Spring flowers at Tulip Top Garden and flooding in Victoria

After a long and isolated two years of Covid, everyone I know is cautiously enjoying a normal life again. However, another hurdle for some states in Australia is the excessive rain we have had this year, and in the last three years.

Every year Canberra has a spring festival called Floriade in September to October. (except for the last two Covid years.)

I wondered if the rain would ever stop long enough for all the bulbs to grow, and the potted flower displays to survive.

Unfortunately Paul and I missed Floriade, but we visited another wonderful flower display, on the outskirts of Canberra called Tulip Top Garden.

The weather was warm, bright and sunny! Oh the joy of it all…

It seemed hard to believe, but for a week or two in early spring we had sunny days and no rain!

We arrived very early and avoided some of the crowds.

As I have often mentioned, Paul and I frequently drive to Melbourne to visit our daughter and the family. In September we planned a trip to Victoria to see them.

The drive from Canberra to Melbourne takes about 8 hours, so we always plan a few stops along the way. Our first coffee break is usually at a Victorian country town called Benalla.

The Art Gallery and café have table and chairs on the deck, to sit and look over the lake. On warm mornings, it is a wonderful spot for coffee, and sometimes scones and cream.

Wrapped around the Art Gallery is a lovely park, and during Covid we sat in the park with our flask of coffee and a sandwich and enjoyed the greenery.

Benalla is the kind of town where the cars wait for a Draught wagon with patience.

One summer as we parked the car near the Gallery and we saw a lovely old fashioned horse drawn draught wagon. The wagon was advertising beer, but the handsome looking Clydesdales stole the show.

We made our trip to Melbourne, and it rained all the way. It was lovely to see our family, and we were able to do all the things we planned, but as the week went by, the rain continued and there was some flooding in Melbourne’s lower lying suburbs.

With so much rain in Victoria last year, all the catchments were completely soaked. Rivers were flooding and lower lying country towns around Victoria began to flood. Many of the farms around these areas lost all their spring crops.

We delayed our trip home, and fortunately the highway re-opened at the end of the weekend. We were able to drive home, but we could not stop at either of our favourite towns, Benalla and our lunchtime stop, Seymour. This is another friendly Victorian town, where the café menus are varied and the food is delicious.

Still smiling: Owners Ray & Freya Grant cleaning up Café 96 Seymour. Photo by Wayne Herring.
Seymour Rotary along with other services, organisations, volunteering at the emergency relief centre. Food is cooked for all who had to evacuate.

This is an aerial photo of Seymour before the flooding, and after ..

An aerial view of Seymour’s oval and surrounds before the floods
An aerial view of Seymour after the floods. Photos by Near Map.

I must add that many parts of New South Wales and Queensland have suffered severe floods during 2022 and all the states affected are struggling to get back to normal.

photo by Jason Edwards (Sun Herald)

Best wishes to all the families who are experiencing flooding this year, and especially to those having to evacuate their homes.

During a few short weeks we went from Tulip Top gardens to serious flooding…. Australia’s weather is either a feast or a famine, and add that to climate change!

Thank you for taking the time to read my post today and may your weather be settled where ever you are in the world.!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Floriade, early morning spring flowers, cockatoos caught in action.

Floriade is Canberra’s biggest celebration of spring.

It takes most of the year for the ACT gardeners to prepare for Floriade, and the results are always wonderful. 

In September Commonwealth Park is ablaze with over one million blooms.

There are horticultural workshops, market traders, entertainment, food and wine, and an ever expanding program of music. Most children who have been brought up in Canberra, have, at some time in their school life, played or performed in a concert at Floriade.

There is also a nightfest, which is very popular, generally, but especially for  photographers; Instagram just explodes with amazing photos at this time.

Floriade Visit Canberra

Every year there is a different theme, this year is World in Bloom.

Somehow these magnificent gardeners, manage to make patterns and pictures out of the beds of flowers. The best way to look at the patterns is from the Ferris Wheel, of course.

The green parsley makes an ideal pathway through the flowers.

