THE ART OF PRESERVING NATURE.
The three-day show, spread over two halls at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre with a local farmer's market in a connecting hall, also highlighted serious green messages to save energy and value water supplies.
From indoor plants to flowers, fertilisers, pots, baskets, rugs, vegetables, pickles, dates, honey, garden furniture and accessories ... there was something for everybody.
Decorative plants from Spain, China and orchids from Thailand proved to be a huge draw. PSP Specialities, first-time exhibitors from Bangkok, for example, displayed a large sun made of 2,500 gerbera flowers in four different shades and attracted numerous photographers and flower enthusiasts.
Naphat Prasanphan, in-charge of the stall, said: "We want to show that we are all under the same sun. This is the Thai side and the other one is the Arabian side. With right conditions flowers that can grow in Thailand can also grow in Bahrain."
The show also attracted tourists.
Tanya Webb from Juffair brought her visiting friend Meg Proctor from Australia. Meg said: "This is very exciting and it is lovely. I am interested in gardening and we are going to look at some indoor plants. This is a nice change from what you normally see outside."
Shahzaman Shams, vice-chairperson of the Garden Club said the event has been put together to show creativity with flower arrangements in various themes - Ikebana, fun with glass, using bamboo and orange. She said: "The most exciting section is the experimental section where members have successfully grown foreign plants in their garden. It is not important to win but to participate and learn to take care of nature."
First time exhibitors from Spain, Subtropical Valencia, a group of eight landscaping companies, also had great success in attracting customers to their stall of exotic plants that included canariansis, almond and olive trees that were 150 and 180 years old. They were selling plants for between BD40 and BD1,200.
Riffa Views Bahrain International Garden Show attracted 21,900 visitors, an increase of around 70 per cent from last year's event.
Delighted at the outcome, Shaikha Maram bint Isa Al Khalifa, head of the event's organising committee, said it is an event that Bahrain deserves.
She added: "Honestly, I can't convey my sentiments ... I am overjoyed with the success of the event. The response was fantastic. Children had a fantastic time and everyone was walking around with happy smiles
"There were repeat visitors and they were spending time at the show. I am sure they wouldn't be back if there was nothing to enjoy. Everybody walked out with something - a flower, a pot or a vegetable.
"There were many things that were positive about the show. The farmers who generally don't get a chance to participate in such a high publicity event were very pleased with the interactions with the public.
"There was a lot of hard work that went into putting up this show. I am very proud of everybody - the organisers, partners and their accomplishments. Exhibitors were of high quality and very informative.
"All in all the experience was very happy and I look forward to another exciting event next year."
One of the staunchest supporters of the event, Shaikha Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty King Hamad and President of the Supreme Council for Women is said to have been very pleased with all the components of the show and has emphasised that aspects of the environment that touch peoples lives be repeated every year.
Girls school blooms
The overall winning school of 'Riffa Views' Eden Challenge 2009' was The Khawla Secondary Girls School.
Its project presented a 'Water Conscious Garden' depicting a wide range of the complex possibilities that a designed landscape can offer. Using the Riffa Views Eden Challenge logo as a base, the winning design blended water with drought tolerant plants and synthetic materials to highlight the principles and use of water movement and water conservation.
Chris Beardshaw, Riffa Views ambassador for Landscapes and Gardens, said: "I am extremely encouraged by the focus that the students placed on environmental issues and delighted that the challenge has inspired Bahrain's younger generation to consider the importance of their surroundings."
Seham Al Kooheji, the principal of The Khawla Secondary Girls School, along with students and supervising teachers from the project team, were on the Eden Challenge Exhibits Stand to hear the announcement and were thrilled to go up to receive the trophy and award of BD3,000 towards the school's environmental activities.
Mrs Al Kooheji said "We are all very proud to have won the competition."
Richard Browning, CEO of Riffa Views, congratulated all the schools who had taken part in this year's competition.
Chris Beardshaw and Shaikha Maram also announced the winners of the Riffa Views' 'Best Stand of RVBIGS '09 awards.
Much coveted by all exhibitors, this year's top award went to Jannusan Exotics, who received a trophy and $5,000.
The 1st Runner-Up was the Bahrain Ministry of Municipalities' Affairs & Agriculture, who received a trophy and $3,000; the 2nd Runner-up was The Riffa Views Farmers Market, who received a trophy and $2,000, which Mr Browning said would be donated to charity.
Jannusan Exotics is a nursery based in Bahrain, supplying plants, trees, pots and other garden decorations from all over the world.
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