The International Rose Garden Festival Morwell was truly a world-wide event on the weekend of November 14-15.
More than 800 patrons registered for the online celebration and the main stage section of the website received more than 14,000 visits.
“The festival attracted participants from across the globe, including from such countries as Canada, New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, as well as gardening enthusiasts from every state in Australia,” Latrobe City Council Mayor Cr Sharon Gibson said.
While the roses still bloomed in the world famous Centenary Rose Garden of Morwell, COVID-19 restrictions ensured the festival did not proceed in its usual format. This provided Council with the opportunity to extend the reach of the festival to a wider audience through the internet.
International presenters included Jonathan Webster, curator of the Royal Horticultural Society Gardens Rosemoor (UK) and Rebecca Koraytem of David Austin Roses (US), who spoke about rose preparation in other locations. This experience enabled local amateur gardeners to reach out to two of the world’s most renowned rose growers.
Other speakers included leading rosarian Kelvin Trimper from Adelaide and local beekeeper Sean-Paul Smith from the Latrobe Valley Beekeepers Association.
Costa Georgiadis, host of the ABC’s Gardening Australia, and children’s gardening entertainer, Dirtgirl, also performed.
In another first, Auslan interpreters were used for all presentations on the main stage which made the event more inclusive.
More than 1000 local residents viewed the AGL Midsummer Night Light Show in the Rose Garden on Saturday night and almost the same number turned out on Sunday night.
“Social distancing was maintained throughout the garden and many families took the opportunity to finally have something to celebrate as they marvelled at the outstanding illumination installation,” Central Ward Councillor Graeme Middlemiss said.
“A lasting legacy from this year’s International Rose Garden Festival is a virtual tour video of the Rose Garden which incorporates 360 degree panoramas, close ups of particular rose varieties and a host of interesting facts that beautifully showcases our magnificent Rose Garden. This will be a valuable tool to assist in the marketing of Latrobe City.”
Almost 200 people enjoyed outdoor dining in Morwell on the Saturday and Sunday as part of the festival.
Latrobe City is participating in the State Government’s Outdoor Dining Initiative to encourage the community to support local cafés and restaurants in a COVID safe way.
“In a very short timeframe our Events and Business Development teams, with the help of staff from the Performing Arts team, established two outdoor dining areas in Tarwin Street and Church Street, Morwell,” Central Ward Councillor Cr Tracie Lund said.
“These areas allowed the community an opportunity to capitalise on the nice weather, while enjoying food from Morwell eateries and entertainment by local performers. Patrons were then encouraged to visit the Latrobe Regional Gallery or wander through the beautiful rose garden. Morwell was certainly a hive of activity on both days as a result.”