Category Archive: Events

Silver Medal at Australian Garden Show

Phillip Withers and Semken Landscaping are both part of the Gardenworld team. Phillip designs beautiful gardens and Semken builds them.

Last weekend they were in Sydney for the first ever Australian Garden Show, and their garden was awarded a Silver medal.

Here is Phillip’s account of the first ever Australian Garden Show held in Sydney last weekend:

So I’m back on solid ground after being up in Sydney for a couple of weeks taking part in the Australian Garden Show and all I can say is what an experience it became! And what a great effort the show put together in such a short period of time to get it to where it did.

My feeling was that both the inspirational and urban gardens were of a great standard and set a great bench mark for the standard of gardens for years to come. Gardens such as Brendan Moar’s ‘Suspended’ which became best in show and September sky by Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Tom Harfleet were truly imaginative and inspirational and I could here first hand from the public that they were blown away by there interest.

I was lucky enough to also take part in putting an inspirational garden together entitled Viridus ‘Green and Blooming’ which was quite the challenge in the 6 week period leading in. Though lucky enough I had the support of a great group of individuals led by Outdeco and Limestone Australia whom presented the garden and Semken Landscaping whom built the garden – we pulled it off to create something really special. The feeling from our cabin was met with an overwhelming amount of support both for the garden at day and at night and we were very pleased to be awarded with a silver medal and a groundswell of support in the ability of translating the garden into a Sydney courtyard atmosphere, which is definitely something I was a little apprehensive about being from Melbourne.

Its really nice to be able to go from my everyday of designing gardens in Melbourne to adapt and recognise plants suited to a slightly more warmer climate. There’s so many plants in our kingdom and so many that will work in separate conditions, so for me I love to be able to step into different shoes to work with some different shapes and hints of a more daring tropical notion.

One of the real keys I felt the show provided and can build upon was being open into the evening, it was a special feeling each night at dusk to watch the park slowly bridge into a whole different experience. The lights dimmed, the mood set and the gardens were brought into change, into excitement. See I feel having gardens open at night can do more then one recognises as it creates a whole different experience for the viewer, here we get a chance to create moods within a space and it lets gardens become atmospheric and challenging.

I really believe in this process and I feel it builds an even greater audience to our sport of gardens. So not just plant enthusiasts and garden lovers can appreciate a show experience but so the wider public engage as I feel they started to at the show. They could sit back and enjoy there drink of choice at the Harvest bar and have a chat to people involved and watch over the show in all its glory.

See Its funny when you become involved in a garden show in its first year, many wonder how it will go, there’s questions marks everywhere other than from the people that truly believe in it and put everything into it to make it work. So I can’t thank all of these people enough for the opportunity in creating an event that I feel has a great future and will only get better over the next couple of years. So I sit here leaning back in my chair and step back into reality and I can say that I’m so glad I was involved and saw the success of the first ‘Australian Garden Show’ this year.

Phillip Withers Landscape Design.

Orchids in full bloom.

By James Wall, Nurseryman.

Yesterday I attended the ‘Melbourne Orchid Spectacular’ at Springers Leisure Centre in Keysborough. The quality and variety of blooms this year were of a very high standard. Experts, enthusiasts and novices all seemed to mingle together well. Many people had come from many miles, allured by the beauty of these mystical flowers. I have taken some photos for all those who missed out.

Collector’s Corner here at Gardenworld also have a magnificent array of flowering orchids on display right now and for the next couple of months. Conveniently located right next to the cafe !

Oncidium maculatum

Peter Nelson "Starbright" x Adelaide "Mint"

A stunning mottled pink

One of my favourites

New Century "Spica"

Masdevallia orchids

Beaconfire "Cecile Park"

Outstanding Apprentice of The Year.

Congratulations goes out to our second year apprentice Chris Henbery who has been awarded ‘Outstanding Apprentice of of the Year’

Last Tuesday Swinburne University Of Technology held an awards evening to recognise the work and contributions of apprentices within the technology and trades industry. The awards were presented to individuals that showed dedication and contribution to education through apprenticeships as well as skills learned and used to a high standard in both work and study.

