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This time last year (2016), I was anticipating our visit to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, (MIFGS). This annual autumn exhibition of cut flowers, gardens, and landscaping set amongst the lush, leafy grounds of Carlton Gardens is a must do for any and every nature lover. Even if you’re not mad about flowers, there is so much on offer to cover all interests.

As the stifling heat of summer is gladly farewelled, the welcome change of seasons brings with it a sense of excitement as March signifies the start of autumn. Many gardeners and flower lovers look forward to autumn, taking opportunities to visit garden shows and exhibitions, with MIFGS being one of the best.

Inside the Royal Exhibition Building, (a showcase in itself), are cut floral displays and installations, student design competitions, talks and demonstrations, workshops, art displays, and retail stalls selling interesting crafts, gifts and products. Outside in the grounds are a myriad of show gardens, horticultural displays and products, achievable gardens, sculptures and much more. Inside and out, every corner I turned revealed a feast for the eyes, a visual euphoria of colours, style, mass plantings, clever design, unleashed creativity and new ideas to try for yourself. As the senses go into overload, I highly recommend visiting over two days, so as not to miss anything.

As a Floral Designer, one of my passions is visiting garden shows and exhibitions locally, interstate, and overseas. It’s important for me to keep up with current trends in the flower industry, and changes in floral design styles. This allows me to share and offer my insights with my clients to meet their particular needs.

One of the large, spectacular installations in the Exhibition Building was the Chrysco Flowers ballroom scene. The setting portrayed masqueraded mannequins wearing floral gowns,  a floral tablecloth draping over the round dining table, and a spectacular, central floral chandelier under the dome to complete the scene. The entire installation used thousands of tiny Chrysanthemums, all skilfully and painstakingly arranged  to create each unique work of art. Monochrome  colours  were mostly used for the floral gowns, tablecloth, and chandelier.

March Into Autumn2

Against the back wall I spotted an eye catching art deco drinks trolley, featuring a flowing urn arrangement. The river of flowers streaming onto the floor gave this installation a sense of movement and life. Blooms of red, yellow, and orange flowers embedded into a lush green base of mixed foliage alluded to a sense of opulence and abundance, imitating a lively stream of flowing champagne and cocktails to impress the wealthy guests.

The overall scene for me was reminiscent of a bygone era high society masquerade ball, enhanced by the gold furnishings, crystal, and place settings. The use of mirrors placed on the back wall added to the illusion of generous space and depth, giving viewers a surprise glimpse at the back of  the  mannequins’ gowns.

I can only imagine the amount of hours and hard work that would have gone into putting this amazing display together. What a great experience it would have been to be a part of something as spectacular as MIFGS, and having the joy of seeing a team effort come together in creating a unique piece of floral design art. I can only hope that one day I will have the same opportunity.

On a smaller scale, the same can be said for the time and expertize put into creating a bouquet and arrangement by a floral designer. When a client sees the finished product, all they really see is the flowers. But what is unseen is the skill and labour required for creating a unique floral creation that will bring joy into someone’s day. I wonder how many people appreciate the true value of an arrangement when considering the time and effort involved, similar to a work of art by an artist?

At MIFGS what stood out to me was the amazing size and quality of the flowers and foliage in all of the displays. As a Queensland gardener visiting a cooler climate, I am envious of the variety of flowers grown in southern states, as the climate is so conducive to growing bulbous flowers, roses and foliage not suitable for sub-tropical climates.

My favourite flowers so abundantly displayed throughout the exhibition were large dahlias, tulips, hydrangea, freesias, sedum, hyacinth, fuchsia, iris, and a range of burgundy foliage. Some of the Achievable Gardens used clever blending of contrasting foliage colours ranging from dark to light green, silver, burgundy, red, and greys.

A highlight to end the show for me was winning a stunning bouquet made by a florist doing a stage demonstration. By simply asking a question I was given an amazing prize bouquet made up of mixed tropicals, spray roses and foliage. I “paid it forward” to a random young lady in the street, explaining I had to fly home. It was an unforgettable moment, with the joy of giving flowers blessing both of us. If you are keen to visit MIFGS, it runs from March 29-April 2.