The Blade: Australia’s love Affair with lawn

The Canberra Croquet Club hires their facilities to a variety of community, diplomatic, government, professional and education groups interested in experiencing a fun and innovative croquet focussed function. Income from lawn hire is a major contributor to the Club’s largest annual expense item of water and lawn maintenance.

At 4.00pm on Saturday 23 January the Canberra Croquet Club hosted a group with a difference. Not the usual hen’s party, corporate team building or office get together over a game of croquet in the beautiful shady treed environment.

People in this group had an interest in the lawns we play on.

The group learnt about the Canberra Croquet Club lawns and their care from Ralph Richardson, the Club’s volunteer lawn Manager while sipping a chilled champagne, had a lesson in croquet etiquette and played a game or two. Previously the group had learnt what it takes to keep the iconic lawns of Parliament House looking green all year round from the Assistant Director of Landscape Services at Australian Parliament House.

The event was planned by the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG) to coincide with their new travelling exhibition, The Blade: Australia’s love affair with lawn which explores how green spaces in Australia have changed and developed over time. The exhibition continues in Canberra until February 20.

The exhibition highlights the changes in the Australian relationship to lawn from native grasses to pasture; from the influences of European inspired gardens to grappling with the climate change crisis and the need to create sustainable environment.

The quality of the lawn is critical to all mallet sports. A 3 – 4.5mm height grass surface with irrigation, effective drainage and the ball rolling in a steady path are desired. However, croquet grass surfaces all have their challenges that make the game more interesting. There may be slopes in the corners, irrigation heads, worn surfaces around hoops, worm casts and even mushrooms to divert your perfect shot.

But how long will croquet be played on real grass? Because of the prospect of prolonged drought and long hotter summers the Dubbo Croquet Club in Australia was one of the first to install synthetic turf. This turf provides a surface that is always well trimmed; the firm base under the grass allows fast drainage in rainy days, and guarantees an even surface. You can play all the time you want, and at all seasons of the year.

Many new grounds for sports like hockey, soccer, tennis and bowls in Australia have been converted to this non-grass option. This is also the ACT Government’s preference for new sporting surfaces. Traditional croquet players are appalled by this development.

Judy Tier
Publicity Canberra Croquet Club
0401 072 547