Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Group planting of tall herbaceous perennial flowering plants

A concept I keyed onto when starting out in the horticultural industry is that of tall growing flower beds. Once discovered I couldn't believe that I had traditionally thought of flower beds as being low growing almost ground cover like installations. Tall growing beds in a semi large to large style garden area are great. They add a sense of scale to the garden as you are forced to either look through or around them in order to travel to the next part of the garden. Tall growing flowers / plants are something I associate with the 'prarie' style of garden. My experience with such plants is limited to those which I see at my current workplace in Parkville although I have propagated some of these plants by division and set them in place at my home in Macedon. I really think tall growing flowering plants can be used as a major show piece in even a small garden if strategically placed. The term 'herbaceous perennial' means a plant whose growth dies down annually but whose crowns, roots, bulbs or rhizomes survive the winter.

Anenome heupehensis (pink cultivar) makes an absolutely stunning group planting. Chop them down to the ground once spent and watch them grow back to 1.6m approx the next season. They are a warm season herbaceous perennial.

Close up of the flower

Masses of Helianthus angustifolius "swamp sunflower". These grow over 6 feet tall. Chop them to the ground in Winter and watch them shoot up in the warm seasons.

Close up of the flower

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Visit to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show 2013!

Today was a fine day to visit the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. Weather was not too hot nor too cold, no rain fell and the paths weren't quite as congested with people as last year. This year I found that I got lots more out of the show compared to last year. The years experience I've gained in horticulture both from work and from study made me see the shows exhibits in a new light. The nurseries and growers were more familiar to  me this year. We get catalogues from various plan suppliers sent to work during the year and some of them had stalls at the show (eg. Mistydowns roses, Hancocks bulbs and Tesselaar) and I found myself recognizing other suppliers from websites I've found whilst surfing the Internet. Also the show garden exhibits had several plants that I have studied at Tafe or plants I've propagated myself during the year.

When you enter the show you are hit with the sight of this 'tree' by florists Interflora who are one of the big sponsors of the show. It isn't a real tree (It has limbs made of tubular steel) but it sure looks pretty.

At the NMIT Tafe where I study the horticulture parks and gardens classrooms are next door to the floristry students. That being the case I'm supporting my NMIT sisters by showing these exhibits that they made which were accepted into the show. Lots of these flower arrangements are quite abstract. Seems there is more to flower arrangement than selecting flowers that complement each other and arranging them in a nice vase.

After wandering through the flower arrangements I took a look at the flower suppliers exhibits. Its so nice to be surrounded by such vast amounts of quality flowers. I know from the times at work where we have had to buy lots of flowers in for events and functions how expensive flowers are (even at wholesale cost).

Everyone loves orchids. Especially when they are view up this close.

I wonder what the green bunches are in the picture below?

Bunches of purple brilliance.

Ruffled tulips haven't always been a favourite of mine. I think I'm now starting to like them now. Why do I seem to always have these about faces with plants?

These berry like displays are called Hypericums. From my own very limited flower arranging experiences with head gardener Michael Dale at work I've learnt that a major part of any arrangement is the 'fillers'. These Hypericums are and example of such fillers. Some of the really nice arrangements at the show were almost all fillers and they looked great.

Towers of jewels topped with floral crowns.

More Hypericums

David Austin roses are legendary and the ones here didn't fail to impress.

This one made me laugh. I really don't like the flowers but the name is interesting. They are called 'Rolf Harris' roses.

Upstairs from all the floral displays I found art work and also garden societies. I was aiming to try and sign myself up for the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria at the show but they had no application forms. However, next door to them was ANPSA (Australian Native Plant Society (Australia)). I signed up to them for a year. I think they might be good people in ANPSA because I left my folder there and a member came and tracked me down to return it.

Below is the Royal Hort Society of Victoria's display. There were no representatives from the RHSV but lots from its subsidiary societies.

I like proper botanical art and not so much this type of flower art. However if its your cup of tea there was lots of it on display.

One of the themes of the show this year was 'plants as clothing'. Below are pictures of several of the examples on display. There were even women with flowers as clothes (and not many flowers at that). I got some pictures and was going to put them up but I although they don't show any nudity I think they may be pushing the limits of google bloggers adult content policy. 

After heading out of the flower section I scoured the nursery stalls for plants. I had limited funds but got several things I've always wanted and a an impulse purchase also. For the record I got some Nerine bulbs from Hancocks bulbs, 1 yellow poker (Kniphofia) from Mistydowns, 1 cyclamen from Bryan H Tonkin and also 1 Ferraria undulata. The Ferraria is a very strange looking flower I've never seen them before. I really hope it works up in Macedon where I plan to plant it.

Below is a Brugvigia Jopsephinae. Bizzare looking plant (display only). Definitely on my hit list for future acquisition.

Succulent cuttings were $2.50 each! Damn it I should have bought some but didn't.

For some strange reason there were snakes and dinosaurs amongst the Bromeliads.

More Dinos

Tesselaars' orb of lilliums

I always associate Tesselaars with Tulips and they didn't fail to impress. These red/orange tulips looked absolutely amazing. They almost looked fake because they were so vibrant.

