Collectors’ Plant Fair is COMING!

Words by
Georgina Reid
Images by
Daniel Shipp
| March 31, 2017

Its coming. The one weekend of the year when all moderation heads out the window. The weekend you tell yourself things like “I’ll just buy this one little weird native orchid because I’ll likely never see it again and the grower is lovely and I just think I need it and because it’s so small it’ll fit in to my already over-full courtyard.’ Five minutes later the same conversation occurs, this time regarding a special little begonia, or maybe a funny succulent thing. Yes, plant lovers, the Collectors Plant Fair is coming on April 8-9!

For only one weekend each year over 70 specialist nurseries descend on Hawkesbury Race Club in Clarendon, Sydney, for the Collectors Plant Fair (CPF) – currently in its 13th year. It’s a day where you’ll likely find the strange, weird plants on your wish-list, and dozens more you didn’t even know you wanted. Plant nerds unite!

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I had a chat with planty powerhouse Linda Ross, convenor of the fair, about what we can expect at this year’s event.

What are you most excited about this year at CPF?
Collectors’ Weekend is the most important weekend on the calendar for my clan of plant lovers – its where we find the desirable, interesting, slightly unusual plants we long for. I suppose it would be like a trip to Cinderella Castle for a kid who’s totally into Disney. I’m not. I’m into greenery, gardens and planty people.

This weekend is my Disney – the magical world of horticulture and botany. I’m trembling for the most beautiful assortment plants for sale in Australia (every plant looks shiny, new, sitting up, back straight, paying attention, ready for a new home) and I’m excited that I can talk plants all day nonstop with my kind of people – plants, plants, plants, plants…

It’s an unpretentious, down to earth weekend of happy-planty-fun.

Why is it important to keep an event like CPF running?
It’s becoming very hard to find good plants. Hardware store nurseries are homogenous, good nurseries are a rarity, and don’t even get me started on landscapers! Every garden looks the same!

We have such an interesting climate here – we can grow a huge range of plants from many different climates around the world – Japanese maples, Chinese magnolias, Mexican mistletoe, English oaks, Indian hawthorn, Himalayan rhododendrons, Japanese wisteria, Mexican frangipanis – not to mention the huge range of Australian plants we haven’t even met yet. Our gardens can be a cornucopia of botanical discovery –a world tour in a nutshell!

If we don’t have events like Collectors’ Plant Fair we won’t have the opportunity to meet these plants and pick the brains of the incredible growers who grow them.

Also, I’m not sure if everyone’s figured it out yet but this generation of growers are and not being replaced. Nobody wants to be a specialist nursery business anymore – its too much trouble for too little return – so the growers, and thus the CPF, are endangered.

Why the addition of the flower show? Any hints on what the judges will be looking for?
I have memories of being mesmerised before tables laden with green bottles of home-grown flowers at country shows and I wanted to bring that magic back to Collectors’ Plant Fair this year. I’d love everyone to join in by bringing a flower to display at the Fair on April 8. Show off your talents and inspire a new generation of green thumbs. It’s about bringing a little piece of your garden to share with everyone.

This will be a true old-fashioned flower show with entries displayed in glass bottles ranged along trestle tables in the hall. Entries will be judged and there are wonderful prizes to win. We are looking for a lovely bloom, seed pod or foliage, with no bugs in or bites out, that makes us smile. All ages welcome and under 16’s get into the Fair free.

Find out more about entering the show (and great prizes!) here.

Do you have any newcomer stalls this year? If so, who are they?
Heaps! We have a medicinal herb and tea plant specialist from Katoomba, plus a nursery that specialises in multi-grafted fruit trees – like one tree with a lemon, lime and orange grafted onto it! We have a bee expert, bee hive supplier plus bee hotels.

Natalia from Broadcroft Design is coming from Qld with her spunky corten planters and sculptures. We have more Australian plant nurseries than ever before plus a divine garden designer, Kath Gadd who makes copper spun bird baths! We are delighted to have artist Christina McLean’s from TRADE the MARK exquisite ceramic planters, hanging pots and textiles exhibiting for the first time too.

What plants are you hunting at this year’s fair?
Me? I’ve been working on my list for a while now. 200 Allium sphaerocephalon from Drewitt’s Bulbs; heaps more miscanthus, angelica, sanguisorba from Antique Perennials and Perennialle nurseries. Always more floaty greenery from Kawana Gardens Nursery for my indoor jungle… and some more of my favourite lilac kangaroo paws from my mate Angus Stewart. Plus I’d love to find flannel flowers and everlasting daisies too. Oh and I’m addicted to Cornersmith pickles – so I’ll be stocking up!

Is there anything else you want to add?
We have handy maps to help you find the plants you love. Pick up a map beforehand, plan your plant route at the following places:  Cornersmith Cafes at Marrickville and Annandale from April 1 – 8; at the Glenmore House stand at the Camden Show this weekend March 31 – April 1; and at the Garden Clinic Headquarters in Beecroft. Or you can print it out from the website and/or grab one when you enter the show.

So plant people, you know where you’ll find me early next Saturday morning! Hope to see you there.

Collectors’ Plant Fair
Sat & Sun 8-9, April 2017
Hawkesbury Race Club
1 Racecourse Rd, Clarendon NSW

Hours: Saturday April 8, 8am to 4pm / Sunday April 9, 9am to 4pm

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