Our 2nd year apprentice, Chris Henbery, won an award for ’Outstanding Apprentice of of the Year’ in the Nursery category for horticulture. Chris has been with us at Gardenworld  for almost a year and a half, while studying his apprenticeship at Swinburne throughout this time. We are sure that if you have been served by Chris, you will see that he has learnt a great deal of plant knowledge in a very short space of time.

A number of apprentices from industry sectors including electricians, plumbing and landscaping were recognised. The awards also included a speech from guest speaker Sam Rowe, who plays in the AFL for Carlton and played his first game in the second round this year. He spoke to the guests about his carpentry apprenticeship that he has just completed, a job he hopes to resume when he finishes his AFL career.

The evening was a great success, recognising almost 30 up and coming apprentices across all industries and highlighting the potential we have for great emerging talent in the future. Well done Chris – enjoy your garden !

Chris was part of the now famous bottle garden at the Melbourne Flower Show

Monet’s Garden at The National Gallery of Victoria

By James Wall, Nurseryman.

Venue: National Gallery of Victoria.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Monet’s Garden exhibition, devoted to Claude Monet’s iconic garden at Giverny, France.

Upon entering the first room, For some reason I suddenly felt overcome with tingles and shivers down the back of my spine. I am not an art buff, but  could sense this was something special. One of the very first paintings I looked at was of creamy white clematis with a smudges of green. The colours seemed to melt together. I knew then that I was in for a treat.

Other wonderful paintings of plants included ‘orangey red’ day lilies and yellow iris. These were both planted near the edge of his pond. Of course in the pond were the famed water lilies that he painted again and again, even destroying some paintings he felt were over-worked. The pond was something he created when he moved into his home in Giverny, a place about 80km from Paris. There he created a wonderful garden and took an avid interest in flowers and also a large vegetable garden. There was something to paint for all seasons.

Monet loved and grew many different types of water lilies. Some of them, like the tropicals,  he even removed and put in a special greenhouse over winter to protect them. The most common water lily in France was the simple white form. Monet saw the new coloured hybids shown by the Bordeaux botanist Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac, and in 1894 ordered three varieties from him. Monet experimented with growing tropical and cold climate varieties. He had particular success raising blue cultivars from South America and white Egyptian types with external pink petals and and yellow lilies that blushed to red as they aged.

Water lilies with leaves of the willow tree dangling down.

Claude Monet: “Now I really feel the landscape. It’s enchanting, its delicious”

As Monet’s sight failed, you could see some of frustration on canvas, while painting roses bushes in his garden. I think he had an operation which improved his vision, and then you saw variations in colours from the same scenes he had earlier painted. There was also a scrumptious painting of the classic wysteria, framed narrow but wide. Some of his canvasses were enormous.

We returned to the exhibition after some lunch and again I felt some underlying exhilaration. I think to see such a master’s work and to know he loved meeting botanists and nurseryman really appealed to me. Oh and of course his paintings aren’t too bad either !

The exhibition is on until September 8th and the cost is $26 for adults and $10 children. This includes a short movie of Monet’s actual garden in Giverny. This is displayed on a curved screen.

According to our own water lily experts at Lotus Watergardens, winter is a time to clean up the water lilies, removing all dead foliage. These are often quite slimy and gooey. I am sure Claude would have used his row boat for this job. The lilies can also be fed with a fertiliser tablet in September, and if large enough, re-potted. For more information, get down to Lotus Watergardens here at Gardenworld and see them potting water lilies right now…..and for a little bit of winter colour, why not plant some Water Hawthorn. I am sure it would make Monet proud.

Water Hawthorn

Congratulations for Australians at Chelsea Flower Show

For a moment in time it was front page news on The Age website. Australia, and in particular Melbourne, had produced the best garden in the best garden show in the world.

Wes Fleming, brave nurseryman from family business Fleming’s Nurseries joined forces with sustainably esteemed landscape designer Phillip Johnson to produce a garden like one never before seen. The design included one of Phillips famous billabongs like the one he did at the Melbourne Flower Show a few years back. The imposing timber studio you can see in the picture, is built in the shape of a waratah flower, which apparently Phillip’s father Colin gave to his wife when he proposed.

Trailfinders Australian Garden, presented by Fleming's

Wes had been to Chelsea many times before and was almost ‘mates’ with the queen. In fact he got a letter of support from the royals the year he couldn’t make it because of the bushfires. He has won gold before, but was always striving for the elusive ‘best in show’. How fitting that they did it in the one hundredth anniversary. For Wes, it was meant to be.

