I suppose as a garden enthusiast and being pretty keen on flowers I should be all for a show in their honour. But I'm not, well not this type of show anyway. I last went with mum about three years ago and we both left feeling underwhelmed. She is a keen home gardener and not an historian in any way so clearly it wasn't just me being a snob either. So what don't I like?
It annoys me that the close the gardens off for two weeks, my favourite and quickest route to work through the gardens from the corner of Victoria St and Nicholson St toward the Museum. But that area is a no go zone. Must be annoying for all the people who head there for their lunch and general daily relaxation. Plus they in fact monopolise the garden space for much longer as the exhibits are constructed and dismantled. It irks me that a public space can be shut off to the public for such a long time and that locals and visitors are charged for access. In addition some research I have done indicates that the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show essentially uses the space rent free. As an inner city resident I rely on these garden spaces to enjoy recreation and some downtime away from the built environment.
Another reason is the damage they do to the park. The grass has only just recovered from the drought and is looking luscious and green and they go and cover it in plastic and boulders and dig up the ground to plant yukkas or flax or whatever the latest trendy plant is. To add insult to injury the garden are on the World Heritage list, which is meant to give the site global recognition and legal protection!
Residents and other groups have lobbied the government and council to have the show moved elsewhere. But so far with little success. You can read a report here.
Clearly the irony of ruining a World heritage Garden in order to supposedly celebrate gardens is lost on the MIFGS and the Government who approves its use.
And that is the final annoyance, it isn't really about gardens in any meaningful way, just about consuming gardens as a commodity. Buy the latest super dooper SVU wheel barrow. Use these gloves with their amazing grip and self-cleaning ability. Subscribe to a magazine. Look at a water tank. It is all just about money. I guess on one hand this is what shows are these days. I was thinking about the Art Fair and why I quite enjoy it when it too is really about consuming art, but it also gives non-buyers the opportunity to look at masses of interesting (and boring and pretentious) art. If the art fair was run like the garden show it would have stalls selling pastels and paint brushes. I'm sure maybe 10 years ago the show used to have a lot more interesting design, it was still so designers could advertise to clients, but they also took up the challenge of presenting an interesting space. Now so much of the design follows after those ghastly backyard blitz shows with dull and uninspired and highly derivative and repetitive designs. Or nobs basically claiming they invented the idea of 'the garden room' when it has existed in garden design as far back as we have decent records. I guess the flower section is more creative in some ways, but I am too annoyed by the rest of it to go or to give them any monetary support.
There are some wonderful garden shows elsewhere but I haven't had the chance to go. Will post about them in a few days.