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Bloomin' marvellous

Flourish 23 Sep 2016

Canberra is filled with the glorious colours of Spring.

Lady and child smelling tulips
The design is completed by the Floriade design team 18 months before the event starts.

Each September the national capital blooms with more than one million flowers. 

Floriade, the annual festival that celebrates Spring, runs from September 17 to October 16 in Canberra’s Commonwealth Park. This year’s event is expected to attract nearly 500,000 visitors from interstate and overseas, especially New Zealand. 

What began as a one-off floral tribute for Australia’s bicentenary, and Canberra’s 75th anniversary, is now Canberra’s best-known annual tourist event. Last year, Floriade claimed silver in the major festivals and events category of the Australian Tourism Awards. 

Past Floriade themes have included Carnivale, Innovation, Reflection and Rock ’n’ Roll. This year there is no theme; instead, organisers are taking a back-to-basics approach that focuses on showing the best in horticulture, gardening, landscaping, innovation and design. 

More than 100 species of tulips, complemented by bulbs and annuals, from hyacinths and jonquils to pansies, form the basis of the festival. 

Flowers at Floriade

Floriade will also host the Gardening Australia Gardener of the Year Awards. A giant planter box has been especially designed and built for this year’s event. 

Floriade is a free event, managed and delivered by Events ACT for the Australian Capital Territory Government. An expert team of landscape gardeners, contractors, 250 dedicated volunteers and local and national sponsors work for up to a year to help make it a success.

Floriade’s Head Gardener, Andrew Forster, has been part of every Floriade since it began in 1988, when he was a horticulture apprentice. He has been Head Gardener since 1997. 

“The design is completed by the Floriade design team 18 months before the event starts,” Andrew says. 

“The bulbs and annuals are ordered in November. We get the plants in late February and start marking out the design. 

“We start building the paths and garden beds in March and then plant from early April until the end of May or early June.” 

Andrew says quality potting mix is the key to getting the most out of your bulbs. “Get the $10 bag, not the $5 one and have a mix of bulbs and annuals in your garden for continual flowering over a longer period,” he says.

words Maria Triaca
images courtesy of

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