Beautiful weather, fabulous displays, talks and demonstrations combined to make the 2018 Perth Garden Festival the most successful Perth garden event for many years. Held at a picturesque riverside location in Victoria Park, the show attracted about 34,000 visitors over the four days.
Stand out attractions this year included the Kleenheat Kitchen where high profile chefs including Perth Good Food Guide’s Chef of the Year 2018, Guy Jefferies, television cook Anna Gare and butcher extraordinaire Vince Garreffa dished out tastes of their recipes for up to 100 people each session.
In the three or four daily sessions they were ably supported by gardening comperes Deryn Thorpe and Steve Wood, the hosts of the award winning ‘All The Dirt’ gardening podcast who provided information on how to grow and harvest the vegetables being cooked on stage.
The adjoining Bupa Stage was also a hive of activity with up to 10 gardening, design, soil and sustainability talks and workshops daily, compered by horticultural legend John Colwill.
This year there were 24 nurseries at the show, including a myriad of new nurseries selling succulents. Two plant treasures came home with me. Anthurium coriaceum ‘Surfboard’, a plant perfect for indoors or shady spots with almost cardboard-like tough paddle-shaped leaves. I’m unsure if it’s going to feature in my shade garden or lounge. I also bought Juncus effuses ‘Spiralis’ which has fine corkscrew leaves which I’ll grow in a terrarium as it loves moisture.
The show gardens are everyone’s favourite and had a Swan River backdrop.
Best in Show was ‘Serenity’ by Empire Lane, with a gold medal to ‘Summer Shade & Winter Light’ by Country Earth pavers, silver to ‘Don’t Forget to Play’ by Straightcurve and the Kaleidoscope Dementia Garden by CHORUS.
Bronze awards went to New Shoots Gardens and Landscapes which had a simple but stylish four bed edible garden and Perth Landscaping and Gardening which had a big walk-through design with four separate gardens, each with their own style. Kaleidoscope also won the ‘People’s Choice’ award and Straight Curve the prize for ‘Horticultural Excellence’.
Ceri Wagnell from Empire Lane created a simple but elegant garden embracing muted tones and textures and classic styling. The garden had a Hampton’s styled pavilion in grey and white with green and white accents, beautiful white stonework and planting in white, purple and lime green. Landscaper Josh Unwin from Inex Pro built the garden, which was immaculately finished and soldiered on until the wee hours on more than one night despite having the flu!
The suspension of an untrimmed 15-year-old Chinese elm bonsai, with roots encased in a plasma-cut sphere, above the garden drew many comment for ‘Don’t Forget To Play’. It was designed by Alastair MacGregor from Urban Journey Design Studio and Dan Depiazzi and Joeri Tuijn from Straightcurve. It was based on the Finnish designer Alvar Aalto’s foundation logo and the curving shapes showed the versatility of the Straightcurve edging system.
The Country Earth garden was designed by Brixley Graham from Garden Blueprint and was created to show off ten different types of pavers. It was worked on a 45 per cent angle to create deeper planting pockets and had a simple planting palette so the pavers, sculpture and water feature took centre stage.
The team at community service provider CHORUS, formed last year with the merger of Volunteer Task Force, Care Options and Community First, aimed to raise awareness of dementia and the value and joy of gardening.
The sensory garden had six raised beds representing ‘petals’, each focusing on a sense, with a central floral bed representing wellbeing. The walk-through display allowed people to touch and experience the plants which included a bed of fragrant leaf plants, culinary herbs and bush tucker..
A myriad of colourful flowers in the central bed teamed with more than 2500 paper butterflies.
The Best in Show exhibitor awards went to Stihl and Scotts Australia and Fickle Prickles won gold awards.
Also popular was the Baileys hanging basket competition, back for the second year. The winning school entry was by Charlie Parker and Walliston Primary School Playgroup won the gardening group.
Patricia Clark had the individual entry and best in show with her baskets and I took out this year’s professional category with a basket featuring ornamental sweet potato, Carex ‘Feather Falls’ and annual petunias. It’s still hard to wipe the smile from my face!