A winter which saw the South Burnett receive just half its long-term average rainfall put a slight dent in this year’s Wondai Spring Garden Expo … but fortunately, gardeners are a hardy bunch and it takes a lot more than a drought to dent their enthusiasm.
The Garden Expo was held at the Wondai Sportsgrounds over the weekend in hot and slightly windy conditions which had most guests racing for shade in the Lions pavilion or under stall-holder’s tents as the sun rose high in the sky.
Wondai Garden Expo Committee members who manned the gates said that despite the conditions, attendance seemed to be “about average”.
The number of stallholders at the Expo was slightly fewer than normal, they said, but there were also several newcomers to the double sided avenue of exhibitors that stretched two-thirds the way around the oval, and that balanced things out nicely.
As usual, gardeners could choose amongst a huge array of plants – most well-suited to the South Burnett’s climate – along with a wide assortment of garden accessories that covered everything from garden furniture to sculpture, with many quirky items in between.
And knowing that the daytime temperatures were going to be high, many chose to come early to make their purchases, then leave before the mercury began climbing.
This year the Expo’s official opening was moved back from 11:00am to 1:00pm to allow official guests to slot it into their diaries.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington, South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell, Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff, Cr Ros Heit, Cr Danita Potter and former Wondai mayor Percy Iszlaub attended along with interested members of the public.
Garden Expo president Helen Young began the formalities by expressing her thanks to fellow Expo committee members, Wondai Lions who were manning the canteen, and the Expo’s stallholders for standing by the event despite the inhospitable weather.
Without them, she said, the long-standing garden show could not have withstood everything the elements had thrown at it over the past 24 years.
“Gardeners are a hardy bunch and we know this is an area prone to droughts,” Helen said.
“Even so, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a beautiful array of plants. I’m just sorry it’s such an awful season.”
Mayor Keith Campbell said he was partial to a bit of gardening himself, and was sorry his duties didn’t allow him more time to pursue it. But he congratulated the Garden Expo committee on a job well done.
Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff remarked on how different the Spring Expo was from this year’s Autumn Expo, when everything was lush and green. But she was delighted all the Garden Expo committee had chosen pink for the uniforms.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington, who was invited to officially open the show, said it was the first time she’d been asked to do so now that the Nanango electorate covers Wondai (or will, after the next State election) and was honoured.
She told the audience she’d even picked out a special floral dress for the occasion, partly to keep in touch with the day’s theme and partly to “try to channel Cr Duff”.
Mrs Frecklington said she’d bought plants for her own home garden at the Autumn Expo, but the dry winter had doomed most of them.
“I think I need to stick to roses and gerberas,” she said.
“This dry weather seems to be killing everything else.”
Stallholders southburnett.com.au spoke to said they’d noticed sales were lower on Saturday than they usually are at the Expo, but most seemed philosophical about it.
“You can’t blame people not wanting to buy plants when they know they can’t water them adequately,” Peter Undery from Ramesa Nursery said, gesturing at the dry grass around the sportsground.
“But we’re doing pretty good business with our potting mixes and with any luck, we’ll get rain over the summer which should make next year’s Autumn Expo pretty good.”
The next Wondai Garden Expo will be held on the third weekend in April.