Monday, March 8, 2010

AOGS Plant Fair

I recently went to visit a wonderful garden in the Yarra Valley which is north-east of Melbourne. The occasion was the annual plant fair for Australia's Open Garden Scheme held each year in a different garden. It was the Yarra Valley's turn this year in an area not so far from last year's devastating bushfires. The garden is called 'Lubra Bend' and is situated on a small rise by the Yarra River. For those who don't know, the Yarra River is the river on which Melbourne was established back in 1835. At Lubra Bend the river is about 10m wide and stained brown from the tannins of surrounding vegetation. The word 'lubra' (meaning an aboriginal woman) is now politically incorrect but refers to times past when there was a camp of lubras on this particular bend of the river.
The garden was established in the late 1950's when the house was built, but sections of it have been re-landscaped and extended by Phil Johnson from Phillip Johnson Sustainable Landscape Systems. Phil's speciality is designing billabongs, usually complete with waterfall and often with outdoor showers, spas and a sustainable Australian plant planting. Lubra Bend was only landscaped a few years ago but the frogs have already moved in, indicating that a balance has been achieved in the pond and surrounding vegetation. I love Phil's billabongs and wish I could have one in my garden! He has a real flair for putting together a harmonious but visually thrilling landscape.
The annual plant fair is not to be missed and I enjoyed wandering around the stalls talking to the growers, book sellers, artists and purveyors of yummy sausages with coleslaw and grated cheese! There were so many plants to choose from - Australian plants, clematis, unusual perennials, bulbs, succulents and hellebores to name a few. I obtained two new cultivars of aloe from Aloe-Aloe Horticulture and am looking forward to seeing how they grow in garden. I also succumbed and bought two books to add to my burgeoning collection.
If there is a plant fair near you, try and get along to it. It is really worth your time and is an enjoyable way to spend a day walking and talking with other plant lovers in a fabulous garden.

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