Between organising expert speakers and running the cooking stage, Deryn Thorpe still had time to report on the Perth’s recent show, which she says was a huge success even with a delayed start.
The four-day Perth Garden and Outdoor Living Festival (PGOLF) was held May 6-9 after COVID restrictions in Western Australia caused a one-week postponement. COVID cancelled the 2020 event so everyone involved was relieved the event went ahead in 2021.
Despite the threat of rain on opening day, mandatory mask wearing on the first three days and Mother’s Day, there were record attendances. In all, 41,000 visitors came to the show in its new venue beside the Swan River.
The festival has been held in many different outdoor venues over its 48 years. This year it moved to Langley Park, a grassy strip on the edge of the Perth CBD adjoining the Swan River. Perth mayor, Basil Zempilas, encouraged the move to create a vibrant atmosphere in the city centre.
The festival features display gardens, stalls, cooking demonstrations and this year had the additional features of gin master classes, high teas and gardens by night displays. The PGOLF event is owned by the Nursery and Garden Industry Western Australia and provides more than
50 per cent of the association’s annual income. A second cancellation said Executive Officer Matthew Lunn, would have created an “awkward financial position”.
The show is well supported by HMAA WA members with most giving presentations on the Richgro Main Stage, which was compered by HMAA’s John Colwill. HMAA member Sabrina Hahn, who has a huge following on her ABC gardening talkback show, attracted big crowds to her talks. She also had her own site selling her branded fertilisers.
HMAA member Mark Tucek, who owns Tucker Bush, a range of edible native plants, received the prize for the best nursery display at the show. He also created an edible display in the Stratco Show Gardens complete with a mia-mia made from foliage and a central water bowl containing a live blue marron (crayfish). The micro food forest had 60 different edible plants with QR code tags that led to the Tucker Bush website for more about the plant.
Highlights and awards
Best in Show went to the Baileys Grow Garden designed by MJD Landscapes, which featured a
stream, minimalist natural plantings and a painted mural.
For the first time Open Gardens West Coast built a display garden. South Metropolitan TAFE students studying landscape design and horticulture, the Landscape Industries Association (WA) youth group ‘NextGen’ and landscape lecturer Lisa Hall helped build the garden.
At the Kleenheat Kitchen, which featured some of Perth’s top chefs, the focus was on cooking dishes that highlighted vegetables that are easy to grow at home. Chefs handed out around 80 tastes of food per session (including Caroline Taylor’s recipe for Chicken Bo La Lot). The
audience went home with renewed commitment to plant garlic and grow sweet potato in a jar for
cuttings to be planted out in spring. They also took home a local, seasonal fridge magnet planting
guide created by Steve Wood from the ‘All The Dirt’ podcast.
Staff from Benara Nurseries made the front entrance a botanical oasis and loaned
numerous plants for the show gardens, pop up bar and eating areas.
Matthew Lunn said that after speaking with NGIWA President Craig Woodroffe (who was at the event with Ellenby Nursery) and other board members, he believed that the NGIWA had a strong base from which to grow the event.
“With a continual rise in consumer’s love of plants and gardening, we may have finally turned a
huge corner in building the long-??term viability of this event,” he said.