Words by Jessica Gadd Images supplied
It takes a lot to knock the socks off a seasoned flower farmer like Paul Tesselaar, but a field of snapdragons witnessed on a visit to Japan in 2017 did exactly that. The fourth-generation nurseryman was there to experience some of the country’s famed flower displays.
‘I felt like we could just do a festival of fields of snapdragons, they were so wonderful,’ Paul says.
And you will find snapdragons en masse at Tesselaar’s new KaBloom Festival – but also rows and rows of many other beautiful flowers in bloom – petunias, cleomes (spider lilies), salvias, marigolds and even colourful chilli plants. All up, there will be over 1.2 million flowers in bloom across five acres.
Fields and fields of colour, that’s what people have come to appreciate from us – so that’s what we’re giving them. Seeing all the enjoyment that people get when they step out into the fields of colour is something I’ve really come to love.
‘Fields and fields of colour, that’s what people have come to appreciate from us – so that’s what we’re giving them,’ Paul says. ‘Seeing all the enjoyment that people get when they step out into the fields of colour is something I’ve really come to love. You see the smiles on their faces, and the number of cameras that are out taking photos.’
KaBloom is a likely hit with the family crowd, with Family Fun Days running every week day of the school holidays, featuring loads of free entertainment from kids performers like the Mik Maks, Bethany Fisher and Full Circle Drumming Workshops (3rd to 6th of April); and the Kazoos, Trash Test Dummies and Ruccis Circus School (9th to 13th of April).
Other free activities for the kids during school holidays include a petunia maze, storytelling in the fairy hollow, giant garden games, a fairy treasure hunt, roving entertainment, craft, and an animal petting zoo. (Some other activities, such as face painting and tractor rides, carry a small charge.)
‘The entertainment for the Family Fun Days was chosen to get kids up and moving and enjoying themselves,’ Paul says. ‘It’s all about getting them active and out into the fresh air, running up and down the fields and having fun.’
There will be no shortage of fun for kids on the Easter long weekend, either. Dubbed ‘Chocomania’ (30th of March to 2nd of April), it has its own special family-friendly program, with twice-daily visits from the Easter Bunny. There’ll also be an Easter egg hunt where $8 of the $10 cover charge is donated to the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal (bookings are essential).<
Of course, KaBloom is fun for grown-ups, too. The Rock the Fields weekend (7th/8th April) has rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll themed music from the Itchy Fingers and Honey B and the Stingers, dancing workshops, car displays and market stalls (many of them featuring 40s and 50s fashion).
The Colourific weekend (14th/15th April) incorporates the annual Garden and Plants Expo, which has been running for 15 years. Paul says this is the place to pick up some rare and wonderful plants from over 40 plant growers who are specialists in their fields.
‘These are the experts that are growing plants for all the nurseries of Australia,’ Paul says. ‘So it’s also a good opportunity to pick their brains and get some really good growing advice.’
Colourific brings the festival to a close, with live entertainment including Bollywood dancers the Naach Box, and a spectacular colour war for kids and grown-ups – Paul recommends you wear white, so the colours stand out (OHO recommends you bring a change of clothes for afterwards)!
‘It’s like a giant food fight. It’s hard to hang back – you find you’re really drawn into it and have a blast,’ Paul explains.
The 140 KaBloom flower beds were planted progressively during December and January. Many of the flowers are already flowering, offering a glimpse of the full display to come.
‘It’s definitely going to be a spectacle,’ Paul says.
What: KaBloom Festival of Flowers
Where: Tesselaar Flower Farm, 357 Monbulk Road, Silvan
When: 30 March to 15 April, 2018, 10am–5pm daily
More info: www.kabloom.com.au