Show Garden demonstrates climate-appropriate plantings


A diverse and interactive garden in the heart of the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS) is showcasing innovative horticulture research, landscape and floral design improving the liveability of our cityscapes.


The ‘woody meadows and flowery swards’ garden covers 36 square metres (approx. 387 sq. feet) that include a path to allow visitors to closely examine the plantings and enjoy the garden’s scents, colours, and forms from different vantage points.


The garden is a collaboration between landscape architects from Hassell, floral and garden designers from Super Bloom, and University of Melbourne horticulture researchers who are together rethinking urban plantings.

Claire Farrell, Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne said the MIFGS display garden is an invitation to reimagine what is possible in public landscapes, demonstrating how climate-appropriate plantings can be aesthetically rich and highly varied in species and plant forms.

“We use natural shrublands as templates for woody meadows that are easily maintained: hard pruning or coppicing of the woody plants promotes flowering and dense growth that excludes weeds and saves money.”

Associate Professor Farrell

The garden display at MIFGS illustrates findings from the Woody Meadow research project based at the University’s Burnley campus, which develops more attractive, affordable, and low-maintenance public plantings on our roadsides, railway sidings, verges, and parkland, to make Australian cities more liveable.

The garden display at MIFGS also includes a flowery sward, which the University of Melbourne Associate Professor John Rayner said showcases how plants in cities can create climate-resilient spaces for wellbeing and beauty.

“For our MIFGS display, we have selected drought tolerant plants including annuals, perennials, succulents, and shrubs, and included an eclectic mix of Indigenous, native, and exotic species and cultivars,”

Associate Professor Rayner
Woody Meadow founders Claire Farrell and John Rayner preparing a demonstration Woody Meadow for the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. Picture: Supplied.

The Woody Meadow project is a partnership involving the Australian Research Council, the Victorian Government, eight city councils, the University of Sheffield, and several other organisations. The project is transforming cities nationally with over 6000 square metres (approximately 64580 sq. feet) of plantings across Perth, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

“As designers of city spaces and streets, our new approaches show how resilient plantings can also be diverse and beautiful, which will hopefully inspire home gardeners too.”

Jon Hazelwood, Principal at Hassell

The garden will be on display at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS) in Carlton Gardens from 29 March to 2 April 2023.

Images Credit: Courtesy of Hassell

About Damian Holmes 3223 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at