March may mark the start of autumn, but at the Royal Exhibition Building activity is blossoming with the return of the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show (MIFGS) Presented by Lawn Solutions Australia, March 27 – 31, 2019.
Now in its 24th year, the largest (and most beloved) horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere is predicted to attract over 100,000 visitors from across the nation and overseas. The annual convergence of the most talented landscape designers, progressive florists, emerging design talent, DIY specialists, well over 200 exhibitors and thousands of flowers provides evergreen inspiration for the year to come.
With new charity partner Beyond Blue aligned with the Show, visitors can expect gardens that are not only visually arresting, but are emotionally stirring as they tap the sense of tranquillity and wellbeing that comes from connecting with nature.
The annual Landscape Design Show Gardens welcome an impressive line-up of local and international talent with confirmed designers including: NZFGS Gold Medallist Bayley LuuTomes, a collaboration between Candeo Design, Jason Hodges for Lawn Solutions and Semken Landscaping, MUSA Landscapes in partnership with Beyond Blue, Inge Jabara, Christian Jenkins, Waddell Landscapes, Ben Hutchinson and TRACT. Each designer is tasked with creating a standalone garden within the Gardens that showcases their unique design aesthetic, to be admired by the public and judged by a panel of industry experts.
While staying true to the roots that have made the Show a beloved Melbourne event for almost a quarter of a century, 2019 heralds a line-up of exciting new features for event. Mark Browning will debut his tactile Welcome Garden where a host of expert talks will be held throughout the Show. The focal point of this interactive garden will be show-stopping ringlock curtains by Kaynemail – an architectural, award winning mesh created by Lord of the Rings Weapon Designer. Richard Bellemo will unveil the inaugural Feature Garden titled Green Connections. Set to resonate with the young and the young at heart, the newly devised space will include a ‘friend’s circle’, a tyre ‘fall zone’, a bamboo forest, nook and tunnel, an interactive bike area and manual water pump to educate and entertain. 2018 Silver Medallist Emmaline Bowman is creating an Entertainment Stage, where a selection of musical talent will entertain visitors over all five days. The space also doubles as a haven for little ones with a wildflower adorned tepee, silver washed decking and custom created birdhouses.
Visitors to The Great Hall of Flowers will be making a beeline for 2018 Gold Winner Adam Asceno, who is set to stun with the creation of a palace that has fallen into disrepair and been overtaken by plantlife. 2018 Gold Display Award Winner Collectors Corner will return to the Show with another mystical and thought-provoking installation – further details to come!
For anyone working up an appetite after seeing a Wonka-inspired installation, the ticketed The Holland America Line High Tea is a must. Nestled in the heart of the Show, diners will have the exclusive experience of sipping bubbles and savouring floral-inspired petit fours in Australia’s largest horticultural spectacular. For one night only, city dwellers can kick off after-work drinks with a backdrop of live music and floral, festoon lit surrounds at Gardens by Twilight. Watch the sun set with a glass of rosé from Goodman Wines, a craft beer from locals Holgate Brewhouse, bubbles from The Prosecco Van, or a tipple from the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip. Gourmet eats and roving entertainment are all part of the exclusive night in the gardens, which runs until 9pm and gives the visitors the chance to see all the Show’s attractions as the stars come out.
After soaking up inspiration from the best in the business, visitors are encouraged to turn their hand to arranging their own floral masterpieces with classes from The Melbourne Flower School. Brunswick institution Leaf and Bear will also offer make-your-own kokedama classes; spaces are limited so visitors are advised to book tickets now. DIY enthusiasts will get the chance to roll up their sleeves and get hands-on thanks to a number of complimentary workshops from power tool specialists Ryobi.
Showgoers will also have the chance to purchase their own bunch of the day at the on-site Flower Market, where the freshest blooms have been handpicked by Melbourne’s finest florists and growers.
Art continues to be a large component of the Show, with a newly reinvigorated Gallery Precinct celebrating the floral-inspired work of local artists. Visitors will also have the chance to admire – and purchase – over 130 sculptures of varying sizes and materials displayed in the Central Boulevard.
As a testament to the Show’s international appeal, Tokyo Ichiyo Ikebana Floristry School will be flying over headmaster Naohiro Kasuya to showcase a spectacular Ikebana installation, recognising the
ancient floral art of Japan.
Pioneers of heirloom sustainability The Diggers Club will bring a taste of their Heronswood estate along with their annual cult favourite gravity-defying pumpkin installation. Learn about the history and vital
importance of heirloom seeds, vegetables and fruits in a dedicated museum space, along with cooking demonstrations, gardening classes and rainbow displays of stunning perennials.
Continuing the Show’s quest to make landscaping design accessible to all, the Avenue of Achievable Gardens Design Competition provides students with the opportunity to showcase their design skills and horticultural
knowledge to show goers and judges alike.
The Boutique Gardens Feature again offers a unique opportunity for five talented landscape designers and architects to participate at the Show by designing and installing a 5m x 5m garden. 2019 finalists include AKAS Landscape Architecture, Patricia Morrison, CoolTh Inc, Maia
Coillard and Jake Baturynsky.
It’s the ultimate floral fashion mashup as RMIT Fashion students display plant-based couture creations for the third year curriculum. Visitors will be stunned by nature’s transformation from twigs to tulle, foliage to
fascinators and blossoms to bodices, with designs that think well and truly outside the vase.
Those left inspired and raring to go by the Show Gardens – but in need of some vital logistical advice – should head for the Landscape Advisory Centre, where accredited professionals will consult on any building plans, ideas, photos and projects visitors are able to provide. Further floral insights can gleaned with the Main Stage’s brimming program of complimentary seminars and demonstrations from celebrity landscapers, gardening experts, industry leaders and horticultural experts.
The Baptcare Shop Window Floral Design Competition is an open competition for florists, designers, stylists, students and enthusiasts. This year, entrants must draw inspiration from the theme “Home is where the heart is” to create a floral shop window display to impress the public and judges alike.
The retail component of the Show remains strong, with guests able to peruse the stalls of over 200 exhibitors covering all horticultural needs, from garden tools to exotic plants, outdoor accessories and
stylish pots and planters.
Dates: Wednesday 27 – Sunday 31 March 2019
Times: Open 9am – 5pm daily
Gardens by Twilight – Friday March 29 until 9pm
Venue: Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, Carlton