For the garden, there was wildflowers, bottle trees, Scottish stone and of course a billabong that uses no chemicals but is clean enough to swim in and will naturally clean itself. Some of the stone had been in landslips and had been in depots for 18 years. From the pictures we have seen, this is a garden that Australia can be truly proud of.

DON’T FORGET !!! -  From the 8th of June, Gardenworld will have one of Australia’s biggest ranges of Fleming’s bare root fruit and ornamental trees. This is the best time to buy a tree. There is a huge range of quality fruit trees.

It was a privilege for us that some months ago, Phillip Johnson’s dad Colin held a couple of his drawing classes here at Gardenworld. He was doing the watercolour drawings for the Chelsea garden, an extremely important part of the submission. His classical style and use of colours would have been loved by those English.

One of the first watercolour sketches done by Colin for Chelsea.

Here is a story of Colin’s visit to our nursery by our horticultural staff member Bonnie-Marie Hibbs:

Recently at GardenWorld Nursery we have been visited by some very talented artists from The Peninsula Art Society and The Mentone-Mordialloc (Advanced group) Art Society.

Teaching this energetic group is the very talented Colin Johnson, Art Historian, who is very well known for his illustrations and his input in the garden design concepts at the Chelsea Flower Garden Show. I had the honour to talk with Colin and lets just say I was excited although quite nervous.

 The Peninsula Arts Society was first established in 1954 and now consists of 700 members, while the Mentone and Mordialloc Art society has close to 300 members. There is a good variety of ages within both of the societies, the youngest member is aged 25 and the oldest 85 years old.

 It is great to see so many people passionate about all themes of art and to see the passion and amount of concentration involved.

 Both societies encourage fresh ideas and styles, whilst encouraging beginners and current artists to take part in their activities. The Peninsula Arts Society and the Mentone/Mordialloc Art society both offer illustration classes, workshops and educational field trips. Most classes are made up of 16 members/students.

 Today, the members were here at GardenWorld to obtain reference material for their Summer Garden illustrations.

The art that was produced at the end of the session was very impressive!

Its wonderful to see such passionate and energetic members who commit so much time and love into their illustrations.

“Wonderful classes at GardenWorld” – Colin Johnson.

If you are interested in joining the Art Societies here are the links: The Peninsula Art Society

 The Mentone-Mordialloc Art Society

Colin Johnson with Art Society member at Gardenworld.

Autumn Rose Spectacular in full bloom.

After two beautiful days of weekend weather, we are recovering from one of our biggest events of the year – our rose show.

The quality of blooms were top quality and thanks goes out to The Rose Society, Nieuwesteeg Roses,  Black Marvel Rose Food, Grow Better and  Neutrog for their support.

Special thanks to The Rose Society. Without their expert advice and home grown roses, we would not have a show.

Here are some pictures of the show. Enjoy the blooms!



Dame Elisabeth Murdoch


City Of Newcastle


Phillip Withers takes a bronze medal at the Melbourne flower show.

Our hearty congratulations go out to Phillip Withers, the 28 year old up and coming landscape designer who took a bronze medal in is first ever Melbourne Flower ‘Show Garden’ creation.

The garden, called Cube-ism was inspired by Phil’s travels to South America, where arid meets lush. There was also a bit of the ‘Rubik’s cube’ influence.

Considering Phillip was only asked to do the garden 11 weeks ago it is a wonderful achievement. Most of the plants were supplied by Gardenworld and Semken Landscaping did the flawless construction. Many other sponsors also donated products so as to make the garden what it was. The response from the public has been most positive and they love to hear about the South American connection to this garden.

Phillip is based in the design studio here at Gardenworld. You can even hire him for one of our $150 garden consultations where he will come out and spend an hour with you in your garden, giving you the advice and inspiration you might need, to add a another perspective to your garden.

Well done Phillip – maybe one day it’s off to Chelsea for you !

Swinburne achievable garden at Melbourne Flower Show

It’s amazing what a group of students can do when they put their minds to it. In this case, one of those students included our very own apprentice, 27 year old Chris Henbery who attends Swinburne Institute. Their design was aptly named ‘paradise’.

