kym
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 22:19:28

    When is it Fran? I will put it on my bucket list 🙂


  5. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 19, 2013 @ 06:36:41

    Lots of great garden idea….if only I had a full time gardener. I don’t know why you talk about losing weight? You look perfectly slim to me.


    • narf77
      Apr 19, 2013 @ 06:45:17

      At the time I had lost a bit of weight but I had put it back on…yoyo narf (like yo-yo ma but less talented 😉 ) but I have now learned how to eat real food and plenty of it to stop me craving garbage. Haven’t eaten bread since January or potatoes (might have to keep it that way…) but just reintroduced barley into my soup. I am happy with my weight now but am going to have to learn how to keep it steady at this level having only ever been here a couple of times before in my life.


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