By CAITLIN CROWLEY
A WARMER than average winter has helped deliver a dazzling start to the 74th annual Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, with gardens across the city already bursting with colour and teeming with visitors.
Months of planning, planting and early morning starts have come to fruition for Toowoomba Regional Council’s dedicated gardeners, who ensure the floral displays are ready to wow crowds from day one of Carnival.
Queens Park was abuzz with the sound of hedge trimmers and mowers when the Caller caught up with horticulture supervisor Matt Schick, who said the slightly warmer than average winter hadn’t impacted their efforts too much.
“There’s plenty of colour out, there’ll be a few things still working their way towards more the middle of September but overall there’s plenty to see right from now,” Schick said.
“If anything, there’s a few tulips out a bit earlier than we would have liked but that happens from year to year anyway so everything’s on track.
“Some more rain would be nice to freshen everything up.”
365,000 people soaked up the celebration of spring last year and those numbers are only expected to increase again in 2023, tipped to help inject $22 million into the local economy.
Councillor James O’Shea said it was the most important time of year for Toowoomba economically and a special chance to celebrate the “heart and soul” of the community.
“The power of the petal is incredible,” he said.
“There’s 190,000 blooms, 37 million petals and it looks spectacular. Don’t ask me who’s counted that – but I’m reliably informed, that’s the number!
“Any time of the month of September, you get the chance to come to Toowoomba, the flowers are always going to be here and they are the star of the show and they’re worth seeing.”
O’Shea said the fact crowd numbers through the city’s public gardens increased in 2020 during the pandemic, despite the cancellation of Carnival’s major events, proved flowers remain the number one attraction.
“At the end of the day people are here because we’re the Garden City. They’re here to see the flowers, they’re here to see award-winning gardens. That’s what it’s all about.
“All of that part of it’s free. You can walk through this park all day, every day. It’s free. You can picnic here, you can bring your own food, you can bring your bike, you can kick a ball around.
“Whatever it is, it’s free and you just get to enjoy what people who’ve lived here for a long period of time love about the place.”
Ensuring Carnival of Flowers lives up to its name is a year-round endeavour for Council’s gardeners, who start planning for the year ahead almost immediately and plant the first seedlings around April.
“There is an immense amount of work that goes into it obviously,” Matt Schick said.
“It is very satisfying, we get a lot of comments from the public which is great also. There’s not many jobs you can do where you see the end result like you do with what we are doing and it’s very pleasing.”
A record 52 cafes and restaurants are taking part in the TReats initiative this year, serving $10-$20 feature meals for the month of September.
The Festival of Food and Wine returns to Queens Park September 8,9 and 10, and the Floral Parade is the following Saturday September 16.
To plan your visit head to the Carnival of Flowers website.