The framed gardens below were a big display put on by the Yates company. The frames really made the displays stand out. When walking through here I was bombarded with Yates advertising.

I was delighted to see many of my favourite plants included in this years big show pieces of garden design. One of my all time favourite flowers (Echinacea) featured throughout at least 3 of the major designs including 2 gold medalists. Also I found that several of the big design pieces this year were more about the actual garden and plants rather than about the art decor. As always water features were in almost all the designs and were used to great effect. In summary I would say I enjoyed most of the major designs much more than last year and also found them to be a more realistic representation of what an expensive high maintenance garden could look like.

Below is a gold medal show garden design by Ian Barker designs. I really liked this design as I'm a big fan of straight line design and the use of stacked stone for garden beds and retaining walls. It was interesting that they couldn't seem to keep the roll out turf green as some of it was yellowing off. Oh well I'm glad to see that even these guys have trouble keeping the lawn lush.

This spiky little entry is called 'Cube-ism' and was designed be Phillip Withers, Semken Landscaping and Garden World. It was a bronze medal show garden winner. I'm couldn't really appreciate this design. Personally I found it to be a bit too chaotic and I seem to like the more controlled designs. I also didn't really like the brightly coloured planter boxes. I suppose if you were really into cactus and succulents you would love this design.

This next one is called 'Australian Home & Garden' and is by Eckersley Garden Architecture. It was a gold medal garden show winner and I think it deserved it. I liked the rope design and loved the stone pathway. It also had several plants I love including Echinacea and Kniphofias. The straight lines of the ropes contrasted with the rest of the design which was all curves. I think I also saw some Miscansith grasses in there.

This next design is called 'Cube 2' by TLC design. It was a gold medal show garden winner. This sort of design is more about the decor than the plants. That being the case I actually really liked it as an outdoor space. This sort of design is out of the range of ordinary mortals like me (I'll never be able to afford such things) but its nice to dream sometimes. The water feature looked awesome, the photos don't really do it justice.

This next design is called 'Nature' and is by Gursansky design. I thought it was a rather simple yet effective design. I like the way you have to look through the taller plants in the front bed to see the setting at the back. It was a silver medal garden show winner.

This last one is called 'ReSurgence' by Candeo design. It was a silver medal garden show winner but I think it deserved a gold medal as it was my favorite design of the show. I love the big stones at the entry. I also like how the gravel, pavers, turf and decking all seem to come together nicely at the centre of the garden. The water feature again was terrific and I like how they have kept the water feature unlit and dark so that it reflects the rest of the garden in its surface. I spoke to one of the designers and he told me that although they didn't get a gold medal they were on track to win the people choice award for best garden of the show.

After the big designs were these smaller ones which were entered in the 'Debco achievable gardens' sections. This section was great as there were recipe cards for all the gardens on display which had the plant listings and a small map of the design. I thought that calling some of these designs achievable was a bit of a stretch as some had quite elaborate garden art in them. Others though were very achievable for the average person on an average budget.

This one is called 'Mediteranean themed garden'

The design below is called 'Japan-easy'. If you told be before the show that a Japanese garden was achievable for the average person I would have laughed but I think this design is exactly that. I've seen several attempts at low budget 'easy' Japanese gardens in the past and none really took my eye. I think this one didn't look too bad overall.

The next one here is called 'Natures Revenge'. Pretty self explanatory when you look at the design.

They called this one 'Surf and Turf'. They should have realized that having a massive backdrop of the Opera House would mean missing out on a medal in the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show haha.

This design is called 'Grey to Green' and celebrates the nature of Melbourne, its art, culture and inner city laneways. It say it is a very achievable design.

Below is another design I think is achievable for your average Melbournian. Its called 'Tranquil Meditation Garden'.

This next one is called 'Cool and Warm'. Again it isn't too complicated or expensive. It was designed by a fellow NMIT student (from another campus though).

This design is called 'A Place to Ponder'. I was pondering practicality of the seating area. It isn't a spa and wouldn't it be a trap for water and garden debris?

The next garden is called 'Paradise'. I think they were going for a tropical sort of vibe.

This design is called 'Life's a Motion Picture'. Not my cup of tea.

The design below is called 'Kaleidoscopic Dreams'. Really nice design but that seat would cost a pretty penny. Love the fire hearth.

This next one looked amazing. Its called 'Edible Persian Rug'. The structure holding the plant with aerial roots somehow feeds water to the hanging plant. The water then drips down the roots into the collection bowl underneath where it drains away (I'm guessing to be pumped back up to the top of the structure).

These last 2 pictures are of the winner of the 'achievable gardens' competition. Its called 'coastal wave' by Rohan Thorn from Homesglen Tafe. Probably over $1000 worth of Xanthorreas in here.

The last thing I looked at for the day was some garden art. When I see the price tags on some of these pieces I start thinking I should have gotten into the garden art game instead of the gardening game.

Giant Emu and would need a giant yard to house this piece of art.

Swan made from cutlery.

Rusty Rose

A sphere of forks.

Art all in a row.

 And from there I went home exhausted but happy with the day. Definitely going back next year and with more money to buy more plants. If you are into gardening and in Melbourne you really should go to the garden show for inspiration and to get your hands on some nice plants.