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Standout garden at MIFGS 2012

Standout garden at MIFGS 2012

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It didn’t win awards for cutting edge garden design, but it certainly warmed the heart of Organic Gardener’s PHIL DUDMAN during his visit to this year’s Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

I love good garden design and MIFGS is the show to visit to see all the latest trends in Australia. Beyond all the colour and glitter, one of the gardens that stood out for me was ‘Lille Fro Garden’. Sensitively designed by Prue Metcalfe, the garden was centred on a typical mudbrick greenhouse found in the Ladakh region, a high altitude location in the far northern reaches of India at the base of the Himalayas.

Lille Fro Australia is a grass roots not-for-profit organisation working closely with the poorest of families, many of them from indigenous communities who are cut off from regular aid due to their geographical isolation. ‘In the harsh climate of Ladakh, where the growing season lasts only 4 to 5 months, nutritional deficiencies are common and malnutrition a risk’. The money that the foundation  raises goes towards projects such as their ‘Greenhouse Program’, which is enabling  families to grow nutritious fresh food year round, for their own good health and to create an income at local markets.

The shape of the greenhouse pictured is typical of those built and utilises materials easily sourced and transported cost effectively to these remote locations. The solid mudbrick walls on the sides act as heat banks, and the polyurethane roof, supported by bamboo poles (tied together with hemp rope), is angled to capture maximum sunshine and warmth. The inside walls are painted white on one side to reflect the morning sun and black on the other to absorb the warmth in the afternoon.

The greenhouses are brilliant in their design and construction and prove that ‘the simplest things can be most effective’. We’ll be looking into this wonderful story more closely, but in the meantime, you can find out more and make a donation at