Stop and smell the roses are words I live by. Nothing in life has given me greater joy than spending time in my grandmother’s garden talking to the flowers and addressing them by their names as if they were all pretty ladies. Knees covered in dirt, making daisy chains in the grass and plucking petals from roses.
Marie Adelaide Charleston, my beautiful Nan, taught me everything about her garden. I may not have inherited her green thumb, but I will always treasure those special moments spent with her outside in the garden, especially now she’s gone.
When I saw the posters advertising the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, I bought my ticket almost instinctively, without a second thought. The theme of the show was Immerse Your Senses, and ode to all five human senses – taste, touch, sight, smell and sound. As I wandered around the grounds, I realised that so many flowers and plants were attached with the most beautiful memories. The soft velvety touch of a furry lamb’s ear leaf that my Nan used to gently brush up against my cheek. The delicate papery texture of a red flowering maple that Nan called a Chinese lantern. Vibrant pink fuchsias that looked like prima ballerinas, from their tutu skirt to their pink slippers.
It was a soft early April morning, warm and mild. Children were doing cartwheels around the fountain, men walked arm in arm with their mothers and grandmothers, young couples picked out vegetable seedlings to grow together, and others seemed content just to meander through the stalls soaking up the flowery perfumes.
Held in Carlton Gardens at the opulent Royal Exhibition Building. The building itself is a sight to behold, but imagine it with thousands of fresh roses inside! The Royal Exhibition Building was completed in 1880 for Melbourne’s very first international fair. Grand exhibitions were popular during the Victorian period as they provided the British Empire with a platform to celebrate their prosperity and ingenuity by showcasing their achievements of the era. “Marvellous Melbourne” flourished and grew significantly during this time due to the vast wealth of the Victorian gold rush that funded the commission of stately buildings and parks, including Carlton Gardens and the exhibition pavilion.
The interior of the Royal Exhibition Building has been meticulously restored and plays host to hundreds of events during the year. Thankfully the building was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2004 becoming the first building in Australia to achieve listing. Most of my favourite buildings in Melbourne were built during the Victorian period and I love that we still have some semblance of historical architecture amongst our mostly modern concrete jungle.
In addition to the floral displays and landscape gardens, there was a main stage inside with industry experts presenting on a range of gardening topics. You could take a floral arrangement class with a group of friendly professional florists or learn how to craft the perfect flower crown. The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is akin to a little sister of London’s Chelsea Flower Show. I will definitely buy myself a ticket again next year to spend another flowery day with Nan in my heart and memories. It is held annually around March or April and you can book via the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show website.
Left – with the big bouquet of flowers that Nan had picked straight from her garden for my 6th birthday.
Right – Me with our Cockatoo in Nan’s garden after she dressed me in her old curtains so I could be a bride.