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Melbourne's Flower Garden Show 2014

Photo - Alex Kravoskis 2014


Linda Ross picks her favourite moments from Melbourne 2014

Tension by Paul Bangay

Paul Bangay is one of Australia's highest profile landscape designers yet this was his first show garden at MIFGS. His typically restrained plant palette featured rows of Magnolia 'Teddy Bear' at the boundary, mop heads of hydrangeas, hints of blue salvia and trademark spheres of box. The use of brick flooring and verdigris copper in the water feature and shelter gave a timeless feel to the garden. Like to see more? Check out his books, ‘Stonefield’ (about his own country estate), ‘The Defined Garden’, ‘The Boxed Garden’, ‘The Balanced Garden’ and ‘The Enchanted Garden’.  

The Patriarch’s Garden by Cycas Landscape Design

This garden won the Best in Show award and it was well-deserved. The design used massive slabs of rock to symbolise two siblings and their extended families. Lime green ginkgo and maroon-tinged Acer serrata 'Crimson Wave' added height. The decorative ceiling panels from Lump Sculpture Studio emulate the rings of life in a tree trunk. (Remember these from the best-in-show Australian Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show last year?) This was a dramatic garden with an emotional story. Designer Mark Browning’s father died a year ago from kidney failure (note that kidney-shaped window). Visiting MIFGS 2013 was the last thing he did and this garden commemorates him.

Photo - Linda Ross


Left-Overs by Ian Barker Gardens

This silver medal garden spoke to the romantics. It was filled with dusty-pink, autumn-flowering perennials, such as echinecea, sedum, ornamental grasses and chocolate cosmos, and fit perfectly under the treescape of Carlton Gardens. Rusty tones featured in scrap machinery used as sculptural pieces. I loved the cute 'pop up' cafe in the back, complete with knitted lights from Melbourne lighting designer Luna Lana.

Photo - Ian Barker Gardens

The Gardeners Library by Vivid Design

A classic, white-painted conservatory, fitted out as a library and filled with ferns, books and botanical paintings was the focal point of this show garden. Enclosed by a white, double-trellised fence and surrounded by a woodland of red lipstick maples, it seemed straight out of ‘Brideshead Revisited’. Martin Semken found this classic Edwardian library on the internet and its UK maker, Hampton Conservatories, agreed to build it then ship it, flat-packed to Australia. It arrived with barely six weeks to fit it out, install trellises, the canal and of course, the garden. (The son of the Hampton Conservatories' owners happened to be backpacking around Australia and he came to Melbourne to help with assembly.) Newspaper coverage of the garden here and in Britain ensured the success of the venture and three conservatories have been sold so far, one reaching $100,000 at auction. Carolyn and Joby Blackman of Vivid Design based the idea on Cicero’s well-loved saying: If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need.

Photo - Semken Design

Inside the Grand Hall

Entering the Great Hall I was hit with the ultimate sensory overload. Budding floral design students and leading florists and floral designers had showcased an amazing array. I was drawn to Gold winners Flowers Vasette of Fitzroy. The whole display seemed to float in the air atop a digital neon planter made out of perspex. The orchids were supplied by The Orchid Man, a legend in the flower market, and no he hasn’t developing an amazing new apricot moth orchid: he and the florists created them by dunking the flowers in apricot-coloured dye! 


Text: Linda Ross


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Author: Linda Ross