One either loves it or hates it.

And I am one of those who loves gardening and to whom a man like Monty Don is a saint.

Rather like writing a novel, a garden can go through dozens of imputations before one is happy with the end result. In fact, gardeners will tell you, they are never completely happy – plants get deleted, inserted – just like editing a novel.

My own gardens are a case in point.

Two borders, one is two years old and city-based, one is six years old and coastal-based. Both are works in progress, both need refining, altering, changing, adding to.

Last November, OH and self booked tickets for the 2018 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, knowing it was the closest thing to Chelsea that we would see. Many years before, OH had been a board member at the inception of Australia’s Open Garden Scheme which began in Victoria, and so we had been privileged to visit gardens like Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s Cruden Farm and the stunning Bolobek and Cloudhill, to name just three of the many.

However, this week was the anticipated week and so we flew to Melbourne (an hour from our home over Bass Strait) and were at the Victoria Street gates on Opening Day at 8.45AM.  Already there were 50 or 60 people waiting with tickets. Another 50 or so waiting to buy tickets. And heaps followed thereafter.

I tell you, people, gardening is popular!

The first things we saw near the gates were garden sculptures. I love garden sculpture, especially rusty pieces sequestered amongst foliage or brazenly obvious on a green swathe. I also love humour and the little sow with her piglets was definitely that!

And of course, for those sheep whose wool doesn’t quite cut it on the farm, we can always do this!

And then there was living sculpture. Ye Gods, the price on this was otherwordly, especially as we can get the same thing for nothing on a friend’s place up the road.

Inside the wonderful  Royal Exhibition Building, there were floral art displays and competitions. Too many to take in and to photograph, but I liked the quirky entry that symbolised my Australian youth. And  the quaint, floral faerie who wafted past at one stage.

There was a wall of reproduction Dutch Masters floral paintings with cleverly inserted orchids that had been bred in the Netherlands.

But the purpose of this visit was to become inspired and to see the created show gardens. the colours, textures, styles, the way they showcased the essence of Australian conditions.

We envied those who could then dash to the plant stalls, lists in hand and buy copious show specials.


But because we live on an island with strict biosecurity, we didn’t have that privilege. I did purchase some rare colcheums but they have to quarantined and shipped later.

We also missed out on all the show bags, filled to the brim with all manner of garden things but no doubt likely to be considered bomb ingredients.

We purchased a wonderful set of ratcheted pruners, secateurs and blades and had to ship those as cargo rather than carry-on, so that we wouldn’t be considered terrorists. Sigh…

Was it worth the expense of airfares, accommodation, and all the ancillary costs that go with such a thing?

Yes. Even though I wasn’t that able-bodied on the day and required a walking stick.

We came home with about 100+ photos, some in-depth plant lists from all the gardens and many ideas…

…and we had a great view of the setting sun outside the window on the flight home!

All this for someone who hates flying.