I was recently given the honour of being invited to judge the city and regional garden section of the Toowoomba Chronicle Garden Competition, part of the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.
Having visited the Queensland city some years back, and being aware of the annual media coverage of the carnival, I knew a little of what to expect before I arrived - but ... the 'on the ground' reality is so much more impressive.
Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers is the longest running floral event of its kind in Australia, attracting between 200,000 and 300,000 visitors each year.
Launched in 1949, the event has grown over the years to become one of Queensland's biggest tourist attractions. The garden competition has a number of categories and the winners are announced mid-September and the gardens are then open to the public for two weeks.
The overall standard of horticultural practice and good gardening was very high throughout the gardens - a testament to both the years of experience by older gardeners and a willingness to learn by newer gardeners- George Hoad AM
I was impressed by the variety of garden styles entered in the competition and the unique 'individual' touches that each gardener applied to their gardens.
The overall standard of horticultural practice and good gardening was very high throughout the gardens - a testament to both the years of experience by older gardeners and a willingness to learn by newer gardeners.
Toowoomba is renowned for its colourful displays of bedding annuals in its city parks and private gardens. A number of gardeners commented on this year's cold winter, which had delayed the floral displays but I was not disappointed. There was much blooming in the gardens and I can only imagine the kaleidoscope of colour that will greet the visitors in mid-September.
Apart from the splendid full colour gardens, I was impressed by a number of gardens that have embraced spaces where green is the predominant colour, using plant shape, texture, foliage and form to great effect.
The use of native plants in both the city and larger regional gardens was also noteworthy. A number of gardeners commented on their choice due to sustainability, plus the added bonus of attracting the birds and the bees - very much in evidence on my visit.
WHILE YOU'RE WITH US:
The standard of productive gardens was also high and the range of crops being grown was impressive, often intermingled with bedding annuals for colour and assisting pest management.
Thank you to the Toowoomba Chronicle for hosting the competition, coordinator Mike Wells and the gardeners of Toowoomba and surrounds for their hospitality and continuing passion. If you are looking for a 'green thumbed fix' to kick off spring - Toowoomba is the place to be!
George Hoad AM
George, who lives at Killabakh of the Mid North Coast of NSW, was president of the Garden Clubs of Australia from 2015 to 2020, during which time he instigated and launched Australia's National Gardening Week (NGW) in 2017. George currently serves as NGW Ambassador. National Gardening Week will be celebrated between October 9 and 15.