Instead of taking a breather after March’s incredible landscape industry fixtures in Melbourne, Outhouse decided to keep up the pace and check out this year’s Plant Collector’s Fair – we just can’t help ourselves! The fair is an annual event in the outer Sydney suburb of Clarendon, where growers of niche categories of plants from all up and down the east coast can bring their wares and connect with the general (plant obsessed) public.

Apart from being just a rollicking good time, events like these are really important for designers like us. It’s an opportunity to uncover species that are being grown and sold in other markets – and although they may not be commonly sold in Sydney, they can perform here just as well. Diversity in our urban ecology is one of the most important things we as an industry can work towards, to support our changing ecosystems.

History shows us it’s all too easy for a single plant species to be wiped out in a particular area, whether due to pest or disease or climate change: the elms of Europe, or the American chestnut tree, or the Gros Michel banana are all examples. If we rely too heavily on a small number of species – whether street trees or garden plantings – we risk losing more than we otherwise would in a diversely planted landscape.

It’s natural for large growers supplying large projects to stick to a core selection of plants that perform in our climate and soils, and designers and landscape architects alike have come to rely on steadfast options like Philodendron ‘Xanadu’ for near-guaranteed performance. But imagine how bare so much of City of Sydney would become if a new pathogen emerged that afflicted ‘Xanadu’.

This is exactly why it’s so exciting to discover new nurseries with collections of ornamental grasses, perennials, shrubs and trees and so much more, grown by experts, to give us a chance to try these things in our very own gardens and bring them into our own planting repertoire.

Apart from all that, one of our favourite things to do at the fair is people watching – Sydney has such a thriving community of plant lovers, and everyone has their own weird obsession!