Monday, May 16, 2011

And so to the next Show Garden

'Imagine' is now a distant memory but Dirtscape Dreaming is moving on to inspire and keep dreaming with a new show garden in just 4 weeks time. We're at the Mind Body Spirit festival at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from 10 - 12th June, with a beautiful garden 'Retreat and Reflect'. We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


How'd we do?

'Imagine' won GOLD


Dirtscape Dreaming won the HMA award for 'BEST USE OF PLANTLIFE IN A DISPLAY'

Congratulations team!! We did it!!!! It's champagne time!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Update : We're off to Brekky!!

i have a 7 am date with the premier's breakfast which means....... we're getting a medal! i don't have any idea of what, but will post as soon as I know! Good grief! We may just have done it!

The finish line

The shed adorned with flowers

the Tunnel...

Famous people in the coastal garden

Paula losing it!

The fairy garden treasure ropes
It was looking like a disastrous day with fewer hands on deck and so much finishing to do. Any MIFGS veteran will agree that finishing takes a whole day once you think you've finished the garden. When I arrived this morning we still had 3 garden beds to complete due to another shortage of plants. The dromana toppings path hadn't been completed as we'd had to order more, and the flowers were only just beginning to go up in the shed. We were a day behind with just hours to go!

Anthony and I decided the only thing to do was just get on with it as quickly as we could. by 10am I was worried and started calling friends to come in and help. It seemed so unfair that all this organisation still came down to the wire like this. Mike from Swinburne then arrived on the site with the news that 16 students and Mim were on their way and would be with us in minutes. I've never been so pleased to see anyone in my life. In no time I had them pulling together in teams doing mulching and detailing, while the stronger guys started doing the rubbish cleanup. Everything needed to be moved off site now and quickly as the parks guys decided they wanted to mow! i wonder who put in the urgent grass lopping request and which team they were on.

Within an hour people seemed to emerge from everywhere armed with brooms and buckets, ready to line up for a job. It was like a band of fairies just lifting the load and sharing it. When Anthony and I stopped for lunch, we managed to find 2 pages of things left to do, with 3 hours to go. We set the deadline of 2pm for everyone to be off site so we could review, check and think straight. Sandra rounded up floristry help and the back wall began to heave with fresh flowers. The wine barrels took on a whole new look with gorgeous snaking centrepieces and cherry red perspex tops. The dromana toppings arrived and a frenzy of activity had it flying around into place.

In one of my garden bed checks, I found a big area of plants in a heap, leaving a hole in the planting. It was as if someone had fallen into the garden bed. Then I realised this bed was around an old elm tree, housing a possum family who now couldn't get up to their home without a major logistics exercise. Sometime tomorrow I'll have t give them a route up the tree or this will be an ongoing problem every morning...

So, Bill and Sue arrived from Austraflora and the Lovely Sue set about hanging teacups on the sales tanks and taking photos. Amidst the bedlam Johanna Griggs and the Better Homes and gardens team came through to do some filming in preparation for Friday's show. Jason from the show has been constructing his own garden this year but they still take a look at what's around. 2 pm arrived and i blew the whistle, getting everyone to leave us to gather ourselves for a final check. An enormous amount had been achieved, and while there were some things I'd have done again if I'd had time, I was pretty happy with how it was looking. We all did a final check and altered some things, tidied and swept, stuffed a few extra plants in and picked up a few leaves. At 5 to 3 the organisers came down the road calling for everyone to leave - judging had begun.

We made it. My team pulled it off, and we actually made it. PHEW! Now for a celebratory beer and to get cleaned up. It's been a hot dusty day with so much grime in layers that's it's hard to tell who is who. Phil's team patted us on the back as we did them - all a very fair contest for the top prize and now we wait to see who gets a breakfast invitation with the Premier tomorrow. i think it's Gold awards and special awards like Waterwise, Best in Show and so on that get to go to brekky, so it would mean we'd done very well if we go to brekky.

i head to a friend's beauty place for much needed attention and relaxation therapy. it's been well earned! Hard to believe this chapter is closing and I can think about something else for a while!

