I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Wes Fleming and his team on their outstanding and inspirational victory at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London. For the first time in 100 years an Australian team has won the coveted Best in Show award. In his ninth and final year competing at this world-leading event, Wes has triumphed. Fleming’s Nurseries, which is in my community, is a great Australian success story and a great migrant story. From humble horticultural beginnings with Wes’s parents, this family business has grown into an industry leader in Australia with a reputation internationally for beauty, innovation and success. In his previous eight presentations of the Australian garden Wes has enjoyed great success — four gold and four silver-gilt awards — but, until this year, he had never received the ultimate prize.
Designer Phillip Johnson came up with a breathtaking garden. Together with Wes and 18 volunteers he produced a garden that included a gorge, waterfalls, a billabong and the centrepiece Waratah Studio. Sustainability was a feature throughout, including solar power, water capture, recycled materials and bushfire suppression. It was Wes’s incredible passion, determination and skill that made his lifelong dream a reality.
The story does not end there. Wes has always had a vision broader than just Chelsea. He said this about his victory:
…For us it has been about increasing awareness and influencing policy and government about the need for green and better open spaces and have the horticultural industry involved in future planning.
His message is one about the health of our society:
… We need to get governments and the greater populace generally to recognise that planting trees and creating landscapes is not just for aesthetics.
His message about the economic, social and environmental benefits of embracing landscapes and gardens is one we must all listen to and respond to. Well done, mate. We are very proud of you, as, I am sure, are Paige and your wonderful family.