The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show has finished for this year and Flemings are already gearing up for Chelsea! New and old exhibitors alike put their best foot forward this year, trying to pinpoint and highlight different messages via their allotted space. The top 5 things I discovered at MIFGS in 2012 are:
1. Plant wormwood (Artemisia arborescens) around chicken coups to reduce the likelihood of lice. I learnt this while cruising through the award winning Tree and Shrub Growers stand. They were conducting talks relating to pets and plants, and after the usual discussion about cats and catnip, they mentioned birds and wormwood. It was later confirmed by renowned author Penny Woodward while we were discussing her new book – Pest-Repellent Plants, Hyland House Publishing, 2012.
2. The new series of Australian Native limes are delicious and fun! Citrus Gems include four different varieties of lime including Sunrise Lime, Desert Lime, Red Centre Lime and Rainforest Pearl, the last being a finger lime. Admittedly, finger limes look odd, a little like a weird chipolata, but their flavour is undeniable. Available from Citrus Men (Not Tasmania). They retail around $55.
3. One person can make a big difference. Lille Fro is a charity started by Tamara Cameron, a lawyer from Melbourne. Through her personal journey and experiences, she discovered ways of sponsoring children that makes a real sustainable difference to their communities … by building greenhouses at high altitudes. Working with the community, Lille Fro teaches families the skills to grow fresh vegetables year round, which can dramatically improve the wellbeing of disadvantaged families living in isolated regions of the Himalayas. They cost $2500 each, and are simple, yet amazing in their design. You can find out more here.
4. Don’t take everything you hear or read as gospel. You must stop and ask questions. Point in case – eco-friendly products are certainly growing in popularity, and rightly so … but not all of these products are as eco-friendly as we are lead to believe. The distributer or marketing department may call them eco-friendly, however, the fine print states that it is not organic and is in fact a scheduled poison. Some products are recommended for organic gardens, but then organic websites reveal their complete distaste for that very product because of various reasons. When given a length of literature, always read between the bold print – you’ll find the devil is in the detail.
5. And last but not least is a question … should designers be allowed to use plants on noxious weed registers? This was a discussion I was involved in with some other friends in the industry. Over the years we have seen many gardens use plants that really should not be promoted due to their weedy tendencies (including at least one medal-winning garden this year), but it poses the question: Is it the responsibility of garden designers to educate or is their role to impress? Food for thought.