Rosemarie Smith reports through the foliage from Ellerslie.
In the rush to see it all at an event as big and varied as Ellerslie International Flower Show in Christchurch, it can be hard to gather impressions into a coherent summary.
On the basis of what the camera snapped, the dominant images of this year's event appear to be artful recycling, amiable moas, fabulous floral art, man spaces and Raumati schoolchildren's take on sustainability.
These pages could be filled with any one of these themes.
An earthquake theme rumbled on quietly, as in the flowerbed emblazed with the red-letter date 2-2-22, the scheduled Christchurch rebuild completion date.
It was also at the heart of the Supreme Award-winning garden, Revolutionising Reuse, by Grant Stephens and Rebecca Hammond, which evoked the tendency of the quaked-out to find new meanings and security in outdoor living space.
The exhibit offered a lounge, sculpture garden, kitchen and well-stocked pantry, all put together with a powerful message about reuse of material, to preserve memories as well as to step more lightly on the earth.
Most of the furnishing, the ornaments and planters were recycled eco chic, with the playful but still playable piano indicating a weighty message can be delivered in a mellow tone.
The People's Choice Award was unknown at the time of writing, but it should go to the Raumati South schoolchildren, who captivated Ellerslie festival-goers with their colourful, detailed sustainable schoolyard, and their competence in showing guests its features.
No further award could add to the glee of the Christchurch woodturners, who happily reported that their exhibit had been controversial.
After robust discussion, they said, the judges concluded their Alice in Woodland Mad Hatters Tea Party should, indeed, be judged on equal terms as a horticultural exhibit.
The woodturners make the assertion that through their craftiness, "the inner beauty of the tree is exposed, respected and brought to life".
More memorable conversations included Tony Murrell (well known down south from Mucking In) asserting the garden-friendliness of moas, which admire roses, apparently.
Winton floral art judge Rhonda Hall reported lighting has become increasingly important, and five of the show's nine lighting awards went to that section.
Another judge, Terry Hatch, noted, with less satisfaction, that apart from supplying plants, the nursery trade was largely absent as Ellerslie exhibitors.
"They grow the plants. They should be able to show what to do with them," he said.
"They leave it to students and designers."
In the Edible Ellerslie programme, chefs demonstrated their garden-to-the-table techniques, with punters paying $100 for the privilege of a masterclass lunch up front, but the show was also accessible to those in the picnic seats just outside with their own lunch.
Then, of course, there was the shopping, with retailers offering everything from enough chopping, lopping and sawing equipment to demolish Hagley Park, outdoor furniture and sculpture, to the inevitable house-cleaning, clothing and jewellery stalls, with no pretence of any relation to gardening, but hopefully helping fund the show.
Admittedly, there were some off notes in the Ellerslie tune, especially with there being fewer exhibit gardens.
The large, unfinished garden Out the Back, Classical Functional and Logical, looked on paper to offer something potentially interesting as a practical liveable space, as opposed to a design exhibit.
However, the barbed, garbled comment about "institutionally trained designers", apparently aimed at an "excessive use of native grasses, flaxes, cabbage trees and similar native scrub", seemed to have come back to bite the writer on the backside.
As for all those man spaces from the emerging designers, and one significant girlie-space, they deserve a story all to themselves another time.
- The Southland Times