The magnificent Thomas Walker Estate comes alive with spectacular floral and gardening displays
Thousands of people enjoyed spectacular floral displays, gardening workshops and the chance to explore one of Sydney's most beautiful estates at the 2018 Rivendell Flower Show.
The Rivendell Flower Show is held annually at the Thomas Walker Estate, a magnificent former hospital and grounds on the Parramatta River, which is managed on trust by Sydney Local Health District.
Held over two days in October, the Show featured a series of floral displays and exhibits by high-profile Sydney florist Sean Cook of Mr Cook the Florist, the Royal Horticultural Society of NSW, and students from Sydney Flower School, Northern Sydney Institute's Floristry School and Sydney TAFE Ultimo.
Sean's family lived in the Gatehouse of the Estate for few couple of years in the 1970s and he jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Show.
"It brought all the memories back. We called it Cook's Castle. We thought it was so grand. I loved the idea of going back there," he said.
Sean created a large arch installation in his signature style using roses and orchids in pinks and corals that greeted patrons as they entered the main building.
"I wanted it to be fantastical, a little unexpected, when people walked in," he said.
The official launch was attended by gardening and lifestyle personalities including Costa Georgiadis, a landscape architect with a passion for gardening and sustainability who hosts ABC TV's Gardening Australia.
"When the idea of the Flower Show [came up] I was very excited about it, because it gives us another stage for horticulture, and most particularly, our horticulture schools, our TAFE schools that are really driving students into a love of plants, particularly flowers," Costa, who is known to younger audiences as Costa the garden gnome in children's TV show Dirt Girl World, said.
"When you combine that artistic element into the buildings of Rivendell, you suddenly realise you can use the architecture to enhance the floristry and the floristry enhances the architecture."
Costa also took part in the "celebrity challenge" alongside local the Member for Drummoyne John Sidoti, MP, the Member for Strathfield, Jodi McKay, MP, the Mayor of Canada Bay, Cr Angelo Tsirekas, Burwood Council's Cr Heather Crichton and our own Dr Tim Sinclair and Dr Genevieve Wallace. The challenge was MC-ed by Matt "the Hortiman" Carroll and the Rivendell Cup for best floral arrangement was presented by award-winning Chinese actress and Rivendell Flower Show Ambassador Liu Xiaoqing.
Gardening and lifestyle experts were on hand including Helen Young from ABC Radio Sydney's Weekend Show, Angie Thomas from Yates, Simon Holloway from Vegepod, Robert Lusby from Tintilla Estate and Bunnings Ashfield horticulturalist Simon Holloway.
The City of Canada Bay, in conjunction with Inner West Neighbour Aid, previewed a 5 Senses Garden, which is being created as a green space hub for the community at Rhodes. The garden has reflection and sensory spaces, an edible garden and nature play.
A group of about 40 students from Rivendell School designed and created hand-made chalkboard planters, mosaic flower pots, macramé hangers and a xylophone fashioned completely out of bamboo. The works featured in the City of Canada Bay's display.
Sandhya Sunil from Earth Matters Consulting sculpted an experiential garden titled "The Compass" to illustrate how gardens can be a therapeutic for busy urban-dwellers. Garden Designer Libby Birley created an "I Feel Good" garden to highlight the benefits to mental and physical health of gardening.
In the kids' space, the baby animals from Kindifarm were very popular while lots of children were keen to Adopt a Tomato seedling to take home, plant and watch grow.
On Saturday night an Opera Gala Dinner was held in the Great Hall. The audience enjoyed series of classical musical performances from some of the best-loved operas including Puccini's Tosca.
Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive Dr Teresa Anderson AM said the Show was a fantastic opportunity for the community to enjoy the beautiful buildings and grounds of the estate, which is not usually open to the public.
"We know getting outside, gardening and enjoying nature is excellent for mental health and well-being," Dr Anderson said.
The event is a fundraiser for Concord Hospital's Department of Geriatric Medicine and the Ageing and Alzheimer's Institute.
"We were delighted so many people came along, despite the sometimes inclement weather, to enjoy this wonderful community resource as well as supporting a good cause," Dr Anderson said.
About the Thomas Walker Estate (Rivendell)
The Thomas Walker Estate, also known as Rivendell, holds a special place in Sydney Local Health District.
Throughout its history the Estate has been a sanctuary for those on difficult journeys to rest and recuperate.
First opening its doors in the early 1890s, the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital provided care for patients who needed a little extra time to gradually recover from illness or injury. More than 70,000 patients have convalesced at the Hospital, including World War I and II veterans.
The Estate was left in trust to the District, which has carried offering care, support and compassion for people with mental illness to help lead them on a pathway to better health and wellbeing.
In 1977 the Rivendell Adolescent Unit, founded by Professor the Honorable Dame Marie Bashir, was relocated to the Hospital, where it treats about 500 families a year. Professor Bashir is patron of the Rivendell Flower Show.