There can never be enough flower shows because they bring beauty, inspiration and new plants into our lives. Well done to the visionaries behind the Johannesburg International Flower Show, which took place last weekend. As you step back and count the cost, I really hope next year’s show is already on the cards. What I liked about it is that it brought flowers to the people, instead of people having to find their way to the flowers. The Mall of Africa couldn’t have been a better location – accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Midrand. “Brings Joy to Jozi” was the...
There can never be enough flower shows because they bring beauty, inspiration and new plants into our lives.

Well done to the visionaries behind the Johannesburg International Flower Show, which took place last weekend. As you step back and count the cost, I really hope next year’s show is already on the cards.

What I liked about it is that it brought flowers to the people, instead of people having to find their way to the flowers. The Mall of Africa couldn’t have been a better location – accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Midrand.

“Brings Joy to Jozi” was the infectious slogan and it summed up beautifully what we all need and want. It is also what the horticultural industry badly needs. But it fell far short of all the hype that went into the build-up. What was missing was the wow factor.

No ‘wow’ at Jozi flower show_1

Water-wise succulent garden byFrancois Carl Kruger. Pictures: Supplied

There just wasn’t the abundance of star-quality plants, flowers or gardens to measure up to the claim: “The first horticultural event of this magnitude in Africa”.

It cannot compare with the Hampton Court and Chatsworth flower shows in terms of quality, innovation, design or professionalism. Here are some observations that could inform next year’s planning.

Tone down the hype. “Brings Joy to Jozi” says it all. Rather build on that, instead creating unrealistic expectations.
Reconsider the ticket price. It was hardly worth the cost of admission.
Communicate better. Signage was lacking or just not visible, and so was basic information.
Provide a simple ground plan that indicates the gardens, the stall holders and other areas, so visitors can plan their viewing. I heard too many people saying, “We don’t know where to go.”
Increase the variety of plants for sale. For a garden show, there were not enough plants, especially for sale. Succulents dominated many of the designer gardens but there were hardly any to purchase.
Make it easy for people to buy: all garden centres provide trolleys for their customers, but not at a garden show? I saw people struggling with a pot under one arm and packets in the other hand. If they had a trolley, they could have shopped till they dropped.
Upgrade the walkways, especially the garden area that was stony and unpleasant to walk on.
At international garden shows, the designer gardens are well identified – artisanal gardens, show gardens, etc. You need to know what you are looking at.
The retail space should not be random, but themed or grouped according to category: garden accessories, equipment, seed, container gardening, vegetable gardening etc.
Provide better support for garden designers. The area set aside for the show gardens looked like a recently cleared building site. There was stuff lying around at the perimeter, gaps and what seemed like abandoned stands. Enclose the area, set out the stands clearly and create an ambiance, maybe with an avenue of trees.
Provide proper water. Many complained of bad water pressure and battling to keep plants alive. The designers/landscapers spent a lot of money on their gardens. They deserve better.
Set professional standards. Not to take away from the three or four standout show gardens, the balance were pleasant but far from innovative or cutting edge and there were some obvious lapses in attention to detail.
Designs should be submitted for acceptance with ongoing quality control and guidance – like that offered by Terry Moller, the doyenne of garden shows, who has set an increasingly high standard for the show gardens at Garden World’s Spring Festival.
If you want to see flowers, visit Ball Straathof’s open trial gardens today. Entrance is R30 per person, R15 pensioners and children under 12 free.


Contact 011-794-2316 or www. ballstraathof.co.za for directions.

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