Our desire for more than a subsistence level lifestyle is fulfilled to a large degree by the beauty and visual satisfaction many people seem to find in gardens, that by and large we can find no where else.
From ancient Persia to the modern private estates of Europe, North America and Australia, gardening has been one of the most consistent signs of a great civilisation and the most visually absorbing expression of any culture since ancient times.
Stumbling by accident, across a stunning array of amazing floral arrangements in the Mueller Hall at the National Herbarium in Melbourne, while looking for another exhibition about botanical illustration proved a happy encounter
My unexpected visit also meant discovering the floral arrangements were decorating an event being presented by the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria (RHSV). The arrangements were all structured, thoughtfully designed to take on the philosophical, theological and intellectual ideas and fashionable concerns from many other cultures and based around age old practices.
The influence of the Japanese garden aesthetic, were immediately evident. The dynamic combination of the philosophies of Taoism and Zen laid more stress upon the process through which perfection was sought, rather than upon perfection itself.
Zen was a discipline that also sought enlightenment by performing strenuous meditation exercises, designed to deepen awareness and indeed these flowers catered to that thought.
In the Book of Tea, author Kakuzo Okakura called his countries garden art ‘the abode of the unsymmetrical – and here we encounter impertinent fashion, the contrast between the western and Asian approach to design’.
The intent of both was to underpin the spirit and aesthetic of garden architecture in the east, which catered to an outward manifestation of a profoundly held belief and experienced sense of spirituality.
In Japanese philosophy one who mentally completed the incomplete for him or her self could only discover true beauty.
The committee of the RHSV were all there in full force on the day, getting ready to celebrate the 165th anniversary of their founding by launching their new publication “A Seed is Planted’.
This well written beautifully produced tome, which I was able to browse, offered an extensive history about the society and its many achievements, since it was first founded in 1848.
Today education and the history of gardens are important to their philosophy and the committee were there in full force.
They were getting ready to welcome their current patron to launch the book a few hours later. A noted horticulturist, author, media personality and great friend of the Royal, Jane Edmanson is a qualified teacher with certificates in horticulture and landscape technology.
She has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal for educational and sustainable work in horticulture and the environment
Talking to the Secretary Jennifer Rickerby was a pleasurable experience. She was full of joie de vivre, loving what she was doing and explained about the society that she works for so diligently as an enthusiastic volunteer. Among many other initiatives the society runs she told me about was its wonderfully creative idea, the Great Victorian Hanging Basket Competition.
This all-inclusive competition is meant to encourage everyone and anyone to take on the challenge, whether or not they live in one room, an apartment, a cottage in the country, or multi storied mansion in the city.
It is a wonderful activity, designed to encourage teenagers, young adults, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, seniors and pensioners to create a miniature garden in a basket, one that is unique.
The competition doesn’t really need to cost anything but time and exercising your grey matter. What a wonderful innovation!
The images on an information board revealed that some past participants have taken the activity very seriously, while yet others have looked on it as having a great deal of fun in the sun with quite a number of laugh aloud entries.
What is so appealing about it the event is if you register to participate the Royal give you the basics you will need to create, the basket, potting mix and starter plants.
What you create is then entirely up to you, as you envision an image and plan to bring it to fruition.
You will need have the plants peak during the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, which will be held in the Carlton Gardens from the 25th to the 29th March 2015, so there is some planning involved.
Great prizes are available and you can win a complimentary ticket to the show so that you can visit your basket to see it on display.
You can also take all your relatives and friends along to see the fruits of your labour. Perhaps the only limitation is the number of entries for the competition, which are limited by the spaces available at the flower show.
So, if you want to be in it and win it then now’s the time to fill out the registration form and register before all the places are gone. Otherwise you will have to wait and plan for next year.
The Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria was founded to ‘promote the practice of gardening and horticulture as a fulfilling and positive practice within the community. Granted a royal charter by Queen Victoria, the first patron of the society was Charles La Trobe, who was Superintendent of the colony.
Since its establishment the society has grown change creatively, which has ensured it has become and remains a timeless organisation.
Its relevance is just as important today as it was way back when.
Since establishment the society has become an important focus in the development of horticulture in Victoria and indeed, Australia.
The society of women in attendance completely won me over, welcoming, happy people full of enthusiasm for developing supporting events and programs that cater to all groups in the community.
They have a distinctive focus on the disadvantaged, disabled and aged sectors, as well as enabling and emboldening the ‘transference of both culture and knowledge’.
Indeed, they and the society as it turned out, are just my cup of tea
They hold regular tours of Beleura House and Garden, a place of both historical and educational interest
Coming special events include a fabulous ‘Garden Ramble’ to visit the Alister Clark Memorial Rose Garden on 8th November from 10:30 am to 4pm.
Mr. Alister Clark bred roses in Bulla from 1912 until his death in 1949 and today the garden showcases the largest and most complete collection of Clark roses currently available.
For those who love Native Gardens, a visit to the Austplant Gardens and Nursery is always encouraged, and interested groups can book to have a special tour.
The RHSV regularly hold specialized tours to many other historic and horticulturally interesting gardens. Be sure to hop on their website if you would like to find out more.
They also offer fabulous tips and chores to attend to in the gardens, which are based on the season to hand. From bulbs, to herbs, from flowers to ferns, the RHSV has seasonal tips all covered.
The RHSV has some 530 affiliated clubs, societies and groups throughout Australia and their website is updated at regular intervals.
If you join up as well as helping them to fulfill their mission and purpose, you will gain a new interest, new friends and enjoy many fulfilling times with like minded people who have a passion to continue man’s harmony with the world they live in.
Listings are grouped by State and affiliates will be found in alphabetical order.
Seems like a good idea to join The Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria
You will enjoy having a close contact with nature and help to bring about profound happiness.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014