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Green on Green

Green on Green

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Craig Wilson takes a look at trends from the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show stands out as the ‘must see’ southern hemisphere landscape event, and over the years famous Australian designers have ‘wowed’ the crowds with cutting-edge, high-budget, show-stopping displays. The recent 2017 show was no exception, with an impressive line-up of showpiece gardens, and over 100,000 punters delighting in what they saw. With Melbourne and Christchurch sharing a love of all things gardening and a somewhat comparable climate, it’s worth looking at the key design trends of the show to see what we can import and apply to our Canterbury gardens.
After taking front and centre for a few years, flowers took a back seat, and the dominant theme was lush, thick foliage. Green on the green was the order of the day – only to be broken by spiky texture and grey leafy accents, think succulents, yuccas and aloes. Australian natives sat beside the expected laurels, glossy citrus and figs. Dense ground covers were generously employed to ensure a plant rich, layered effect right from the ground up.

The best of the show gardens boasted extensive hardscape elements and were beautifully executed with a high level of craftsmanship. Locally quarried Bluestone was the material of choice and cleverly used in complex mixed paving patterns – with hardly a regular grid pattern in site. Concrete featured as a key material, and ‘off the form’ finishes added a layer of detail and texture to vertical planters and walls.

The smaller boutique gardens showed what could be achieved with a limited area and were not to be missed. Finer details were evident with rustic weathered decking, red brick, rocks and water features creating spaces that drew you in to linger. Frog and insect habitat were provided in Emmaline Bowman’s winning entry. The best in show went to Phillip Withers for his ‘I See Wild’ display. This featured a naturalistic aesthetic with curved lines creating a relaxed feel. The message here was to connect with nature in our increasingly urbanised lifestyles. A cleverly sunken Cor-Ten steel firepit was the undoubted focal point with informal wooden log seats completing the feel.