Standing in a carpet of flowers in 1915, Mr. Frederick Duckitt of Waylands and Mrs. (Ds.) Suzanne Malan of “Die Pastorie”, Darling decided that this wonderful heritage of wildflowers must be shared with others. The outcome was the founding of the Darling Wildflower Society in 1917. They wanted to display Darling’s botanical wealth for the world to see while at the same time promoting the conservation of flowers amongst the farmers of the district, who have since maintained the botanical diversity of the region over several generations.
The first Darling Wildflower Show ,facilitated by the Society was a flower arranging competition opposed to the modern day landscaped exhibition. Landscaping of the exhibits started in 1980 as an active conservation measure, as wildflower shows use for fewer picked flowers than that used by arrangements. However today you are still bound to spot a few arrangements on display when visiting the Darling Wildflower Show.
Below are two of programs from the early years. The first one is dated 19 September 1904 and was a flower arranging competition which included some wild flowers. This show was held only briefly due to arguments about the judging of the exhibits. The second program is dated 18 September 1918 and corrected to 22 September 1920 and was in turn a show rather than a competition.
Today the Society is laying a solid foundation for the future, actively promoting wildflower tourism, sustainable management of the local nature reserves and the conservation of the wildflowers and biodiversity of the region. The Society also hosts environmental education activities for the children of Darling during school holidays.
All members on the committee that run the day to day operations and arrange the annual event are volunteers. The Society is supported by a Darling Wildflower Trust that manages the funds generated by the Show. A Show Implementation Team comprising of volunteers from the committee and community is appointed each year. The SIT is responsible for all the logistics pertaining to that years show from marketing to health and safety during the event and report to the Society.
2021 Darling Wildflower Society Committee
The Darling Wildflower Society (DWFS) committee is a group of volunteers from the region that are committed to upholding the vision of sharing and conserving the botanical wealth and diversity of the region. Each committee member has a portfolio for which they are responsible. Lets meet the 2021 committee.
From left to right : Charles Duckitt – Referee aka Chairman, Martin Halvorsen – Vice-Chairman & Environmental Liaison, Dave Wallace – Treasurer & Legal Affairs, Tracey Duckitt – Secretary & Membership, Sue Hooks – Membership Assistant, John Duckitt – Reserves, Jane Wallace – Catering & Tea Shop, Angelique Rosant – Youth Projects, Vere Dixon-Smith – Herbarium Project & Show Coordinator, Nicole Loebenberg – Social Media and Website and Bessie Visser – Farm Membership. Not featured: Dr. Jannie van der Merwe – Farm Membership.