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Floriade digs deep into roots of war history

This year's Floriade festival is going back to the roots, literally, of Australia's World War II history.

The Victory Garden at Floriade looks back on the life and times in the garden beds of 1940s' Australia.

The project, which works in conjunction with the Australian War Memorial, has created replicas of the garden types that would have been seen during the World War II era.

In 1942, Australian prime minister John Curtin announced the ''Dig for Victory'' campaign encouraging Australians to grow their own vegetables.

Floriade has attempted to recreate these gardens to honour the history of Australia and to promote the sustainability initiative.

The garden will give an insight into the life and times of Australians in World War II and demonstrate the community spirit that continues to develop all over the country today.


ACT Tourism event manager Matt Elkins said the garden was a replica of what would have been seen during World War II.

''We have worked in conjunction with the Australian War Memorial and also with [garden business] Yates, through historians, to make sure we can plant up exactly what you would have seen in that era,'' Mr Elkins said.

More than 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables feature in the Victory Garden. Varieties include radishes, rhubarb, parsnips and beetroots - all of which add a bright feel to the colourful display.

''There was a call to the Australian community to plant what would have been their garden beds - their flowers, roses and tulips - up with vegetables so they weren't drawing on required resources and whatever else they grew could be rolled back into the effort,'' Mr Elkins said.

The event will feature talks including ''Digging For Victory'', ''From Bully Beef to Bolognaise: food at the frontline'', and ''Poppies and Rosemary: we will remember them'', all tieing in with Floriade's ''A feast for the senses'' theme.

Talks will also take place at the War Memorial, including ''An Austerity Diet'' and ''The Wartime Kitchen''.

A spokesperson for the Australian War Memorial said some of Australia's history could be remembered through the gardens, as well as them encouraging people to be more sustainable.

''The theme of Floriade with food fits in nicely with the whole idea ... it gives us an opportunity to pay tribute to the generation of Australians that pulled out the petunia and put in the potato, and dug vegetables for victory,'' the spokesperson said.

Many different groups from the Canberra community are involved in the project, once again creating the sense of community from the war era.

''This has a very community feel about it. Someone donated the seeds, students have grown the plants from seedlings, students from Canberra College have helped construct the gardens ... it was community then, it is community now,'' the spokesperson said.

Another aspect of the War Memorial's involvement with Floriade included the ''30 Stories, 30 Days'' event.

Every evening during Floriade, at 4.45pm, the War Memorial will tell the story of one Australian man or woman from the honour roll who died in service to their country.

Visitors who present an Australian War Memorial Floriade brochure at the War Memorial Shop will receive a free packet of Flanders poppy seeds or free booklet of wartime recipes.