26 Sept 2012

Garden inspirations: Floriade

Other people’s gardens can stir inspiration and envy in equal measures. Every neighbourhood has one such garden - I’m working on being that garden.

Public gardens and floral displays do it on a grand scale, and while I love Hobart’s own Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, I’ve decided the most wonderful inspiration right now is to be found at Floriade in Canberra.
Mum and I made the trek there last week and were absolutely wowed. How many times is it possible for one person (that would be me) to exclaim ‘oh, isn’t it pretty’? ‘Pretty’ was definitely my most over-used word!

Tulips of every shape – rounded like goblets, pointed like elves’ hats, frilled and tattered - and every colour – red, orange, yellow, green, white, pink and mauve. Hyacinths as big as pineapples that filled the warm air with their heady, green-ish fragrance. Taller flowers under-planted by smaller ones in similar colours, creating nuanced waves of tones and textures. Ranunculas, one of my absolute favourite cut flowers, were lying in wait, ready to make their appearance in the coming weeks.

Some of my favourite plantings (oh, how to choose?) were snow-white tulips and hyacinths under-planted by equally icy pansies and bellis perennis and bordered by … dark green parsley! Or green and white ornamental kale! They were so surprising and beautiful.
The other big inspiration were the big tubs and troughs displaying herbs and vegies. Lush plantings of all shades of green, mixing soft foliage like lettuce, basil and chives with woody sages, variegated thymes and blackish plumes of cavolo nero. I am boringly pedantic, growing only what I cook with (parsley, thyme, chives; and basil in the summer months). But I have decided to transform my herb bed into another treat for the eye, clashing all sorts of textures and colours just for the sheer riotous beauty of it. I’ll be visiting a nursery soon for all sorts of punnets.

Since returning from Floriade with a camera full of pics and a head swimming with ideas, I’ve planted some vegie seeds, ready for the warmer weather (I just got them in when the rain came bucketing down, so not this week!):
  • A row of those dramatic cavolo nero; I’ll also cast some in my front flower garden and the new herb garden as part of its makeover
  • A patch of mixed salad greens: ‘roquette, oakland, endive, mache and chervil’ – what romantic names
  • A row of carrot seeds – ‘top weight, western red and chantenay’ – from Dad. I’ve never had luck with carrots, and with the gazillion frilly seedlings emerging in Dad’s garden I hardly need to, but I had the packet and the space, so why not?
  • Around my teepee trellises, an unlabeled bag of seeds I’d saved from too-many summers ago of climbing beans: scarlet runners and two (un-remembered) others
  • Some greenfeast peas (the ones you pod).

I also bought some fresh packets of beans: the climbing ‘blue lake’ and two dwarf or bush varities, a yellow butter bean ‘cherokee wax’ and green ‘hawkesbury wonder’. I love growing and eating beans, as you can tell! I’m hankering after some ‘lazy housewifes’– delicious beans that Dad has grown; they’re far from lazy and actually quite prolific! I also need a packet of snow peas – if I can find them; they appear to be sold out everywhere. Everyone, it seems, is getting on with their spring sowing.


  1. This certainly does look pretty! Those tulips are amazing, what a fun trip! I have grown blue lake beans for the last two years and they have been incredibly productive and easy to grow. Happy sowing and gardening :)

    1. Thanks Jane! Floriade was wonderful to see and smell; i'm recommending it to everyone.

  2. Looks beautiful indeed! There's nothing like Spring to get the creative juices flowing. It's like our imaginations come out of hibernation... xx

    1. Exactly! We just need the sun to stay out - i'm sure you remember how inconsisent tassie springs are - and life would be perfect!


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