History of the Darling Wildflower Show

It is on record that Mrs. (Ds) Albertyn held a flower show in the old C.J.V. Hall in 1905. It also seems that Ds Luckhoff had an exhibit of Chincherinchees in Cape Town during World War I. Chincherinchees were sold to the public by ladies from Darling in fancy-dress costume.  It was however, in 1915 while standing among the wildflowers that Frederick Duckitt of Waylands and the then pastor’s wife, Suzanne Malan, decided that the botanical beauty of Darling’s wildflowers should be shared with others.   

The first “official” Darling Flower Show, that took place on the third weekend of September in 1917, was a flower arranging competition where prizes were given in the various classes and garden flowers were also exhibited. 

The impact of the massed arrangements on the stage always created “oohs” and “ahs” amongst the many visitors. Competition was a cause of concern to Mrs. Malan and she endeavored to get the whole community to work together to stage the show as she felt it should be done.

Over the years the flower show evolved and in the 1980s the show progressed from flower arrangements to landscaped wildflower exhibits that showcase the striking diversity of the Renosterveld, Vleiland, Sand Fynbos and Strandveld.  You are, however, still bound to spot a few arrangements on display when visiting the Darling Wildflower Show. 

With a few exceptions the Darling Wildflower show has taken place on the third weekend of September every year since 1917,  making it 107 years old in 2024. 

Generations of families have been involved with the Darling Wildflower Show that draws thousands of visitors each year. The Show event is facilitated, and the landscaped exhibition is built solely by volunteers, and although it takes months to plan and prepare, every wildflower in the exhibition is collected, transported, and placed in position only two days prior to the show. Contact the Darling Wildflower Society to become a volunteer.

Below is program dated 18 September 1918, corrected to 22 September 1920.

20 September 1920 Show Program