FOIBLES OF SPRING

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - GROW YOUR OWN -

This week I’ve been show­ing a group of plant en­thu­si­asts around Tassie gar­dens. We are al­most at the end of a nine-day tour that took us from the North to the South via the wild scenery of the East Coast.

Re­cent rains have made this a green trip with flow­ers ga­lore but what in­trigued us as we trav­elled was how lo­cal mi­cro­cli­mates af­fect bloom times. De­spite Tas­ma­nia’s rel­a­tively small size, the progress of spring through the state isn’t uni­form.

Our south­ern lat­i­tudes mean spring here is later than else­where in Aus­tralia so the past week has been a re­fresh­ing change for the main­lan­ders on the tour, whose own gar­dens had left spring far be­hind.

An­abel’s at Scotts­dale, in the North East is a his­toric gar­den renowned for its tow­er­ing old rhodo­den­drons. For our visit there were as many flow­ers on the ground as on the cen­tu­ry­old shrubs but the ef­fect was still splen­did. The rhodo­den­drons at An­abel’s are so big and im­pres­sive that the first time I saw them I was lit­er­ally stopped in my tracks and had to pull the car to the side of the road to avoid be­com­ing a traf­fic haz­ard.

In and around Launce­s­ton, where the tour be­gan, roses and wis­te­ria were in bloom. Just an hour or so west how­ever, where we ex­plored gar­dens around Delo­raine and Mole Creek, we stepped back in time by sev­eral weeks to en­joy the beauty of early spring all over again with blos­som trees and late bulbs.

At Deb and Scott Wil­son’s Old Wes­ley­dale be­tween Chudleigh and Mole Creek, aqui­le­gias stole the show. Known as granny’s bon­nets these bi­en­ni­als self-seed mean­ing Deb and Scott never know where the plants will pop up.

While the white weep­ing cher­ries near the house were a mass of green leaves, the ones near the lake were in full bloom. We en­joyed lilac and vibur­num and soaked up the last of the blue­bells and dis­plays of pot­ted tulips.

Ac­cord­ing to Deb, the sea­son was run­ning a lit­tle late but rain and warm days brought out flow­ers in a bit of a rush. She also pointed out how dif­fer­ent parts of the gar­den are ahead of oth­ers due to mi­cro­cli­mates. Iris grow­ing in a raised slop­ing bed built orig­i­nally for veg­eta­bles were all in full flower while in other ar­eas the same plants were only start­ing to show colour. Scott put the early flow­er­ing down to the warmth of the north-fac­ing bed, which he said was de­signed to make the most of the sun and en­cour­age early crops.

But Scott and Deb don’t get complacent as there’s al­ways the chance of a cold night or frost in Novem­ber so they keep an eye on weather fore­casts. They were par­tic­u­larly wor­ried about the gar­den’s stan­dard white wis­te­ria, which was bud­ding up but yet to flower. It has been hit by frost in the past so the frost cloth was at the ready for cold nights.

Five min­utes down the road at Wychwood in Mole Creek, own­ers David Doukidis and Matt Ben­dall were up to their el­bows in new peren­nial plant­ings, most rare and most grown from seed. They are keen to dis­cover more shade-lov­ing peren­ni­als in­clud­ing grasses.

They re­ported an av­er­age win­ter and early spring with lots of frosty morn­ings and a cou­ple of -7C nights, but thank­fully no re­peat of the floods that wel­comed them to the gar­den in 2016, when they were new own­ers. The flow­ers here were a lit­tle be­hind those at Old Wes­ley­dale but some species roses were be­gin­ning to flower and the peren­ni­als were breath­tak­ing.

Visit open gar­dens

Many Tassie gar­dens are open in Novem­ber on reg­u­lar open days or by ap­point­ment. See bloom­ing­tas­ma­nia.com.au for de­tails. For Old Wes­ley­dale see old­wes­ley­dale her­itage.com and for reg­u­lar up­dates on Wychwood fol­low them on Face­book.

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