Considering the festival runs for one month, I am always amazed at the rounds of tulips, daffodils, poppies, pansies and many other flowers that all seem to flower…more or less on time!

These gorgeous white tulips were just too much for one contrary cockatoo….. I noticed him

walking along the brick wall, lopping the stems of the white tulips as he went.

Unfortunately I didn’t catch him on camera, as he flew away…

leaving a couple of younger cockatoos who were enthusiastically learning from the boss. They were enjoying the smaller deep purple tulips. (tulips seemed to be loved by birds and all kinds of small annoying critters world wide)

Poor tulips, blooming so beautifully one minute, and limp and dried out the next…

Now I wonder who did that?

When I checked on the problems of planting for Floriade (website ‘About Regional’) I wasn’t surprised to read that cockatoos were some of the worst offenders….coupled with hares and feral cats.

The annuals can be affected by early frosts, and need netted beds to keep away the water hens who pluck the young plants out of the ground.

The never-ending battles that face most gardeners at some time during the year.

A mural of the War Memorial (left) and Parliament House (right)

I always admire murals….. imagine how long it must take to get everything in proportion!

The Heart Foundation funds an early morning walk for anyone to join, and we did join them this year. It was sheer bliss to be able to see Floriade in the early morning, and before all the crowds arrived. All they asked was a gold coin donation.

I hope you are enjoying your spring or autumn where ever you are in the world, and are finding some time to enjoy the small simple pleasures.

 

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Canberra’s spring feast of garden festivals…

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Lake Burley Griffin is at the heart centre of Canberra, and it comes alive in spring……the warmth, the flowering trees, shimmering lake and most of all….on behalf of all Canberrans….good morning sunshine!

I hope you will follow me through the next few months of gardens and festivals in Canberrra, including  Floriade, some Embassy gardens, Parliament House courtyard gardens and some productive suburban gardens.

Every year, Commonwealth Park, on the northern bank of Lake Burley Griffin, hosts the biggest horticultural event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere…a spring festival, Floriade.

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An amazing one million bulbs and annual seedlings are ordered before Christmas. There are, typically more than 70 varieties of tulips, and a range of daffodils, hyacinths, ranunculus, Dutch Iris, interspersed with pansies, violas, poppies, and a variety of daisies.

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There is an almost year round preparation for this event. The Floriade theme for the year is decided about 18 months beforehand. This year the theme is Reflections, a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli.

Andrew Forster, the head gardener says this theme is very close to his heart, as his grandfather’s two brothers were at Gallipoli.

 

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Preparation begins in earnest in February, the areas are marked out and the paths made around the beds. Agricultural pipe is used for drainage under the beds, and a base of organic soil is spread about 15 cm deep over the growing areas. This is levelled, then patterns are marked out with pegs.

In March the planting of one million bulbs begins! They are placed on the soil and covered with an additional 12cm of soil mix. This mix has a fertilizer added to enhance growth. The annuals are then planted on top…..in total about 2700 cubic metres of soil mix is used to create the beds.

During the month long festival not all the bulbs come out at the same time, but annuals are planted between the bulbs to keep the  colour and design clear and vibrant.

I noticed the gardeners have planted some parsley in between the hyacinths and the pansies ….what better plant to keep a rich green colour all month long and it is totally unaffected by wind and frosts.

In fact in this photo the parsley seems to be better behaved than some of those renegade bulbs nearby…

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An automatic irrigation system with a diluted liquid fertiliser is pumped over the gardens every three weeks, and all the beds have secure netting and fencing to protect them from wildlife.

Although Commonwealth park is five minutes away from the city,  the gardeners have to look out for ever present rabbits and possums, not to mention bats and birds…….what a job!

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winter photo of the Floriade beds covered with netting

Fortunately we only found this elegant kangaroo nearby…

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Two weeks before the event begins, the barriers are removed and the team of gardeners weed and tidy the beds. I wonder if the gardeners do round the clock watching for pests during those two weeks ?   ….I hope they don’t come across the cockatoo who flies through my garden lopping new shoots from roses…just for the fun of it.

This festival is a great tribute to Andrew Forster and his team of fantastic gardeners.

 

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