The Melbourne International flower and garden show is done for another year. It was a gloriously hot day to spend meandering around Carlton gardens, feasting our eyes on the displays of landscaping excellence.
Despite having the usual Landscape Design Show Gardens and the achievable gardens avenue, it was the Green Connections feature garden created by Richard Bellemo Landscapes that stole the show for me. Richard Bellemo created a space to connect people with nature through interactive spaces. The success of the garden was immediately evident by the amount of children, but also people of all ages 'playing' across the space. There was a lovely elderly couple, helping each other through the the bamboo tunnel into the green den. The recycled car tyres created soft fall zones, as well as providing much needed recycling for the often troublesome pieces of waste. Playgrounds these days with their "soft surfaces" and safe designs often do nothing to bring children closer to the surrounding environment. This design made sure the plants and the natural environment were an integral part of the experience.
My other favourite garden of this year's show was Bayley Luu Tomes design 'Under the Golden Elm'. This too had an interactive hive made from wooden blocks, which you could sneak into at the base of the tree. What attracted me to the garden though was the surrounding planting, which looked the most natural of all the gardens. Unfortunately show gardens often present unrealistic demonstrations of planting design, with plants that could not survive so tightly packed or in a community together. This garden displayed a mix of ferns, grasses and perennials, which actually looked as though they could have grown under the shady tree together, instead of sitting randomly in pots (which could be seen in some of the other gardens).