Stacey Panozzo, organiser, Botanical Bazaar

The more knowledge you can gain from others who have learnt the hard way and got their hands dirty, the better …

When you think of a gardening expo, you’re probably conjuring images of stalls manned by grey-haired gardening enthusiasts filled with miscellaneous digging implements and care manuals for petunias. And rightly so, if history is anything to go by. Botanical Bazaar is the antithesis of that. Taking over the Currumbin RSL on Sunday August 30, the event offers a program of events that are of interest to people outside of the 55-plus demographic. We sat down with the event’s organiser, Stacey Panozzo, to get the low-down on what punters can expect from the event.

Tell us about Botanical Bazaar?
It’s a gardening expo with a twist! Of course there will be lots of beautiful and unusual plants for sale and everything you need to start your own garden, but we’re also showcasing botanical art, holding live educational presentations and have a few green-inspired surprises along the way.

How did the event come about?
Over recent years I started to have a fascination with unusual and unique plants. I discovered air plants via the well-known variety called Spanish moss also known as ‘Old Mans Beard’ in my grandparent’s garden. After researching how these plants can live without soil, a love of air plants quickly became a hobby, which in turn became an obsession! My thumbs started to miraculously turn the colour green and I started a business called Air Plant Designs. There was so much more I wanted to learn and discover about green living, I thought I must not be the only one! From here the idea grew.

It certainly isn’t your run-of-the-mill gardening expo with exhibitors including Stone & Wood, The Herbal Gardner and even Zullaz Restaurant Bar setting up a stall. Was that a conscious decision to appeal to a new generation of green thumbs?
Gardeners (and non-gardeners) of all ages are always looking for new ideas and to be inspired by other people’s green talents and inventions. As this is a new event for the Gold Coast I was able to hand-pick and approach exhibitors that had something interesting and inspiring to offer all ages. Zullaz with food art, Stone & Wood as they are kindly donating 100 per cent of income from the sale of their Garden Ale Karma Keg to charity and The Herbal Gardener who cultivates her own organic herbs to infuse natural and organic oils.

What are some of your personal highlights from the program?
Having so many plants on display and sale from aloes to frangipanis, succulents and huge cactus! Showcasing a spectacular headpiece made from air plants by Petalcore Florist and having Phil Dudman from Gardening Australia educate us about organic gardening and Claire Bickle talk about how to raise backyard chooks. I’m also excited to taste unusual tropical fruits grown by Tropical Fruit World. Oh and Imogen’s Farm will be bringing their famous Bush Lemon Limoncello, I can’t wait to try some!

Of course, in this day and age not everyone has a backyard, what is on offer for apartment-dwellers?
If you have a small backyard, balcony or even live on a boat there is something for you. There are moveable vertical gardens made from recycled materials, sustainable herb and veggie pots you can hang on your balcony or boat railing, hand-painted designer pots and the Composta pot which uses kitchen scraps and worms to produce an organic fertiliser that feeds the plants growing within the pot.

One of the more unusual stalls is Bee Yourself, what can you tell us about that exhibitor?
We all know we need bees to survive, but it’s not always practical to house and maintain them. Bee Yourself is a native stingless Beekeeper with hives available for purchase. These bees will help pollinate your gardens and give you hours of entertainment without stinging you!

What advice do you have for people who struggle to keep indoor plants alive?
Pay more attention to them, love them a little more and come and speak to one of our gardening experts to find out what you maybe doing wrong.

If someone is keen to introduce some greenery to their living space, what are some things to consider?
The basics of light, air, water and growing medium. Consider how the plants will get their regular water source without wetting your furniture or walls; are they positioned near heaters, glass or air conditioners which will affect their growth; and what nutrients are you giving the plants.

Are you a natural green thumb?
With some plants I am and some plants I am not! The Bazaar will be just as much education for me as it will be for many others. There is so much to learn about gardening. The more knowledge you can gain from others who have learnt the hard way and got their hands dirty, the better.

What’s an air plant?
It is a super cool plant that does not need soil to grow! It’s botanical name is tillandsia and is a type of epiphyte which means it can attach to nearly any solid object in the right environment, however doesn’t take nutrients from that object to grow. It can be glued, placed or hung from objects inside or outside the house or office. It will flower and grow ‘pups’ similar to bromeliads. They are very very slow growing and there are over 700 different varieties throughout the world.

What’s your idea of complete happiness?
Walking through the door to my folks house after work and hearing my mum on the phone ordering a pizza for the family, dad’s asking me wine or scotch, my kids bathed and in their pyjamas whilst hubby is cutting some homemade Italian salami ready for snacks before the pizza. Oh the serenity!

What do you believe is worth fighting for?
Limiting technology from kids until they have self-control. Give them opportunities to explore nature, get dirty, eat some sand, scrape their knee, catch tadpoles, nurture silkworms and grow their own veggies.

Only a Gold Coast local would know … why you would never want to live anywhere else.

Perk up …  No Lights No Lycra!
Relax … Anywhere with my girlfriends and a wine.
Indulge … Dune Cafe.
Dine …  QT’s Bazaar restaurant.
Be inspired … Reading a gardening magazine.

Image: Pinned Photography.


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