Floriade 2015: springtime reflections
“The scent of flowery fragrances waft over Canberra. It’s been a long cold winter for Australia’s national capital, the coldest in fifteen years but there’s nothing like a flower show to bring Canberrans back to life”.
To avoid wheezes and sneezes I’ve come prepared, my secret weapon – Zyrtec. I arrive at Floriade just before sunrise, a splash of orange flicks over a thin layer of fog. It’s barely one degree but somehow Canberra’s weather has woken to the fact that Australia’s most prolific flower show is about to fling open its gates for the first time this spring. As the colours of Floriade burst to life the switch flicks and right on cue a sunny blue sky appears.
Preparations begin in February, bulbs are planted during Autumn and according to head gardener Andrew Forster “Canberra’s famous frosty winter’s provide the ideal conditions for nurturing more than one million bulbs ”. I can’t say I counted each and every one of them so I’ll take his word for it.
The mix of flowers, including tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinth, pansies, violas, poppies and chrysanthemums are chosen for their ability to last for the whole thirty days. For wanna be gardening aficionados, Andrew’s other tip is to combine flowers that bloom at different times. For a lush contrast add some of Andrew’s simple but effective secret ingredient, greenery such as parsley, thyme and even kale.
This colours, mainly red, orange, yellow and purple are representative of this year’s theme ‘Reflection’. Each garden bed serves as a floral tribute to the 100th Anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli. The three-dimensional designs represent iconic symbols of war and peace.
From ground view, with many bulbs still in their early stages it’s a struggle to make out some of the designs. I’m told the best advantage point is the ferris wheel. Once 30 metres above ground I’m gobsmacked. My birds-eye view reveals the ‘Rising Sun,’ a 3D plane flying over a field and my favourite ‘Love Letters’ an envelope featuring a kangaroo on the stamp.
Although the highlight for most is a stroll through the garden beds there’s plenty of other activities including markets and street food. Nightfest – an after dark extravaganza, illuminated by lantern installations. Take your four-legged friend to Doggie Day and for budding photographers hone your skills with early morning sessions and workshops.
So, what happens when the gates finally close on the sweet scent of Floriade? Andrew Forster will be there at the helm guiding volunteers to dig deep and take their fair share of flowers, the remaining blooms will be sent to local hospitals and nursing homes.
Now in it’s second week and with most of the colours sprouting to life now is the perfect time to pay a visit to Australia’s National Capital, Canberra.
For more details visit http://www.floriadeaustralia.com
Floriade, Canberra Commonwealth Park is on until Sunday October 11, 2015. Entry is free.