Queensland Garden Expo — everything’s coming up roses!

Beautiful blue skies during the 2019 Queensland Garden Expo

Excitement is building for this year’s Queensland Garden Expo which opens its gates to thousands of gardeners this Friday, offering both green thumbs and beginners over seven hectares of inspiration, more than 60,000 plants on sale each day and Australia’s largest gardening speaker program across the three-day event.

Queensland Garden Expo Event Manager Marion Beazley said she was delighted that the 2021 event had not been hindered by COVID restrictions and looked forward to welcoming gardening enthusiasts from far and near to the Expo between 9-11 July.

“The response from our supporters and the gardening enthusiasts who have come to love the Queensland Garden Expo over our 37-year history, has been overwhelming and we can’t wait to open the gates on Friday morning to welcome them in,” Ms Beazley said.

“Gardening has only increased in popularity over the past 12-18 months with over 2.2 billion plants produced and sold in Australia in 2019-20, so this year our program includes a range of ‘back to basics’ presentations for those who are new to gardening and still finding their feet. We are celebrating gardeners old and new in 2021 after an extraordinary year for the industry.

“Our aim has always been to share the benefits of gardening and the past year has seen people turn to their gardens for a variety of reasons — to relax and enjoy the fresh air, to grow their own fruit and vegetables, to spend time with friends and family in a safe environment and to create beautiful haven at home at a time when movements are restricted due to the pandemic.

“Whatever the reason, we’re delighted that more people are spending time in their gardens and look forward to welcoming a raft of new visitors to this year’s Expo.”

“What makes this event different to many others is the access that visitors have to the growers who can offer them the very best advice on how to make their plants thrive. We also have the biggest speaker program with some of Australia’s leading garden experts sharing their knowledge by delivering over 100 presentations across the 10 live stages.

“The expertise we have onsite is second to none with crowd-favourites such as ABC’s Gardening Australia guru Jerry Coleby-Williams as well as event favourites Phil Dudman, Adam Woodhams, Dr Kevin Redd and Claire Bickle.

“Whether you want to know more about keeping chickens in your backyard, successfully growing your own veggies, attracting native bees, managing fruit flies or how to grow and get the most out of turmeric, there is something on the program for everyone.”

Recent COVID-related restrictions around the country have seen a couple of the Expo’s high profile speakers find themselves unable to travel however with over 40 speakers on the program, visitors can still expect an impressive line-up of experts sharing their wealth of knowledge.

This will be the 36th Queensland Garden Expo and the event has grown from a modest crowd of 300 people in 1984 to the 350-plus exhibitor event today that attracts tens of thousands of people. The event has become a firm family favourite, particularly given children under 15 are free and the extensive kids program of activities on offer, including kids craft sessions, seed planting and the free playground with a giant slide, jumping pillow and merry-go-round.

Preparations for the award-winning event have been well underway for over a week with the Giant Kitchen Garden taking shape thanks to dozens of volunteers from gardening and permaculture groups across the Sunshine Coast.

One of the Expo’s most popular areas, the Giant Kitchen Garden incorporates a fully planted sustainable garden constructed on site, hosts a full program of lectures, demonstrations and workshops and offers a host of permaculture and organic gardening experts on hand to answer all questions.

The temporary infrastructure brought into the Nambour Showgrounds to accommodate the Expo includes more than 3,500sqm of marquees being erected onsite.

“We are delighted to once again be working with a range of events suppliers to help us deliver such a professional event — and particularly at a time when many of our events suppliers have come through a very tough year,” Ms Beazley said.

“The event injects between $8 million and $11 million into the local Sunshine Coast community each year so the impact on our local economy is significant.”

Deputy Chair of the Sunshine Coast Major Events Board Brenda LaPorte said the impact of an event like the Queensland Garden Expo could not be underestimated.

“Around 65 per cent of those attending the Queensland Garden Expo every year are visitors to the Sunshine Coast resulting in a significant economic benefit for the region. This benefit not only extends to those exhibiting at the event but far beyond the Nambour Showgrounds, including the accommodation providers, restaurants, our tourist attractions, retail and all the suppliers who support these businesses.

“The interest has been impressive this year with around 65 bus tours organised to bring visitors to the event.

“Our event industry has been hard hit by the COVID restrictions and we are delighted that the Queensland Garden Expo has been able to welcome visitors again this year.  Congratulations to Marion and her team on the resilience they have shown and the outstanding job they do of hosting the Sunshine Coast’s largest annual event.”

The event will see 350 exhibitors — including dozens of nurseries with over 60,000 plants on sale each day — on show from 9-11 July at the Nambour Showgrounds. Tickets are $20 for adults, while children under 15 are free.

For more information, visit www.qldgardenexpo.com.au.