They created their very own garden and were awarded the bronze medal in the student catergory.

Chris said it took four of them seven days to organise and then put together the garden. He could not believe the effort involved to build a 5m x 3m garden !

The effort was even more impressive considering they were a last minute entry and only had 5 weeks notice when others had up to four months to prepare.

The one thing that really stood out was the hanging bottles filled with coloured liquid. It created a real contrast in the city skyline. The other attention grabber was of course the home made hanging chair. Not sure if it works, but it sure looks good. Congratulations Chris, from all of us here at Gardenworld.

Centre Bentleigh Garden Club.

By James Wall

It was a pleasure to be invited this week to visit the Centre Bentleigh Garden Club and give a talk on growing winter vegies. I knew I had found the place when I saw this sign on the door. Once inside, I was welcomed by a lovely bunch of people and some very keen gardeners.

Garden clubs are a great way to communicate with fellow local gardeners and you always leave having learnt something new.

You don’t need to be an expert with incredible plant knowledge. You just need to have a positive outlook about your garden.

Many of the clubs have competitions to see who has grown the best plants. This is really a bit of fun, although sometimes can get taken very seriously. Often there are trained judges within the club, or all the members vote by placing a cardboad token next to the display they like the best in each category. This was the case here at Bentleigh.

You always get ideas on colour combinations and you see some classic little vases that visually enhance the presentation.

I thought the standard of entries at Bentleigh  were of a very high standard and I am pleased to show you some pictures in the gallery below……….and why don’t you check out your local garden club – even if it is just as a visitor, or become a fully fledged member.


Hallam Primary School’s vegetable garden.

By James Wall

Today I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of Hallam Primary School’s vegetable garden and kitchen. It is of course another primary school participating in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation.

Official opening of Hallam Primary School vegetable garden.

Official opening of Hallam Primary School vegetable garden.

According to one of the speakers there are now over 35,000 students from 267 schools participating in the program. Students learn how to grow and cook their own produce. Because they have played a part in the growing of the fruit an vegetables, they are much more positive to eating it. The presentation included pictures of  before and after the project. Basically a patch of muddy grass was converted into a very inviting meeting place of gardens.

A very healthy broad bean crop.

A very healthy broad bean crop.

Carrots soon to be thinned out.

Carrots soon to be thinned out.

After the presentations the sun was out and we were shown the beautiful new food garden. I was very impressed in how clean the broad bean crop was and how well the sweetcorn seeds had germinated.  But it is not just the plants, but the passion of the people, from Shirley the headmaster through to Ross the gardener that really shone through. With a bit of stimulation, communities like this can do anything – especially with help from people like Rotary, Inner Wheel and local businesses. Together they shall grow.

A photo of the garden being constructed.

A photo of the garden being constructed.

A Weeping mulberry takes pride of place in the centre.

A Weeping mulberry takes pride of place in the centre.

The design of the garden beds was done by a student. Much to the disdain of the construction crew a trapezoidal design was chosen. A trapezoid is a quadrilateral with two sides parallel – basically a cross between a triangle and a rectangle. These things were a lot harder to make than rectangles ! However a landscape architect would have been most impressed by this design

A trapezium shgaped garden bed.

A trapezoid shaped garden bed

There were some artistic scarecrows.

There were some great sweetcorn seedlings not long germinated.

We then ventured inside to see a classroom that had been converted into a kitchen. It had a superb freezer and restaurant grade dishwasher through to a number of ovens and workbenches, all tastefully decked out in natural but modern colours. Congratulations to whoever designed and built this wonderful kitchen.

Tasty treats were a plenty !

Tasty treats were a plenty !

There were some other tasteful things including sausage rolls, vegetable tarts and a delicious  finely chopped salad. What impressed me was the flavour of various herbs coming through which made this food very tasty. I finished off with a scone covered in lemon curd, berry jam and freshly whipped cream. Lemons came from the lemon tree, and the berries were picked last summer and frozen and then used to make this wonderful jam once school had resumed. This resourceful school had filled me up and there would be no need for lunch.

We never had a program like this when I went to school. It’s like learning without even realising you are being taught to. I am sure that every guest that left that school had a glow like mine. The world has so many good things going for it, and this day was one of them.

Happy gardening Hallam !

Happy gardening Hallam !


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