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Open Gardens Victoria (OGV) is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation that promotes the benefits of gardens and gardening for all Victorians. We assist garden owners to open their private gardens to the public and organise gardening and horticulturally themed events. Our activities are funded by ticket sales, and each year a portion of our surplus is applied to grants under our Giving Program for horticultural projects in the fields of education, wellness, innovation, community and sustainability.

Now in its second year, OGV’s design competition is open to Victorian-based horticultural and garden design students. It supports the development of the next generation of garden professionals, providing them with key exposure to the horticulture industry and plant lovers at MIFGS, the southern hemisphere’s largest horticulture event.

Landscape designer and graduating student of the London College of Garden Design (Melbourne), Sarah McLauchlan, is the successful recipient of the 2024 Open Gardens Victoria Student Design Competition. The grant provides up to $10,000 to design and install a garden at the OGV stand at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS), 20-24 March 2024.


“I am absolutely thrilled that my design has been selected as the winning entry. This year’s theme, The Living Pantry, appealed immensely. The world of edible gardens holds such a special place in my heart. In fact, I have been crafting an urban edible oasis at my own home for the past seven years,” says Sarah McLauchlan.


“The Living Pantry theme is designed to appeal to all, but especially those beginning the journey towards self-sufficiency. We were looking for entries that encouraged productive gardening and sound sustainability practices, even in small spaces,” says Dr Karen White, OGV’s Head of Giving.

“Sarah’s entry stood out with its strong focus on the theme. Her installation integrates clever design with attractive, compact, and efficient productive garden spaces, incorporating significant use of recycled materials and water-wise practices, as well as considering sustenance and habitat for native fauna. We can't wait to see how the garden looks once installed!”


Called Nature’s Pantry, Sarah’s winning garden design draws on a childhood spent growing up on a farm in the south-east Riverina region of NSW, surrounded by an expansive garden, a bountiful veggie patch, and a flourishing home orchard. The garden’s built elements focus on sustainability, extensively utilising reclaimed materials such as timber, plywood boards, pallets, reo mesh, and salvaged pots, all sourced in Sarah’s previous life running a commercial demolition business.


“Nature's Pantry is conceived as a welcoming haven for visitors to enjoy a feast of nature's offerings,” says Sarah. “From pollinator-friendly plants and native grasses to habitats for small creatures and birds, the space is adorned with perennial edibles, fruit trees, herbs, veggies, and bush foods. Adding to the charm, there's a cosy tea garden, inviting visitors to pause and savour the experience of brewing amidst the flourishing abundance.”


Visit stand B53 and B54 at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show from 20 to 24 March 2024 at the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. You’ll see Sarah McLauchlan’s winning garden design, Nature’s Pantry, and meet our Open Gardens Victoria volunteers, who can tell you more about what is coming up for OGV this year.


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