Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Million Blooming Tulips Steal Show

Tulips, tulips and more tulips in a spectrum of colors displayed true Carnivale (JP/Ahmad Syam)

By Ahmad Syam
The Jakarta Post, October 29, 2006

Commonwealth Park is covered with a carpet full of flower motifs. This is the first impression of Floriade that comes upon entering the park, located in the heart of Canberra.

More than one million tulips in full bloom and other flowers from several different countries were on show during the floral event, which ran from Sept. 16-Oct. 15.
The flowers' brilliant colors dazzled under the bright spring sun while the wind whipped up the surface of Lake Burley Griffin and gently rustled the flowers on the hilly landscape.

Two Floriade officers are busy coordinating and directing visitors in passing through the right entrance. The number of visitors are counted automatically upon entry -- there are no tickets to check by hand, so long queues can be prevented, no matter how crowded it gets. The event is highly popular, and visitors -- most of them wearing a sun-hat -- flock in the hundreds of thousands to see the annual event. As for entrance fees, admission to Floriade has been free for a number of years after some controversy.

Foto: Ahmad Syam

Floriade was initiated in 1988 to mark Canberra's 75th anniversary and the bicentennial of Australia's European settlement. Although the event was intended as a one-time celebration, it was made into an annual event due to great public response.

The floral show is held every spring, from mid-September to mid-October, and has a new theme each year. According to Australian Capital Territory chief minister Jon Stanhope's official statement, this year's theme, Carnivale -- The World on Show, "celebrates the color and diversity of the world with more than one million bulbs and annuals". The Floriade of the past two years were: Rock `n' Rock in Bloom (2005) and The Wonder of Water (2004).

Carnivale presented amazing garden beds inspired by the flags, iconic symbols, history, flower festivals and traditional gardens of 16 countries -- each of which are home to major international flower festivals.

Canada, for example, was represented by maple leaves that spilled across the vista and into a giant explosion of tulips, a flower bed design taken from a key display at the Canadian Tulip Festival.

At Floriade 2006, visitors could tour the Spanish ship San Pedro in a colorful floral sea. This display is part of the event's celebrating the 400th anniversary of Portuguese explorer Luis Vaez de Torres, who is thought to have discovered the northern Australian coastline.

Foto: Ahmad Syam

An attractive model of a Turkish sultan's palace and the Turkish flag made of living flowers were also on show.From Turkey, visitors could take a walk over a traditional Dutch canal bridge spanning a meadow of thousands of tulip blooms.

Alternatively, visitors who like the color white could pass through a bamboo forest and traditional Japanese archway to the Zen Garden. Instead of pebbles and sand, the traditional rock garden was made up by thousands of white blossoms.

Other floral displays included the United States' Statue of Liberty cast in flowers, England's Hampton Court surrounded by garden beds inspired by the flags of Ireland, Wales and England, as well as a classical Chinese garden.

These were only a few of the highlights of national icons from around the world -- much more were on show from Belgium, Colombia, France, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Host country Australia was symbolized by a vast landscape of contrasting blooms and an awesome sculpture of a native reptile, the frill-necked lizard -- also known as a frilled dragon.

A single visit to the flower show would not be enough to take in all there is to see and do at Floriade. Much like an amusement park, the show provides information kiosks for visitors and exhibition marquees, a ferris wheel providing fantastic views over the gardens and lovely hanging basket displays.

Foto: Ahmad Syam

Visitors who like gardening could drop by the showcase gardens, which were designed to inspire and educate people about plant varieties, garden design and landscaping. Besides which, visitors could get some ideas on designing environmentally friendly gardens -- in this case, a water-conscious garden. This type of garden minimizes water use, and the accompanying showcase also featured research on the most up-to-date lawn management methods.

Taking a whole day traveling through the park, of course, would require some refreshment. Not to worry -- goodies of all kinds, from freshly roasted coffee to a variety of snacks, were provided at Floriade Village. The village was also a really great place to relax while listening to live entertainment on the Country Link Village Stage.

Travel Tips
* To learn about things to see and do around the park, pick up the A$2 Floriade Garden Guide at Brand Depot's Floriade Information * Wear a hat and sunscreen for protection from the sun. The average temperature during spring in Canberra ranges from 5-25 degrees Celsius. * Don't forget the kids -- Floriade also holds special activities for children (Ahmad Syam, Contributor, Canberra)

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