Floriade, the annual Canberra flower festival, now in it’s 29th year; is a celebration of everything that Spring has to offer. Floriade (from the Latin word floriat meaning ‘to design flowers’) begins long before the flowers start to bloom. We spoke to Head Gardener, Andrew Forster who explained the annual process he goes through to ensure there is a spectacular floral display.
In February, the patterns that will complement the year’s theme are marked out. By the time Autumn has started, and just after Canberra Day, the grounds are prepared by an expert team of landscape gardeners, contractors and volunteers, all led by Andrew. They dig out pathways, put drainage in and cover this with a base soil. The patterns are then marked out on this base and pegged. Next the bulbs are planted and covered with another layer of soil to protect them from the cold Canberra winter. The area between the pegs is planted with the annuals. Andrew jokes that it’s like going back to kindergarten, where you mark out patterns, colour in and join the dots.
You mark out patterns, colour in and join the dots
The flowers start to bloom in September, with different varieties blooming throughout the festival to ensure that is it always bright and colourful. As you walk from flower bed to flower bed take note of the designs. This year they centre around the theme of ‘Life in Bloom’. Flower bed designs include waves, rivers, a tulip and even a rainbow!
I asked Andrew what his favourite part of Floriade was, and reluctantly (I guess it’s comparable to asking a parent to tell you who their favourite child is) he quietly tells me it’s the poppies. I tend to agree, they are beautiful, brightly coloured flowers and when looked at from below are almost translucent.
Andrew recommends visiting Floriade every weekend if you can, as the flowers will continue to grow and bloom as the Festival progresses and this will create visually different views of each flower bed.
Things you should know:
- Floriade is open every day between the 17th September until the 16th October 2016.
- Operating hours are 9.00 am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday and 9.00 am – 5.30pm on weekends and Public Holidays
- The last entry to the event is 30 minutes before closing.
- Day time entry is free – over 450,000 local, interstate and international visitors are expected to visit this year
- If looking for activities for the family at Floriade, read our article Floriade – a month long festival of activities for the family
- Check Floriade’s website for full program details
- If you are after some handy tips on how to photograph Floriade, read ‘Floriade Photography guide for beginners’