By CAITLIN CROWLEY
DAZZLING dahlias from some of the state’s best growers will be on display in Toowoomba this weekend as the Queensland Dahlia Society brings its Regional Show up the range.
It’s a win for Quince Mason Horticulture’s Peter Mason, who is among a growing number of younger gardeners choosing to exhibit and compete in floral shows.
“I see all ages – there are some people who are still teenagers who are getting into growing dahlias,” Mason said.
“I think a lot of it has come from the cut flower world as well – the surge in popularity of florists – it’s kind of rubbed off on a lot of people. And then those people are joining dahlia socieites and are now exhibiting their dahlias.
“It’s not as easy as say – something like a rose – and I think that’s a big part of it. If they were easier to grow and they weren’t challenging, I don’t think I’d be as interested in them.”
Toowoomba growers have a geographical advantage thanks to the region’s rich soil and temperate climate, but there’s more to the art of producing a perfect bloom than you might expect.
“A big part of it is timing and knowing how to control when your plants are going to be at their very very best,” Mason told the Caller.
“We trade off quantity for quality a little bit with our dahlias. Just like when they’re growing giant pumpkins and they have a single pumpkin grow and they grow to these ginormous sizes, we have the same.
“So we’ll remove buds and make our plants concentrate on just a couple so we get those giant, dinner plate-sized blooms.”
Quince Mason Horticulture’s Peter Mason
Mason said there were significant tourism opportunities for Toowoomba around events like the dahlia show.
“You’ll struggle to find a person who doesn’t enjoy seeing flowers,” he said.
“When you walk into that hall and you see all those perfect blooms, it’s just awe inspiring.
“We have a lot of spring stuff with the Carnival of Flowers but the dahlias are later in the year, they’re a summer/autumn so it keeps that interest going.”
Toowoomba horticulturalist Brian Sams said he saw untapped tourism potential around the city’s reputation for gardening, having run garden tours in the area for close to a decade, which were routinely booked out.
Sams said regularly opening private gardens to the public would also help attract more visitors to the region.
“It gives people the idea they are getting something exclusive – anyone can come up to Queens Park or Laurel Bank,” he said.
“But the idea you’re poking your nose behind the fence is attractive to people. It’s meeting the people as much as the garden itself. That’s a big drawcard.”
The Queensland Dahlia Society Regional Show is on this Saturday March 11, at St Pauls Lutheran Church from 10am – 4pm.