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Re: Garden Expo in Canberra (Australia)

From: "heather & bernard pryor" <irishaven@pip.com.au>

Dear Paul & Yvonne (and all other Iris-talk folk),

Well, we have returned from the Canberra Expo "happy little Vegemites"!  We
had a frantic time on the Saturday with people at some stages standing three
deep around our stall wanting to buy Iris. The pace did not slow until just
before closing time.   As one customer said to me, "We Canberrans love our
Iris". Yes, indeed they do.

We had bare-rooted TB's and Louisianas (of course!!), potted Japs., potted
Pseudacorus,  potted iridacea (libertia, ixias etc.) and one vase of golden
yellow La's and a lone spike of TB Bahloo to use as a floral display.  No
doubt when we go to the garden tomorrow it will be bursting with bloom!!!

Sunday was a less hectic time so we  have returned home with only a few
(like 30 from the 600 we took!) La's to replant and even fewer TB's, lots of
new contacts and are both totally exhausted from the efforts of the last few
weeks in preparing for the event and the four-day Floral Festival held north
of Sydney the week beforehand.

Meeting Paul and Yvonne was an extra bonus for us.  We chattered about Iris
(of course!!), exotic bulbs and other matters of horticultural interest.
It IS great to put a face to the "words", as Paul put it to aptly.

We also met up with the lovely Lesley Blyth from Tempo Two Nursery on the
Sunday who arrived unannounced at our stall full of enthusiasm.  Much
hugging and family news exchanged in a few minutes!  We offered her an apron
and a job behind the table, but she gracefully declined!!!

In fact I didn't recognise her at first with her looking so radiant,
iris-free and very relaxed.  Her normal mode of operation is frantic,
iris-overloaded (if that IS possible!)  and busily trying to tackle three
projects at once.  It was her smile that gave her away!!!  She even said,
"Oh Heather you don't recognise me out of context to do?  So many people
come up to me in the street and say Hi Lesley my Iris are doing very well,
and I don't remember them at all, and then I start to worry if I DO know
them and have forgotten who they are.  It's nice to do it to someone else
for a change!"

This morning (Monday) we went down to the Floriade gardens in Commonwealth
Park and enjoyed an hour of gentle strolling among the beds of tulips,
bellis perennis, pansies, violas, daffodils, muscari and poppies before
tackling the long drive back to Sydney.

For those of you who have had the pleasure of visiting our national capital,
the Floriade is situated on the northern banks of Lake Burley Griffin, where
the gently rolling hills of Commonwealth Park make a perfect backdrop for
the gardens.  Across the Lake you can see the new and old Parliament House.
It is a rather awe inspiring locale.  Nearby is the famous Captain Cook
Fountain which is set into the Lake itself and sprays a huge jet of water
high into the sky.  There are lots of ducks and swans on the Lake too.

The theme for this year's Floriade was "flowers and food" with many garden
beds planted out in  an effective red and white checker-board design.  We
chanced upon an organised group of visitors and heard the guide explaining
that these red and white beds were planted to symbolise the pattern of
tablecloths found in so many Italian restaurants.  The same garden bed
featured round plantings of violas in shades of apricot which were planted
to symbolise the dinner plate etc.

Another bed was called the "Bacchus garden" and featured the deep reds of
claret and the creams of riesling etc.  This garden bed was awash with red
and claret tulips underplanted with similarly-coloured pansies.  The "white
wine" sections of the garden featured white tulips underplanted with white
pansies, white hyacinths underplanted with white muscari and soft lemon and
golden tulips underplanted with similarly coloured violas.  What a sight it

The Bacchus garden beds were also "sculptured" with various dimensional
aspects sections featuring tall tulips, the next featuring shorter
hyacinths, the next featuring shorter tulips and so on.  These height
variations when combined with the unusual shapes of the plantings and the
colour variations made for a visual display of breathtaking proportions.

This garden was planted on a hillside too, which added a really
three-dimensional effect to the scene and it all splashed down to the lake
where brightly coloured rowboats were filled to the brim with equally
brigthly-coloured potted plants.  We watched a gardener rowing out to the
boat gardens and watering the plants sitting in them on the lake which, I am
sure you will agree, made for a rather perplexing scene. NO they didn't

The other major garden bed area featured ....... you guessed it...... purple
and orange!!!    There were massed plantings of purple tulips underplanted
with purple and orange violas, Iceland poppies, yellow and orange tulips,
daffodils and lots of pansies.  These were also planted in three dimensional
colour and height variations with the major beds stretching over 200 metres
in length.  Now them's SERIOUS garden beds!!

We have taken a few photos but the day was rather grey and dismal so they
may not be as wonderful as the memories.  What a great weekend for us
meeting new and old Iris friends, promoting Iris, visiting another lovely
place, seeing the Floriade and being able to do it all over again next year!

Cheers for now from a weary Oz traveller.  Heather Pryor

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