MIFGS 2015 - 5000 Poppies
‘…I had a dream last night that I was home in Reedy Creek again…Oh how lovely and green the grass was, and everything so fresh and bright. I could see trees and bushes that I remember so well. How real everything was and how disappointing to find it a dream when I awoke…’
-From the letters of Lieutenant Frederick Johnson
Between 2014 and 2018 Australia is commemorating the Anzac Centenary, marking 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the First World War. For this tribute at the 2015 Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show (MIFGS), Phillip Johnson has drawn upon his own personal family connection to the Anzacs. The letters of Phillip’s great grandfather, Lieutenant Frederick Johnson of the XXII Corps, are the inspiration behind the display. Frederick Johnson came from a Gold Mine at Reedy Creek in Victoria, Australia and, before the war, spent endless hours walking through the dry bush land and along winding creeks with his wife, sons and daughters.
Like Phillip, Frederick simply loved the peaceful beauty of the Australian bush. When he went off to war, he wrote prolifically to his family in Australia, sending endless letters that recalled his home in Australia with so much warmth and fondness. For Frederick, and so many others who served in the war, dreaming of home kept his spirits high and he was never in doubt that he would return to his family and his home. However, Frederick, like countless others, would never return home to the shores of Australia. The display will focus on this idea of remembrance and reflection. Not just our own, as we remember the many sacrifices made by these brave men and women, but of the Anzacs themselves as they spent months surrounded by the dark, horrors of war, dreaming of the peace and beauty of their former lives back home in Australia.
Phillip Johnson Landscapes has been working with Lynn Berry and the 5000 Poppies Project for the last few months to design and build a display of 5000 beautiful handmade poppies that have been created by the Australian community and around the world to commemorate 100 years of service and sacrifice. These poppies will provide a stark contrast in our display for MIFGS 2015, spilling into the landscape through the Australian native trees in a vibrant visual tribute.
The centerpiece of the display will of course be a body of water, reminiscent of the creek Phillip’s great grandfather so often imagined returning to, but never saw again. Poppies cover the Australian landscape as a bold statement about the loss we have suffered as a nation through war, and a very moving reminder of the harsh environment the Anzac’s faced far from home. It also challenges us to remember that we so often take our beautiful country for granted until it is suddenly so far out of reach.
Phillip Johnson Landscapes would like to thank the following Sponsors:
Lynn Berry - 5000 Poppies
Botanix Plant Supply
Gardens at Night
JDM Instant Pumps
David Long - The Right Branch
Tim Wilkinson - Fix My Garden