Alexander Halls, from Queanbeyan East, and Dougal King, from Charnwood, have been given the opportunity to create a garden at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, which runs from March 29 to April 2.

Alex, 22, and Dougal, 21, were selected last year as members of WorldSkills Australia’s Skills Squad, after their gold-medal winning success at the WorldSkills’ national competition last year.

Each of the Skills Squad members is training with a dedicated skills mentor, and Alex and Dougal are working with Michael Blasch, a horticulture teacher with the Canberra Institute of Technology and an international landscaping expert with WorldSkills Australia. Alex and Dougal both train at the Canberra Institute of Technology.

Mr Blasch will travel to Melbourne with Alex and Dougal, and said the garden show offered a valuable opportunity for them to hone their skills in the lead-up to possible selection for the Abu Dhabi competition. In Abu Dhabi, the landscaping category will see 23 countries competing over four days.

Mr Blasch said at the garden show Alex and Dougal would replicate competition conditions and be given the task of creating a garden with a water feature.

Of his career choice, Alex said: “My brother-in-law introduced me to landscaping and since then I have never looked back. I love what I do and wouldn’t change my career for anything else.”

Alex said his ambitions were to “start my own business, to bring gold home for Australia and to train my own apprentice one day”.

Dougal’s career in landscaping began when he finished Year 12 and a friend needed a labourer to lay turf.

“I worked hard for two days and I was hooked,” said Dougal, who is the only tradesman in his family.

Dougal said the reason he enjoyed landscaping was because “it’s something where there will always be more products arriving so there is always room to grow and learn”.

WorldSkills Australia CEO Brett Judd congratulated Alex and Dougal on their success to date and said the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show was a terrific opportunity to demonstrate the depth of skills talent in Australia.

Pictured L-R: Dougal King and Alexander Halls