Over the COVID winter when travel has been just a dream, Ballarat residents have been sinking their travel funds into their homes and gardens to best enjoy the places where they can be.
Nurseries across Ballarat have boomed, or bloomed, during lockdown with people rediscovering the pleasures and mental health benefits of getting their hands dirty in the garden.
During the first lockdown, winter vegetables were among the biggest sellers as new vegetable gardens were built. With the onset of spring those gardens, and countless more, are being renewed with summer crops, fruit trees and other plants.
Formosa Gardens owner Katie Wright said many customers had told them they were using funds previously set aside for travel to rejuvenate their immediate surrounds.
"A lot of customers are telling us their trip overseas or a cruise was cancelled so instead they've invested time and money in to the garden to get it looking good for Christmas," she said.
"It's been a definite trend of people not able to travel overseas redirecting funds to fix up their homes and enjoy the space they are in."
She said the nursery had seen a big increase in new gardeners looking to grow their own fruits and vegetables, and a run on indoor plants to give people something to look at and care for inside over winter.
"We've definitely seen a huge increase in all different generations gardening for the first time," she said.
"It's about getting outside for some vitamin D, providing exercise, it's good for mental health and it's something they can talk to other people about."
The warmer weather of spring has seen the garden love grow even more, with people starting to prepare their gardens for summer vegetables, readying soil for tomato planting in November and enjoying the extra hours of light before daylight savings kicks in next month.
Growmasters Warrenheip nursery owner Liz Saathoff said business was so busy she was in the process of hiring more staff.
"People are buying things off trolleys before we've even had a chance to unload," she said.
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"People are working at home, doing a bit of painting or decking, then realise their garden is looking a bit shabby and decide to work on that too."
Ms Saathoff said it had been taking many extra hours to source stock as many of the plants being grown for spring were sold out during winter, which had never happened before.
"Edibles are really popular and what we are seeing is a lot of young people now really interested in growing veggies and fruits, or people are expanding the types of things they are planting and we give them advice."
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