Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Wild about Waratahs 

This year’s Wild About Waratahs Festival, held 21-29 September at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, attracted 7500 visitors, keen to experience this stunning plant in its glorious flowering season. This was the festival’s 12th year, the highlight always being the display of the best blooms in NSW, entered by growers from around NSW who compete for the title of ‘Champion Bloom’.

There were almost 40 waratah blooms on display entered into a number of different categories and judged by Bettina Gollnow and Dr Cathy Offord. The winners were:

  • ‘Champion Bloom’ - ‘Wirrimbirra White’ grown by Gavin Bottomley
  • Winner Cultivar’ -  ‘Mirrigan’ by Gavin Bottomley
  • Winner Cultivar in Development - Green Bract X by Gordon Meiklejohn
  • Winner Seedling - by Gavin Bottomley
  • Winner hybrid - ‘Corroboree’ by Gavin Bottomley

This year the festival was a little shorter than usual to ensure the waratah blooms on display looked their best throughout. The Garden’s Visitor Centre looked stunning with huge floral displays created by the Garden’s horticulturists Steve Vella, Jenny Lewis and Iain Hood. In particular, the submerged arrangements set within large vases and then covered with water attracted much attention. Bubbles sitting on the waratah petals made for spectacular photographs. The waratahs and floral displays were complemented by Julie Hickson’s pochoir artwork, featuring waratahs and other natives, and Fiona Lumsden’s fine botanical illustrations. The artwork will remain on display at the Visitor Centre until the end of October and there are still pieces available for sale.

In addition to the flowers inside, the Garden’s collection of waratahs did not disappoint, with numerous plantings around the Garden for people to enjoy. As part of the festival special waratah themed walks including a Waratah Wander with senior horticulturist Mat Murray and the Aboriginal Heritage Tour with Waratah Creation Story led by Aboriginal Horticulturist Brenden Moore proving popular with visitors. The spring’s mass emergence of cicadas was an added wonder of nature that wowed visitors to the Garden during the festival. Children were able to enjoy a new Adventure Quest that focussed on ‘Bugs and Butterflies’.

The Wild About Waratahs Festival is sponsored by Proteaflora, Wildflower Industry Network NSW Inc. and East Coast Wildflowers. Special thanks to Frank Allat.

>> Click here to view more photos from 'Wild about Waratahs'.

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Wild Waratah

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Enjoy the Garden’s waratahs - photo: Paul HulbertBrenden-Moore-by-Greg-Bourke
Brenden Moore, photo: Greg BourkeWaratah-&-Pods
Waratah & Pods, photo: Fiona Lumsden

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Brenden Moore, photo: Michelle Leer