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NMIT students bloom at Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

22 Mar 2013

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) horticulture students have enjoyed success in the Achievable Gardens Competition at the recent Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

Tamara Koelmeyer, who is studying a Certificate IV in Horticulture at NMIT's Greensborough Campus, was the joint winner of the Lysaght Landscape of the Year Award (part of the Achievable Gardens Competition) for her 'Melbourne Tropical Oasis'. Her peaceful garden contained a gently spiralling path trailing between weeping lilly pillys and paper reeds with a secluded outdoor shower nestled among the tropical vegetation. Tamara says the garden was designed as a place to relax. “A garden's an extension of your house and personality. It's important to be able to enjoy it.” The award recognises Tamara's success at selecting plants which complemented the lines and colour of the Lysaght fencing, creating a cohesive feel with what might have been disparate elements.

Tamara considers her win part of a team effort. “This is a win for NMIT - for all the students and staff involved. It wouldn't have happened without the support of teachers Rhonda Fisher and Peter Johnson, the certificate III students who helped build the design, as well as Horticulture Coordinator Maureen Doherty. They gave me the encouragement to believe in myself.”

Cara Hinsley, another Certificate IV in Horticulture student from NMIT's Greensborough Campus, also had success in the Achievable Gardens Competition with a second place for her 'Everlasting Companion' garden, a sustainable space designed to inspire home gardeners. Cara says, “I wanted to make a garden that was environmentally friendly but practical at the same time. It demonstrates how you can utilise every space in your garden.”

Cara's garden overflowed with seasonable vegetables, flowers, fruit trees and herbs, and cleverly used the top of a rectangular 2000 litre water tank as an extra planter box. Cara worked closely with Scottsburn Nurseries who grew all the edible plants for her garden, and, like Tamara, was keen to thank Rhonda Fisher, Peter Johnson and all the NMIT students who helped construct the garden.

The Achievable Garden Competition, which is supported by the Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria, Debco and Lysaght, required entrants to create a 5 x 3 metre garden for under $2000 with 60 per cent of space devoted to plant life. The criterion are designed to make the gardens a realistic option for the home gardener. As part of their Certificate IV in Horticulture course, Cara and Tamara developed the garden design, sourced the plants and materials, and supervised the construction of their gardens with the help of NMIT's certificate II and III horticulture students.

Maureen Doherty says the Achievable Gardens Competition is a challenge NMIT students excel at. “It's been another great year, I'm really proud of the students and the teachers who've supported them.” Maureen singles out NMIT teacher Rhonda Fisher for her sustained effort in supporting the students. “Rhonda has been doing the Achievable Gardens Competition for the last four years, working with the students every step of the way. It's the combination of passionate teachers and great students which leads to these awards.”

Rhonda Fisher says “The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is a fantastic event which allows NMIT horticulture students to showcase their skills in constructing wonderful gardens. It gives them a taste of a major industry event.”

Rhonda would like to thank the horticulture industry for their generous support of NMIT's horticulture students, including nurseries Scotsburn, Warners, Speciality Trees, Bushland Flora, Mr Fern, Plantmark Thomastown, Oz Watergardens, La Trobe University Native and Fern Acres. She'd also like to extend thanks to the hard landscape suppliers Diamond Valley Garden Centre, Great Balls of Wire, Landscape Tanks and Outdoor Solutions.


Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.

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