Monday, March 30, 2009

1 day to go

Utterly exhausted. So much to do. Many less people on the ground to help tomorrow and when every person is needed to put in 110% a little encouragement and practical help goes such a long way. It's deadlines like this where you really see what people are made of. I'm so proud of my team - the Arbour guys have been putting in hard physical 12 - 15 hour days for 11 days now, way over what they are paid for. The Swinburne guys have been right there every day with busloads of students, interested staff helpers and bucketloads of enthusiasm, all in the name of good relationships with industry. Kris, my wonderful assistant and star plantswoman has dropped everything to do long days just for the experience. We've all asked other small business people to give up their time and hence money to contribute on the chance that some publicity may come their way, and even better, some more work out of it. Gary from Bentsticks must have put hundreds of hours into the fairy grotto - a pure masterpiece that will draw every child into this garden. Gerry from FormBoss has given some 40 metres of steel edging, fabricated with brackets which takes time in the factory. It all represents time and money. Yarra Burn gave 15 wine barrels that could have been sold for cash that could be much needed in this economy. Mark from Transrock sent an enormous amount of rock for our walls for free without hesitation - very generous for such a small company. All small businesses who rely on relationships with people to grow.

It's an interesting observation that when the pressure is on, the small businesses keep on giving and never give up, yet the small thing from the much larger businesses that makes all the difference - encouragement and thanks, recognition for effort over and above what was agreed - is just so hard to come by.

Why is it that transactions between little businesses are so easy and uncomplicated do you think? Why do little businesses just keep on getting up after being kicked again and again, just to see an agreement through to the end?
Integrity. It's a belief that professional integrity is just so important. It may be less profitable than being a constant taker, but regrets are fewer for us when we need to call on friends. I wish us all luck for tomorrow, that we get it finished, that we know we've done our best and that we're proud of what we've done. Well done my team, I'm very proud to have you all as my friends.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2 days to go : can't remember how many days we've been at this now...

Exhaustion hit hard today and with all the construction guys having a much needed day off, it was hard not to panic when another truckload of plants were delivered this morning. The light at the end of the tunnel was snuffed out promptly as paths filled up with plants and bedlam ensued all over again. My goal today was to finish the planting in the calm of a construction free day, but after looking at the plants for an hour with no progress, I headed for strong coffee and then just waited for the delivery of the fairy grotto. It was great to see it in place and imagine the sheer delight the kids are going to have in this garden...

The florist girls, Sandra and Jude, arrived this morning but couldn't start the back wall of the shed yet. They need more holes made in the tin and it requires an angle grinder that i don't have a license to drive. Schedules were rearranged and a priority list done as yet more creative solutions came to the fore. I left mid afternoon with eyes firmly on my bed and my mind on a quick solution for a table in our heart garden. I don't even want to think about tomorrow and have no energy to download photos tonight.

I hope tomorrow goes to plan. I so hope tomorrow goes to plan...

Friday, March 27, 2009

4 days to go : BUILD DAY 8

While there's so much that's been achieved today it's selfishly the fabulous massage from Phil Johnson's on site masseur that has given me the most relief. I am so very grateful for his caring camaraderie on a day where my back just didn't want me out of bed.

We have no photos today - it was dark when I left today and I just plain forgot. The picture would be spectacular though, perhaps giving too much away at this late stage of the build. You really must come and see it for yourself because this truly talented, committed team has created something that may just change how you live your life. There really is something for everyone in this garden.

The stonewallers were on site today, creating the heart shaped drystone walls for the last time. All that practise enabled the best to come out today; the final piece of the puzzle. Absolutely beautiful work boys! The Arbour boys delivered a magnificent sales hut out of a 3 metre diameter rainwater tank today, the bench a work of art in itself and created with such care and artistry. Craig put together the first of the twig fences,while Dan slogged through the sand dune retaining wall finishing. Stewart had a lovely surprise with the red corrugated tin wall at the back of the shed - closer inspection will reveal all and delight! Once again the Swinburne team of lecturers gave it their all with their students and we worked like a well oiled team.

Now for sleep! Short but sweet!