40,000 plants for 40,000 people

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Last year Australia’s largest sub-tropical garden expo attracted record crowds with over 40,000 visitors and this year the over 360 exhibitors — including 55 nurseries selling about 40,000 plants — are preparing for similar crowds when the 34th Queensland Garden Expo opens its gates tomorrow, Friday 13 July.

Event Manager Marion Beazley said the Nambour Showgrounds had been a hive of excitement this week with thousands of plants being brought in and the set-up of hundreds of marquees, some of which will host the nation’s leading gardening experts including Gardening Australia’s Costa Georgiadis, Jerry Coleby-Williams, Sophie Thomson and for the first time, the popular Paul West from River Cottage Australia.

“The speaker line-up is once again the who’s who of gardening in Australia and caters for the full spectrum of gardener, from the experienced green thumb to those who are just venturing into this fantastic pastime,” Ms Beazley said.

“Whether you want to hear from Paul about growing your own food and how to use it in simple, fresh recipes or you’d like to learn how to grow turmeric, keep chickens in your backyard, grow roses in Queensland or create the perfect sub-tropical garden, these are just some of the diverse topics that will be covered within the 120-presentation speaker program.”

“The Plant Clinic is probably one of our most popular hotspots at the Expo where visitors can get free help in identifying plants and tackling their gardening dilemmas from a range of experts, including much of our speaker line-up. That’s what makes this event quite unique, all our speakers make themselves available for questions and are happy to share their wealth of knowledge with whoever needs advice.”

“Visitors also love our landscape garden competition where the best of the best on the Coast show what they can do with a blank canvas of 8m x 10m of grass, and the transformation is quite incredible. This year we have six reflection gardens too in which many of our exhibitors — all working to the theme of ‘A Splash of Purple’ — show how much can be achieved in a garden as small as 6m x 3m which gives our visitors inspiration for what can be achieved at home.”

Other firm favourites include the Giant Kitchen Garden which includes a totally organic food court and fully planted sustainable garden, the Living Backyard which demonstrates how to create a garden that attracts frogs, birds, butterflies or bees and of course the kids activities.

“This year we will have a maze to keep the kids entertained where the little ones can learn fun gardening facts as they make their way through a network of hay bales as well as the always popular free playground with a giant slide, jumping castle and merry-go-round.”

Ms Beazley said over 65 per cent of those coming to the Expo came from outside the Sunshine Coast region, equating to the Coast’s population increasing by about 26,000 people, or about 10 per cent, during the three-day event.

“Last year we had visitors from as far afield as China and a large contingent from New Zealand which is definitely a growing market for us. Of course we also get coachloads of gardening enthusiasts travelling from Victoria, New South Wales and across Queensland and most of them spend the weekend on the Sunshine Coast to enjoy what the region has to offer.”

The 2018 Queensland Garden Expo will be held between 13 and 15 July at the Nambour Showgrounds, Coronation Avenue, Nambour. To find out more and purchase tickets online, please visit www.qldgardenexpo.com.au.

EXPO EXTRA — Queensland Garden Expo in numbers
• 3 days of gardening bliss from 13-15 July at Nambour Showgrounds.
• 8 speaker stages
• 34 years of Queensland Garden Expo with the first event being held in 1985 — a one-day event with 30 exhibitors, 300 visitors, 5 workshops
and a Plant Clinic.
• 400 hay bales to demarcate areas
• 120 free lectures and demonstrations on the speaker program.
• 360-plus exhibitors and displays including 55 nurseries selling 40,000 plants.
• 5,000 seedlings given away every year at the Coffee Cup Refill Station where visitors can take their empty coffee cups and get it filled
with potting mix and a small plant to take home.
• 17,000 reusable ‘Life is a Garden’ purple shopping bags to ensure there are no single-use plastic bags on site!
• 26,000 from outside the Sunshine Coast which increases the region’s population by about 10 per cent for the weekend.
• 40,000-plus attendees in total across the three-day event.
• $8 million of economic impact, which encompasses both visitor spending as well as the impact of expo exhibitors travelling
from outside the area.