Ellerslie Flower Show 2009
I'm not a good-time Flower Show-Girl. The few Garden Shows I've been to have felt a bit like a shopping mall on pension day, with queues of tired oldish people waiting to get into marquees. Speak for yourself, tired oldish Moosey!
Chelsea Comes to New Zealand?
I've just been to the 2009 version of the Ellerslie Flower Show, New Zealand's answer to Chelsea. This garden semi-extravaganza is neither in Ellerslie, nor is it over-flowery, being held at the beginning of the autumn gardening season. But the council 'purchased' the rights to hold it in my city - for me to ignore it seemed inappropriate.
So I grabbed my ticket, boarded a bus, and tried to leave my slightly rebellious attitude at home.
Look - I'll never, ever, be sponsored to write about a Flower Show. But I loved taking photographs of the designer gardens at this version of Ellerslie. I loved the use of river stones and fat-leaved Cordylines.
I loved over-hearing the comments of the other ladies. 'Modern rustic' was one visitor's description of an exhibition garden with dinky little Heucheras and an outdoor bath. Nice! A common comment was 'Awww - I quite like that...'
Ellerslie Designer Gardens
A grim personal confession - I only stayed for an hour and a half, and I didn't see everything. The queues for the marquees were just too long. Even the take-away coffee caravans had queues. Hmm... I guess I missed out on seeing amazing floral art, interesting indoorsy exhibits, and inspiring wearable weed costumes - as well as espresso coffee.
Ellerslie Metal Balls
Like all the really famous Flower Shows, exhibitors get gold, silver, or bronze awards for filling up their allotted space with groovy things. Design plans are impressively displayed, as are mission statements, pamphlets, and business cards...
Magic Garden Ingredients
The magic garden ingredients are chosen from the following: triangles or rows of squashed-in plants, a bit of water, a bit of art, a bit of a path, some odd furniture...
Ellerslie Garden Seats and Paths
I saw a giant pumpkin, hollowed out, transformed, and filled with chunky seats. I think it was called a 'man-cave' - a dorky structure straight from Diarmuid Gavin's garden design book...
The Falling Leaves...
Flower Shows will not inspire everyone, and they don't inspire me. I sigh at the queues that I will not join and giggle at the all those pots of the same plant - poor things, squashed up against their neighbours. I admire the way the designers have used natural materials - in this case, falling leaves from the huge overhead oak trees...
Do I Want One of Those?
And I puzzle over the non-gardening stalls and commercial paraphernalia - why are they here? I understand about polypropylene garden sheds, and plastic rakes, and wonder paint - but a ladder with a hundred and one uses? No thanks.
Deep Design Thoughts
But most of all I think deep thoughts about the designs, and the plants chosen. I contemplate originality versus traditional style. I have my own prejudices to consider - and I don't really know exactly what I'm looking for, anyway!
A red garden with rows of dahlias? Too last-year. A bridal garden with floaty white gazebo? Too windy. A grass sofa? Hmm...
Welcome to the Ellerslie Flower Show
The 2009 Ellerslie Flower Show? To quote the words (overheard) of so many anonymous aged-fifty-something lady visitors : 'Awww - I quite like that!'