Gippsland Rare & Unusual Plant Fair
This weekend I travelled to the tiny Victorian town of Jindivick to attend the Gippsland Rare & Unusual Plant Fair.
For those of you unfamiliar with Jindivick, this town of 514 people is nestled in Victoria’s Gippsland district a few kilometres north of Warragul and Drouin. Jindivick is one of those really small country towns that consist of little more than a primary school, church, public hall, general store and a cluster of houses. Nevertheless, it’s located in a particularly picturesque part of Victoria and what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm.
Attending the Gippsland Rare and Unusual Plant Fair was my reason for heading to Jindivick. I only became familiar with this event when I spotted a brochure for it at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. I am unsure who organises it or how long this event has been operating, but a local Jindivick nursery named The Jindivick Country Gardener seems to be closely involved.
When I arrived at Jindivick, it was immediately apparent that something ‘big’ was happening. Cars were parked the entire length of the main road to the extent that I had to park a considerable distance away from the fair. The event was held on the grounds of the modest Jindivick Hall.
When I arrived at the venue, I spotted about a dozen stalls positioned outside the hall in the grounds. The grounds for the hall are fronted by a barbed-wire fence and behind is a farming property overlooking a valley and some hills. From the street it appeared that the show was being hosted on a farm. I doubt I have ever been to a community event with such an impressive backdrop!
Various horticultural businesses were exhibiting outside including Devon Tubestock, Di’s Delightful Plants and Tavistock Plants amongst others. There were also a number of food sellers including a standard sausage/hamburger barbecue setup, a crêperie, two coffee stands and a stall selling teppanyaki chicken hamburgers. On account of the travel time and my midday arrival, I decided to eat first. A hamburger (consisting solely of a beef patty and onion slices in a bun) cost $4 and wasn’t too bad. My wife thought similarly of the teppanyaki chicken burger which cost $7.
The quality and the price of plants on offer varied considerably. Di’s Delightful Plants and Tavistock had very professional set-ups and a large variety of species on offer whilst one particular vendor had placed the pots roughly on the ground in a fairly haphazard manner. That’s the nature of community events of course and it’s the variety that makes the event fun.
My favourite stands were those managed by small family growers, some of whom clearly either manage boutique/backyard nurseries or just grow plants for the love of it. One such grower had labelled every plant in her stall by hand, including their Latin names, growing conditions and flower colour.
Whilst the location for this event was decent, the weather was not.
The heavy rain came and went sporadically throughout the day, triggering a rush to those stallholders who had erected marquees. As we huddled beneath, the rain poured and contributed a little more towards the conversion of lawn to mud. As soon as the rain halted, we emerged again to rummage amongst the offerings.
Unfortunately, the more it rained the more that lawn turned to mud. For future visits I’d suggest “sensible shoes” to avoid wet feet.
After looking outside, I went into the wooden hall where I was greeted by another half-a-dozen stallholders selling a range of bulbs, bonsais, salvias, hellebores and irises. The hall is a lovely old timber-lined affair, complete with wartime honour board.
There was quite a large range of plants to choose from in this space, most notably a massive selection of Lilium and daffodil bulbs.
My favourite stand, however, was that from the Salvia Study Group of Victoria. I do have a soft spot for this genus and the range on offer from this group of enthusiasts was most impressive. The bonsais were also well worth a look, even if they were the most expensive items in the hall.
The main question anyone would have about this event is whether it is worth going? To this, I say “yes”.
For those who are less familiar with plants or new to gardening there are enough eye-catching species on sale to captivate. For those who have a deep appreciation of horticulture and know their plant genera well, there are many rarities to justify a visit even if they aren’t in flower or looking their best at this time of the year. My challenge was to reduce my not-so-shortlist into a purchase list and my advice is not to dither… indecision cost me one intended purchase (the seller ran out of stock)!
With purchases in hand, I left the Gippsland Rare and Unusual Plant Fair and crossed the road to take a look at The Jindivick Country Gardener nursery and cafeteria. Unfortunately afternoon tea wasn’t an option as the cafeteria closed at 3pm (despite the crowds). I took a look around the nursery where the paths were rather muddy before heading to Drouin for a snack and then travelling back to Melbourne.
All-in-all I enjoyed the visit to this unique country fair.
The Gippsland Rare and Unusual Plant Fair is held annually in Jindivick. A gold coin donation is required for entry and visitors should allow 2-3 hours to fully explore the fair. Jindivick has no ATM or bank, so it’s best to bring cash although some stallholders will accept cards.