Expect the unexpected at annual carnival
STEPPING into a private garden in Toowoomba is like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland – visitors have no idea what they are going to find.
They may feel overwhelmed, but in a good way, by the colourful blooms, the magnificent trees, the impeccable lawns and the abundant wildlife.
The gardeners of Toowoomba all take pride in what they create, especially in September during the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers.
The carnival attracts national and international visitors to the Garden City for 10 days and through the Chronicle Garden Competition, thousands of proud gardeners transform their gardens into spectacular sights.
The Chronicle’s marketing manager Stacey Hixon said the prestigious event was the largest in Queensland to open private gardens to the public for free.
Ms Hixon said some of the gardeners had been entering the competition for 38 years.
“All the gardeners pour their heart and soul into their creations and they love showing off their hard work and sharing their stories with the hundreds of visitors who stop by their homes,” she said.
Ms Hixon said the competition allowed members of the city’s garden community to connect with each other and share their ideas.
While many of the entrants in the competition are aged 60-plus (some 70-plus), she said there were many first-time entrants picking up their spades and wheelbarrows and giving it a go.
“We are starting to see a diverse range of people enter, from retirees to keen young gardeners,” she said.
“There has been a focus on involving schools in the competition during the last two years and it’s been great to see so many of our local schools embrace the competition and have their students involved in gardening.”
That was something particularly special for Ms Hixon, who said it was wonderful to see the experienced gardeners influencing those students.
Visitors are asked only for gold coin donations and the money raised goes to various charities in the community like Anglicare, St Vincent de Paul Society, Life Education, Legacy and Toowoomba Community Care Transport.
Ms Hixon said The Chronicle Exhibition Gardens had raised more than $610,000 for those charities.