Visitor numbers to flower show increase

POMONAL - The Pomonal Native Flower Show this year saw an increase in visitors to the event.

About 950 people attended the garden show over two days last weekend, with the local attraction one of the gardening highlights of Western Victoria.

"It was well advertised and for the first time we advertised together with the Grampians Wildflower Show in Halls Gap, which draws a similar crowd," Linda Handscombe from the Australian Plants Society Grampians Group said.

"Lots of native plant groups come up from Kerang, Warracknabeal, Warrnambool and places like that."

Ms Handscombe said thousands of plants were sold over the two days, along with books, botanical art, cut flowers and refreshments.

"Grevilleas were very popular, everyone was after them," she said.

"One of the highlights would definitely have been the wetlands feature by Aidan Banfield. His wetland creation based around Pomonal featured a pond and waterfall and he also sold plants outside.".

This year the Australian Plants Society Grampians Group drew attention to the new scourge of the Australian environment, Myrtle Rust and as a result they did not display any flowers from the Myrtaceae family.

Instead, an extensive photographic display of flowers at risk from the fungus attracted plenty of interest.

"We had 105 beautiful photos of plants in the Myrtaceae family that are at risk to Myrtle Rust and the DPI was on hand to give advice on how to identify and treat the problem, so a lot of people were interested in that," Ms Handscombe said.

"There were a lot of people who were amazed at the fact we were able to hold a show without a whole group of plants from the Myrtaceae family, such as clove, feijoa, eucalyptus and tea-trees. They usually make up about a quarter of our show.

"We work under the Australian Plant Society umbrella, we are part of that group and they put a ban on showing and selling any Myrtaceae plants this year to draw attention to the problem of Myrtle Rust."

Ms Handscombe said she believed the exhibition did help to raise awareness of the problem.

"I think it did work because as soon as I got home on Sunday night I had a little old lady from up the road call me saying 'Linda I think I have Myrtle Rust!', thankfully she didn't but people are more aware of it now," she said.

Another highlight of the garden show was the main stage at the Pomonal Hall, which was covered in pink Western Australian everlasting daisies and the back drop was painted by the late Jane Williams and her daughter Lindsay.

Ms Handscome said it was the first show without Jane, so the group thought her Grampians artwork would be an appropriate display.

On behalf of the Australian Plants Society Grampians Group, Ms Handscombe thanked all those who came to the show and the people who helped it all come together.

The Australian Plants Society Grampians Group Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of the month at the Pomonal hall. Visitors and new members are most welcome.

Enquiries to Linda Handscombe 5356 6352, 0407 700 843 or dlhandscombe@bigpond.com.

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