Persuading more than one million bulbs and annuals to bloom on cue is a big task, and one that takes careful timing and maintenance.

Long before Floriade 2017, work had begun on the design for this year’s festival, including mapping out the theme, selecting the types of flowers to use, and the all-important planting schedule.

Each year the Floriade team selects a new and exciting theme, which guides both the garden bed designs and the festival’s entertainment and activities. This year’s theme is rejuvenation.


In autumn the gardening team begins work on Floriade, marking out garden beds and installing the important infrastructure, such as drainage and watering systems, which will support the plants during the festival. Paths are created to guide visitors through the garden beds and the overall design of the park begins to take shape.

The equivalent of 3000 box trailers of top quality planting compost from Martin Fertilizers is then moved in and spread to a depth of 15cm. Next comes the planting. Carefully selecting bulbs of the right variety and colour, the gardeners place each bulb on top of the planting compost, wedging it slightly so it doesn’t move when a 12cm layer of topsoil is added. A team of 20 gardeners work for seven weeks planting a million bulbs and annuals across the four-hectare site in Commonwealth Park.


By August the bulbs and annuals are all reaching maturity and are just about ready to reveal their colours. Finishing touches like props and ornaments are added in preparation for the festival launch.


While Floriade is open to the public the gardening team works around the clock to keep the blooms in perfect shape. This includes removing dead flower heads, reshaping trodden garden beds, raking paths and giving the plants a regular watering.

Once the gates close on Floriade, the event’s volunteers are offered some of the plants and the remaining flowers are cut and distributed to local nursing homes and hospitals. The spent bulbs and annuals are removed and the garden beds are reduced to ground level. After the soil is ripped and hoed more than 20,000 square metres of turf is laid, leaving the ground in ideal condition for next year’s event. By the end of the year, Commonwealth Park is returned to its regular state as a favourite spot for summer fun.

Did you know?

  • The name Floriade comes from the Latin word ‘floreat’ which means “may it flourish or bloom”.
  • More than one million plants will make up Floriade 2017.
  • 481,854 visitors attended Floriade in 2014 – the biggest result on record.
  • In 2013 Floriade and NightFest took out top spot for the thing Canberrans like most about Canberra. The ‘Like Canberra’ campaign was launched in Canberra’s centenary year to find the top 100 reasons why locals like living in the ACT, receiving almost 14,000 nominations and 135,000 votes.