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Why Floriade? Is it time to think again?

By Paul Costigan 25 October 2017 4
Image of Floriade

Photo: Paul Costigan.

It has been many years since I have wandered amongst the tulips of Floriade. Many years. So being someone who likes to observe events and how people react – I decided that it was time to visit Floriade 2017.

School holidays were over – and so it should have been fairly quiet on the last Saturday before Floriade wound up for 2017.

Alas – as I approached, I realised that something was not normal. It was Dog’s Day Out at Floriade. This meant that the place was full of hundreds of locals and their dogs – as well as the occasional tourist who like me, were probably wondering what this was all about.

But first – the flowers. The layout is based on the professional design work of a group of local landscape architects. I have seen images in the past of some of their work and it was good stuff – award-winning work.

But on the day, the reality was something else.

Yes, there were many beautiful flowerbeds with many tulips – and other flowers – in all manner of colours and arrangements. But the only way to really appreciate the design work would have been to go up on the Ferris Wheel. I looked at the queue, but decided otherwise.

Image of Floriade

Photo: Paul Costigan.

So while Floriade’s flowers were bright and inviting – the actual design layouts were not fully appreciated easily. In fact given that on this particular day so many people seemed very intent on parading their dogs – most peoples’ attention was not on the flowerbeds.

Yes, the occasional person did stop to look closer at particular flowers – but very few of these were dog handlers. I was left wondering just how much the dog owners appreciated the professional designs behind the flowerbeds.

I am sure that the organisers will be happy that so many people showed up on this special Dog’s Day Out. On one level, by simply counting numbers, it was a total success, but I question its success as a celebration of tulips in their specially designed beds.

Image of Floriade

Photo: Paul Costigan.

For families, I am sure that Floriade provides parents with the opportunity to have children entertained by the many add-ons – and plenty of opportunities to spend money on things demanded by their children.

There was also generous provision for food and drink.

Image of Floriade

Photo: Paul Costigan.

Floriade has the look of a well-staged social event – with the flowerbeds as the major back-drop. If this appeals to you, then you are most likely someone who has attended several times.

Then there is the issue of Floriade’s location within Commonwealth Park. I agree with the NCA that it is time for Commonwealth Park to remain free of these major events and to return to being an open-space parkland all year.

If Floriade is to continue, then a new location by the lake needs to be identified. The lake makes for a great backdrop to such an event. The location should be re-landscaped/ engineered to have various levels – some higher than others so that attendees could look down easily on many of the specially designed flower beds.

The site should be designed not only for Floriade but also for other major events so that throughout the year there would be a string of happenings to be enjoyed by locals and tourists. Such a park design should be the subject of a competition.

Image of Floriade

Photo: Paul Costigan.

As for the Dog’s Day Out (on-leash) – my comments as above stand – good for the dog owners to show off, but not so good if the aim was to engage people with the well-designed flowerbeds.

For me, it will probably be my last visit. Such events do not appeal. Give me a parkland or garden show that is about taking your time, and having the opportunity to take in great landscapes with some well-designed open spaces. That’s not Floriade in its present configuration.

What are your thoughts on this year’s Floriade? Let us know by commenting below. 


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4 Responses to
Why Floriade? Is it time to think again?
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dungfungus 11:14 am 29 Oct 17

JC said :

Must admit no great fan of Florida’s same old same old to me every year.

But I note your comments about having raised areas etc. having visited the keukenhof show near Amsterdam I think I can say for the most part you can have an interesting flower show without nescisarily needing to look down upon it. Though it is done in a dedicated area which allows it to be far better laid out which is one of the gusts of your post.

I rather enjoyed you post about the annual wind conditions in Florida JC. It went over well with some Dutch cheese and wine.

JC 9:08 pm 27 Oct 17

Must admit no great fan of Florida’s same old same old to me every year.

But I note your comments about having raised areas etc. having visited the keukenhof show near Amsterdam I think I can say for the most part you can have an interesting flower show without nescisarily needing to look down upon it. Though it is done in a dedicated area which allows it to be far better laid out which is one of the gusts of your post.

Graham Tupper 4:46 pm 26 Oct 17

Floriade has much value in bringing visitors to Canberra but I think it needs to be reinvented as a hub or springboard to other experiences on and around the lake – as Lonely Planet has identified. Flowers are a great entry point to where the real fun can begin – like taking advantage of the cycle paths around our gorgeous bush capital.

bryansworld 12:01 pm 25 Oct 17

Agreed. Boring, with lots of shops selling junk. Why don’t local nurseries and plant associations have a presence. It could be so good, but instead it’s tired and bad. The only people that appreciate are those that trek down from Sydney – I guess if you’re used to sprawling polluted suburbs and congested roads, floriade is pretty damn attractive.

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